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From Coercion to Consent:

Euthanasia to Assisted Dying


Ann Farmer


The current campaign for ‘assisted dying’ highlights how the eugenics idea has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of the Holocaust and is now even more influential because it does not precisely replicate the eugenics that was inseparable from the Holocaust.[i] Indeed, Belgian euthanasia campaigner and practitioner Dr Wim Distelmans organised a tour of Auschwitz, calling the camp “‘the pre-eminent symbol of a degrading end of life’”[ii] - presumably to demonstrate that ‘that sort of thing’ is behind us, whereas the modern ‘assisted dying’ movement can help those suffering ‘degrading’ lives by ending them. The crucial factor is ‘consent’.

The Sexual Revolution, detonated by Alfred Kinsey’s reports on human sexuality, which were published two years after the War,[iii] was predicated on ‘choice’ – the ‘right to choose’ abortion, the ‘right to sex’, and, increasingly, sexual preference. The eugenically inclined, elitist Bloomsbury Group abolished objective right and wrong during the 1920s and 30s,[iv] leaving Western culture with Karl Marx’s materialistic worldview. In the absence of objective moral standards we are forced to embrace the sole remaining ‘value’ that we value – choice. The Bloomsberries’ philosophical heirs may deplore euthanasia, and may not approve of suicide, but ‘consent’ makes the latter ‘appropriate’ rather than ‘inappropriate’.

Assisted suicide campaigners stress that their measures would only apply to adults, but the correlation of giving children the de facto right to engage in sexual relations[v] and to choose their own sexual identity[vi] is to give them the right to make important decisions regarding real medical treatment. In Holland and Belgium sick children are allowed to ‘choose’ death.[vii] Although, historically, population control advocates emphasised the widespread nature of infanticide,[viii] and although one 1960s abortion campaigner, Madeleine Simms, based her campaign for the infanticide of disabled newborns on the ‘right’ of parents to choose to abort disabled foetuses, in reality parents are among the chief obstacles to killing children,[ix] leading to the danger of allowing older children at least to choose to decline treatment.

The non-treatment (or medical neglect) of young infants has been redefined as euthanasia by prominent bioethicists Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, who demanded: “[I]s there a morally significant difference between allowing a baby to die, and killing that baby?”[x] Significantly, those who solemnly avow that eugenics abortion does not imply a lack of respect for disabled people would never think of waiting for children to be born and grow to maturity in order to ask them whether they would like to be killed.[xi]

The Holocaust and the Right to Choose

The Holocaust, the very antithesis of ‘the right to choose’, epitomised the evil of the strong forcing their will upon the weak. In response to this evil, the right to life from conception and the right to a family life were enshrined in the Geneva Convention;[xii] however, campaigners are now working through the UN to demand the abuses Hitler imposed on the ‘unfit’ – contraception and abortion, but also sterilisation - as human rights;[xiii] and with euthanasia for the disabled, heavily disguised as assisted suicide, being demanded as a human right, no doubt in due course Hitler will be awarded yet another posthumous victory.

The Holocaust acted as a watershed regarding enthusiasm for overt eugenics as far as the general public was concerned, but not its committed proponents, although by the 1950s some realised that owing to public distaste it was advisable to work through or support campaigns that furthered the eugenics philosophy.[xiv] Each campaign had its own apparently discrete area of concern – euthanasia, abortion, the Family Planning Association, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (founded by Blacker and Margaret Sanger).[xv]

While emphasising terminal illness, the subtext to campaigns for ‘assisted dying’ is ‘choice’; campaigners seem unable to appreciate that care cannot co-exist with its antithesis, even when confronted with evidence of serious failures of care in the health care system.[xvi] This collective empathy failure has allowed eugenicists to exploit the spirit of the age by repackaging as human rights every abuse advocated by the eugenics pioneers and practised by the Nazis as a weapon against the ‘unfit’ and the surplus population.[xvii]

Before the Holocaust, people were marked out as mentally or physically unfit; now, anyone suffering from depression, included under the umbrella of ‘mental illness’, is encouraged by high-profile campaigns to self-identify.[xviii] Pre-Holocaust, the Eugenics Society failed in its campaign to sterilise the ‘mentally unfit’ as the price of being ‘let out of the asylum’;[xix] however, during the 1960s, civil libertarians campaigned for patients to be let out of the asylum,[xx] and their autonomy is now respected, even if they ‘choose’ to live in squalid and dangerous conditions, or in one case ‘choose’ to be sterilised so they can exercise their ‘right to sex’ as a result of secretive hearings that break all the rules of civil liberties.[xxi]

The eugenics movement distanced itself from the embarrassment of Nazism on the issue of consent, but the psychiatrist C. P. Blacker appeared unembarrassed by the fact that the killing programme was dominated by doctors and psychiatrists,[xxii] concluding that “on a scale of turpitude, the euthanasia of the insane ranks lower than the vivisection of human beings. We may recall that among the insane and defective were included more Germans than non-Germans, and, if the account of mass starvation given by one doctor on what seems to be unsubstantial evidence is rejected, these people were mercifully killed. The idea of merciful killing is not unknown in this country; indeed, a society exists to promote it, on a voluntary basis, for people suffering from incurable and painful illness.”[xxiii]

Blacker never explained how mentally ill people could voluntarily consent to euthanasia, and being starved, poisoned, shot and blown up was “far from…being a ‘gentle death’”; in the gassing cellar of the Hadamar asylum, closely watched from above, victims “experienced extreme terror”.[xxiv] With unintentional irony, Blacker blamed these atrocities on “psychopaths, criminals and criminal lunatics”,[xxv] implying that while the victims could have chosen to be killed, the killers could not help themselves.

