Google+

Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

France Animals “Living Beings Gifted Sentience”



Text  



France has changed the law regarding pets and domesticated animals. They are no longer “movable property” under the law but “living being gifted sentience.” From the The Speaker story:

Animals are now considered to be “living beings gifted sentience.” In this way, an animal is no longer defined by its market value but its intrinsic value. The Civil Code has been harmonized with Rural Code and Criminal Code on this matter.

FNSEA (the main French farmer’s union) criticized the new legislation, fearing the effects with regards to livestock. But after seeing that animals did not receive a new category, the representatives thought things could be worse. This amendment does not change the situation for farmers significantly because it does not create a special status for animals between the men and goods. Animals thus remain property under the Civil Code.

Of course, this begs the question “gifted” by whom or what.

But to the question. Animals are definitely living beings and they are sentient–which means the ability to sense surroundings or feel, as distinguished from rationalitiy. Indeed, their capacity to suffer is the basis for animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws.

Animal rights activists in France apparently see this as an important step toward “personhood” or moral equality for animals. I suppose it could be as that is their goal.

But in and of itself, the law would seem to give a bit of a higher priority to animal welfare, without attacking human exceptionalism. 

Pro Virus Anti Human Vaccine Hater



Text  



This is so potentially destructive of human life that it has to be considered part of the “war on humans.”

Dr. Jack Wolfson believes we should leave the poor viruses that kill us alone by stopping vaccinations. After all, they are part of nature too.  From the Washington Post story:

He said he soon embraced “natural and holistic” medicine. That was when he started challenging vaccines.

He said viruses — not vaccines — are a part of the natural world. “Unfortunately, they mean that some people get sick and some people die,” he said. “But the reality is that we can’t inject our children with chemicals.”

Perhaps we owe the smallpox and polio viruses reparations. Good grief.

Nutty? That’s a polite term for it.

Dangerous? People will die from such attitudes.

Unexpected? No. The “war on humans” caused by anti-human exceptionalism comes in many forms. 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Of the “Death Test” and Death Panels



Text  



When the NHS adopted the “Liverpool Care Pathway” to guarantee quality palliative care, it led to bureaucratic checklist medicine, back door euthanasia, and the terminal sedation dehydration deaths of non-terminally ill patients. It became such a scandal that the LCP had to be scrapped.

Now, technocrats are promoting a “death test” that would supposedly predict when an elderly person would die within 30 days. From the Telegraph story:

Health experts say the checklist will prevent futile and expensive medical treatments which merely prolong suffering. The screening test looks at 29 indicators of health, including age, frailty, illness, mental impairment, previous emergency admissions and heart rate and produces a percentage chance of death within one month and 12 weeks.

Researchers say the aim of Critera for Screening and Triaging to Appropriate Alternative Aare, or CriSTAL for short, is to kick-start frank discussions about end of life care, and minimise the risk of invasive ineffective treatment.

Baloney.

Talk should always be in season, but we know how things go these days. This test would quickly devolve into a pressuring tool to be wielded against families and patients, and ultimately, a bureaucratic check list for denying wanted care.

And by the way, sometimes the “test” would be wrong.

 

 

Dutch “Better Killed than Disabled” Bigotry



Text  



I have been reporting on the non-voluntary euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands for more than 20 years, the infanticide, euthanasia of the elderly “tired of life,” psychiatrists killing the mentally ill.

Often people hear this truth and yawn, “Oh, hum–but Brittany Maynard!”

Now, Gerbert van Loena–a Dutch (once) euthanasia supporting journalist whose partner became disabled only to experience disdain from friends and doctors–has written a book that exposes a pronounced Netherlander death-is-better-than-disabled cultural attitudes. From a review by Barbara Kay in the National Post of Do You Call This a Life?

Van Loenen found himself brooding over certain friends’ reactions to their situation. “It would have been better if he had died,” one said at the outset.

Another told Niek when he expressed frustration, “You choose to go on living, so you have no right to complain.” Once “an average Dutchman who thought of euthanasia as one of the crown jewels of our liberal country,” van Loenen became “someone who was shocked by the harsh tone used by the Dutch when they talked about handicapped life.”

Of course, disability rights activists will tell you they often hear such harsh and discriminatory attitudes here. But combining anti-disabled bigotry with the right to kill creates extreme peril for those deemed to have lives not worth living:

van Loenen says, cultural acceptance of euthanasia has progressed to the point that it is no longer the physician who ends someone’s life without request who must justify his actions; rather it is the physician who decides to prolong a life perceived as meaningless who feels societal pressure.

