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

By Ian Dowbiggin

Whereas it can look that debates over euthanasia all started with Jack Kervorkian, the perform of mercy killing extends again to historic Greece and past. In the USA, the controversy has raged for good over a century.
Now, in A Merciful End, Ian Dowbiggin bargains the 1st full-scale old account of 1 of the main arguable reform hobbies in the United States. Drawing on remarkable entry to the files of the Euthanasia Society of the United States, interviews with very important figures within the move this day, and flashpoint instances reminiscent of the tragic destiny of Karen Ann Quinlan, Dowbiggin tells the dramatic tale of the boys and girls who struggled through 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 records 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" could turn into a "duty to die." certainly, Dowbiggin argues that by means of becoming a member of a occasionally overzealous quest to maximise human freedom with a wish to "improve" society, the euthanasia circulation has been dogged by means of the terror that mercy killing might be prolonged to people with disabilities, handicapped newborns, subconscious geriatric sufferers, lifelong criminals, or even the terrible. Justified or no longer, such fears have stalled the stream, as a growing number of americans now favor greater end-of-life care than wholesale alterations in euthanasia laws.
For somebody attempting to come to a decision even if euthanasia bargains a humane replacement to lengthy anguish or violates the "sanctity of life," A Merciful End offers interesting and much-needed old context.

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Biblical criticism, originating in Germany and subjecting the Scriptures to rigorous historical scrutiny, encouraged the belief that the Bible was more inspirational literature than revealed truth. The discovery of the second law of thermodynamics, in stating that energy was not created and existing energy was gradually dissipating, cast doubts on the notion of a kindly and benevolent Providence. 31 The most pivotal turning point in the early history of the euthanasia movement was the coming of Darwinism to America.

They preached the need for social measures that would prevent the sick, maimed, and mentally handicapped from breeding, lest their fertility lead to race degeneration. Thus, eugenics was born. ” Galton defined eugenics as “the science of improving stock,” including the use of “agencies of social control” to “improve . . ”55 With its emphasis on social planning, preventive medicine, and the study of heredity, the theory of eugenics swept across much of the globe over the next half-century, affecting science, medicine, and public health policy.

Racial tensions mounted as discrimination against blacks became institutionalized throughout the South. W. 72 Amid this unsettling strife and acute hardship, Progressives worked diligently to improve conditions. Grounds for optimism could be found in medical researchers who were discovering the microbes responsible for infectious diseases. Vaccines for diphtheria and syphilis were developed. 73 Surgery was becoming safer and more successful. Public health measures improved sanitation and hygiene in America’s burgeoning urban areas.

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