Invited by post-War Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee to chair a committee of investigation into the war crimes of German doctors, Blacker was informed that a “mass of material had been collected” (including a report that he found “particularly helpful” entitled ‘Sterilization and Execution of Patients suffering from Nervous and Mental Disease’), which needed to be studied by “authorities” in the relevant fields; as an ‘expert’ on eugenics he was asked to give his “opinion as to the scientific value of this evidence, if any” of this material.[xxvi] Blacker recalled that he had “[r]arely...performed a more distasteful task”; indeed, it had “partly spoiled” his summer holiday; but his distaste arose mainly from his view that the Nazis had given eugenics a bad name.[xxvii]

With its roots in a perverted Darwinism, eugenics regarded human beings simply as animals, although some were more intelligent and thus fitted to exercise autonomy, as well as authority over others.[xxviii] More benignly, the animal welfare movement is built on the view that animals need protection precisely because they cannot choose; but if some human animals must decide on the best interests of other human animals, this may include ‘putting down’ the old, feeble and costly, as one vet insouciantly argued of his own mother.[xxix]

Never in all human history has there been a need to curb an excess of virtue; rather the concern has been to prevent the spread of vice. There has not been a dearth of killing, rather the reverse; but as far as the eugenicist population controller is concerned, not only are there too many people, but the ‘wrong’ human beings are being killed, thus they oppose capital punishment for convicted murderers but approve of it for innocent unborn babies and the weak, disabled and elderly.

If C. P. Blacker appeared confused about the meaning of ‘voluntary’ regarding euthanasia, regarding sterilisation he explained privately to Karl Pearson that the aim of a Eugenics Society-sponsored sterilisation Bill was “to try to create a eugenic conscience in the matter of reproduction of disgenic (sic) stocks, and while keeping the means voluntary in the legal sense, to bring strong pressure of public opinion to bear in these cases.... Defectives being, for the most part, readily suggestible and open to the influence of the people around them, should in most cases be easily persuaded to undergo, and to desire to undergo, voluntary sterilisation... When we talk of the measure being voluntary, what we especially mean is that it should not be performed upon an unwilling subject.”[xxx] Blacker went so far, in 1933 as to sound out the British Union of Fascists on its sterilisation policy, reporting that they would “support us vigorously, and that over the sterilisation question they would go beyond us and demand that it be made compulsory as in Germany”; since the BUF openly advocated compulsory sterilisation, this should have come as no surprise.[xxxi] The Eugenics Society’s offshoot the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society, begun in 1935, should have fooled nobody with its benign-sounding name – but clearly it did.  

Re-writing the History of the Right to Choose

Abortion campaigners have re-written history to portray poor women fighting for the right to abortion against the cruel, implacable forces of Church and State, but in reality the Church has been the only force consistently defending human rights when the State favoured divorce, eugenics sex education, birth control, sterilisation, abortion, euthanasia, and the creation of children deliberately deprived of a mother or a father.[xxxii] In our post-Christian society we are left with the washed-out remnant of compassion with which to clothe our moral nakedness, and it has been employed in every eugenics campaign to win sympathy; most notably, we are said to be ‘denying disabled people the right to die’.

State welfare provision and individual rights sound more empowering for the poor, as well as less judgemental; but they are poor substitutes for the family networks that they have replaced. The ‘right to choose’ the wrong thing does not empower the weak but creates helpless victims dependent on the state. Unlike a family that might care if they lived or died, the Welfare State is better off if they do die. Despite this, largely middle-class, well-meaning ‘liberty’ campaigners have championed welfare dependency and sexual freedom for the masses as a soft option to political and economic freedom, relying on ‘consent’ to justify self-harm.

‘Consenting’ to the ‘right to die’

Before too long, the countless victims of the purveyors of the false freedom of ‘sexual autonomy’ may have the ‘option’ of ‘accessing’ the exit marked despair, graciously bestowed upon them by the euthanasia campaign, now re-invented as the movement for ‘assisted dying’.[xxxiii] The enduring problem of eugenics population control remains, however, for it is the depressed, not the physically ‘unfit’ who want to die. Disabled campaigners point out that while the suicides of the depressed non-disabled are treated as tragic, and great efforts are made to prevent them,  the ‘right to die’ is promoted for depressed disabled persons – Janus-faced propaganda conveying the message that while non-disabled people matter, disabled people are better off dead.[xxxiv]

If Hillary Clinton’s claim that “too many women are ‘denied’ abortions”[xxxv] sounds better than saying ‘there should be more abortions’, the campaign for ‘assisted dying’ (itself a euphemism for assisted suicide) claims that the disabled are being ‘denied’ the ‘right to die’, rather than saying that not enough disabled people are dying. In ‘human rights’ parlance, the disabled are being ‘denied equal access’ to death because they need ‘help’, an outcome of the 1961 law de-criminalising suicide while retaining penalties for anyone ‘helping’ someone else to do so. This protects the vulnerable from ‘willing helpers’, but it would not have passed without such a proviso, and is now regarded as unfinished business. The eugenics movement was closely involved in that decriminalisation; indeed, some involved in suicide prevention as well as eugenics argued that far from a senseless act, in some cases suicide actually ‘makes sense’.[xxxvi]

In the shadow of the Holocaust, compulsory euthanasia is no longer politically correct; the progressive mind has embraced the right to choose death, but to many such a ‘right’ is purely hypothetical, as demonstrated by the steady procession of fit, able and comfortably circumstanced celebrity figures leading the way (although not literally) in pledging to commit suicide should they become unfit and disabled;[xxxvii] unlike those who urge suicidal individuals to jump off high buildings, such figures have been lauded for their courage, reinforcing the message that suicide is an option for the vulnerable.

