The Slippery Slope of Abortion and Euthanasia: Modern Means of Eugenics

Gerhard Kretschmar was born blind and missing a leg and part of his arm. Seeing Gerhard’s plight, his father petitioned for the end of his son’s ‘miserable life’. Gerhard was ultimately killed upon medical examination by Karl Brandt, under orders of Adolf Hitler. This act of euthanasia was the first of around 200,000 state-sanctioned murders under the Nazi regime’s ‘Aktion T4’ euthanasia program.

Eugenicists in the early 20th century were conscious in their desire to modify the human species by their methods, and used abortion and euthanasia to achieve their ends. Though modern advocates of abortion and euthanasia may not be conscious of it, the outcomes of their false compassion are largely the same as those suffered in Nazi Germany.

Consider the victims of abortion and euthanasia: the disabled, the poor, the old, the frail, the sick, the depressed. All innocent victims of state-sanctioned killing are of little or no economic benefit to society. They are deemed unworthy and burdensome. Babies are killed in the womb because they come at an inconvenient time for their parents, or because they are the ‘wrong’ sex, or because they might be imperfect in some way. The elderly and those with degenerative illnesses are encouraged to end their lives prematurely to spare their families of financial struggle. And now, even the young and physically healthy are killed because of their depression. Far from healing or caring for the unwell and vulnerable in our societies, we simply dispose of them: their usefulness has expired or, in the case of the unborn, it never existed.

The Slippery Slope Is Not a Myth… Image: Schönbrunn Psychiatric Hospital, 1934

But isn’t the modern world different? Haven’t we learnt? If the example played out in Nazi Germany, where the ‘mercy’ killing of a young boy became the pretext for mass slaughter, hasn’t convinced you of the danger of this slippery slope, look no further than Canada. That civilised, parliamentary democracy built on the same foundation of human liberty as the United Kingdom now permits euthanasia even for those without terminal illnesses through its Medical Assistance in Dying program. In 2021, nearly 1 in 30 deaths in Canada were as a result of MAiD, having more than doubled since 2018.

Consider, too, the Netherlands: children as young as 12 may be euthanised; people who are ‘semi-conscious’ may be euthanised if they were scheduled for euthanasia prior to falling into ‘semi-consciousness’; and people may be euthanised due to depression.

Though restrictions on euthanasia in such countries still exist, it’s clear to see the trend has been one of increased relaxation. We should not be surprised if euthanasia slips away from being a rare and elective procedure, that spares particularly pained individuals from enormous suffering without hope of reprieve, towards something which is readily administered by ‘healthcare professionals’ to any and all deemed unworthy of life.

In the end, though we should surely sympathise with those who wish to end their lives, we must remember the difference between someone’s wish to die and any right we might have to fulfil that wish. Euthanasia is as much about those doing the killing as those doing the dying. If we cannot establish an absolute moral law against the killing of innocent people then we are susceptible to the insidious creep of eugenics disguised as compassion. It may not be long before the industry of medicine is ruled by considerations of an individual’s benefit to society rather than his innate human value. When we arrive at this place, we will ask how it started, and those who remember will say it started here.

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