A scandal in the euthanasia archives

by Ian Dowbiggin, The Prince Arthur Herald, 30 November 2015

Ian Dowbiggin teaches history at the University of Prince Edward Island, and is the author of A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America.

One thing is clear: if the euthanasia movement’s records have indeed been destroyed, a lot of history has vanished, Orwell-like, down a cavernous memory hole. And with it, information the right-to-die movement doesn’t want you to know.

I should know, because I saw these records and I know what was in them. I wrote up my findings in my 2003 book on the history of the movement, published by Oxford University Press.

Not only did these activists urge governments to permit voluntary mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide, many also supported the involuntary mercy-killing of handicapped people. For example, despite his knowledge of widespread Nazi murder of people with disabilities, in 1943 the ESA’s president thought it was a good idea to legalize euthanasia in time for returning veterans who suffered from mental and physical wounds.

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