Robert Knight

“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime … society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes….Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Thus, the state of Virginia went ahead and sterilized the “feeble-minded” Carrie Buck. The Old Dominion had been a latecomer, adopting its compulsory sterilization law in 1924. Indiana had begun the trend in 1907, with 32 other states following suit.

Over in Germany, the Nazis took note of America’s sterilization campaign, and began their own program, sterilizing married couples who had noticeable “defects” so they could not pass them on to their children. This quickly evolved to outright euthanasia of mentally and physically handicapped people. Patricia Heberer, Ph.D., a historian at the United States Holocaust Museum, chronicled how the “mass euthanasia campaign preceded the Final Solution (the killing of six million Jews) by two years.” She noted during her presentation that at one point, 45 percent of German doctors were members of the Nazi Party.

“They began with disabled children and infants, and expanded it up to 17 years old,” she said. Shortly thereafter, the T-4 program, which was carried out from 1939 to 1945, killed 200,000 to 250,000 people deemed “unfit.” This was in addition to the millions of Jews slain in the death camps. When American troops arrived at one sanitarium two weeks after the war ended in May 1945, they found doctors and nurses still busy killing “anyone no longer useful,” including wounded German soldiers.

Scientific advances are a two-edged sword, as C.S. Lewis observed. As genetic engineering becomes more doable, the temptation will increase to tamper with human life. We are already far along that track.

On Jan. 24, the March for Life observed the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (1973), which opened the door to 52 million abortions of unborn children in America.

Many Holocaust survivors resent comparison of legal abortion with their own unmitigated horrors, and I’m mindful of their sensitivities. However, C.S. Lewis’s warning about the mortal dangers of man’s unchecked pride apply anywhere that human beings are treated as disposable.

Prof. James Giordano of the Potomac Institute opened the Jan. 14 seminar by noting that in terms of research, the ’90s were “the decade of the brain, the 2000s were the decade of the mind, and the 2010s are the decade of pain control.”

How far will we go to eradicate pain and enhance pleasure? As we career toward the brave new world of engineered human beings in a land of abortion on demand, each “advance” must be weighed as to how it will affect the weakest and most defenseless among us.

An outspoken Christian, Lewis found hope in the natural, God-given love that still governs:

“We may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.”

In Deuteronomy 30:19, Moses conveys God’s view: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

The law needs to reflect the Divinely-inspired moral order. Thomas Jefferson not only thought that “all men are endowed by their Creator with the right to life,” but gave it top priority:

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.