We can talk round in circles all we want, but at the end of the day there is no escaping the fact that killing persons with disabilities in order to create a ‘better’ world was one of the fundamental evils of the Nazi regime.
Not only did the Nazi Aktion T4 euthanasia programme kill an estimated 200,000 children and adults with disabilities and other undesirable traits, but it became the very template that was utilized for the ‘Final Solution’. The architects of the Final Solution adopted the gas chamber and crematoria that were specifically designed for the German euthanasia programme, and staff from the euthanasia programme took on prominent roles in the Nazi death camps which killed approx. 6 millions Jews.
Any person of goodwill should be alarmed by the fact that NZ is operating its very own screening programme which weeds out persons with Downs syndrome, and other conditions, and that the majority of these persons are then killed by NZ abortionists.
And we should be extremely concerned by any person who publicly declares that such unjust screening programmes are helping to create a better world.
To suggest that this attitude is any different to the prejudicial animus that was directed at persons with disabilities by the Nazi regime is nothing more than dishonest semantics.
Just consider the following words from Adolf Hitler:
“Sparta must be regarded as the first völkisch state. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short, their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more human than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject.”
Now ask yourself whether such twisted sentiment is really all that different from the claim that killing people with Down syndrome in utero is a good thing, or that it will lead to be a better world.
The simple truth is that future historians will not talk kindly of the West for our screening programmes.
They will rightly point out the grave hypocrisy in the fact that, on the one hand we condemned the violations of human dignity perpetrated by the Nazi regime, while at the same time running an almost identical prejudicial campaign against persons with disabilities ourselves.
In the words of Angelika Probst, sister of Christoph Probst, a doctor killed by the Nazis for being part of the peaceful anti-Nazi resistance group ‘The White Rose’:
“I myself did not at first grasp the full horror of the situation. Christoph made it clear to me. He showed me that it was not given to any human being, in any circumstance, to make judgments that are reserved to God alone. No one, he said, can know what goes on in the soul of a mentally afflicted person. No one can know what secret inner ripening can come from suffering and sorrow. Every individual’s life is priceless. We are all dear to God.”
Yesterday our courts handed down one of the most unjust and inhumane rulings ever seen in this country when a judged declared that a NZ mother and father have suffered a ‘personal injury’, and are entitled to compensation from ACC New Zealand, because they were not afforded the opportunity to abort their daughter who was born with spina bifida.
Regardless of the motivations of the parents in this case, who, according to media reports, took this court action to “to cover the costs of caring for their daughter”, this ruling is still fundamentally flawed and truly alarming in what it introduces into NZ law.
It now sets a legal precedent which declares that being denied the opportunity to kill an innocent human being before birth is an act which causes injury to the persons who would have procured the killing if they had been afforded the opportunity to do so. I wonder how long it will be before someone tries to test this new ruling to see if it applies to the killing of persons without disabilities prior to birth as well – or is it just those with spina bifida and Down syndrome who come in for such prejudicial rulings in the Brave New Zealand?
This ruling makes a mockery of NZ’s supposed commitment to human rights, and our, now rather hollow sounding, claim to be a country which doesn’t unjustly discriminate against persons with disabilities.
The simple fact is that yesterday’s ruling would not have even been thinkable if it weren’t for two pre-existing factors:
a. Legalized abortion
In a country where the state arbitrarily sanctions the killing of innocent human beings in the womb, and the majority of the population turn a blind eye to this injustice, we really shouldn’t be surprised to hear a judge now declaring that being denied the chance to kill your child in utero is actually a personal injury worthy of compensation.
b. The widespread and institutionalized practice of eugenic abortions
In a culture where persons with disability are regularly aborted simply because they are different to the rest of us, it’s hardly surprising to see that such a barbaric practice is now considered a good, while not being afforded the opportunity to abort a person with a disability is now considered an evil worthy of compensation.
This ruling should cause any truly humane Kiwi to start questioning what has gone so badly wrong in NZ. Sadly most of us are like the proverbial frog in the pot who is slowly being boiled to death and who has become desensitized to the gravity of the situation going on around it.
As a father of three daughters I think that one of the most appalling aspects of this case for me was this one:
“She said she was not ashamed of saying she would have aborted her daughter.
“In no way are we saying we don’t want her now, ” she said.
“It would have been a very difficult decision – not something taken lightly – but with the information we would have had at the time, had they given it to us, that’s the decision we would have made.”
The mother said she wanted to be able to tell her daughter that she did everything she could to guarantee a stable life for her.”
There is simply no reasonable way of reconciling the claim “I love my daughter” with the statement “I definitely would have killed her before birth if I had been given the chance”.
This would be like me saying to one of my girls “daddy really loves you, but if I’d been given the opportunity I definitely would have abandoned you at birth”.
The sad fact is that a lot of people on talkback radio are probably going to claim that this ruling is a commonsense one (that’s generally what happens when you live in a majorly deceived culture of death). Then, when the next child abuse case makes headlines, they’ll be ringing up the exact same talkback shows to bemoan the lack of action against the abuse of innocent and vulnerable children in NZ.
