Operation "Euthanasia — Never Again!"
For the Broadest Possible Circulation
by Helga Zepp-LaRouche
Helga Zepp-LaRouche is the founder of the Schiller Institute and the President of the German Schiller Institute.
December 30—When the magnitude of the crimes of the National Socialists became clear in 1945, the horror of the entire world and of Germany was expressed in the words which were, at the same time, felt to be a sacred obligation: "Never again euthanasia!" Now, 65 years later, we are again confronted with potentially the same policy, which is passing from a clandestine rationing of medical care into an open "regulation," of marking certain categories of patients, already not getting good care for a long time, now not to get even adequate care. The latest announcement of the president of the German Federal Medical Association, Prof. Joerg-Dietrich Hoppe, must be viewed as a break in the dam toward such a policy; it announces that the German medical profession, on the basis of an altered sentiment among physicians, will alter its professional code on the subject of assistance in dying. It will no longer be possible to hold to the belief that assistance in suicide be prohibited as unethical according to the physician's code of conduct.
This statement of Professor Hoppe came only a few days before the director of the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dr. Donald Berwick, appointed by President Obama, introduced as of Jan. 1 a new rule, which from now on will compensate physicians in the United States financially, if they can persuade as many patients as possible, under the pretext of planning for the end of life, to refuse life-saving measures in emergencies. Precisely this rule had been explicitly rejected in 2009 by the American Congress, thus by the legislative branch of government, during the debate on the healthcare law, after Lyndon LaRouche had warned that this policy was in the tradition of Hitler's Tiergarten 4 guidelines of 1939. What now comes newly dressed up as a rule -- thus going around the Congress -- will, under conditions of brutal austerity policies, and in combination with the Independent Payment Advisory Board already known as a death panel, create a deadly mechanism subordinating the value of human life to the question of cost.
There is no doubt that Professor Hoppe is likewise very much aware of the inhuman healthcare policies in Great Britain and the United States, just as he also sees the connection with the gigantic bailout package for the banks which have blown themselves out, and the shifting of the costs of this onto the living standards of the population. One can only guess what pressures were applied on him: As recently as the 33rd German Medical Association annual conference in May 2009, in a dramatic keynote speech, he had demanded that there must be a public debate on the hidden rationing of healthcare already occurring in Germany, and that a decision must be made on this policy, either to improve the financial support for healthcare of the legal health insurance funds, or transparently and publicly to accept the rationing advised by "experts" as the potential solution.
Previously, the 66th Annual Meeting of the German Legal Association had taken the position that the cooperation of a physician in a death was not only legally permissible, but even an ethically defensible form of terminal care. Hoppe had responded to this at that time by declaring it to be in the most profound conflict with the spirit and content of the physician's duty: "Clearly and definitely to say: Assisted suicide is no task for a physician, and dear colleagues, may it never become one!"
Then in August 2010 the Allensbacher Institute published a survey, which claimed that one-third of the physicians surveyed pronounced themselves in favor of physician-assisted suicide. And now, when there can no longer remain the slightest doubt that the governments of the United States and Europe, as well as the European Commission, have decided that through the gigantic bailout package for the banks they will reduce existing government indebtedness by means of draconian cuts, in healthcare among other things, Hoppe wants to liberalize the physician's code of conduct and make this the theme of the upcoming 34th Medical Association annual conference!
The author conducted an interview with Professor Hoppe during the 33rd Medical Association conference in Mainz, on this subject, which was published in Neue Solidarität No. 22/2009 (see http://www.solidaritaet.com/neuesol/2009abo/22/hoppe.htm). There the following question was posed:
Question: "Doesn't the danger exist, that if the financial and economic crisis massively intensifies, a kind of triage or rationing of healthcare will necessarily lead on grounds of cost to the practice of euthanasia -- as with the Nazis? In America and also in Great Britain, assisted suicide is entirely openly discussed, and the Obama advisor Ezekiel Emanuel has written about how much can be saved if one allows physicians to give active assistance in dying. I find that monstrous!"
Hoppe: "Yes, it certainly is. I made that very clear in my opening speech; the Medical Assembly approved it, and we will also craft a resolution on this topic. I believe that the Medical Assembly will absolutely stick to its guns on this, defending the position that we have adopted. Among our neighbor countries--one in the north, one in the west, one in the south--there are examples which show us how we do not intend to do it."
