Twenty-five medical specialties currently offer board certification in the United States. The question is, should there be a 26th specialty--that of euthanasia? Physician-assisted suicide has clearly been brought to the forefront of public debate by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the retired Michigan pathologist, and the passage of the Oregon Proposition. The concern becomes multifold; should physician-assisted suicide be allowed? On whom should it be allowed? Should all physicians be allowed to participate, or only a select few? All physicians take either the Hippocratic Oath or World Health Organization Oath (or both) at medical school commencement, which forbids the taking of a life. How then are we to reconcile physician-assisted suicide? The Dutch have extensive experience with euthanasia assisted by physicians. It has become increasingly clear that a great deal of pressure will be directly or indirectly exerted on physicians to withhold or minimize treatment with terminally ill patients at both spectrums of life. The need to face these decisions will be pushed by economic interests. It is well documented historically that Nazi doctors conducted numerous experiments on concentration camp inmates in the name of research and scientific truth. How did these doctors become part of Hitler's killing machine in the 1940s? By 1942, the Nazified physicians were ready to cure the nation by killing off "useless eaters," and Jews, the "cancer" of the Nordic race. If we are taught that history repeats itself, how can we condone the helping of one patient and assisting another with ending his life? Perhaps it is fitting that Dr. Kevorkian was a pathologist, not directly involved in caring for patients and families. Perhaps we will need the 26th specialty, but the real questions is "Should those of us who took the Hippocratic Oath take the first step?"
The Soviet consultation with its attendant propaganda, visiting nurses, and vacation homes attempted to set science and the doctor as the ultimate authority in matters of child rearing in place of old authorities, deny the contention that motherhood was a natural ability of women, and take over the father's place in the home. Soviet health care policy bridges pre- and postrevolutionary thought, blurred the boundaries between public and private, and mirrored international natalist policies. However, the application of these policies conformed to Soviet concepts of citizens' duties and state imperatives.
The Province of Alberta in Canada was the only jurisdiction in the British Empire where a eugenic sterilization law was passed (in 1928) and vigorously implemented. The pace of sterilization orders accelerated during the Nazi era and remained high after World War II, terminating only in 1972 when the Sexual Sterilization Act was repealed. The Alberta Eugenics Board operated away from public and legislative scrutiny, and many things done in the name of eugenics were clearly illegal. Eugenics was put on trial in Alberta in 1995 and a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench ruled in 1996 that the government had wrongly sterilized Leilani Muir. After hearing evidence about the history of the eugenics movement, the origins of Alberta's Sexual Sterilization Act, the operation of the Eugenics Board, and details of Muir's life, Madam Justice Joanne B. Veit found that 'the damage inflicted by the operation was catastrophic', the 'wrongful stigmatization of Ms. Muir as a moron ... has humiliated Ms. Muir every day of her life', and 'the circumstances of Ms. Muir's sterilization were so high-handed and so contemptuous of the statutory authority to effect sterilization, and were undertaken in an atmosphere that so little respected Ms. Muir's human dignity that the community's, and the court's, sense of decency is offended'. Veit awarded Muir damages of $740,780 CAD and legal costs of $230,000 CAD. The order for Muir's sterilization was signed by John M. MacEachran, founder of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Alberta and chairman of the Eugenics Board from 1929 to 1965. An exponent of Platonic idealism, MacEachran believed sterilization of children with a low IQ test score was a means of 'raising and safeguarding the purity of the race'. However, the Alberta Sterilization Act was passed and implemented with cavalier disregard for the principles of genetics as well as the rights of children.
[Membership in associations connected to the Third Empire of elected representatives of the Swedish Medical Society. The Medical Society should contribute with study material to a planned knowledge center].