For me the most unsettling aspect of this fascinating and informative book is the marginalization of the central actor — the “better-off-dead” person — as the discussion turns more and more to the sensibilities of those who are affronted by his continued existence.

This is absolutely consistent with my research over the last 20 years. 

And it is going to get worse as the Dutch couple euthanasia with organ harvesting: ”Sorry, time to die. Someone else deserves your liver more than you.”

But Wesley! Don’t you know euthanasia is progressive and enlightened? No. I don’t.

David Suzuki’s Anti-Human “Blue Dot” Campaign



Text  



The Canadian environmental radical, David Suzuki, is at it again. Not content with denigrating humans as “maggots” that go around defecating on the environment, he now wants to add a “right” in the Canadian Charter to “a clean environment.” As I will explain below, such a “right” would be anti-human as it would destroy Canada’s prosperity and subvert individual liberty.

The campaign, like most radical thrusts, is long on the warm fuzzies and short on specifics to hide its ruinous intent. It uses propaganda–pretty pictures of nature and ugly ones of industry–to persuade the uninformed to jump on the radical environmental bandwagon.

Let’s take a brief look at the campaign, and then I will explain why it is so dangerous. First, Suzuki essentially says we are just another animal in the forest, albeit one that has a unique sense of the future. From the video:

The human brain invented an idea called the future. No other animal has a sense of the future as we do. And because we invented this idea of a future, we are the only animal that said we can affect the future by what we do today.

It is true, of course, that biologically, we are animals. But Suzuki is using the term in its moral sense–creating a moral equivalency between us and them. Otherwise, he would have said, “Unlike animals, humans understand the future.”

Make no mistake, that was on purpose because that is what Enviros believe these days.

To understand why the idea is so destructive, catch this quote from one of the Blue Dot representatives:

Imagine a world where decision makers can only move forward on the environment, working toward a future that is healthier and more secure.

Suzuki then equates the right to a clean environment with defeating racism, sexism, and gay rights. That is a prescription for absolutism.

But here is the thing: We need environmental laws and regulations–but they need to be balanced against individual liberty and the right of enterprise. That’s why environmental governance belongs in the political realm–so that differing views can have input and sway.

However, if you invent a new and fundamental “right” to a clean environment–indeed, one equivalent to civil rights protections–that would eliminate political deliberation over these ideas, as the “right” would be absolute and subsume all other considerations, such as economics and individual freedom.

Indeed, Suzuki makes clear he wants to create a right that forces all levels of government to pass laws and regulations that drive (if he will excuse the term) only in the same Green direction. In such a milieu, the ”environmental” would always prevail over free enterprise, the rights of property, and indeed, individual liberty.

It would also create a huge new field for litigation. Imagine the lawsuits to impede any enterprise that one claimed somehow interfered with the right to a clean environment. The suing would never end!

And that is the intent: Squelch capitalistic enterprise; collectivize economic decisions by requiring all laws and business initiatives run a radical environmental gauntlet. The effect would be to shut down industry, prevent the use of pesticides in agriculture, etc., and thwart individual initiative.

In short, the Blue Dot Campaign would be catastrophic to human thriving. Indeed, the ”right to a clean environment” is the same subversion as “nature rights” and “ecocide,” only with a warmer, but decidedly faux, pro-human veneer.

Let’s hope that Canadians see through the pretense.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

My Bioethics Predictions for 2015



Text  



Each year, the Center for Bioethics and Culture asks me to predict the coming 12 months in bioethics. I have a very good record. For example, last year I made his prediction about Jahi McMath that some would have considered reckless, if not downright foolish. From, “Ready or Not: Here Comes 2015 in Bioethics:”

This is probably my best, most specific, and probably unexpected correctly made prognostication: I warned: “The Jahi McMath ‘brain dead’ controversy will continue.” And so it has. Jahi was moved from California to New Jersey. Contrary to the expectations of physicians, her brain did not liquefy, nor did her body shut down. Two noted neurologists have now said that Jahi no longer meets the criteria for brain death.​

Expect Jahi to be back in the news in 2015.

As for the rest of my predictions, I did pretty well. Hit the link above for the details.

I also predict the future in the article. Here is a sampling.

- The Canadian Supreme Court will impose a constitutional right to assisted suicide on the entire country,

- No state will pass assisted suicide into law in 2015.

- Experiments creating three-parent human embryos will begin.

- A British Columbia Court of Appeal will require nursing homes to starve patients to death who willingly eat, if they so instructed in an advance medical directive.

