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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Look Behind Ginsburg's Words

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in an interview with The New York Times, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.”

You don’t often hear abortion advocates admit the desire to limit the population of those “that we don’t want to have too many of,” so it’s very surprising that Ginsburg said this, but it should come as no surprise that she thought it.

The American Birth Control League was founded by Margaret Sanger in 1921, and in 1942 it was renamed Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Today, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the country. Margaret Sanger was a birth control activist and proponent of negative eugenics, the belief in improving humanity by discouraging or preventing reproduction by those deemed to be unfit or in some way defective.

Sanger believed that certain populations of human beings should not reproduce. In her book The Pivot of Civilization, Sanger writes the following:

Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives. The male defectives are no less dangerous. Segregation carried out for one or two generations would give us only partial control of the problem. Moreover, when we realize that each feeble-minded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded. (pp. 101-102)
According to Sanger, people with mental or physical deficiencies were a drain on society and, as such, should not be allowed to be born.

…we are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all—that the wealth of individuals and of states is being diverted from the development and the progress of human expression and civilization. (p. 187)
Sanger also believed that it was the responsibility of the State to eliminate the populations of the unworthy.

Modern studies indicate that insanity, epilepsy, criminality, prostitution, pauperism, and mental defect, are all organically bound up together and that the least intelligent and the thoroughly degenerate classes in every community are the most prolific. Feeble-mindedness in one generation becomes pauperism or insanity in the next. There is every indication that feeble-mindedness in its protean forms is on the increase, that it has leaped the barriers, and that there is truly, as some of the scientific eugenists have pointed out, a feeble-minded peril to future generations -- unless the feeble-minded are prevented from reproducing their kind. To meet this emergency is the immediate and peremptory duty of every State and of all communities. (p. 82)
Even though Sanger’s advocacy was primarily for contraception, not abortion, she clearly lacked any sense of the intrinsic value of human life. When life is valued – or devalued – based upon any factor other than its inherent sanctity, horrific consequences are not far behind.

In 1920, the year before Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, German judge Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche co-wrote a 60-page booklet entitled "Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens" (translated as "The Approval to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life.") Binding and Hoche argued that people with terminal illness, mental illness, and other disabilities, whose lives were “unworthy of life,” could be euthanized. The following, from the original in the German language, shows the complete lack respect for the intrinsic value of human life in Binding and Hoche’s work:

Ihr Leben ist absolut zwecklos, aber sie empfinden es nicht als unerträglich. Für die Angehörigen wie für die Gesellschaft bilde sie eine furchtbar schwere Belastung. Ihr Tod reißt nicht die geringste Lücke - außer vielleicht im Gefühl der Mutter oder der treuen Pflegerin.
Here is the translation to English:

Their life is absolutely pointless, but they do not feel that it is unbearable. They are a terrible, heavy burden upon their relatives and society as a whole. Their death would not create even the slightest void--except perhaps in the feelings of their mothers or trusted nurses.
Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, the idea that the value of human life was conditional as opposed to innate began to permeate German society. It was an idea that created the conditions that eventually made the holocaust possible.

American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton writes that Binding and Hoche had laid the “philosophical groundwork” for the transition between mandatory sterilization and “killing or designating for death one's own patients.” Here, he outlines the steps from forced sterilization to the Nazi extermination camps:

Of the five identifiable steps by which the Nazis carried out the destruction of ''life unworthy of life,'' coercive sterilization was the first. There followed the killing of ''impaired'' children in hospitals, and then the killing of ''impaired'' adults -mostly collected from mental hospitals - in centers especially equipped with carbon monoxide. The same killing centers were then used for the murders of ''impaired'' inmates of concentration camps. The final step was mass killing, mostly of Jews, in the extermination camps themselves.
In 1938 a letter was written to Adolf Hitler requesting permission to put to death a baby known as “Baby Knauer,” who was born blind and missing a leg and part of an arm. Hitler sent one of his personal physicians, Karl Rudolph Brandt, to investigate. The doctors who met with Brandt agreed that there was "no justification for keeping the child alive," and the baby was euthanized.

Hitler soon authorized the establishment of a child-killing program. Doctors and midwives were required to notify officials when a baby was born with birth defects. Each case was reviewed to determine whether the baby would be euthanized. The program started with newborns but was soon expanded to include older children, then adults.

As the program was expanded to include older people, it was also expanded in terms of the kinds of diseases and disabilities that would warrant euthanasia. At first, people were designated for euthanasia because of conditions such as profound mental retardation, Down syndrome, paralysis, and deformities of any kind. Eventually, the program included those with minor handicaps, juvenile delinquents, …and Jewish children.

