It all seemed painfully reminiscent of the Nazi era that Germany thought it left behind. In Hitler’s Reich the lives of disabled persons, including children, were seen as “unworthy”. But those attitudes weren’t exclusive to Germany, nor were they limited to the 1930s and 40s. In July 1962 (by now the extent of the Thalidomide epidemic was known), John Kerans, a conservative member of the British parliament, suggested introducing a law that would allow doctors to apply euthanasia to babies malformed by Thalidomide. He called it “mercy killing”.
The law never passed, but Kerans wasn’t the only one who thought euthanasia was justified when a child was born with severe deformities. In Belgium Suzanne Vandeput killed her one-week-old Thalidomide baby with the help of a doctor. They were later acquitted of all charges – a verdict that received a high degree of approval by the public.