Suicide figures have certainly soared, helping to ‘reduce the surplus population’,[xxxviii] and furthering the historical aims of eugenics; for as H. G. Wells, noted population controller and euthanasia proponent remarked, his Utopia would regard the “modest suicide of incurably melancholy, or diseased or helpless persons” as “a high and courageous act of duty rather than a crime”.[xxxix]

Sir Winston Churchill, who suffered from what he called his ‘black dog’ of depression, confessed to a fear of literally being too near the edge - of railway tracks, or a ship’s rail - because of the temptation to ‘end it all’.[xl] Had he succumbed, we might now be living – or dying - under the heel of his adversary, who committed suicide rather than face the defeat of his perverted ambition. Some of Hitler’s Jewish victims also committed suicide, but out of despair; clearly, Hitler would have approved of their ‘choice’. Campaigners for ‘assisted dying’ emphasise that the consent of the patient would be crucial, and hedge their proposed law with safeguards; so did the Nazis in their plans to relieve ‘incurables’.[xli]

In 2015 many of those ‘incurables’ – including tuberculosis and cancer sufferers - are curable, although there is no doubt that some patients, also struggling with social or psychological reasons, would prefer a lethal injection to further treatment; but instead of focussing on the death-blow that assisted suicide would deal to the future of medicine, we will hear about the stigma suffered by the differently-abled being denied access to death as a human right. Rather than the problem of aged ‘bed-blockers’ in our hospitals, we will hear of elderly patients being ‘denied the right’ to die at home; and just in case some make it to hospital, they may be asked to consent ‘in advance’ to ‘do not resuscitate’ orders.[xlii] 

Pilgrim’s Progress or true progress?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet contemplates ‘rational’ suicide – whether to kill himself instead of his father’s killer, Claudius – but rejects the temptation, knowing that “the sleep of death” would not be so peaceful as some suppose, but would be haunted by “dreams”. Like Hamlet, the “dread of something after death – the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns”,[xliii] deters the heroes of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Giant Despair is not, as his name would suggest, given to making gloomy pronouncements or to despairing of the evil of Man; instead, he throws Bunyan’s pilgrims Christian and Hopeful into prison.

Far from inflicting torture, however, the pilgrims are subjected to it. Giant Despair’s entertaining little plan is to get them to commit suicide ‘voluntarily’ rather than murdering them outright. Thrown into a stinking dungeon in Doubting Castle, they are starved, beaten, and tormented by being shown the bones of the Giant’s other victims – all to induce the despair that will make them take their own lives. They are even given the ‘right to choose’ their instrument – knife, rope, poison.

Christian, afflicted by despair, is sorely tempted even while knowing that suicide kills both body and soul, but Hopeful dissuades him; eventually they escape. Giant Despair is no liberator but a sadist, since the only ‘freedom’ he offers the two pilgrims is the liberation of death.[xliv] Giving people the ‘right to die’ as ‘simply one choice among many’ sounds a positive step for individual autonomy, but it may be the only choice when cash-strapped Western governments discover how much cheaper it is than treatment and care.[xlv]

Conditioned to consent?

G. K. Chesterton argued that free will is the “primary power of choice” and the “essential form of freedom” for “a free man”, as well as the basis of democracy;[xlvi] it should not involve ‘freeing’ people to choose evil[xlvii] by relaxing safeguards for the vulnerable and allowing people to kill themselves, cloaking the lethal promptings of depression in the virtuous mantle of ‘choice’.

‘Coercion’ has been covertly converted to consent by left-wing campaigners and spin doctors borrowing the marketing methods of advertisers - the ‘mind-benders’ of capitalism - to the advantage of Marxists but also unethical capitalists, utilitarians, economists, libertarians, and of course population controllers and eugenicists.[xlviii] Not forgetting gesture politicians, for increasingly, we will not get the right to choose positive things like homes, jobs, incomes and health care, but the negative right to harm ourselves by childlessness, or choosing suicide.

More than a century ago, Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World described a dystopian future in which suicide is offered as the ultimate panacea for all the ‘freedoms’ that citizens must endure. The hero’s wife finally chooses to die, but not because she fears death – “It is life I am frightened of – not death”; unlike Hamlet, Christian and Hopeful, she has no belief in an afterlife. ‘Future England’ has its ‘safeguards’, however - an eight-day period of contemplation before committing suicide.[xlix]

Technically, our democratic governments will not force us to kill ourselves; they will simply remove the fence from the edge of the cliff and talk over the screams while the weakest plunge to their deaths. We will have given nominal consent by casting our vote at the ballot box; but we will be forced to choose from among identikit politicians who believe that there is no objective right or wrong; that no issue is black and white. Increasingly, ‘democracy’ will mean choosing between ‘fifty shades of grey’.

There are signs of rebellion against the con trick of consent; the victims are starting to fight back against bearing the burden of guilt for their ‘choices’. The casualties of the Big Lie – the cannon fodder of the Sexual Revolution - are rebelling against the claim that ‘victory against virtue’ is liberating; that there are no ‘black and white’ issues.[l] They are rejecting the right to self-harm. Sadly, for those successfully persuaded that suicide is a ‘grey area’, any change of mind will come too late.





[i] Ann Farmer, Review, The Ethics of the New Eugenics, (Christopher Bechtel, Calum MacKellar (eds.) (New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014)), Catholic Medical Quarterly.


[ii] In April 2012 Distelmans, an oncologist, killed Godelieva De Troyer with a lethal injection in Belgium “after she asked to be put to death for ‘untreatable depression.’ Her son, Tom Mortier, didn’t find out until the next day when the morgue called him to come pick up her body”; he was “completely shocked and traumatized”’; Distelmans, a “charismatic” figure, “tours the country, dressed casually in jeans and a polo shirt, giving joke-filled talks at rallies on how to request euthanasia. He is estimated to have administered euthanasia to more than 1,000 people. Last year, he came under fire after organising a tour to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, which he described in a leaflet as an ‘inspiring venue’ for discussions on the euthanasia issues”’ (Sarah Zagorski, ‘Man Who Had No Idea His Mom Was Euthanized Until the Morgue Called Challenges Euthanasia Law’, Lifenews, February 6, 2015, accessed at at February 7, 2015).


