Dr. Peter Singer of Princeton University would call it "odious" to compare his work with that of the Nazi T4 Program and the Lebensborn Program (though like Singer, "Permission To Destroy Life" published in 1920 Germany categorized those who should be killed for the greater good). He would explain that he did not want to kill my disabled son, but that my life would have been better if I had been given the option of killing him as a baby. He would tell me that he believes parents such as I have a moral right to be able to kill our newborn children if they have disabilities. He would say that we should be able to satisfy our reasonable preferences to have a healthy, typically-developing child with a “better prospect for happiness.” He would also say that we should not feel threatened, for "human beings are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time.” He would tell me that newborns are not persons.
Peter Singer’s moral system of preference utilitarianism is a popular topic in many intellectual circles and in the post-religious societies of
Behind the mask of intellectual beneficence Peter Singer and his followers tell us what is good for us, for the disabled, the sick, the elderly, and the world. Their ethics are concerned with a quality of life which is based on rationality and self-awareness, not the sanctity of life.
"During the next 35 years, the traditional view of the sanctity of human life will collapse under pressure from scientific, technological, and demographic developments. By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct." ~ Peter Singer, "The Sanctity of Human Life", 2004.
Leo Alexander, a reporter on the war crimes of the Holocaust said, "It all started with the acceptance of the attitude that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived." From the tiniest human beings to the institutionalized elderly, from the disabled who are regarded as without value, to the prisoner on death row, the whole, the broken, the saints the sinners, we must stand for those who cannot help themselves. Human life is not disposable, and every person's life possesses human dignity. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by a philosopher, a medical system, or a nation. They are an entitlement given to every human being by virtue of their humanity.
"I accepted the brains, of course. Where they came from and how they came to me was really none of my business." Dr. Julius Hallervorden on his participation in the Nazi euthanasia program for persons with disabilities and illnesses, 1945.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for my life and the life of my child. Open my eyes, my ears, my hands and my heart to the needs of Your people. Turn all hardened hearts toward You, and teach us to love and cherish all of the lambs and sheep of Your flock. Amen.
Dr. Singer is a professor at Princeton University and teaches at the Center for Human Values. He is a member of President Obama's Health Care Team.