I hope I am correct about states and assisted suicide. I admit to feeling a bit wobbly.

Perhaps that is because I am increasingly pessimistic about the immediate future. The forces of the culture of death are on the march, supported by their camp propagandists the media.

But, ready or not–here 2015 comes. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it won’t be pretty.

Humans “Worse Than Alien Invasion” Debunked



Text  



The animal rights movement accuses those of us who believe in human exceptionalism of having no empathy for animals. In actuality, animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws demonstrate the opposite. It’s just that those of us who reject animal rights in favor of animal welfare also take human thriving into the equation.

Besides, animal rights activists should remember the cliché that when they point their index finger at us, three of their own fingers are pointing back at them. Animal rights ideology would willingly allow mass human suffering that would be caused should they obtain their ultimate goal of preventing all animal domestication and husbandry. If that ever happened, we would suffer, and how!

In a relatively rare rebuttal to animal rights ideology, Philosophy Today has published a piece by Rhys Southan–apparently a reformed animal rights believer–that is well worth noting

First, he accurately describes the ideological tripe (pardon the pun) of animal rights belief. From, “Why an Alien Invasion is No Argument for Animal Rights:”

One effective rhetorical tactic for animal advocates, then, is to make us imagine what it’s like to be the animals we exploit. That’s the idea behind the thought experiment we’ll call ‘the alien invasion argument’, which supposes that an alien species smarter and more powerful than us lands here, sees that we’re exploiting and killing animals who are weaker and stupider than us, and then decides to follow our example by exploiting and killing the humans.

Ahh, we’re not so keen on the planet’s dominant species selfishly exercising their privilege when the dominant species is no longer us, are we? 

Of course, that assumes animals experiences are akin to ours. But they aren’t:

There are certainly similarities between human and nonhuman experiences, especially when it comes to pain; but cows, pigs, lambs and chickens raised on farms and killed in slaughterhouses do not suffer the same horror and existential anguish as humans would in the same circumstances.

This is why the alien argument is something of a cheat; and why comparing factory farms to the Holocaust and human slavery rings false too.

As I have pointed out, “veganism is murder” too–if one accepts the premise that animals and humans have equal moral worth. Southan mines the same rich vein:

Farmers of the crops vegans eat accidentally kill insects, small mammals and other animals with farm machinery, and they intentionally kill these animals with pesticides that often go on to harm nontarget wildlife through drift and secondary poisonings.

They also allow hunters onto their land to reduce the populations of deer and other ‘pest’ species that might eat their crops. Redirecting water for irrigation kills fish, as does spill-off from fertilizer and pesticides.

We destroy animal habitats to build our cities, and we extract resources from areas that then become either uninhabitable or dangerous. The wild land that we do leave untouched is often fragmented into bits that don’t give animals the space they need to make homes and roam for food, and so cannot sustain them.

Animal rights leads, Southan notes, to the logical proposition that the only way to stop animals from being exploited or in some way harmed by humans is our extinction. As I have noted, some among the nature/animal rights/Hollywood crowd yearn–or at least, are sympathetic to–that very outcome.

Then, a little common sense, so lacking in animal rightism:

The conflicts between humans and other species are genetic and inevitable: our DNA and accumulated knowledge and technology currently makes us the cleverest, most powerful species on the planet. And since we cannot cooperate with wild animals for the mutual benefit of all sentient beings, we have little choice but to dominate instead.

Animal rights is a form of decadence that could only arise in a society that has achieves such stunning success it breeds nihilism and reductionism from those who no longer have to scratch and claw for survival.

 

UK Female Genital Mutilation Epidemic



Text  



This is awful and barbaric: The Independent reports that nearly 500 cases of female genital mutilation were discovered in just 1 month!  From the story:

Almost 500 newly identified cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were reported by hospitals across England in one month, according to the latest figures. An average of 15 cases were discovered each day in November, according to data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Last November 466 cases of FGM were identified; while in October, the first month such figures were compiled, 455 cases were reported. The figures for December are expected this week.

Despite the apparently high number of FGM cases, no one has yet been convicted for the practice, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985.

FGM violates the basic and human rights of these girls–and no matter how much the “intactivists” hysterically howl–it is fundamentally different in fact and intent from male infant circumcision (which can be legitimately debated on its own terms):

- FGM’s purpose is to subjugate:

- FGM aims to destroy normal female sexual response.

- FGM commonly leads to serious health consequences.

- There is no specific scriptural passage instructing girls’ genitals to be cut in any major world religion.

I hope the UK takes a sharply aggressive approach to preventing this barbaric child abuse. But given local law enforcement’s recent unwillingness to stop a child rape gang for fear of appearing “racist,” I am not hopeful. 

Forcing Doctors to Kill



Text  



With assisted suicide, abortion, and starving Alzheimer’s patients to death on the bioethics agenda, the acute question is raised, whether doctors can be forced to kill–or be complicit in the killing–of human fetuses and born people.

Increasingly, the culture of death brooks no dissent–as the splendid Margaret Somerville points out from Canada. From, “A Modest Proposal for Protecting a Physician’s Freedom of Conscience:”

Dr. Marc Gabel, a College official, chairs the working group looking at this issue, which is drafting a new policy on “Professional Obligations and Human Rights.”

Dr. Gabel has been reported as saying that “physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience should not be family physicians” and it seems wants the College to approve that stance. Sean Murphy, of the Protection of Conscience Project, argues that “if it does, ethical cleansing of Ontario’s medical profession will begin this year, ridding it of practitioners unwilling to do what they believe to be wrong.”

The right to killing–for now abortion, perhaps one day, assisted suicide–is a “human right?” Rubbish!

If the only people in medicine are those willing to kill patients and fetuses, none of us will be safe. Somerville suggests an accommodation:

Consideration should be given to creating a public list of physicians who register as having conscientious objection to providing a specified medical procedure. This would allow people who want to be treated by a physician with such values to identify those physicians, at the same time allowing those who want such procedures to avoid those physicians…

Alternatively or in addition to the above, health-care institutions should have the right to declare themselves, for instance, “euthanasia free” and “physician-assisted suicide free” zones. Patients who object to those procedures could then be confident they would not be subject to them.

I have been urging doctors in states where doctor-hastened death is legal to declare themselves in their waiting rooms to be “assisted suicide free zones.” Pro-life Ob/gyns should do likewise.

If assisted suicide becomes widely legal, the next fight will be to ensure that Hippocratic doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others aren’t drummed out of their profession for refusing to kill.

Here is an extended article I wrote several years ago about how conscience clauses could be fashioned to protect dissenting medical professionals.

Culture “Debate” Not Possible in America



Text  



I have been in the trenches of fighting against assisted suicide, health care rationing, radical animal rights, anti-human environmentalism, etc. ad nauseam, for more than 20 years.

About five years ago it hit me like a punch: We can no longer debate these issues. Why?  True debate requires a common frame of reference. But we have none.

Not only do we no longer agree on ends, but differ markedly–almost diametrically–on values and basic morality.  How can one “debate” in such a milieu?

A study published in the American Political Science Review validates my anecdotal observations. According to a Michigan State political scientist, the USA is in a “culture war” because we have become so morally heterogeneous.  From,
“Is There a Culture War?” by William G. Jacoby: 

The empirical results create a picture of extreme heterogeneity that contradicts any notion of widespread agreement on a set of fundamental principles. The situation does not merely represent differences of degree; instead, the variability in the value rankings is great enough to represent differences in kind. There are widely-distributed, almost diametrically opposing views about which values are important and which are not.

It does not seem unreasonable to characterize such sharp differences in feelings about fundamental values as the existence of a culture war.

That explains why I often feel as if I am speaking Swahili to an English speaking country.

So, these days, I tend not to “debate,” but but try to hold up an honest mirror on what I see happening around us in the hope that the reflection causes enough people to pause before we disappear into the abyss.

Of course, my abyss is someone else’s Shangri La. 

A Right to “Personal Recreationism?”



Text  



Forgetting the maxim, “Where fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” over at First Things, I weigh in on the “T” of GLBT, and what creating rights around that issue might portend.

I describe some of the latest developments surrounding transgender rights, and then explore where they might lead.  From, “A Fundamental Right to ‘Personal Recreationism’?”

To be frank, at age sixty-five, I don’t fully understand the cultural dynamics driving these startling social transitions. People want to be fulfilled and lead happy lives as “themselves.” Very well.

But I also worry that once we accept the premise that we have a fundamental right to be physically remade to comport with how we feel about ourselves—and to have society act in accordance—we will have crossed a cultural Rubicon, leading to extreme outcomes.

Take the anguishing condition—often compared to gender dysphoria—known as body integrity identity disorder (BIID). People who suffer from BIID are convinced—they know—that they inhabit wrongly intact bodies, that their real and true identities are as amputees or even as paraplegics or quadriplegics.