[iii] See: J. A. Reisman, E. W. Eichel, Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People (Lafayette, Louisiana: Lochinvar-Huntington House, 1990).


[iv] V. Nicholson, Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 (London: Penguin, 2003); see also: David Lodge, The Novelist at the Crossroads and other essays on Fiction and Criticism (London: Ark Paperbacks, 1986).


[v] ‘Sex positive’ sex education acts on the philosophy of discredited sexologist Alfred Kinsey – that children have an active sex-drive, and are naturally bisexual - and despite the emphasis on ‘consent’, the subliminal message is that children ‘cannot help themselves’; for teachers and others in positions of responsibility, concerned about children involved in sexual activity, the Government now approves the notorious Brook ‘traffic light’ advice, according to which, ‘green’ behaviours “reflect safe and healthy sexual development” among 13-15-year-olds, but it includes “consenting oral and/or penetrative sex with others of the same or opposite gender who are of similar age and developmental ability”. Brook says that such behaviours “provide opportunities to give positive feedback” and denies that their approach condones sexual behaviour; the website states that the Department for Education “has funded and recommended as a useful resource a Brook ‘traffic light’ system that condones underage sex” (Family Education Trust, Bulletin, January 2015, quoted in John Smeaton, SPUC, ‘Department for Education promotes “traffic light” tool that condones under-age sex’, email, February 18, 2015); see the Brook website, accessed at


[vi] Numbers of young people referred for help with transgender issues has increased fivefold in four years: figures released to the BBC’s Newsbeat, a children’s programme, showed that at London’s NHS Tavistock and Portman Clinic, a national centre for under-18s, 441 young people came for assessment in 2013-2014; the number was 91 in 2009-2010: “It’s thought better awareness of LGBT issues could be behind the rise”. According to Christina Richards, senior specialist and psychotherapist at the Nottingham Gender Identity Clinic: “‘Some of the silly ideas about what “trans” means have disappeared now. We realise it is something that affects all people from all walks of life and that people go on and do rather well if they get the help they need. For some people it seems what is going on in their brains is different to what’s gone on their bodies. Some people have real difficulties with it. Some people get really, really sad. Sometimes they hurt themselves and tragically sometimes they take their own lives.”’ The increase in referrals to the Tavistock and Portman Clinic “has been steady”, at more than 50% per annum since 2009; some are diagnosed with gender dysphoria, defined by NHS Choices as “a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity” (BBC News, February 5, 2015, accessed at at February 8, 2015).


[vii] “In Belgium and Holland, measures for the euthanasia of children have been proposed, based on the child’s perceived maturity; such criteria are already applied here in the provision of contraception and abortion to minors” (Dr Peter Saunders, ‘Bitter irony: children once again to be euthanized in Belgium/Netherlands 70 years after Nazis,’ June 18, 2013, accessed at at June 19, 2013); the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act (2002) states that children aged 12 and over may request euthanasia without parental agreement; furthermore: “Although it is technically illegal to euthanize children under 12, doctors can have their infant euthanized by following the so-called Groningen Protocol that allows it with parental consent if the baby is experiencing ‘unbearable suffering”’ (Hilary White, ‘Film depicting euthanasia of 26-year-old Dutch woman draws 700,000 viewers’, LifeSiteNews, June 25, 2013, accessed at at June 26, 2013).


[viii] See: Norman Himes, Medical History of Contraception (New York: Gamut Press Inc., 1963).


[ix] In ‘Informed dissent: the views of some mothers of severely mentally handicapped young adults’, Simms describes a study in which “[t]en of the fifteen interviewed wished with hindsight that they could have had an abortion rather than a severely handicapped infant, and twelve out of fifteen thought such infants should be allowed to die in peace rather than have their lives saved by medical treatment” (Journal of Medical Ethics, 1986). Despite the small numbers involved, Simms’s study has been cited in discussions on infanticide, for example, in Chapter 12, ‘Parental Involvement in Decision Making’, H. E. McHaffie and P. W. Fowlie,  Life, Death and Decisions: Doctors and Nurses Reflect on Neonatal Practice (Hale, Cheshire: Hochland & Hochland Ltd., 1996).


[x] H. Kuhse, P. Singer, Should the Baby Live: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 75-76.


[xi] Bioethicist and supporter of abortion for disabled babies John Harris claimed: “We do not treat handicapped or injured adults, or even children, as if their very lives were of less value; and we would be wrong if we did”, but added that this was “of course because they are all equally beings capable of valuing their own lives” (J. Harris, The Value of Life: An introduction to medical ethics (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), p. 163); like Harris, Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer have argued: “The difference between [abortion] and infanticide is that abortion kills the unseen foetus in the womb, while infanticide kills the new-born infant. In neither case, however, has the life of the person begun” (Should the Baby Live: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 136). On this basis, infanticide would be legal until such an age as children were able to defend themselves from attack, which might not be possible in the case of mental disability.


[xii] “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and found a family” (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 16.1); the family is “the natural and fundamental group unit of society and…entitled to protection by society and the State” (Article 16.3); fundamentally: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (Article 3).


[xiii] A UN anti-discrimination Convention is being used to introduce abortion rights worldwide, including in Northern Ireland, where public opinion is strongly resistant: the International Planned Parenthood Federation maintained: “The right to family planning, although a newcomer to the catalogue for human rights, can be legally enforceable by attaching it to one or two of the most basic human rights… The human right to family planning is included as an element of non-discriminatory rights in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. This Convention is legally enforceable”; however, the IPPF has defined ‘family planning’ as “contraception, abortion and sterilization for all, including children from the age of ten, without parental knowledge or consent” (‘The Human Right to Family Planning,’ IPPF, 1984, in V. Riches, ‘A Radical Feminist Charter,’ C. M. Kelly (Ed.), Feminism v. Mankind (Milton Keynes, Bucks.: Family Publications, 1990), p. 36). Despite the conscience provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act, the ‘right to choose’ did not extend to two Glasgow midwives who in 2007 were told to supervise and support junior midwives carrying out abortions in Glasgow Southern General Hospital’s labour ward (‘Catholic midwives abortion case goes to top court,’ The Scotsman, September 20, 2013, accessed at at September 20, 2013); the midwives lost their case. Baroness (Joyce) Gould of Potternewton, who has promoted abortion in the Labour Party, claimed it as a human right, telling fellow peers: “In 2011, the Government supported a report from the Irish Family Planning Association to the CEDAW periodic review saying that there should be a revision of abortion law in Northern Ireland”; in 2013, CEDAW had “told the British Government that they need to expedite an amendment to the anti-abortion law in Northern Ireland and create a law to ensure that legal abortion covers circumstances such as threats to a woman’s health and cases of serious malformation of the foetus”; she concluded: “As a signatory to CEDAW, when are the Government going to honour their commitments?” (House of Lords Debate on Northern Ireland, October 16, 2013, Hansard, Col. 541, accessed at at October 17, 2013).


[xiv] In 1957 C. P. Blacker advocated a new policy, officially adopted in 1960, which had proved successful for the American Eugenics Society: “The Society's activities in crypto eugenics should be pursued vigorously, and, specifically...the Society should increase its monetary support of the FPA and the IPPF and should make contact with the Society for the Study for Human Biology, which already has a strong and active membership, to find out if any relevant projects are contemplated with which the Eugenics Society could assist” (A. S. Parkes, Memorandum, ‘Aims and Activities of the Eugenics Society’, Eugenics Review, 1968, in O'Keefe, Eugenics or Democracy, (n.d.), p.29).


[xv] The Eugenics Society subsidised the Family Planning Association (£100, 1946; £100, 1947; £50, 1949; £300, 1957-59), the IPPF (£750, 1952; £140, 1953; £500, 1954-55; £500, 1959-60; £1,000, 1960) and the Society for Human Biology (£300, 1960-62) (‘Summary of chief Grants made by The Eugenics Society since 1945’ (Eugenics Society Archives (SA/EUG)).


[xvi] Kate Green, Labour’s Shadow Disability Minister, said that she does not support euthanasia, but supported “assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, though in no way as an alternative to high quality end-of-life care” (email to author, July 16, 2015).


[xvii] In 1933 the New York Times reported a detailed memorandum from the German Ministry of Justice that explained “the Nazi aims regarding the German penal code”, and announcing the intention “to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of incurable patients”, ending their ‘“tortures...upon request, in the interests of true humanity’”; opposed by Catholics and Lutherans, euthanasia “overnight” became “a widely-discussed word in the Reich”; the Ministry, in response to medical concerns, insisted that euthanasia “be permissible only if the accredited attending physician is backed by two experts who so advise”, guaranteeing that “no life still valuable to the State will be wantonly destroyed. ... The Ministry merely has proposed that either the patient himself shall ‘expressly and earnestly’ ask it, or ‘in case the patient no longer is able to express his desire, his nearer relatives, acting from motives that do not contravene morals so request”’ (Associated Press, Berlin, October 7, 1933, in ‘The Slippery Slope to Hell’, New York Times, October 1933). “By 1939 the sterilisation programme was halted and the killing of adult and paediatric patients began. The Nazi regime had received requests for ‘mercy killing’ from the relatives of severely handicapped children, and in that year an infant with limb abnormalities and congenital blindness (named Knauer) became the first to be put to death, with Hitler’s personal authorisation and parental consent. This ‘test-case’ paved the way for the registration of all children under three years of age with ‘serious hereditary diseases’”, on which basis “a panel of ‘experts’, including three medical professors (who never saw the patients)”, authorised “death by injection or starvation of some 6,000 children by the end of the war” (Dr Peter Saunders, ‘Let’s not forget the role doctors played in the Holocaust’, Blogspot, January 30, 2015, accessed at at 31 January, 2015). See also Dr Leo Alexander’s classic exposition, ‘Medical Science Under Dictatorship’, in which he outlines the fate of medicine when “subordinated to the guiding philosophy of the dictatorship”; that philosophy was Hegelian ‘rational utility’, replacing “moral, ethical and religious values”, leaving physicians to judge that there was “such a thing as life not worthy to be lived”; Dr Alexander was consultant to the US Secretary of War and Chief of Counsel for War Crimes at the Nuremberg Trials (C. Eckstein, Introduction to Leo Alexander, ‘Medical Science Under Dictatorship’, first published New England Journal of Medicine, July 1949, accessed at at January 31, 2013).


[xviii] “All too often, when celebrities decide to ‘speak out’ on this subject, what is being promoted is the acceptable face of mental illness – the ‘it’s made me stronger’ narrative. ... But for every celebrity for whom mental illness seems to be little more than a gossamer-light inconvenience, there are plenty for whom it is a colossal, crushing burden from which they must struggle daily to emerge” (Dr. Max Pemberton, ‘This is not helping the mentally ill,’ Daily Telegraph, November 19, 2012, p. 26). The fact that there is insufficient provision for mental health care has been sidelined in campaigns to encourage people to come forward for treatment, with ‘stigma’ blamed for the reluctance to self-identify as mentally ill; Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, a campaign of charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, claimed: “The impact of stigma is robbing too many [young [people] of their hopes for the future and many are left too afraid to turn even to their families. ... When people share their stories it helps to get the message across that mental health issues are common”, citing a survey by the campaign that “found that 60 per cent of people said that stigma and discrimination were as bad or worse than the symptoms of their illnesses”, adding: “We need to keep this momentum going by encouraging more people to start a conversation about mental health. Everyone will have a friend, family member or colleague who will experience a mental health problem so it’s important to be able to talk about it” (Daily Telegraph, April 24, 2013, p. 5). Eradicating stigma and encouraging people to come forward for treatment was a feature of the campaign, heavily influenced by eugenicists, for the Mental Treatment Act (1930); see Mathew Thomson, Psychological Subjects: Identity, Culture, and Health in Twentieth-Century Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).