One of the serious problems we now face in the West is that, because we have embraced such gravely contradictory and logically deficient ideologies about personal rights and freedoms, we no longer seem capable of seeing the alarming nature of events such as yesterday’s legal ruling.
One of the inconvenient truths of the Nazi euthanasia programme, which killed an estimated 200,000 persons with disabilities, and other ‘undesirable’ traits, was the fact that it was actively endorsed by some German parents of disabled children. In fact, it was the father of a disabled child, who wrote to Hitler in 1938 to beg for the ‘right’ of his son to be killed by euthanasia, who is credited with being the impetus for the Nazi child euthanasia programme in the first place.
The horrific atrocity that was the German euthanasia programme would go on to provide the template for the Nazi ‘Final Solution’, where the Nazis extended the category of the ‘unfit’ to include the Jews, Gypsies and others. The architects of the Final Solution even adopted the gas chamber and crematoria that were specifically designed for the German euthanasia programme, and staff from the euthanasia programme took on prominent roles in the Nazi death camps which killed approx. 6 millions Jews.
I think the most appropriate response to yesterday’s ruling is found in the following video, where Adele and Paul share their story about rejecting abortion for their son with spina bifida, and how that wee boy is now shaping their lives for the better:
On the eve of the Paralympics, BBC Newsnight ran a segment called ‘Eugenics, Helping or Eradicating Disability?’ The show began with the question “is it a noble aim to rid the world of mental and physical disability”? As if for the sake of completeness, the piece then described how “the most heinous crimes of the 20th century, the holocaust, the mass murder of the disabled, the enforced sterilisation of anyone considered inferior, all took place in the name of eugenics”. It continued: “Many of the Paralympians we’ll be celebrating in London have the same disabilities as those whose rights have been violated. But does this mean we should write off eugenics in its totality?…Should the prospect of designer babies be ignored just because of its associations with Nazism?”
The insensitivity of this pitch is mind-boggling. But could such a question be asked here?
Of course it could. Implicitly it already has been. For many years pregnant mothers have been routinely offered tests to detect conditions such as Down syndrome and spina bifida with a view to abortion. Two years ago this screening programme was beefed up with the object of eliminating more disabled children. Saving Downs, an organised group of parents of children with Down’s Syndrome, has lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court on the basis that such programs are eugenic and an affront to the Down’s Syndrome community. The fanatics are already suggesting that not only are there the means to do away with the disabled but a duty to do so – a duty to design.
Both here and in the UK this trend is being driven not by latter-day Hitlers but by sober professors. The BBC programme in question put bioethicist John Harris up against two non-academics who had personal interests in disability issues. As it happens, Harris’ case for eugenics was fatally undermined when one of his opponents, Ian Birrell (a columnist and foreign correspondent in the UK with a disabled daughter), pointed out that the professor also supports infanticide.
What was striking about the programme was the evident bias of the BBC. Music, images, rhetoric, the prior briefing of Dr Harris — all were designed to make the audience see “the promise of eugenics”. And this was not an isolated case: a few weeks earlier the BBC showed a short segment called “Nature vs. Nurture” which looked at the dominance of black athletes at the Olympics. The piece implied that genetic cleansing is positive and that the Nazis merely distorted it. When referring to the victims of the Nazis’ eugenics policies, the extermination of hundreds of thousands of disabled people was completely ignored.
What of the broadcaster’s ethical duties in this case? Surely it has a responsibility to engage in balanced reporting and not manipulate its audience to accept one view only. Impartiality is all the more important when the issue concerns such basic questions as the right to life and the equal dignity of all human beings.
To reflect on the horrors of Nazi eugenics policies and to then advocate, under the pretext of scientific reporting, “a new eugenics, enlightened by empathy, leavened by liberty” with an identical aim of ridding the world of disabled people, is not only highly offensive to disabled people everywhere but is frankly quite frightening. Has it been so long since the Holocaust that we have already forgotten its lessons?
Disabilities are obviously not something we hope for and it may well be a “noble aim” to eradicate disability. But there is nothing noble about trying to eradicate disabled people whether before birth, after birth or by sending them to the fringes of society by failing to afford them the same rights and dignity as those who are not disabled.
As Ian Birrell quite rightly pointed out, the presumption behind this “new eugenics” as with that propagated by the Nazis, is that disabled people are inferior and that we should do all we can to eliminate them. This is not only a grotesque view but it encourages negative attitudes towards disabled people in society.
The New Zealand media too should examine themselves on their attitude to disabled persons. If the lack of coverage of the Paralympics is disappointing, the lack of investigative and balanced reporting on practices such as prenatal screening, pre- implantation diagnosis and the moves towards designer babies in trendsetting countries is ominous. Are we going to blindly follow them back to the fascism of the 1930s? As the saying goes, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
Saving Downs are a New Zealand based group of parents and siblings of people with down syndrome. They have formed in response to the New Zealand Government’s new state funded antenatal screening programme that targets and identifies unborn children with Down syndrome for selective abortion.