Over the last ten years, arguments have increased in medical and bioethical journals for permitting the amputation of healthy limbs as a treatment for BIID—and for many of the same reasons that treatment of gender dysphoria can now include surgical alteration.

And that leads me to transhumanism, which claims a right to recreate humans in any form technology can take us.

I conclude:

The current controversies surrounding gender dysphoria seem to be leading toward the establishment of a fundamental right to (let’s call it) personal recreationism. I understand why many see this as the most humane and liberating course. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Once that principle is accepted, there will be no limits.

Human logic, once set in motion, is an unstoppable force.

Big Step Toward Human Fetal Farming!



Text  



I have warned for some time that we may one day use aborted human fetuses as sources of organs.

Now, scientists have transplanted human kidneys from killed fetuses and grown them in rats. From the LiveScience story:

Researchers say they have developed a new technique that will get more kidneys to people who need transplants, but the method is sure to be controversial: The research shows that it is feasible to remove a kidney from an aborted human fetus, and implant the organ into a rat, where the kidney can grow to a larger size.

It’s possible that further work could find a way to grow kidneys large enough that they could be transplanted into a person, the researchers said, although much more research is needed to determine whether this could be done.

“Our long-term goal is to grow human organs in animals, to end the human donor shortage,” said study co-author Eugene Gu, a medical student at Duke University and the founder and CEO of Ganogen, Inc., a biotech company in Redwood City, California. [The 9 Most Interesting Transplants]

Fetal farming is definitely on its way. Here’s another example: Extract the eggs from ovaries of aborted female fetuses for use in cloning or fertility treatments–now being actively investigated.

But why go through the bother and expense of transplanting fetal organs into animals?  Why not just pay women who want to abort to gestate longer into term so the transplant can be made directly after tissue typing? That has already been proposed. From an essay by bioethicist Jacob M. Appel:

Since far more women have legal abortions each year in the United States than would be required to clear organ wait-lists, if only a small percentage of those women could be persuaded to carry their fetuses to the necessary point of development for transplantation, society might realize significant public health benefits.

The government could even step into the marketplace itself to purchase fetal organs for patients on Medicare and Medicaid, ensuring that low-income individuals had equal access to such organs while keeping the “asking price” elevated…

Someday, if we are fortunate, scientific research may make possible farms of artificial “wombs” breeding fetuses for their organs — or even the “miracle” of men raising fetuses in their abdomens. That day remains far off. However, the prospect of fetal-adult organ transplantation is a much more realistic near-term possibility. A market in such organs might benefit both society and the women who choose to take advantage of it.

And heck, once cloning can be done, why not clone, gestate in a woman or in an artificial womb, and then harvest? That is also on the futuristic table.

All things become possible when we cease believing that human life matters morally simply and merely because it is human.

Let’s Force Doctors to Starve Alzheimer’s Patients!



Text  



Immoral bioethical policies and practices advance toward implementation through discourse–first in professional journals, and then in elite popular media columns. 

That process is now gearing up regarding what I call “VSED-by-Proxy.”  

VSED stands for “voluntary stopping eating and drinking”–suicide by self-starvationpushed for the elderly and others by those compaaaaa–ssssss–ionate death zealots at the Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices.

But what about mentally incompetent residents of nursing homes who willingly eat, but who years previously stated in an advance medical directive that they wanted to be made dead by starvation under such circumstances?

We see increasing advocacy in bioethics that nursing homes be required to starve such patients to death–even if they are then happy, even if they willingly eat, and even, one supposes, if they ask for food. In other words, the idea is that the demented patient is incompetent to decide to eat if he had earlier directed that he be starved to death!

And now VSED-by-Proxy has been validated by respectful reportage in the New York Times. From, “Complexities of Choosing an End Game for Dementia,” by Paula Span:

Jerome Medalie keeps his advance directive hanging in a plastic sleeve in his front hall closet, as his retirement community recommends. That’s where the paramedics will look if someone calls 911. Like many such documents, it declares that if he is terminally ill, he declines cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a ventilator and a feeding tube.

But Mr. Medalie’s directive also specifies something more unusual: If he develops Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, he refuses “ordinary means of nutrition and hydration.”

A retired lawyer with a proclivity for precision, he has listed 10 triggering conditions, including “I cannot recognize my loved ones” and “I cannot articulate coherent thoughts and sentences.” If any three such disabilities persist for several weeks, he wants his health care proxy — his wife, Beth Lowd — to ensure that nobody tries to keep him alive by spoon­feeding or offering him liquids

This is an extremely dangerous culture of death aggression because it would erase the boundary between medical treatment that can be refused–and basic humane care, no different ethically from turning a patient to prevent bed sores or providing hygiene–which all patients are required to receive regardless of their condition.

