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“Life Unworthy of Life,” Brain Death, and Organ Donors

Lebensunwertes Leben translated from German into English means “life unworthy of life.” This policy permitted euthanasia for people with congenital abnormalities, developmental problems, and mental impairment. Later, it gave rise to the horrors of Nazism, and an attempt to exterminate the Jews. Robert Jay Lifton explains in his 1986 New York Times Magazine article, “German Doctors and the Final Solution”:

Nazi “euthanasia,” in fact, provides a key to an understanding of genocide as inclusive murder of the victim group in order to “cure” one’s own. …That murderous cure must be combated, interrupted, prevented everywhere.

Approximately 6 million Jews, 5,000 children born with genetic deficits, and 200,000 people with neurocognitive problems met their demise under the Lebensunwertes Leben policy. A program supervised by medical doctors in Nazi Germany.

Lebensunwertes Leben did not die out after World War II. Sixty-three million abortions have occurred since 1971 in the U.S. Eighty percent of the babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome, anencephaly, spina bifida, and other congenital disabilities are aborted. These babies are not said to have conditions of “life unworthy of life” but “incompatible with life.” On the other end of life, people with biological signs of life on ventilators are declared dead according to the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA). This represents 90 percent of the organ donors in the U.S. meeting the Dead Donor Rule (DDR). The Lebensunwertes Leben impetus is the same in America: end the lives of those considered less worthy because those deemed more worthy are worth more.

All of this may seem shocking but consider, The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life (translated to English from German) in comparison with the “Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death.” The former was written in 1920 and laid the groundwork for the Nazi policy. The latter was in 1968 and it set the ball rolling to redefine death in the U.S. Both documents discuss physicians’ legal role in determining the line between life and death, the futility of care for those in altered mental states, and the burden these people are to society.

The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life, writes Lifton, revealed that “a policy of killing was compassionate and consistent with medical ethics.” He says the authors “pointed to situations where doctors were obliged to destroy life.” Further, the authors “claim that various forms of psychiatric disturbance, brain damage and retardation indicated that the patients were already ‘mentally dead.’” The authors “characterized these people as ‘human ballast’ and ‘empty shells of human beings.’” According to the authors, Lifton writes, ending the lives of these people “is not to be equated with other types of killing [and it is] an allowable, useful act.”

“Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death” states:

Our primary purpose is to define irreversible coma as a new criterion for death. There are two reasons why there is need for a definition: (1) Improvements in resuscitative and supportive measures have led to increased efforts to save those who are desperately injured. Sometimes these efforts have only partial success so that the result is an individual whose heart continues to beat but whose brain is irreversibly damaged. The burden is great on patients who suffer permanent loss of intellect, on their families, on the hospitals, and on those in need of hospital beds already occupied by these comatose patients. (2) Obsolete criteria for the definition of death can lead to controversy in obtaining organs for transplantation.

The desire of the committee is to redefine death for those in a “coma” judged by a physician to be in an “irreversible” condition but “whose heart continues to beat.” They are a burden to themselves due to their “loss of intellect, on their families, on the hospitals, and on those in need of hospital beds.” These heart-beating people on ventilators are “mentally dead,” “human ballasts,” and “empty shells of human beings.” They possess a “life unworthy of life” according to 1968 Harvard report. Nevertheless, they are valuable to society since they have perfused organs that can be transplanted. Therefore, we can’t let them actually die! Harvesting organs from these people “is not to be equated with other types of killing [and it is] an allowable, useful act.”

The similarities between the two documents are striking. Equally remarkable is the effectiveness of the propaganda associated with the “life unworthy of life” ideologies. The media’s uncertainty about the recent death of Anne Heche and the public’s response underscores the brainwashing and confusion. On August 12, 2022, Heche was declared dead according to the neurological criterion of the UDDA. The actress desired to be an organ donor. Although legally dead, Heche was kept alive for two more days. Newspapers reported she died on August 12 and 14. The Washington Post published an internet article, Why the media declared Anne Heche dead twice.”

Adam Bernstein, the obituary editor, did not recognize brain death as a clear indicator of death. “It’s black and white. There’s no gray area here. If you’re on life support, you’re still alive,” Bernstein was quoted as saying. The public’s reactions to Bernstein’s statement were revealing:

If WP doesn’t acknowledge brain death as death, that’s anti-scientific and potentially damaging for the public, possibly leading to instances of relatives struggling to accept that their loved ones are dead.

If you’re brain dead, you’re dead. That’s what being dead is.

Brain death is death. Hard stop. After that, you are just a bunch of organs available to be harvested.

A brain dead person is basically a beating heart cadaver.

Apparently, the pundits were unaware of the ongoing controversy surrounding brain death and harvesting organs from these types of donors, and it seems Bernstein was.

As recently as May 14, 2021, Dr. Alan Shewmon, a retired Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of California, and 107 experts in medicine, bioethics, philosophy, and law recommended total transparency when it comes to the brain-death criterion of the UDDA. Shewmon authored “Statement in Support of Revising the Uniform Determination of Death Act and in Opposition to a Proposed Revision” in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. According to the article abstract: “People have a right to not have a concept of death that experts vigorously debate imposed upon them against their judgment and conscience.” The way Heche was declared dead is controversial, and Bernstein was honest with his reporting.

In 2018, Harvard Medical School hosted “Defining Death: Organ Transplantation and the Fifty-Year Legacy of the Harvard Report on Brain Death.” According to the experts, the neurological criterion of the UDDA is legal fiction, and the Dead Donor Rule (DDR) does not represent biological death. In a speech, “The Dead Donor Rule as Policy Indoctrination,” David Rodriguez-Arias said: “The history of death determination in the context of organ donation can be described as an indoctrinating attempt to settle a moral controversy.”

The “life unworthy of life” propagandists have persuaded many Americans to accept the UDDA and DDR for organ transplants from “mentally dead” donors, but their “murderous cure must be combated, interrupted, [and] prevented everywhere.” Many are in fact misdiagnosed, all are still biologically alive, and some recover. Cherish Your Life! DON’T Be a Registered Organ Donor!

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