By Ian Dowbiggin
Whereas it could actually appear that debates over euthanasia started with Jack Kervorkian, the perform of mercy killing extends again to historical Greece and past. In the US, the talk has raged for good over a century. Now, in A Merciful finish, Ian Dowbiggin deals the 1st full-scale historic account of 1 of the main debatable reform pursuits in the USA. Drawing on unheard of entry to the files of the Euthanasia Society of the US, interviews with vital figures within the move at the present time, and flashpoint circumstances comparable 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 move, he records its intersection with different revolutionary social motives: 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 turn into a "duty to die." certainly, Dowbiggin argues that via becoming a member of a occasionally overzealous quest to maximise human freedom with a wish to "improve" society, the euthanasia stream has been dogged by means of the phobia that mercy killing may 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 flow, as increasingly more american citizens now desire greater end-of-life care than wholesale alterations in euthanasia legislation. For an individual attempting to come to a decision no matter if euthanasia bargains a humane replacement to lengthy discomfort or violates the "sanctity of life," A Merciful finish offers interesting and much-needed ancient context.
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Additional resources for A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America
Robinson was one of the earliest examples of that common twentieth-century phenomenon, the left-leaning proponent of euthanasia who also campaigned for eugenics and birth control, while urging society to adopt new value systems regarding sex, birth, and death. Robinson utterly rejected the notion of individual liberty in cases of hereditary defectives or deformed infants. “Such individuals have no rights,” he contended in 1922. 79 It was not so much that Robinson thought that euthanasia was a particularly effective eugenic tool; in fact he endorsed infanticide mainly because doing so publicized society’s failure to legalize contraception.
35 However, to many Americans, the teaching of Darwinism meant science ought to replace religion as the arbiter of social policy and ethical conduct. What often replaced faith in the old gods was a belief that truth was relative, itself a product of historical and natural process. In the Origin of Species and Descent of Man (1871) Darwin explained his theory of evolution according to natural selection, effectively demolishing the reigning school of “natural theology” in AngloAmerican biology. 36 Darwin instead argued that species were not independently created but were descended from a common ancestor.
The debate over euthanasia would reignite over a series of highly publicized suicides in the thirties and the founding of the Euthanasia Society of America in 1938, providing momentum that helped to sustain the ﬂedgling movement in the teeth of sometimes ﬁerce opposition through to the 1960s. By then, changes in American society had revolutionized the entire euthanasia movement and transformed an old dispute into a modern-day culture war. 2 Breakthrough, 1920–1940 By the 1920s, euthanasia was no longer a secret in America.
A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America by Ian Dowbiggin