Dr. Leo Alexander, one of the plaintiffs in criminal trials against 16 National Socialists who were held responsible in Nürnberg for their leading role in the Hitler era in the mass extermination of human beings whom they regarded as useless eaters, exposed the core of the philosophical principle which had led to these horrible acts, in 1949, only three years after that court proceeding. He described it as rational utility, a Hegelian and Benthamite doctrine which led to the consequence that ever larger groups in the population were treated like cattle and killed, because they allegedly drew too many resources from society or were undesireable in other ways. Hundreds of thousands of German citizens, not to speak of millions of citizens of other countries, were sent to their deaths on the basis of this principle.
This belief in utilitarianism -- many times it was probably described as pragmatism -- has crept back in in the past decades in the United States and Europe, and now plays a decisive role in healthcare policy. Dr. Alexander also warned against the danger of the slippery slope on which there is no stopping once it is trod upon. He wrote:
"But whatever magnitude the [Nazi] crimes finally assumed, it has been clear to all who investigated them that they grew from small beginnings. In the beginning there were, at first, only subtle shifts in the attitude of the physicians. It began with the notion -- which is fundamental to euthanasia -- that there is such a thing as a life which is not worthy to be lived. In the early stages, that affected only the severely and chronically ill. By small degrees, there were added to this category the socially unproductive as well; the ideologically undesirable; the racially undesirable, and finally all not-Germans. It is in fact essential to make clear, that the attitude to the incurably ill was the infinitely small trigger for a total change of opinion. It is thus this subtle change in the attitude of the physician, which one must investigate most fundamentally."
In his 1949 article, in which analyzed the path of the Nazis into medical mass murder, Dr. Alexander found numerous warning signals that American physicians were also instilled with this Hegelian, cold-blooded, utilitarian ideology, which can correctly be designated as Nazi ideology. He noted: "Physicians have advocated the dismissal of simple healing techniques in a dangerous manner. The essentially Hegelian, rational attitude leads them to make certain distinctions in the treatment of acute and chronic diseases. Patients with the latter bear the public stigma of a person who can hardly return again to a full usefulness for the society. In a more and more utilitarian society, one views these patients from on high, in an increasingly peremptory way, as undesirable ballast ..."
It must give occasion for the greatest alarm that today, given an unprecedented collapse crisis of the global financial system which puts the Depression of the 1930s in the shade, we have already slid so far down the slippery slope. We must assert it with total clarity: The trans-Atlantic world is threatened with a new fascism.
There is a way out, and it is the package of measures which Lyndon LaRouche has proposed for some time. They included, first and foremost, the removal of President Obama from office under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, and this above all because the so-called Obamacare violates the American Constitution. This must be followed by the immediate re-introduction of the Glass-Steagall standard, and thus a separated banking system, by which the toxic waste of the blown-out financial titles will be cleared away; and then, in the tradition of FDR and the New Deal, economic reconstruction with NAWAPA must be realized for the United States, and similar programs for Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America.
If we put the physical economy back into the primary place, and with it the creative human being as the essential source of the wealth of society, then we will never again have to perpetuate a view of mankind which subjects us to utilitarian thinking; rather we will again be able to build a good healthcare system as was the case in America with the Hill-Burton Act, and in Germany in the period of the healthcare reforms of Ehrenberg, Geissler, Bluem, Seehofer, Schmid, Lauterbach, and Rösler.
Nothing needs to be changed from the standpoint taken by the brilliant personal doctor of Goethe and Schiller, the physician Christoph-Wilhelm Hufeland, who warned 200 years ago:
"When the sick person is tormented by incurable ills, when he himself wishes for death, when pregnancy engenders illness and danger of death, how easily can the thought then rise up in the soul of the more fortunate one: Should it not be permitted, yes even be one's duty, to free that sufferer somewhat earlier from his burden, or to sacrifice that life in the womb for the welfare of the mother?
"Just so much good as such reasoning appears to possess, so much as it may be supported by the voice of the heart, just so false it is; and a medical practice founded on it would be in the highest degree wrong and criminal. It annihilates straight away the essence of the physician's character. He should and may do nothing other than to uphold life -- whether it is lucky or unlucky, whether it has value or not, is no concern of his. And if he but once presumes to abandon this one consideration of his profession, the consequences will be incalculable, and the physician become the most dangerous person in the state!"
All physicians and others engaged in healthcare, but also all other citizens who feel the obligation, "Never again euthanasia," are thereby called to make sure that the "liberalization" of the professional ethics of physicians announced by Professor Hoppe, be rejected for what it really is.
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