[xix] C. P. Blacker tried to undo the damage by proposing that the mental institution be seen as a ‘flowing lake’ where the feeble-minded would receive training and then be released into the community after being sterilized (C. P. Blacker, Voluntary Sterilization (London: Oxford University Press/Humphrey Milford, 1934), pp. 9-12).


[xx] See: Larry O. Gostin, A Human Condition: The Mental Health Act from 1959 to 1975: Observations, analysis and proposals for reform, vol. 1 (London: MIND (National Association for Mental Health), n.d.); Larry O. Gostin,   A Human Condition: The law relating to mentally abnormal offenders: Observations, analysis and proposals for reform, vol. 2 (London: MIND (National Association for Mental Health), February, 1977).


[xxi] Under ‘care in the community’, aimed at respecting personal autonomy, mental patients may choose ‘independent living’, no matter how squalid, with minimal support and despite victimisation and exploitation (personal experience). Meanwhile, the secretive Orwellian Court of Protection has ruled that a man with learning difficulties may be sterilized; his legal counsel denied that the case was ‘“covered by a shadow of eugenics”’ despite the fact that historically, such people were often sterilized in exchange for their freedom from incarceration. ‘DE’ ‘agreed’ to sterilization so that he could continue an intimate relationship with his girlfriend, who also has limited mental capacity (‘Father with learning difficulties must be sterilised, court rules’, Daily Telegraph, August 17, 2013). Historically, eugenicists assured critics that sterilization did not impair the sexual function, since opponents feared that it would increase the risk of promiscuity; for the disabled, despite the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the ‘right to sex’ appears to be valued above the right to form a family.


[xxii] See: Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance: ‘Euthanasia’ in Germany 1900-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).


[xxiii] Needless to say, the victims of eugenic murder were not able to testify; with unintentional irony, Blacker continued: “[T]he Nazis took some pains to disguise the more reprehensible of their doings. They concealed under euphonious pseudonyms, as you will hear, the identities of the special organizations formed to carry out these activities; and they deliberately falsified, in returns and reports, what they were actually doing” (C. P. Blacker, ‘“Eugenic’ experiments conducted by the Nazis on Human Subjects”, Paper given to a Members’ Meeting of the Society on December 14th, 1951, Eugenics Review, 44 (1952), pp. 9-19).


[xxiv] “After an hour, all was quiet”; their remains were burnt, their bones “crushed in a mill or with mallets on wooden tables” (Michael Burleigh, Death and Deliverance: ‘Euthanasia’ in Germany 1900-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 148-149).


[xxv] Blacker even blamed “[r]eligious fanaticism” for teaching that “it is good to kill unbelievers and infidels”, but (in contradiction to his own theories) Germany’s “particular tragedy” was that “from the ranks of its worst psychopaths and criminals emerged gifted men who were acclaimed as leaders”; however, the greatest tragedy was that “whatever our own views may be, the word eugenics has...suffered degradation in the eyes of many people and organizations, including the War Crimes committee which assembled the documents which were sent to me” (C. P. Blacker, ‘“Eugenic’ experiments conducted by the Nazis on Human Subjects”, Paper given to a Members’ Meeting of the Society on December 14th, 1951, Eugenics Review, 44 (1952), pp. 9-19); Blacker thanked Lord Moran for “permission to discuss the material sent to me by his committee”; perhaps Lord Moran thought it might be instructive for them to hear these details.


[xxvi] “In July 1947, I received from Lord Moran a letter saying that the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Attlee, had asked him to be chairman of a committee to investigate the war crimes of German doctors. A mass of material had been collected; the evidence in special fields ought, he thought, to be considered by authorities in those fields. Would I read the evidence concerning eugenics, and let his committee have a report embodying my opinion as to the scientific value of this evidence, if any?” One of the reports was “particularly helpful” - ‘Sterilization and Execution of Patients suffering from Nervous and Mental Disease,’ by Maj. Leo Alexander”; however, regarding victims’ statements: “The affidavits, on the other hand, were mostly sworn by people who had suffered some serious mutilation or injury, such as sterilization, castration, or other experiment; they felt passionately about their experiences and they were not cross-examined. There was quite a lot of hearsay in the affidavits and there may have been some involuntary mis-statements. Indeed, they contain here and there contradictions” (C. P. Blacker, ‘“Eugenic’ experiments conducted by the Nazis on Human Subjects”, Paper given to a Members’ Meeting of the Society on December 14th, 1951, Eugenics Review, 44 (1952), pp. 9-19). 


[xxvii] Blacker asked: “In what anyone entitled to regard these atrocities as connected with eugenics”, especially as some mistakenly linked them to “Nazi doctrines about race”; these “inculcated a contemptuous loathing of supposedly inferior races”, teaching that “certain classes of people”, including criminals, “should be treated like animal pests”, with “[n]o more compunction...felt about their extermination than should be rats”; experiments even included the perfection of suicide methods. As to the other “atrocities”, the sterilisation experiments on living humans were “not necessary”, since animal experiments would have “met the purpose just as well”; “no results of the slightest scientific interest” were recorded, and anyway, the experiments “failed in their primary purpose of providing a cheap method of mass sterilization or castration” (C. P. Blacker, ‘“Eugenic’ experiments conducted by the Nazis on Human Subjects”, Paper given to a Members’ Meeting of the Society on December 14th, 1951, Eugenics Review, 44 (1952), pp. 9-19).


[xxviii] See: R. Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (Houndmills, Hants.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).


