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Baby Alfie as Warning to the Rest of Us

About 12 years ago, a doctor sat across from my wife and I and confirmed from the ultrasound and amnio test that our daughter had spina bifida and then, admittedly with more tact than I’m putting it now, asked us if we wanted to kill her.

I document the devastation we felt about this diagnosis in my book, “We Chose Life.”  But a couple of weeks later, I began thinking hard about that encounter with the doctor.  “How is it the case that in our society a doctor can sit across from parents and openly submit that their child should be aborted?”

This event put me on a research path which has been eye opening, to say the least.  Yet, the fact that even I, a fairly educated pro-life individual, was surprised by this encounter (and the later discovery that 70%-90% of children diagnosed with a birth defect are aborted), might be one of the most important parts of this story.  The fact that the weak and defenseless are being quietly targeted for destruction, even right here in the United States, is something that should definitely be more well known.  Let me use the story of Alfie as a stepping stone to explaining what things we ought to be aware.

Let’s start with my daughter.  We did not get that abortion.  If you spend even a moment with my daughter today, you’ll wonder why on earth anyone would think the world would be a better place without her in it.  You’ll wonder what possible basis someone might have for suggesting she be killed before she even takes her first breath.  That’s a picture of her right there.  Look at her.  That smile you see is the one she has on her face almost all the time.  Her’s is not a life of suffering.

She has spina bifida, but spina bifida does not have her.

But I was being generous in my imagining that it was the welfare and quality of life for my daughter that the doctor had in mind.  As my research deepened, I would encounter arguments like this:

[Children born with Down Syndrome and other severe disabilities are “often reported to be happy.”]  “Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.  On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.  Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth, such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”  (italics theirs, bold, mine)

Read that again, and read it closely.

A.  they acknowledge that not only are these people not suffering, but they are “reported to be happy.”

B. so, obviously, whether or not the child is suffering is not the controlling idea.

C. the rationale provided is not merely about the family but….

D.  SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, when the STATE ECONOMICALLY PROVIDES FOR THEIR CARE, which has an interest in terminating this life.

E. And oh yea, we’re talking about children who are actually born.

F.  And, elsewhere it is clarified that by ‘when circumstances occur’ the fact that the child has a birth defect isn’t relevant either.  You could justifiably kill an infant for all the same reasons one would get an abortion.

G.  The authors of this study were academics who were shocked at the outrage that their article generated.  After all, they were only extending an argument that was already prevailing in the medical ethics community.

Let me repeat:  they were only extending an argument that was already prevailing in the medical ethics community.

And they were quite right about that.  And you could extend the argument further, and point out the obvious:  if the same circumstances that justify abortion can be extended to infant, then the same circumstances that justify killing infants can be used to justify killing ANY of us, at any time, healthy or not healthy, “when the state economically provides for their care.”

Let that sink in.

As should be clear by now, England thinks this is perfectly fine.  Before there was Alfie, there was Charlie Gard.  And before that, there was Ashya King, whose parents were actually arrested for taking her out of the country to receive care (Ashya lives today, free of cancer.)  These are the ones that make the news.  It is almost certainly the case that there are a great many parents who simply acquiesce to the judgement of ‘experts’ in United Kingdom, and allow their children–who may actually be healed, if only they could escape socialized medicine, which the parents might not even be aware of–to die quietly out of the harsh glare of the international press.

And here is the thing.  The arguments put forward for these actions in England are almost exactly the same as the arguments put forward by Nazi doctors.  Same-same.  Not that you would know it today!  After World War 2, you can imagine that even in England it became less than socially palatable to utter anything remotely similar to what the Nazi doctors had proposed and implemented.  But they didn’t go away.  They just refashioned and restated their arguments, and today its just the nature of the English health care system, which most Brits are perfectly content with.  See also the Liverpool Care Pathway.

If you find the Alfie situation surprising, you will probably find my claims to be very radical.  Surely ‘civilized’ Britain cannot be as I’ve described! If you would like to see for yourself the substantiation, you need to get moving down that research path–the one that I myself was unexpectedly thrust upon.  To corroborate these specific claims, I’ll suggest two sources to get you started:

compare and contrast with the Nazi T4 program and its intellectual heirs, such as Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, discussed at length in:

Because sometimes you just need to see it for yourself.

Just as the fall out of WW2 put cold water on the British euthanasia movement, it put cold water on corresponding advocacy in the United States of America.

In 1915, Helen Keller was calling for panels of physicians to determine when handicapped children ought to die.  (Yes, THAT Helen Keller: “It is the possibilities of happiness, intelligence and power that give life its sanctity, and they are absent in the case of a poor, misshapen, paralyzed, unthinking creature.”)  Binding and Hoche likewise suggested physician panels, and the Nazis took their advice.

