Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Here is a quiz of a different sort. Would you say yes or no to the following scenarios?

Scenario One: A married couple has decided that they have enough children and want no more. They receive a doctor’s prescription for birth control but when they go to the pharmacist, the pharmacist refuses to fill the prescription stating that use of the drug is tantamount to abortion and abortion is the killing of an innocent human being. Should the government intervene and force the pharmacist to prescribe the drug?

Scenario Two: Another couple cannot have children and so they go to a fertility clinic and produce what is popularly known as “test tube babies” conceived in a Petri dish. Say doctors can tell boys from girls as well as other factors. Should we be comfortable and open to the possibility that we could produce a number of potentially birthed children that we can pick and choose from?

Scenario Three: A man has a terminal and severely painful condition. He has refused further treatment and wants to live as well as he can, that is, until the pain becomes too much and then he wishes his physician to help him commit suicide. Should this be legal?

Similarly worded questions (and more) to these are posted outside the exhibit to “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” now showing at the Maltz Museum in Cleveland. Participants can put chips in clear plastic containers stating whether they agree with the statement or not. Thus far Scenario One is receiving many more no votes than yes, Scenario Two is similar, but Scenario Three has twice as many yes votes as no.

The underlying questions in these scenarios are, “How deeply may governments be involved in the moral medical sensibilities of its people? How far can we go in producing “market perfect” humans? Do we have freedom to do whatever we want with our bodies?”

The raw questions (the second set) are ones that make us stop and pause. They seem like the questions of Nazi Germany, not the United States in 2007. But they are not foreign questions for us. Long before Nazi Germany, eugenics was a popular notion among many of the world’s physicians, scientist, and politicians. In 1929 the New York Times ran this headline:

Superior Intellect, Immune from Many Diseases, Greater Span of Life, and Able to Choose Sex of Child

Of course, when one has the eye on the perfect human, what does one do with all of the other humans running around the earth? Positive eugenics says to not allow the middle class to use birth control. Negative eugenics says take people with mental illness, retardation, who are criminals, have genetic diseases or alcoholism and sterilize or segregate them or have marriage restrictions.

In 1927, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Buck vs. Bell made the case for forced sterilization saying that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” This is a case of negative eugenics.

Later in Nazi Germany were such practices were performed in the extreme, it was always the most vulnerable of German society that were at risk, especially those with physical and mental disabilities. One wonders how a whole society, or at least enough of one could develop that would make such atrocities common and accepted, as banal as breading cattle to get better meat.

Yet science in our country is taking is to higher and subtler forms of many of the same ideals. We have the capability of genetic engineering, the creation of humans to harvest from them to aid others, the ability (and legality) to abort people because they may not be a physically or mentally capable as we would like, the idea that our bodies are just another object to be indulged or done away with as we wish, and the list goes on and on.

It may not seem scary, but that is because we are used to it now. We are alive and personally unthreatened by it and those it does threaten we do not often see. They have no voice. You and I live among the “beautiful people”, those who are accepted.

Will an enlightened people of the future look back on us in horror? Will our generation be used as examples of atrocities? What a blessing it would be if among the pictures and displays of these scenes from the culture of death, you and I, and Catholics in general could be remembered as the Bishop of Munster, Clemens August von Gallen is in the “Deadly Medicine” display. There he is pictured in all his regalia giving a public statement in 1941 as all of these things are taking place. A spokesman for the weak and voiceless standing against the politically correct and popular position and stating, “Have you, have I the right to live only so long as we are productive, so long as we are recognized by others as productive . . .? Who will be able to trust his doctor anymore?”


Rob said...

1. No, the very idea of the gov't forcing a private individual to tailor his business to their views is ridiculous. It is supposed to be possible to be more ethical than the law. I.e., the law is a minimum. You ar eallowed to stay within it's limits. Legal birth control is one matter. Forcing someone to disperse is tantamount to forcing me to drive the exact speed limit, rather than five miles under it. In short, it's stupid.

2. No, we shouldn' be comfortable (but we may have to tolerate it. That is the real meaning of tolerate - putting up with evil because you have no choice. People should remember that when asking us to "tolerate" something-say homosexuality. This is a tacit admission that the thing being tolerated is evil.)

3. No, because suicide is a form of murder.

-Will our generation be used as examples of atrocities?-

Absolutely. 45 million infants scraped out of their wombs and thrown in the trash. The complacent, easy-going, permissive and "tolerant" liberals of today are no different than those Germans who hushed others when they mentioned what was happening to the Jews.

uncle jim said...

and much of the basis of the Planned Parenthood philosophy is birthed right there - eugenics

Rich said...

1. Keep an eye on Wesley Smith's blog "Secondhand Smoke." ( Several of his books are a must read for those concerned with the "morality" of science.

2. Many doctors no longer take the traditional Hippocratic oath. Seems wisdom which has sustained countless generations of doctors is no longer valid in these times.

3. Margaret Sanger and the whole eugenics/radical feminism crowd have very interesting ties to Darwinism/Evolution, the Nazis and our current "culture of death."

Rich said...

Oh, sorry. I forgot to mention a very good read by a Jewish professor and philosopher named Leon Kass. He was a bioethics advisor to GW until recently. Anyway the article is entitled "Science, Religion and the Human Future" available as a .pdf at:

He has also written a book entitled "The Beginning of Wisdom" which looks at the book of Genesis. (this has absolutely nothing to do with Fr.V's post, but the book is really great) BN link at:

sparky said...

Rich, I second that recommendation for "Secondhand Smoke". Excellent blog.

John14:15 said...

Thanks Fr V for the great NFP video post.

Fr. V said...


Thank you for the reads. Also I just happened to accidently do a little research on Margaret Sanger. Wow. You are right. And as Uncle Jim points out it goes right on through Planned Parenthood.

Rob - I hate to think it (and I think most people live in denial about it) but this will be one of the blooiest generations ever in history. Sad. The only difference we don't see most of the carnage on our streets.

John - there are a bunch of those. Maybe I'll Video Sunday them and let people know there are quite a few.

Sarah said...

This seems like a related discussion to one that I've been following in other blogs. Do you folks have any perspectives on the bodies exhibits? These are the exhibits circulating the country of dissected human remains of Chinese citizens? See: wikipedia Bodies....The Exhibition.

Here are 3 great philosophical analysis of them.

La Danse Macabre
by Richard John Neuhaus

Body Porn,
by Thomas Hibbs, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture at Baylor University:

Body Worlds objectifies humanity
by Rev. Christoph Reiners

Fr. V said...

Thanks Sarah,

There was a big bruhaha when the display came to Cleveland - highly controversial.