Human Exceptionalism

Finally a European Official Criticizes the Dutch

Carlo Giovanardi, an Italian government official, is in hot water for likening the pending legalization of infanticide in the Netherlands to what happened during World War II in Germany, when doctors murdered hundreds of thousands disabled infants and adults. I am not a big fan of raising the Nazi specter, partly because nothing we are talking about today matches that mother of all death cultures in scope or magnitude, and partly because, ironically, bringing up the Nazis allows people deserving of strong criticism to deflect the reproach. Thus, Giovanardi says that killing disabled babies is what the Nazis did, and the Dutch merely retort (correctly) that they are not Nazis, allowing his deserved and righteous criticism falls on happily deaf ears.

Not that there isn’t a rough analogy: German doctors were hanged at Nuremberg for having committed infanticide, an act some Dutch doctors do today with near impunity, and which will soon be formally legalized. The apologists for the Dutch claim that their infanticide and the German euthanasia program were different: The former, they claim, is based in compassion and patient welfare, the latter was steeped in bigotry.

Well, a killed baby is a killed baby, but even beyond that point, the Dutch defense doesn’t exactly hold water: The German euthanasia program was considered a “healing treatment,” and seen as a compassionate act that was best for the killed infant as well as the family and society. Moreover, it was driven by doctors and not by “the Nazis.”

It’s too involved to go into here, but it is an important issue worth revisiting in this age of creeping medical utilitarianism. I hope to write at greater length about this matter soon.

For now, let us say good for Signore Giovanardi. It is about time someone important in Europe began calling the Dutch on the carpet for their infanticide program.

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