New York Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Byrne, centre left, and Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, join fellow pro-life advocates in reciting the rosary across the street from Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger clinic in New York City in 2020. Sanger’s name is being removed from the clinic for her “racist legacy” and advocacy of eugenics, said Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Campus group dissects ‘better off dead’ mentality

  • September 1, 2021

The National Campus Life Network (NCLN)’s latest summer webinar “Better off Dead???” started raw and personal.

Keynote speaker Samuel Sey, a prolific and prominent Christian blogger and social media personality, shared his own story at the Aug. 26 event about how his own father indirectly pronounced it would have been better for Sey not to have been born.

“When my brother — he’s eight years older than me — was born, my parents were extremely poor. Poverty was all we knew in Ghana. My mom got pregnant and my father essentially told her I would be better off dead because he didn’t believe he could take care of the family with me coming into the family.

“Because of that, my father abandoned my pregnant mother and older brother and we’ve not seen him since then.”

After the Brampton, Ont., resident shared his personal stories, the presentation shifted to a discussion about eugenics, abortion, disability rights and racism. Sey and moderator Ruth Lobo, the long-time executive director of the NCLN, looked at how these issues could conceivably compel someone to say or think “you’d be better off dead because….”

“This (‘better off dead’) mentality is not just a past issue — it is prevalent now,” said Lobo. “When you get involved in activism and debates online, you begin to hear this rhetoric over and over again. I’m curious how this idea that has spread across so many spectrums developed.”

Sey approached the question through a historical lens. He suggested the Social Darwinism ideologies of the late 19th century led to the creation of a “survival of the fittest” mentality. One of the key hypotheses is that biology determines life’s winners and losers. The adoption of this way of thinking naturally creates a glide path towards examining the dissimilarities between different biological groups.

He mentioned 1939 as a significant year in the practice of eugenics, which advocates that the human species could be improved by mating people with desirable hereditary traits.

The most infamous example of the movement was notion of a superior “Aryan race” that emerged out of Adolph Hitler’s Germany. That same year, the Negro Project was established in the U.S. under the leadership of Birth Control Federation of America — later called Planned Parenthood Federation of America — headed by Margaret Sanger. The idea was that poverty among the Black population in the south could be alleviated through greater access to birth control. The project died after three years and Sanger’s support of the eugenics movement left her legacy in tatters. This summer, Planned Parenthood of New York announced it would be removing her name from its Manhattan clinic for “her racist legacy.”

Lobo said she is scared “about how the eugenics mentality has gotten much worse in Canada.”

“I have a friend who had a baby who ended up passing away, and it was really difficult. She met people who said, ‘it would have been better if this kid was not born at all.’ And that is obviously very difficult for her to hear as you would hope as a culture that we could value the small ways someone could live, even if just for a few weeks or months.”

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