Just as an advance directive instructing that a patient not be kept clean should be disregarded, so too should an order to starve the patient who willingly eats.

This too is important: VSED is suicide. Legally requiring nursing homes to commit VSED-by-proxy would be forcing them to kill—and to kill cruelly. A legal regimen that forced medical personnel to assist a patient’s suicide by starvation would drive many doctors and nurses out of medicine.

After all, most doctors and nurses want to be healers, not killers.  And how safe would we be in other areas of medicine if the professions were filled with people who would willingly starve patients to death when they happily eat.

But let’s not kid ourselves. VSED-by-proxy is a stalking horse for opening the door to lethally injecting Alzheimer’s patients, and probably doing so en masse. After all, why force anyone to undergo a slow and potentially agonizing death by VSED or VSED-by-proxy when he or she can be dispatched quickly?

Euthanasia pursuant to advance directive is already practiced in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is possible that this has been the stealth goal from the time advocacy for removing feeding tubes from incompetent patients began decades ago—and that now, with the open advocacy of VSED and VSED-by-proxy, the real agenda is finally coming out into the open.

Dutch Eutanasia for Tinnitus!



Text  



Euthanasia is a voracious beast, its hunger never assuaged.

Now, in the Netherlands, a woman was lethally injected because of severe tinnitus. From the DutchNews.nl story:

A special clinic in The Hague, set up to help people whose doctors do not support euthanasia, has been reprimanded for helping a 47-year-old woman with chronic tinnitus to die, broadcaster Nos says on Monday. The independent commission charged with monitoring how Dutch euthanasia rules are applied recognises that extreme tinnitus could be a reason for mercy killing but said Gaby Olthuis should have undergone further psychiatric research.

The story mentions a potential prosecution. That threat has no teeth. I recall one case in which a doctor killed a disabled baby–murder under Netherlander law–and received a 3 week suspended sentence. Ditto a doctor who euthanized an anorexia patient–and the medical association was up in arms

I have moderate tinnitus. It ain’t fun. And I am sure louder ringing than I currently experience would be very disturbing. But killed for it?

Euthanasia is a voracious beast, its hunger never assuaged.

Again with “Anti-Born Kids” Anti-Pro-Life Slur



Text  



Before I got into anti-assisted suicide work in 1993, I never hung out with pro-lifers. I only knew a few and didn’t engage the issues in which they were interested.

That changed fast once I joined the euthanasia fray, as the pro-life movement is one of the essential constituencies in the diverse coalition keeping the culture of death at bay. 

Once I got to know the Movement, it quickly became clear to me that most pro-lifers are selfless and loving people, dedicated not only to stopping abortion but helping women caught up with unintended pregnancies, and/or who regret their abortions–and these are legion.  

Many also put their lives where their mouths are–often adopting children who are disabled or “at risk,” as well as foster parenting, etc.

The oft-told lie that pro-lifers don’t care about children once they are born–so trite–was again slung by a Planned Parenthood chieftain in Indiana, as discussed by Tim Swarens in the Indianapolis Star. From, “Pro-Lifers Don’t Care About Kids and Other Stereotypes:”

A few minutes into our conversation, Betty Cockrum lobs a bomb — the kind that often shatters any chance of talking constructively about deeply sensitive issues or in finding common ground with ideological opposites.“Anti-choice advocates,” the head of Planned Parenthood in Indiana and Kentucky declared, don’t really care about children once they’re born.

Such smug claptrap. Swarens, with more patience than I, responds:

Deep breath. Gentle answer. It’s a common slander, of course. Hurled against tens of millions of women and men who describe themselves as pro-life.

It’s also an inaccurate, unfair stereotype.

In reality, many of those “zealots” — another common slur — pour their lives into serving as adoptive and foster parents, as mentors for struggling teens, as coaches and scout leaders and teachers. And they do it precisely because they care, passionately, about helping children in need.

Practicing what he preaches, Swarens tries to build a bridge across the yawning cultural chasm:

So as much as I might disagree with Cockrum’s means to various ends, I have no desire to attack her motivations. We all want women and children to live healthier, happier, more prosperous lives. It’s just that, for many of us, those lives begin before a child crosses the finish/start line of birth…

Yet, despite such differences, there are important things that we all should be able to celebrate. For example, the abortion rate is now at the lowest level since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade 42 years ago. In Indiana, the number of abortions has declined about 25 percent since 2008. Teen pregnancies have dropped rapidly as well.

