by Hilary White

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2006 ( – Bioethics critic and legal counsel for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, Wesley J. Smith, has written in the Weekly Standard that the Dutch outrage over being called “Nazis” by an Italian government minister, is misplaced. According to Smith, the philosophies underpinning the Dutch move towards euthanasia of infants and the Nazi extermination of the “unfit” stem from the same utilitarian, materialistic source.

Italy’s Parliamentary Affairs minister, Carlo Giovanardi, said in a radio interview, “Nazi legislation and Hitler’s ideas are re-emerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children.”

The Dutch Prime Minister complained to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi saying, “This is not the way to get along in Europe.”

Smith quips in the Weekly Standard, “In the New Europe, what is said matters more than what is done.”

“Thus,” he writes, “the prime minister of the Netherlands thinks that killing babies because they are born with terminal or seriously disabling conditions is not a scandal, but daring to point out accurately that German doctors did the same during World War II, is.”

Giovanardi and Smith are both referring to the German government’s covert pre-war euthanasia program in which, starting with infants and children, the “racial hygiene” eugenic philosophy was implemented and the gas chamber technology was developed.

Smith points out that while the Dutch response was technically correct – they are not Nazis in the sense of being members of Germany’s National Socialist Party – the ideas and rhetoric of justification are nearly indistinguishable.

Smith says that Dutch euthanasia proponents claim their program is different because it is motivated by “compassion.”“Of course,” he says, “it is the act of killing disabled and dying babies that is wrong, not the motivation.”

The originators of the Nazi’s justification for euthanasia were, Smith points out, highly respected academics who promoted killing the terminally ill as “purely a healing treatment” and a “healing work.” The German program, begun officially in 1938, included “safeguards” of a panel who were to judge whether infants qualified as “life unworthy of life.”

Smith contrasts this with the Dutch Groningen Protocol that also lays out “safeguards” and guidelines to decide which infants are deemed to have an “unlivable life.”Â

Minister Giovanardi said the killing of infants would lead to the euthanizing of elderly and disabled persons. Smith points out that the historical comparison holds; the killing of German disabled infants led to the infamous T-4 program that dispatched disabled adults including war veterans.

“During the later war years,” Smith writes, “German doctors killed any patient they pleased, often without medical examination, usually by starvation or lethal injection.”

Read the full article from the Weekly Standard: