Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, Part 1

Yes, it’s true…after seven years, I finished reading The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert Jay Lifton (click here to see it on  I began reading this book because I had just started working at Lutherans For Life and I wanted to see if I could gain more insight into how doctors, nurses, and others in the medical profession could take part in abortions.

If you’re not familiar with the book, I highly recommend it for two reasons. The first is that although everyone knows that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, most people don’t know that non-Jews were also killed en masse. Most people also don’t know of the breadth of medical experiments that were perpetrated on unwilling subjects. It’s important for each of us to understand how the sinful human self can so easily overtake whatever “goodness” we think is inside us.

The second reason why I recommend this book is that Lifton (a psychiatrist) attempted to unravel the psychology of those who were for the most part, normal, everyday doctors outside of concentration and extermination camps of Nazi Germany. One example is a doctor who had a private practice in his hometown that helped Jews at night prior to his posting at Auschwitz, but after arriving at Auschwitz, he easily took part in the experiments on Jewish prisoners and selections of Jews for death.

There really is too much to cover in a blog, but I wanted to highlight some of the things that struck me, even as I think about today’s medical professionals who take part in abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicides. I saw many parallels in what happened 70 years ago and what is happening in our society today.

Lifton identified that post WW I Germany was a beaten down and depressed state. From that situation arose a new collective desire to restore the people and to rid the people of its problems. Not wanting to identify the German people (the Volk) as the cause of their own misery, the Nazis created a mythical ancestor, the Aryan race, that was pure and strong. But that race had (and continued to have) a disease running through it due to impurities brought in by people of other ethnic backgrounds or those with genetic diseases in their families. To cure the Volk of that disease, the impurities needed to be removed, even if it meant death for the “impurities.” In other words, death became a cure and from that cure, the strength of the Aryan race would re-emerge. From the book (page 472):

Totalistic ideology avoids the sting of death in its claim to invincibility and omnipotence. It puts forward its own claim to immortality and exclusive truth in specific psychological manipulations of the environment…:

  1. Milieu control (of all communication);
  2. Mystical manipulation (continuous efforts at behavior control from above while maintaining the spontaneity from below);
  3. Demand for purity (constant accusations of guilt and shame in the name of an unrealizable ideal of absolute devotion and self-sacrifice);
  4. The cult of confession (ritual self-exposure to the totalistic “owner” of every self);
  5. The sacred science (combining deification of the Word with the claim of equally absolute secular scientific authority);
  6. Loading of the language (into definitive, thought-terminating solutions for the most complex human problems);
  7. Doctrine over person (so that the evidence of individual experience must be subsumed to or negated by the idea system); and
  8. The dispensing of existence (the ultimate and inevitable line drawn between those with a right to exist and those who possess no such right).

The last, the dispensing of existence, is the larger principle that encompasses all of the others, whether expressed in merely metaphorical or, as in the case of the Nazis, in directly murderous ways.

Indeed, the Nazi movement brought a new literalism to the dispensing of existence by making the existence of each individual a matter of either harm or benefit to the biological health of the group.

Although I can see  pro-abortion tactics in each of these steps, the dispensing of existence is the most fearsome. That has already happened in our society since pregnancy (and thus the acknowledgment that human life has been created) is seen as something to be avoided at all costs. In fact, this ideology is so steeped in American society that it is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that keeps track of fertility and pregnancy rates in the US…as if pregnancy was a disease to be controlled and prevented…as if that human life in the womb has been determined to be a “harm or a benefit to the biological health of the group.”

Stay tuned, there’s more to come. (Click here for part 2.)

Not the Kind of Health Care Reform that We Need

The current legislation being considered by Congress is of grave concern for pro-life folks.  In a nutshell, there are provisions in the legislation that would require federal funds (your tax dollars) to be used fund abortions. It can also be used to force medical professionals to perform abortions even if they morally object to abortion, thus circumventing the conscience clauses currently in effect to protect them.

Another end result of this legislation is the requirement for equal access to abortions for everyone. That could mean, for example, that even if a community doesn’t want an abortion clinic in its neighborhood, they may be forced to accept one because per this legislation everyone is entitled to have access to an abortion if they so choose; and that right to access could trump the rights, and override the objections of, the people living in the neighborhood.

Let’s not forget about the other life issues impacted by the type of health care reform currently being proposed. A rating system is being considered to determine who should be eligible for certain medical treatments. This would create a so-called “quality of life” index – – if you don’t rate high enough, you won’t get the treatment you need.  This is already happening in other countries with nationalized health care systems – it’s called “rationing.” Is this what you want for your future?

Here are some links to help illumine the facts. When you’re done reading these sites, go to the National Right to Life link at the end to send a message to your congressional representatives urging them to oppose the health care reform legislation. You can also participate in a webcast on Thursday evening, July 23 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time with several pro-life leaders (Father Frank Pavone, Dr. James Dobson, Congressman Chris Smith, Congressman Joe Pitts, and many others) by clicking here to register.

Information Links:

Click here for a collection of National Right to Life press releases and articles.

Click here for the Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the health care reform legislation.

Click here for the Family Research Council’s analysis about what is included in the legislation.

Click here for an op-ed piece from the Wall Street Journal about President Obama’s plans for health care reform. This article is from December 20, 2008 and was a harbinger of what is being discussed now and what will be coming down the road soon.

And since we should look at the other side once in a while, click here for an article by Peter Singer calling for rationed health care which appeared on-line on July 15, 2009 and was published in the July 19, 2009 issue of the New York Time Magazine. By the way, Peter Singer is a professor at Princeton University who supports and promotes abortion-on-demand, infanticide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia.

Action Links:

Click here for the National Right to Life page to send message to your congressional representatives (scroll to the bottom).

Click here to register for a webcast by pro-life leaders discussing aspects of the current health care reform legislation we should be concerned with.

The China Model

It would seem that other countries are following the China model for abortions: don’t like the gender of the baby, go ahead and end its life.  Click here to read this short article about Sweden and how its National Board of Health and Welfare recently decided that abortions based on the gender of the baby are NOT illegal.  In fact, the board noted that any request for an abortion up to the 18th week of pregnancy cannot be refused, no matter what the reason for the abortion.  This article reminds us of the importance of the conscience protection regulations currently in place in protecting American medical practitioners from being forced to do anything contrary to their beliefs and values. See Freedom 2 Care’s website to write President Obama and Congress to keep in place regulations that protect our medical professionals.

For me, the disturbing undercurrent of all the talk is this: what kind of world do we live in when “the right to choose” [insert: gender-based abortions, infanticide, or eugenics] is so revered that it is not only allowed, but encouraged by governments? Isn’t it bad enough that China has coerced abortions and many are performed due to the gender of the baby, but now other nations want to follow that model as well? In fact, nations around the world that outlaw abortions are being targeted by pro-abortion organizations to relax their laws – recent examples include the Dominican Republic and East Timor.

When will the people of this nation and of other nations stand up and speak for the most vulnerable of our societies? When will we clearly state that the “right to choose an abortion” really means the “right to kill another human being”? And when will we finally understand what Martin Luther wrote in the Large Catechism about the 5th Commandment–You shall not commit murder:

…under this commandment not only he is guilty who does evil to his neighbor, but he also who can do him good, prevent, resist evil, defend and save him, so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him, and yet does not do it. …[I]f you see any one innocently sentenced to death or in like distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. (LC, Part I, 189-190)

It is not enough to just say “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but it should be legal for those who want the “right to choose”.  We need to speak for those who are innocently sentenced to death (1.2 million every year in America, 41.6 million every year worldwide) and protect all human life, no matter the size, degree of development, or location of that human life.