In more recent times, we can see many parallels to the accepted killing of human beings in the first half of the 20th century. In the Netherlands, the Dutch have practiced infanticide since at least 1992, and in 2005 published the Groningen Protocol, which established accepted infanticide guidelines. Italian Parliamentary Affairs Minister Carlo Giovanardi made a statement in March 2006 critical of the Dutch practice of infanticide. Giovanardi said, "Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are reemerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children."

Dutch officials were outraged at Giovanardi’s comment; however, Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, had this to say:

… the Netherlands cannot escape this ugly fact: Dutch doctors kill scores of babies each year and justify this fundamental abuse of human rights upon the inherently discriminatory concept that they can decide that another human being's life is of such low quality it has no business being lived.

In this sense, the Dutch infanticide program is explicitly akin to the murder of Baby Knauer in 1938. Unless we decide to revise our historical assessment of that crime and proclaim Hitler's authorization for the baby's euthanasia as compassionate and right, the systematic program of Dutch infant euthanasia should be loudly and universally condemned.
Even here in our own country, many no longer honor the fundamental sanctity of human life. In 1982 in Bloomington, Indiana, a baby known as "Baby Doe" was born with Down syndrome and with a separation of the esophagus from the stomach, which prevented food from reaching the stomach. A routine operation could have corrected the problem involving the esophagus. However, because the baby would, of course, still have Down syndrome, the parents refused to allow the operation, choosing instead to allow the baby to die. The case was taken to court in an attempt to have the court order medical treatment for the baby. The Indiana Supreme Court, however, ruled in favor of the parents, and even though many families offered to adopt the baby, the parents still refused. Baby Doe died seven days after birth.

In 2005, Terri Schiavo died after her husband refused to allow her to receive nourishment and hydration through feeding tubes. Terri was brain damaged, but not brain dead. She was not on artificial live support; she needed only to be provided food and water. Terri's parents begged to be allowed to care for their daughter, but the court ruled against them and ordered the feeding tubes removed. After 13 days, Terri Schiavo died of dehydration.

We now have a President who, as an Illinois state senator opposed legislation to require doctors to provide medical care to babies who survived an induced labor abortion attempt. A nurse at Christ Hospital in Chicago testified that babies who survived the procedure, who were completely separated from their mothers, and who were alive and breathing on their own, were left on the floor of a utility room to die.

The Illinois State Senate drafted a bill that would require medical personnel to provide care for these babies. Barack Obama vocally opposed the bill, voted against it twice, and the third time, as chairman of the Health and Human Services committee, prevented the bill from even making it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. He was more concerned with protecting a woman’s supposed right to have an abortion than he was with protecting the life of a living, breathing baby lying on the floor of a hospital utility room. These babies were allowed to die simply because they weren’t wanted.

Most people know that President Obama has been appointing individuals as “czars” of various programs. An individual by the name of John Holdren is Obama’s “science czar.” What most people don’t know about Holdren, however, is that in 1977 he co-authored a book entitled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. In his book, Holdren suggests possible ways to control population, including all of the following: forced abortion, requiring illegitimate babies be put up for adoption, requiring pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, forced sterilization of populations by adding a sterilant to the drinking water or to food supplies, and forced sterilization of women after their second or third child.

When Justice Ginsburg said that she thought that the Roe decision was going to be a way to limit population growth and “particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” it was surprising that she said it, but not surprising that she thought it. Since the Roe decision in 1973, nearly 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States. That’s a population of 50 million lives - lives that someone decided had no value – human beings that someone decided should never be born.

6 Comments:

Blogger ChuckL said...

Wow! What a well-done post. Mind if I link to it in my blog? ChucksChants

6:08 PM  
Blogger Bryan Alexander said...

Thanks,
No problem if you want to link to it.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Malott said...

Great post!

7:19 AM  
Blogger Bryan Alexander said...

Malott,
Thanks, I just wish the general population could see the relationship between abortion today and other situations where death was called compassionate.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

This is a fantastic, but incredibly sad and scary, post. Taken a step further, President Obama is going after both ends of the age spectrum, should his health "care" plan pass. Not only will the unborn be allowed (and quite possibly someday, required) to die, but the elderly and very ill will also be targeted.

The parallels between what is happening now and what happened in Germany are terrifying.

You should submit this somewhere where it can be widely read...it is very, very well done.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Bryan Alexander said...

Christina,

Thanks, I'm working on trying to publish it somewhere. We'll see.

8:30 PM  

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