Name Date Course Section/# Black Stork and Its Implications for the Acceptance of Eugenics As a result of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution near the end of the 1800’s, people began to take his ideas and run them to their logical conclusions…
It was the belief of those that ascribed to this type of world view that such a human was possible and the only thing that was stopping the further evolution of mankind was societal constructs of mercy and value towards all life equally. The proponents of the eugenics movement, Dr. Harry J. Haiselden himself a member, advocated for a more direct approach towards achieving this particular interpretation of Darwin’s theories (Pernick, 1996). The rational for this particular worldview was not formed from a state of mind that espoused hatred, malice, or contempt for human life; instead, the proponents of eugenics sought to create an idealistic world in which society would no longer be plagued by disease, and genetic disorders – a world in which a superhuman would eventually emerge. As such, opponents to the eugenics movement quickly crystallized around the belief and notion that all human life was sacred and it was not for the doctor/attending physician or anyone else for that matter to deem what life was not worthy of being saved through his own inaction allow an infant to die (Voluntary Euthanasia, 1932). As such, in 1919 a silent movie entitled Black Stork began to be shown in the then rare theaters. The movie was concentric around the actions/inactions of Dr. Harry J. Haiselden which led to the deaths of many infants the doctor deemed unworthy of life. Although this name is not likely to ring any bells currently, this was a medical doctor whose exploits were the thing of tabloid newspapers at the time. Due to the fact that Dr. Haiselden was a strong proponent of eugenics he was known to withhold treatment from certain infants that when born required immediate surgical procedures to ensure their continued longevity. As such, Dr. Haiselden was known to withhold theses procedures deeming it as a mercy to the child and to society to prevent them from being a drain on their parents and the society at large. As such, the movie displayed in detail the process through which the doctor would make these determinations as well as the graphic display of the corpses of the dead and dying infant with its own mother. This practice alone caused the film to have to be edited on a number of occasions in order to tone down the graphic displays of death and dying that were presented to the audience (CITE). The idea of eugenics, coupled with the fact that many in society were willing to carry to an ultimate end the theory of natural selection (aided by human hands) and survival of the fittest, meant that a term was brought into the lexicon of the medical community and society at large in a new and revamped way. The term itself, “Euthanasia” had previously had a much different meaning; however, due to the exploits of individuals such as Doctor Haiselden, the meaning grew from “efforts to ease the sufferings of the dying without hastening their death" to “actively or inactively ending life in an effort to end suffering” (Capron, 1974). As such, the term greatly progressed from what was its original meaning. Furthermore, the movement was presented to society in ways that they could no longer ignore the implications that such practices brought along with them. It is interesting to theorize what would have happened with eugenics and euthanasia had Hitler not risen to power in Germany during the early 1930’s (Benzenho?fer, 2010). Due to the Third Reich’s belief that racial superiority was the best model ...
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