[xxix] British Veterinarian Bruce Fogle claimed his 100-year-old mother begged him to ‘help’ her die, but eventually starved herself to death; praising the Canadian legal decision allowing “people in her ask their physicians to help end their misery too”, he suggested that “we should have the same right here”, although he failed to explain why her pain was “relentless”, and rather than demanding the right to appropriate pain relief, concluded: “When a life is no longer worth living, I bring that life to a painless end” (‘In agony, her only option was to starve’, Daily Telegraph, March 7, 2015).


[xxx] A reference to Sir Archibald James’s sterilisation Bill (C. P. Blacker, Letter to Karl Pearson, July 2, 1931 (Eugenics Society Archive (SA/EUG/C268)).


[xxxi] C. P. Blacker, Letter to Sir Archibald W. H. James, October 4, 1933 (Eugenics Society Archive (SA/EUG/C190)). James counselled against closer involvement for pragmatic reasons, but suggested that Blacker give the Fascists some of their brochures; it is unlikely that the intention was to win over the Fascists to a ‘voluntary’ stance, given that the Society was not deterred from Nazi eugenics by its coercive policy - indeed, this appeared to be the chief attraction, as Weingart notes: “The astonishing growth and development of race hygiene in Germany were envied by eugenicists abroad” (P. Weingart, ‘German Eugenics between Science and Politics’, Osiris, 2nd series 5, 1989, p. 274).


[xxxii] The Papal Encyclical Casti Connubii (1930) opposed birth control and sterilization; see:, accessed at April 23, 2015.


[xxxiii] The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society, formed in December 1935, subsequently became the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and Dignity in Dying in 2005.


[xxxiv] “Those who promote the supposed ‘right to die’ say that any euthanasia law should have ‘strict safeguards’ to prevent ‘abuse of the law.’ These supposed ‘safeguards’ in effect prescribe who is to be considered ‘right to want to die’, thus qualifying for euthanasia. People with disabling or degenerative conditions, or with terminal illnesses fall into this category while others, who may be equally suicidal, but have no obvious illness or disability, are considered ‘wrong to want to die’ and are helped to live. We even have suicide prevention strategies and teams to help those who are suicidal to survive” (Alison Davis, ‘A Disabled Person’s Perspective on Euthanasia’, Disability Studies Quarterly, Summer 2004, Volume 24, No. 3 (Copyright 2004 by the Society for Disability Studies), accessed at at December 6, 2013). The late Alison Davis attempted suicide on more than one occasion and was angry at being revived, but later came to be grateful; she founded an orphanage for disabled children in India and became a formidable champion for disabled people’s rights.


[xxxv] Although the US “allows abortions virtually for any reason any time during pregnancy up to the day of birth in many states”, in her first speech as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, using terms synonymous for abortion, warned that ‘“deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases”’ had to be ‘“changed’” because ‘“too many women”’ were ‘“denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice - not just on paper”’ (Daily Caller, cited in Steven Ertelt, ‘Hilary Clinton Pushes Abortion in First Speech as Candidate: Too Many Women “Denied” Abortions’, Lifenews, April 24, 2015, accessed at at April 25, 2015).


[xxxvi] British psychiatrist Dr. Doris Odlum, closely involved in changing the law on suicide, was among a number of eugenicists who became stalwarts of the ‘mental health’ movement (B. Schreiber, tr. H. R. Martindale, The Men Behind Hitler: A German warning to the world (Stuttgart, 1972), pp. 63-69); Odlum became the Honorary Secretary of the eugenics-dominated National Council for Mental Hygiene and World Federation for Mental Health associate (Ibid, p. 120; p. 123); ALRA supporter Odlum supported abortion for sexual equality and eugenics reasons (The Lancet, November 3, 1934, p. 1028); a Eugenics Society member, she was approached by C. P. Blacker to provide a woman doctor to move a resolution on eugenic sterilisation at the 1932 Women’s National Liberal Federation conference (C. P. Blacker, letter to D. Odlum, April 5, 1932 (Eugenics Society Archive (SA/EUG/C256)); Odlum agreed, requesting more statistics on mental deficiency (D. Odlum, letter to C. P. Blacker, April 6, 1932 (Eugenics Society Archive (SA/EUG/C256)), believing the public “looked up to doctors and respected them and took their advice far more than was realised” (ALRA Minutes, August 3, 1965 (SA/ALR)). A consultant psychiatrist to suicide prevention organisation The Samaritans, Odlum emphasized various personality traits as “[p]sychological problems”, especially ‘“anxiety-prone”’ conscientious people who tended to be perfectionists and therefore “touchy and difficult to live with”, who could be spotted “the moment” they entered a room; she believed physical symptoms were sometimes caused by psychological problems: “[T]hese people will often come to a Samaritan saying that their doctors are unsympathetic and do not understand them, and that they have all sorts of complaints which the doctors disregard and just treat with sedatives or palliatives” (C. Varah, The Samaritans: Befriending the Suicidal (London: Constable, 1985/1988), pp. 79-88). Another psychiatric consultant to The Samaritans commented that “[u]sually” suicide was the “wrong answer” to people’s problems: “Many would say that it is always the wrong answer though one does from time to time find situations in which one has to admit that in all logic suicide just does make sense and in which one might oneself very well choose suicide” (Dr. R. Fox, ‘The majority of suicides are not mentally ill,’ C. Varah, The Samaritans: Befriending the Suicidal (London: Constable, 1985/1988), p. 106).


[xxxvii] TV cook Mary Berry and novelist Joanna Trollope joined a queue of celebrity supporters of assisted suicide, and Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray made a pact with two friends to help each other die in the event of being diagnosed with debilitating and incurable illness; reportedly, she was “angry that, having fought so hard to become liberated and independent, women are now being trapped into caring for dependent parents”, announcing her intention in the documentary Don’t Get Me Started (Channel 5 TV, August 15, 2006).


[xxxviii] 2013 saw a 4% increase in suicides on the previous year; Professor Shirley Reynolds of Reading University warned: “Depression is closely linked to suicide”; while “[e]ffective treatment” was available, men, whose suicide rate is more than three times higher than that of women, were “a minority of those seeking treatment for depression” (‘Male suicide rates at highest level in more than a decade’, Daily Telegraph, February 20, 2015).


