By Ian Dowbiggin
Whereas it can 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 debatable reform pursuits in the United States. Drawing on unparalleled entry to the records of the Euthanasia Society of the United States, interviews with very important figures within the flow at the present time, and flashpoint circumstances resembling the tragic destiny of Karen Ann Quinlan, Dowbiggin tells the dramatic tale of the boys and girls who struggled in the course of the 20th century to alter the nation's attitude--and its laws--regarding mercy killing. In tracing the historical past of the euthanasia stream, he files its intersection with different revolutionary social explanations: 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 frightened that "the correct to die" may perhaps 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 move has been dogged by means of the terror that mercy killing should be prolonged to folks with disabilities, handicapped newborns, subconscious geriatric sufferers, lifelong criminals, or even the negative. Justified or now not, such fears have stalled the stream, as increasingly more americans now desire higher end-of-life care than wholesale adjustments in euthanasia legislation. For someone attempting to make a decision even if euthanasia deals a humane substitute to lengthy agony or violates the "sanctity of life," A Merciful finish offers interesting and much-needed ancient context.
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Additional info for A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
When he died in 1962 just short of his seventy-seventh birthday, one of his few regrets was that he had not lived to see his hopes for euthanasia realized. I. The dispute over mercy killing, after subsiding in the 1920s, caught ﬁre again in the 1930s, making these years a pivotal juncture in the history of euthanasia in America. With the coming of the Depression and more troubled economic times, Americans began talking again about suicide and controlled dying. Discussion of involuntary eugenic euthanasia also revived, despite the fact that during the 1930s support for eugenics among scientists was on the wane.
His affection for babies, deformed or healthy, was sincere and something that garnered praise from the press. 94 As historian Martin Pernick has argued, distinctions among humane, Progressive, and eugenic motives made much less sense to Americans in Haiselden’s day than they did to later generations. In advocating euthanasia for defective babies, Haiselden saw no incompatibility between serving the human race and doing what he thought was right for the child’s sake. 96 Haiselden treated the eugenic issue surrounding the Bollinger 25 | Origins story as a personal crusade.
Not all human life was equal to him. Anticipating the arguments of later pro-euthanasia ethicists, Robinson argued that “[l]ife is sacred when it is pleasant, when it is wanted, when it is bearable. ” Euthanasia was less important to him as a strictly eugenic measure than as a social policy that seemed to sanction revolutionary new moral attitudes toward formerly taboo topics. Robinson concluded that exercising the euthanasia option was a sign of evolution in action. ” Euthanasia, then, was more than a choice; under the proper circumstances, it separated humans from the rest of the animal kingdom and testiﬁed to their evolutionary superiority.
A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America by Ian Dowbiggin