All of that means that we’ve made significant progress in heading off the tragedy of abortion, and in helping young women avoid the anguish of unintended pregnancies. It’s OK for both sides to cheer that news.

Except: I’m not so sure both sides are pleased about that, at least, not unequivocally.

Every time a woman doesn’t abort at PP, it costs the organization money. In fact, the group is apparently so financially reliant on terminations, that when a new Texas law forced clinics to stop performing abortions, some PP facilities closed down. So much for being about birth control and cancer screening.

Facts, not demonization.

Moreover, some notable pro-choicers are coming out as positively pro-abortion. Indeed, the argument is now being made in some quarters that fewer abortions is nothing to celebrate because it implies there is a moral problem in the first place.

Swarens did well acknowledging the common humanity and good intentions of political opponents and those with differing moral views. That is always worth remembering.

But, that won’t stop activists like Cockrum from happily peddling the trite pro-choice canard that pro-lifers don’t care about kids after they are born.

PBS’s Nonjudgmentalism on Belgian Euthanasia



Text  



Well, at least they reported accurately that Belgium doctors euthanize mentally ill people.

But the utterly non-judgmental tone of this PBS story is truly chilling. From, “The Right to Die in Beligium:”

MEGAN THOMPSON: As she opens the door to her home…this 34-year old Belgian woman known as “Eva” seems at ease. But actually she’s chronically depressed. More than once she’s tried to commit suicide. And now she’s asking doctors to help her. Help her die by euthanasia…all of it captured in a Belgian documentary.

EVA(voiceover): It may seem strange but I am looking forward to the rest. The choice has been made. The decision has been made. I am looking forward to the rest I have longed for, for so long.

MEGAN THOMPSON: It may sound shocking, but in Belgium euthanasia is quite accepted. And it’s not just for the terminally ill. Chronically depressed patients like Eva can request it, too. And so on a day and time she’s chosen… Eva says goodbye to her family.

MARC VAN HOEY: Eva, are you ready?

EVA: Yes, I am ready, doctor.

MEGAN THOMPSON: And then she lays down on her couch.

MARC VAN HOEY (voiced over): Would you like to say something to your brother and sister-in-law?’

EVA(voiced over): Bye.

BROTHER: Sleep Well.

EVA (English): Thank you.

MEGAN THOMPSON: The man kneeling by her side, about to give her the lethal injection, is her doctor for the past two years. Dr. Marc Van Hoey.

Eva’s family just says, “Sleep well”!? If that doesn’t demonstrate the insidious and subverting nature of euthanasia, nothing does.

The entire report is so blase`. True, Thompson interviews Tom Mortier, who has brought a human rights lawsuit after his depressed mother was euthanized–and his attorney, being sure to note that he is with the “Christian” Life Defending Freedom–a matter utterly irrelevant to the legal questions at hand.

Still, the heft of the report is at best, terminally nonjudgmental. Thus, she reports, “the system works well:”

MEGAN THOMPSON: The 16-person euthanasia commission – half doctors, half lawyers, meets every month in Brussels. By law, after performing euthanasia, doctors must file a report with the Commission detailing what they did and why. The Commission reviews the reports to be sure conditions set by the law were met. If not, Genicot says in the worst case, a doctor could face homicide charges…

MEGAN THOMPSON: And he says the system works well. Giving doctors a practical and humane way to help suffering patients die peacefully. Genicot says some doctors choose to describe that in an optional section of the report.

Why didn’t Thompson challenge that view? There are so fecund areas of inquiry for an enterprising journalist:

- Why didn’t she bring up the psychiatric patient euthanized because she was sexually exploited by her psychiatrist

- Or the transsexual distraught by her sex change surgery?

- Or the killing of psychiatric patients conjoined with organ harvesting? So many areas for an enterprising journalist to explore in response to the assertion of how “well” Belgian euthanasia works.

Now assume that PBS was doing a program on how Ireland doesn’t permit abortion. And you had a doctor saying how satisfying it is that babies who would have been aborted are, instead, born. Can any of us imagine such a calm, nonjudgmental presentation?

Of course not. Thompson concludes with the core message of the report, that killing the depressed is “death with dignity:”

MEGAN THOMPSON: Which brings us back to Eva, the young woman convinced the only way to end her mental suffering was to end her life. Eva agreed to be filmed because she believed that people with chronic, incurable psychiatric illness can be helped to die with dignity.