[xxxix] H. G. Wells, Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought (London: Chapman & Hall Ltd., 1901/1902), pp. 300-301. “In a world where pressure upon the means of subsistence was a normal condition of life, it was necessary to compensate for the removal of traditional sexual restraints”, hence his support in Anticipations (1901) for “the propaganda of the Neo-Malthusians”; as Plato had found, “propagation of more and franker and healthier love-making was not...a simple proposition. It carried with it certain qualifying conditions” (H. G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography: Discourse and Conclusions of a very ordinary brain (since 1866). Vol. II (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1934), p. 475).


[xl] Churchill’s depression has been seen as a symptom of subconsciously blaming himself for the neglectful treatment of much-loved parents whom he idolised (A. Storr, Churchill’s Black Dog and other Phenomena of the Human Mind (London: Collins, 1988), pp. 30-31).


[xli] In 1933 it was reported that the German Ministry of Justice wished to “authorize physicians to end the sufferings of incurable patients”, so that doctors could “‘end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interests of true humanity’”; safeguards included obtaining the opinion of three doctors - “a guarantee...that no life still valuable to the State” would be “wantonly destroyed”; however, if the patient was “‘no to express his desire”’, his ‘“nearer relatives”’ could do so (Associated Press, Berlin, October 7, 1933, in ‘The Slippery Slope to Hell’, New York Times, October 1933).


[xlii] “Doctors are being told to ask all patients over 75 if they will agree to a ‘do not resuscitate’ order. New NHS guidelines urge GPs to draw up end-of-life plans for over-75s, as well as younger patients suffering from cancer, dementia, heart disease or serious lung conditions”; the NHS said that the guidance would “improve patients’ end-of-life care”, but medical professionals said it was “‘blatantly wrong’” and would “frighten the elderly into thinking they are being ‘written off’. In some surgeries, nurses are cold-calling patients over 75 or with long-term conditions and asking them over the phone if they have ‘thought about resuscitation’. Other patients have spoken of the shock of going in for a routine check-up and being asked about resuscitation. The extraordinary new guidance has been brought in despite the outcry over the use of ‘do not resuscitate’ orders under the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP). The discredited pathway was scrapped last year after the Mail revealed that doctors were placing ‘DNR’ notices on patients without their knowledge and depriving them of food and fluids. The guidelines – which also recommend patients should be asked if they want to die at home – have been drawn up by experts advising NHS England, the organisation which runs the health service” (Daily Mail, April 27, 2015, accessed at at April 27, 2015). “In the sinister euphemism of the guidelines, the aim is to give everyone an agreed ‘end of life care plan’. But isn’t Professor Patrick Pullicino nearer the mark when he warns: ‘This is the thin end of the wedge of assisted suicide’?” (‘Chilling question no GP should have to ask’, Daily Mail, Comment, April 27, 2015, accessed at at April 27, 2015).


[xliii] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act III, scene i.


[xliv] John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from this World to That Which Is to Come, Delivered  under the Similitude of a Dream (Ware, Herts.: Wordsworth Classics, 1678/1996), pp. 92-96.


[xlv] Citing cases of cancer sufferers on Medicaid in Oregon being offered a lethal prescription instead of cancer treatment, Wesley J. Smith quoted Peg Sandeen, executive director of the National Death With Dignity Center: ‘“I think the [Affordable Care Act] is going to change how we access healthcare and that change is going to come slowly. What I hope it means is that people have access to a wide span of options across the health spectrum”’; as Smith comments: “In other words, that is the plan!” He quotes Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry from Freedom to Die: People, Politics, and the Right-to-Die Movement (written with Mary Clement (2000)): ‘“A rational argument can be made for allowing [physician-assisted suicide] in order to offset the amount society and family spend on the ill…There is no contradicting the fact that since the largest medical expenses are incurred in the final days and weeks of life, the hastened demise of people with only a short time left would free resources for others”’; Smith points out that the “assisted suicide advocacy organization, the euphemistically named Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) was deeply involved – by the group’s own account – in drafting portions of the Obamacare legislation. So, could Obamacare lead to greater assisted suicide?  You betcha” (Wesley J. Smith, ‘Will Obamacare boost assisted suicide?’, LifeSiteNews, October 3, 2013, accessed at at October 4, 2013).


[xlvi] This was the “idea of free will operating under conditions of design”, in which “there is an aim and it is the business of a man to aim at it” (G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1925/1993), 241-242).


[xlvii] “The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1995), para. 1747, p. 391).


[xlviii] The ‘father’ of ‘spin’, Edward Bernays, utilised the ideas of his uncle Sigmund Freud and also sampled public opinion through conversation to help him shape his early marketing campaigns (Larry Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations (New York: Owl Books, 2002), pp. 10-12); see also: ‘Century of the Self’; BBC2 TV, Episode 2, ‘The Engineering of Consent’.


[xlix] “...I am not at all frightened. I never can understand why people are – unless, of course, they are Christians. I should be horribly frightened if I was one of them. But, you see, we both know that there is nothing beyond. It is life that I am frightened of – not death. Of course, I should be frightened if there was any pain; but the doctors tell me there is absolutely none. It is simply going to sleep” (R. H. Benson, Lord of the World (Cirencester, Gloucs.: Echo Library, 1907/2005), p. 197); regulations were laxer elsewhere (Ibid, p. 211).


[l] According to former pornography addict Matt Fradd, author of The Battle Plan, which outlines his approach to beating the addiction, even the pornography industry is aware of a kick-back from users (Matt Fradd, ‘The tide is turning against the porn industry. And they’re scared’, LifeSiteNews, March 11, 2015, accessed at at March 13, 2015). See also the experience of post-abortive women, accessed at

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