By Ian Dowbiggin
Whereas it will possibly appear that debates over euthanasia started with Jack Kervorkian, the perform of mercy killing extends again to old Greece and past. In the USA, the controversy has raged for good over a century. Now, in A Merciful finish, Ian Dowbiggin bargains the 1st full-scale ancient account of 1 of the main arguable reform routine in the United States. Drawing on exceptional entry to the data of the Euthanasia Society of the USA, interviews with very important figures within the move at the present time, and flashpoint instances similar to the tragic destiny of Karen Ann Quinlan, Dowbiggin tells the dramatic tale of the boys and ladies who struggled during the 20th century to alter the nation's attitude--and its laws--regarding mercy killing. In tracing the heritage of the euthanasia stream, he files its intersection with different innovative social reasons: women's suffrage, contraception, abortion rights, in addition to its uneasy pre-WWII alliance with eugenics. Such hyperlinks introduced euthanasia activists into fierce clash with Judeo-Christian associations who nervous that "the correct to die" may possibly develop into a "duty to die." certainly, Dowbiggin argues that by way of becoming a member of a occasionally overzealous quest to maximise human freedom with a wish to "improve" society, the euthanasia circulation has been dogged via the phobia that mercy killing may be prolonged to individuals with disabilities, handicapped newborns, subconscious geriatric sufferers, lifelong criminals, or even the bad. Justified or no longer, such fears have stalled the circulation, as progressively more american citizens now want higher end-of-life care than wholesale alterations in euthanasia legislation. For someone attempting to come to a decision no matter if euthanasia bargains a humane substitute to lengthy ache or violates the "sanctity of life," A Merciful finish presents interesting and much-needed old context.
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Additional info for A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
Physicians, relying on the now-discredited theory that “like begets like,” stressed both heredity and the high fertility of feebleminded girls. Incarceration and custodialism replaced rehabilitation. 66 The specter of spiraling costs to hospitalize the feebleminded, the insane, and other handicapped groups encouraged some Americans to broach the previously unmentionable idea of mercy killing the feebleminded and insane. 67 Anticipating the intimate links between eugenics and euthanasia that would materialize in later years, a handful of Americans and Europeans began to ponder openly who should not be born and who was better off dead.
104 Most Roman Catholics disagreed vehemently with Keller’s line of reasoning and Haiselden’s decision not to operate. It was precisely when babies such as the Bollinger infant were not tolerated that the belief in the sanctity of life declined, they argued. Besides betraying his trust to preserve life, Haiselden had played God by denying the Bollinger baby life and had thereby made further abuse possible. 108 However, Catholic condemnation of euthanasia was not as absolute as it may have looked.
To Adler and his followers, who were sympathetic to the notion of suicide when death beckoned, there was no absolute value assigned to life. If life was not sacred, Adler, like Ingersoll, believed that some lives were less worth living than others. Both insisted that individuals should enjoy the freedom to do with A Merciful End | 14 their lives what they wished, even if it meant killing themselves. However, by rejecting the old taboos against suicide and euthanasia, they left the door open for many of their followers in the twentieth century to stretch their deﬁnitions of mercy killing to include individuals other than competent, consenting adults.
A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America by Ian Dowbiggin