The Connection Between Euthanasia and Eugenics


BY NATALIE GRONHOLM

In my last blog post about euthanasia, we briefly touched upon the different types of euthanasia. Here we will delve more deeply into involuntary euthanasia, its connection with eugenics, and what that could mean for us in the future.

To refresh your memory, involuntary euthanasia involves ending the life of a patient against his or her will. Eugenics was originally defined as a social movement which promotes more reproduction between people with more desirable traits and less reproduction between people with less desirable traits in order to improve the human race. Eugenics as an idea can trace its roots back to ancient times but the movement reached its height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As eugenics research gained popularity in the early 19th century, sterilizations of people who were deemed unfit for reproduction became widespread, even in the United States.

World War II and the exposure of the extremes to which Nazis took the eugenics movement ended the popularity of eugenics research. The Nazis experimented upon people in order to test their theories concerning eugenics, forced sterilization upon the "unfit," and ultimately euthanized mass numbers of people who were not part of the "pure race." Eugenics is now associated with the philosophy of deciding who is worthy of living and who is not.

I often associate euthanasia with the elderly and the sick and infirm, but I suppose that’s just where it begins. When a person can regard their own life as only worth throwing away, how long until others view it the same way? And how long until a person begins making similar judgments on other people's lives? If one gravely ill person wishes to die, why are others holding on to hope?

Often, I hear the argument that people with no hope of surviving for long should just stay at home instead of taking up space at the hospital. Who is to decide who can get help and who cannot? It is only a matter of time, if any type of euthanasia is legalized, until all types of euthanasia are legalized and enforced. If human life is not considered worth saving, how can anything other than a healthy human life be worth prolonging?

Nazi Germany already showed us where judging the worth of human life leads us. Can we take a hint?

#euthanasia #eugenics

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