Midwives and general practitioners have been invited to a series of nationwide workshops in May and June 2012 to further enhance skills, knowledge and understanding in relation to antenatal screening for down syndrome and other conditions.
The down syndrome community has been excluded from participation in the workshops and they are taking this opportunity to provide their perspective on the screening programme.
They have recently produced the following resource for health professionals. For more information on Saving Downs visit their website - www.savingdowns.com.
Eleven facts for midwives, GPs and parents
- Like all people, those with Down syndrome are defined by their basic human dignity and not by their genetic makeup. They are loved and valued members of our families and communities. They make positive contributions to our society.
- Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition.
- In a recent Children’s Hospital Boston survey 99 percent of parents of children with Down syndrome reported that they loved their child, 97 percent were proud of their child, and 79 percent attributed a more positive outlook on life to their child.
- The screening pathway is non-therapeutic. It imposes more harm than benefit to a mother’s unborn child, through miscarriage and morbidity due to diagnostic testing.
- The screening pathway leads to maternal anxiety and foetal hazard. Interrupting the pregnancy has adverse mental health outcomes for the mother.
- There is no evidence that babies with down syndrome can have a better medical outcome due to screening and testing. Medical problems associated with down syndrome can be detected by routine antenatal clinical care without a diagnosis.
- For every 100 women who screen at high risk for Down syndrome, RANZCOG state that only between four and six of them will be carrying a baby with down syndrome.
- It costs around $70,000 to detect an unborn child with down syndrome.
- Before the 2010 quality improvements around 55% of all babies with Down syndrome were not born due to antenatal screening and intervention. When Denmark introduced the same “quality improvements” the impact was a further halving in births of children with Down syndrome. A similar trend here would result in around 80% of all births of children with Down syndrome being prevented. Many people recognise that this is eugenics.
- The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association does not consider down syndrome in itself a reason for termination of a pregnancy.
- People with down syndrome and their families are best placed to provide parents with a diagnosis with accurate information and knowledge based in direct experience.
Ethics and the Hippocratic Oath
The original Hippocratic Oath has been updated by the Declaration of Geneva. It has been adopted by the World Medical Association and reflects the dedication of medical professionals to the humanitarian goals of medical practice. It includes:
- A commitment to the service of humanity. A duty to act with conscience and dignity.
- A commitment to not allow a disability to intervene between ones duty and their patients. Upholding the utmost respect for human life.
Many people in the down syndrome community consider the screening programme to be eugenics, as it targets this community for birth prevention based on their biological difference. Such practices offend medical ethics, human dignity and the basic principles of humanitarian justice and international law.
Midwives and general practitioners have a statutory right to refuse to participate in antenatal screening for disabilities under Section 174 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. This provides for conscientious objection in relation to any reproductive health service.
Loving Every Child: Defying Eugenics
It is one of life’s great paradoxes that the most gentle, loving and enduring amongst us have always been the target of the eugenicists – those with down syndrome: the very people who embrace those defining human qualities of unconditional love and compassion.
The down syndrome community has witnessed with grave concern the return of eugenics in New Zealand under the guise of prenatal health care, reproductive choice and human rights. It is inflicting serious harm on our unborn children, parents and the down syndrome community.
In response to this Family Life International NZ and SavingDowns are holding a one-day seminar “Loving Every Child: Defying Eugenics”. This will be held in Auckland on the 4th August 2012 at the Columba centre. This will be an opportunity for people to learn about the history of eugenics and its recent emergence into New Zealand society. The seminar will be looking to raise awareness around the issue and to map out a response towards restoring respect and dignity towards the down syndrome community. Midwives and general practitioners have a commitment to the service of humanity and are particularly welcome to attend and participate in this seminar.
Please contact Mike Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Cross posted from the Culture Vulture.
A group led by a Whangarei man is taking the Government to the International Criminal Court, alleging its policy on screening for Down syndrome is akin to genocide and a crime against humanity.
A group of 37 parents and siblings of children with Down Syndrome and anti-abortion group Right to Life New Zealand have lodged a complaint with the court in The Hague, Holland, against the Government’s antenatal screening programme for Down syndrome.
The Ministry of Health has denied the group’s claims.
Group spokesman and Whangarei engineer Mike Sullivan said the complaint was laid under the Rome Statute and the court had confirmed it was being considered.
The group complained that the policy articles which deal with genocide and crimes against humanity respectively. Mr Sullivan said the policy breached articles by imposing measures intended to prevent births and by extermination.
The court has been asked to investigate and intervene in the Ministry’s antenatal screening programme, alleging it persecutes people with Down syndrome through the prevention of their births.
Mr Sullivan said the policy was akin to social engineering and prevented around 75 per cent of births of people with Down syndrome in New Zealand.