In 1941, Foster Kennedy argued:

I believe when the defective child shall have reached the age of five years-and on the application of his guardians-that the case should be considered under law by a competent medical board; then it should be reviewed twice more at four-month intervals; then if the Board, acting, I repeat, on the application of the guardians of the child, and after three examinations of a defective who has reached the age of five or more, should decide that that defective has no future nor hope of one; then I believe it is a merciful and kindly thing to relieve that defective- often tortured and convulsed, grotesque and absurd, useless and foolish, and entirely undesirable-of the agony of living.

As Kennedy was writing, full knowledge of the T4 project was not yet known, let alone what happened under the direction of doctors (link) at the concentration camps, but you can see he may quibble with the method, but not the intent.

But even cold water eventually dries.

Prominent bio-ethicist Joseph Fletcher argued in 1968,

[People] have no reason to feel guilty about putting a Down’s syndrome baby away, whether it’s “put away” in the sense of hidden in a sanitarium or in a more responsible lethal sense. It is sad; yes. Dreadful. But it carries no guilt. True guilt arises only from an offense against a person, and a Down’s is not a person. There is no cause for remorse, even though, certainly, there is for regret. Guilt over a decision to end an idiocy would be a false guilt, and probably unconsciously a form of psychic masochism.

There is far more reason for real guilt in keeping alive a Down’s or other kind of idiot, out of a false idea of obligation or duty, while at the same time feeling no obligation at all to save that money and emotion for a living, learning child. The learning child might be a retarded one with a viable potential, or just an orphan in need of adoption.

In 1972, John Hopkins already had a ‘God Committee.’

“then you logically come to the destruction of extrauterine life.” […]

The touchiness in the medical literature regarding euthanasia is akin to the silence a decade ago on abortion. “Over a drink I could tell you that I would like to see laws allowing active euthanasia,” said one department head, “but for publication I can’t.”

Ironically, one of the most eloquent opponents of laws allowing active euthanasia in infants is the physician who admits to having actively killed six deformed infants over the course of his long career. “The danger of active euthanasia is not to the aged or to the defective child,” this man argues, “but to the person who does it.”

You see it, right?  The doctors themselves see that the arguments justifying abortion justify active euthanasia… even up to and including the aged.

I could go on and on about this, but I think you’re getting the idea.

It is no surprise that during the trials of the Nazis after the war, they offered as their defense that they were only carrying out the principles that were considered acceptable SCIENCE outside their country.  And, well, they had a point.

In this short survey, I have tried to get the reader to understand that what is happening to Alfie right now is a manifestation of a philosophy that has been percolating throughout the world right through to the present moment, and includes the United States.

This philosophy is incompatible with the worldview of many Americans, and yet it is becoming dominant in America’s medical system, right underneath our noses.  America could be the next England; and both could become the next Germany… when the state economically provides for our care.

You cannot get the full measure of it from a few international news stories, some pointed articles, and blog posts like mine.  You need to begin researching all of this right now.  You must be prepared to challenge your own good intentions with the actual logical conclusion of those intentions, and deal frankly with the rationales and worldview which this whole mindset entails.  And if you don’t like it, the time to make a change is NOW.

Your life, or the lives of those you love, or even the lives of hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans you’ll never know personally, may very well hang in the balance.

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1 comment

    • Kathy on April 27, 2018 at 11:59 am

    My family can document five generations of Fragile X Syndrome. It is a hereditary disorder that results in a range of cognitive disability and aspects of autism, from mild to severe. It is also significantly more prevalent than Down Syndrome, yet except for family support groups, hardly anyone ever hears of it. The specific gene on which the mutation occurs has been identified, so women can be tested to see if they are carriers and unborn children can be tested to see if they are affected.

    Nearly 40 years ago, one of my cousins had a Fragile X son. When she became pregnant a second time, her OB-GYN insisted upon amniocentisis (this was before the development of ultrasound). When my cousin and her husband asked why, they were told it was to determine the gender of the child so they could schedule an abortion if the baby was male. Since my cousin was a known carrier of the mutated gene, any male child had a 50/50 chance of having the syndrome. Needless to say, they were shocked and refused the procedure because abortion was not an option for them. As a result of their refusal they were told to find another physician because it was against this “doctor’s” personal ethics to bring a potentially disabled child into the world.

    BTW, Adam, the baby my cousin refused to abort does have Fragile X. He is now in his 30s, has a job, an apartment, and even a girlfriend.

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