Monday, September 15, 2003

Review in USA Today about Edwin Black's War Against the Weak. In this book Black describes the connections between American researchers and those in Nazi Germany. To quote:
There was research collaboration and reports on the Nazi efforts in respected journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The sad history of forced sterilization in the U.S. is also mentioned. It goes without saying that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were horrible acts that should never be allowed to happen again, and that the forced sterilization of "undesirables" in the U.S. was a great injustice. But is a person without health insurance a victim of that magnitude?
Apparently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association thinks so:
But DeAngelis (Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD, MPH) sees echoes of eugenics in the plight of uninsured Americans. The sense of entitlement that led the best and the brightest to call for removal of the unfit allows 40 million to go without health insurance now, she says. "We don't castrate people anymore, but by not providing them access to health care, we still mistreat the weak and the poor."
Can we compare people who were sterilized against their will, or killed, because of a disability or their ancestry, to people who don't have health insurance? Sometimes by choice? In a country where emergency care is provided to all who need it? I think that the comparison made above diminishes the injustice done to those who suffered from the advocates of eugenics over the past 100 years.
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