I am upset because of something I read.
I am reading a biography of a famous British physician. He mainly tells of his physician parents, the cruel bording schools, and his love of science...and his colourful relatives.
In many ways it is sad, because he was raised by nannies before boarding school, and his parents seemed so self absorbed to be oblivious to a young boy's emotional needs, and as a result he is enamoured of pure science.
But the part that horrified me was when he talked of his mother. She was a surgeon but had changed to Ob/Gyne...and would bring home abnormal babies and show them to him...(already I wonder what kind of mother shows a twelve year old abnormal babies, let alone dead ones?)
But then he goes on and says nonchalantly...most were stillborn, but some she and the matron drowned at birth ("easily, like kittens", she explained) when they decided that the children would have "no conscious or mental life" ....
The abnormal babies were of various sorts, but appreared to be mainly spina bifida...and actually these children DO have a decent mental life...although in those days before shunting of hydrocephalus and antibiotics for urinary infections, they probably did not live very long.
But what kind of doctor cooly makes such a murderous decision?
The answer was that in those days of the late 1930's and early 1940's, such ideas were very popular (although perhaps popular is not the right word...perhaps a better word would be a common opinion among the educated)...
Indeed, there were articles in American medical journals of the early 1940's where one doctor advocated just that... and this doctor was given an award by a German medical society before World War II...
So in such a climate, one does not wonder why a physician would have no conscience in ending an innocent life unworthy of living...(to use a translation of the German phrase of that time).
What is actually upsetting is that a humane modern physician would blithely write such a terrible thing, and not recognize that his mother essentially not only was callus to the sensitivities of a young boy, but that she murdered without any feeling she had done something wrong...and neither the author nor the editor of the autobiography thought much of the incident.
Now, imagine if he had written that his mother dissected live kittens and then drowned them...and bragged to her son about how easy it was to kill the kittens, and who brought dead kittens home to her young son. Imagine the horror...imagine PETA and animal lovers criticizing the author for insensitivity...
Alas, we now live in a world where not only killing unwanted offspring is considered nothing, and using unwanted offspring for experimentation is considered a good, but we live in a world where killing an undefended innocent child is noted in passing as if it was nothing...
And yet, in those days, the German relatives of that doctor were probably being gassed because the Nazis considered them life unworthy of life...the ultimate fruit of callousness toward inferior people.
And today we see those insisting that embryos are less than mosquitoes, so should be used to treat ____ (put in favorite disease: parkinson's, alzheimer's, diabetes)...overlooking the fact that the same pragmatism that kills embryos for curing the sick is the same pragmatism that starves brain damaged women, aborts inconvenient babies, and is busy extending the right to die to anyone requesting it...as long as you are a burden to another healthy human being...
What is lost is the moral vocabulary that says God gives life, and it is for a reason...
Pear Buck, the mother of a retarded daughter, put it this way:
"It can be
summed up perhaps, by saying that in
this world, whom cruelty prevails in so
many aspects of can life, I would act add
the choice m kill rather tharn to let live.
A retarded child, a handicapped human
being, brings its own gift to life, even to
the life of normal human being&. That
gift is comprehended in the lessons of
patience, understanding and mercy,
lessons which we all need in receive and
to practice with one another, whatever