||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Slouching Toward the Unthinkable: MDs as Killers for Government
By: Dale S. Recinella
With barely a shrug of understanding from any quarter of our vast nation, the North Carolina Supreme Court recently decided to make doctors legal killers for the government.
The opinion reads as though the only issue at stake is whether one supports the death penalty. Almost as horrendous as the outcome of that
razor-thin 4-3 decision is the fact that the dissent of the three justices is based upon separation of powers, not on the moral quicksand of
doctors who perform legal killings for government. Has anybody studied world history?
When I taught ethics for international business and multicultural environments for St. John’s University at the Vatican City Oratorio in Rome,
my first class always started with the reality that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were all legal under the laws they had enacted.
Legality is never a guarantee of morality. Our German brothers and sisters learned that lesson the hard way.
Sabine Reichel’s book, What Did You Do In The War Daddy? Growing Up German (1989), should shock us awake. Her probing investigation into how
the Nazi party came to power and obtained the leash to legally commit their mind-numbing crimes against humanity, should banish our shrugs.
She reports her father’s response to the question, “How did it happen?”
I'm shocked when my father tells me he voted for the Nazis with great
enthusiasm in 1933. He had never mentioned it before... He remembers the
chaos: “There was a lot of violence in the streets—people in cars and on
motorbikes were robbed at night—and I had a bike. Hitler made a lot of
promises that made sense to us. We all thought that the death penalty
would stop all that and that Hitler was quite a guy."
We know the destination of the death penalty introduced in Germany by the Nazis. And we know that a key to the horror was turning doctors
into agents for the state’s legal killing. In prior columns we have covered in forensic detail the mechanics of how the developments occurred.
Dr. Charles van der Horst is awake. The professor of medicine at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, wrote his response to the court
decision in the News & Observer:
When a physician attending an execution finds that the prisoner is not dead,
what should the doctor do—resuscitate the prisoner or finish the job? When
doctors start having to make choices about whom to resuscitate and whom
to kill, their entire moral authority is thrown out.
Elected officials and now four state Supreme Court justices prefer to have
anonymous doctors carry out their dirty work, not dissimilar to how others
have created systematic and orderly mechanisms of death in other places
and other times. In the fall of 1947, during the trialat Nuremberg of 16 German
judges and members of the Ministry of Justice, several of the defendants
argued that they had no direct involvement in the mass killings and that
they disagreed with the Nazi system and were simply following established
German law. The Military Tribunal, while sometimes expressing sympathy for
a particular defendant, soundly rejected those arguments and convicted 10
of them. Richard A. Posner, a federal court of appeals judge, wrote that
"judges should not be eager enlisters in popular movements of the day or
allow themselves to become so immersed in a professional culture that they
are oblivious to the human consequences of their decisions."
Dr. van der Horst knows his history.
Our country already stepped onto this slippery slope to hell with doctors killing human beings in the womb. How could anyone who is awake
think it is a good idea for us to slide further into the hell of doctors being legal killers for government?
Our Church and our Bishops do not think so. We must end abortion, end the use of the American death penalty, and prohibit the use of doctors
as killers for the state.
First published: The Florida Catholic OnLine, May 11, 2009
© 2009 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
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Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed