Human Exceptionalism

Supprting the Murderer of a Disabled Girl

The most robust opponents of assisted suicide–and the most effective in my view–are disability rights advocates. They understand well that legalizing assisted suicide is a gun aimed at their hearts. An opinion column by one Ian Mulgrew of the Vancouver Sun underscores the threat. He urges that the child murderer Robert Latimer be freed. Latimer killed his daughter Traci, because she had cerebral palsy. From the column:

Born with a severe form of cerebral palsy, his daughter Tracy was a 12-year-old who weighed barely 40 pounds, had no mobility, suffered unrelenting pain and endured five to six epileptic seizures a day. She had little more than a newborn’s consciousness. Doctors at the time of her death were preparing to install a permanent feeding tube in her stomach and to remove her thigh-bone to relieve the pressure on her hip, dislocated because of the metal rods already implanted in her spine to correct the damage done by her bedridden condition…

It was in the face of such circumstances that while his wife and other children went to church, Latimer carried Tracy to a pickup truck and ran a hose from the exhaust pipe into the cab. She died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Latimer was charged with first-degree murder and convicted of second-degree murder… In 1997, a second jury again convicted Latimer, but it recommended he be eligible for parole after a year. Juries at both of his trials were conflicted over what had happened and racked because of the empathy they felt for this man.

But our system got in the way of their humanism.

So, winking at the murder of a helpless disabled girl is “humanism?” (By the way, Traci’s condition was not as depicted here, but I don’t want to get into that debate because it might imply that disability is a legitimate reason to kill a child. For those interested in a more accurate description of Traci’s condition, read Mark Pickup’s blog entry here, in which he notes:

Monday-Friday Tracey traveled to school on a regular school bus and returned home at the end of each school day on the same bus as her siblings and other children — right up to the Friday before she was killed.)

What is amazing to me as I read columns like this and stories that are sympathetic to killing disabled children and/or support eugenic infanticide, is that we once understood such acts of murder to be an unequivocal evil. Doctors were hanged after Nuremberg for killing disabled infants, children, and adults.

Some comfort themselves with the false notion that the earlier slaughter was evil because it was Nazism, while the new support for killing people with serious disabilities is rooted in compassion. Wrong. Nazis did not force doctors into killing. Indeed, it was considered a compassionate “healing treatment.”

Some then say, well the parents didn’t consent to those killings, and that made it wrong. But since when do parents have the right to consent to the murder of their children? Besides, Baby Knauer, the first official infanticide sanctioned by Hitler in 1939, was killed precisely because his father requested the killing. And in the Netherlands, where studies in the Netherlands show that 8% of all infants who die each year in that country are killed by doctors–and of those, more than 20% of parents had not consented.
We are moving into an era of a new eugenics where it is considered humanism to murder helpless disabled children. Mulgrew may think he’s a compassionate and liberal. But it is a denial of the equal worth of all people and a profound violation of human rights–which is the antithesis of “humanism” properly understood.

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