A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America by Ian Dowbiggin

By Ian Dowbiggin

Whereas it can appear that debates over euthanasia begun with Jack Kervorkian, the perform of mercy killing extends again to historic Greece and past. In the US, the controversy has raged for good over a century. Now, in A Merciful finish, Ian Dowbiggin deals the 1st full-scale ancient account of 1 of the main arguable reform events in the USA. Drawing on unheard of entry to the records of the Euthanasia Society of the USA, interviews with very important figures within the move this present day, and flashpoint circumstances resembling the tragic destiny of Karen Ann Quinlan, Dowbiggin tells the dramatic tale of the boys and girls who struggled during the 20th century to alter the nation's attitude--and its laws--regarding mercy killing. In tracing the historical past of the euthanasia stream, he files its intersection with different innovative 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 fearful that "the correct to die" may turn into a "duty to die." certainly, Dowbiggin argues that through becoming a member of a occasionally overzealous quest to maximise human freedom with a wish to "improve" society, the euthanasia move has been dogged by means of the phobia that mercy killing might be prolonged to individuals with disabilities, handicapped newborns, subconscious geriatric sufferers, lifelong criminals, or even the terrible. Justified or no longer, such fears have stalled the flow, as increasingly more americans now desire higher end-of-life care than wholesale adjustments in euthanasia legislation. For a person attempting to make a decision no matter if euthanasia deals a humane substitute to lengthy agony or violates the "sanctity of life," A Merciful finish presents attention-grabbing and much-needed ancient context.

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Extra info for A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

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Euthanasia, then, was more than a choice; under the proper circumstances, it separated humans from the rest of the animal kingdom and testified to their evolutionary superiority. 80 Another notable Progressive-era American whose approval of euthanasia was mixed with an admiration of Darwinism, eugenics, and scientific naturalism was the novelist Jack London, author of the bestsellers Call of the Wild (1903) and The Sea-Wolf (1904). 82 Following Haeckel, London was a self-confessed materialist and atheist, rejecting the more moderate agnosticism of other Darwinians.

His eagerness to mix eugenics and euthanasia set a pattern of provocativeness that would be followed by other euthanasiasts in later years, making the chances of staking out common ground all the more remote. Thus, the fault lines that would emerge with greater clarity during the fierce disputes over euthanasia in the 1940s and 1950s were already evident during the Bollinger baby scandal. On the one side, Catholics and orthodox Protestants were gradually forging a position that condemned either elective or coercive mercy killing or the withholding of lifesaving medical treatment without the consent of the patient.

96 Haiselden treated the eugenic issue surrounding the Bollinger 25 | Origins story as a personal crusade. ”97 Haiselden exploited the available media of Progressive-era America, welcoming reporters onto hospital maternity wards to interview mothers and photograph their disabled babies. He wrote articles for Hearst newspapers, delivered public lectures, and posed for movie newsreels—all in the cause of highlighting the virtues of withholding treatment from defective infants. He also collaborated with a muckraking Hearst journalist, writing and starring in a feature motion picture titled The Black Stork.

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