Conclusion

The cautions enumerated above are not meant to suggest that there are not appropriate and thoughtful attempts to use the Holocaust in bioethical argumentation. The Holocaust stands as a signal moment in the human encounter with euthanasia, unconscionable medical experimentation, victimization of the marginalized and powerless, relentless bureaucracy, eugenic extremism, and other acts and philosophies that bioethics forgets at its peril. Clearly, the considered use of the Holocaust can illuminate and strengthen a moral position. For example, many antiabortion and anti— embryo research scholars have tried to use the Holocaust as a thoughtful and nonsensational analogy to explore issues of vulnerability and medical justification (Neuhaus).

Bioethics is most effective when it pursues reasoned moral discourse, and the use of hyperbole and rhetorical strategies that depend on shock and insult cheapens the enterprise as a whole. In such cases the Holocaust does not inform bioethical debate but instead erodes it. The lessons of the Holocaust have profound meaning for modern bioethics, and the atrocities committed must stand as a bellwether against moral recidivism. Invoking the Holocaust to score rhetorical points, however, fails as a rhetorical strategy and degrades the genuine lessons that the Holocaust offers to bioethical discourse.

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