This approach to reporting about the suicides of depressed people violates the World Health Association journalism guidelines about covering suicide. 

That’s not surprising to me: The media is increasingly becoming pro-suicide. This mild pretense of “objectivity” is but one example of the many ways media push that meme.

Sperm Donor as Human Stud Bull



Text  



Isn’t it amazing how often “progressive” human fertility industry practices mimic methods of animal husbandry?

Latest example: The Hollywood Reporter cheerily reports about “23 Hollywood moms” who had children by the same sperm donor.

When Violet was a toddler, Fain took her to a music class, where “two women walked in with two boys about Violet’s age,” she says. One of the boys looked familiar.

Fain went home and checked her Facebook group comprising 15 families who had conceived with her same open donor. (Open donation, in which the donor’s info can be released on the child’s 18th birthday, is a growing trend.) She recalls: “There they were,” just a mile and a half away.

Now they all have dinner every Sunday. “They’re my family,” says Fain. In September, the Facebook group rented a vacation house. “Talk about crazy — there were 12 2-year-olds,” says Fain, who adds: “It’s one of those things that feels incredibly bizarre for half an hour. Then it feels totally normal.”

Then, this story of the death of a stud bull reached my desk.

Atop a wooded hill here in the heart of America’s Dairyland, an industry legend was recently laid to rest.

It wasn’t some milk magnate or a famed innovator, but an ornery, 2,700-pound bull named Toystory—a titan of artificial insemination who sired an estimated 500,000 offspring in more than 50 countries.

Like I said: Isn’t it amazing how often “progressive” human fertility industry practices mimic methods and standards of animal husbandry?

Humanists Support Robin Williams’ Suicide?



Text  



The Humanist has an article out promoting assisted suicide as a “choice.” issue that should be available for anyone with more than a transitory desire to die. 

The issue of death-on-demand–which lies at the heart of the euthanasia movement–is mostly avoided by the media and in policy discussions. But once killing is deemed an acceptable answer to human suffering, sheer logic leads eventually to reaching that destination–as Tone Stockenström’s article, “Is Dying a Pro-Choice Issue?” demonstrates.

Really, Wesley? Death on demand? What about tragic cases like Robin Williams? Surely, no one would want cases like his included in an assisted suicide license!

Oh no? Some think we should be relieved that Williams is no longer suffering.  From the article (my emphasis):

The thrust of the public’s anguish was that Williams was successful in ending his life. Rather than express feelings of relief that he had ended his suffering, people questioned how his death could have been prevented.

“Mental suffering is invisible to the human eye,” says thirty-four-year-old Kristy Martin, who attended the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies conference in Chicago. Martin had a strict Catholic…struggled with the contradictions of her religious education and her desire to be free of her own body.

According to her religious parents, the idea of suicide was a sin and yet Martin’s mental suffering has been so potent that she likened the anguish she feels to “being a slave to your own body, much like a prison.” Martin attended the conference looking for options on aid in dying because she’s made the firm decision to decide how and when she will die, having her death on her own terms.

Can we say, “Pro suicide?” That certainly is how the spokesman for the Humanist Movement sounds:

SO WHERE do humanists stand on the issue of aid in dying? According to Ed Gogol, “There are those who favor physicians as the gatekeepers to a hastened death like the Oregon-style law, which states that two physicians must concur that you can reasonably be expected to die within six months.”

Ultimately, Gogol doesn’t think this law goes far enough. “A mentally competent adult, incurably ill and suffering intolerably should have the right to choose to hasten their death. It is ethically the highest form of compassion to help a person with intolerable suffering to exit this life.”

Helping people die is more compassionate than helping them overcome the magnetic pull of death?  That’s the clear message. At the very least, it is “debatable:”

But what about when it concerns children? What about the mentally ill? What about the people directly affected by another’s death?

These and other questions present a complex set of ethical issues on which humanists will have a range of opinions. At the very least, I would guess that a majority of humanists are open to discussing them, a challenge society still struggles with.

Oh well, at least it doesn’t pretend that the question is about terminal illness. So, some half-hearted cheers for honesty. This is what the euthanasia issue really is all about.

Media Fails to Connect PVS Dehydration Dots



Text  



Count on the media to miss the obvious angle when it comes to the culture of death.

The story of Martin Pistorius–believed falsely to have been unconscious for 12 years–is all over the mainstream media. NPR is typical:

His parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, were told that he was as good as not there, a vegetable. The hospital told them to take him home and keep him comfortable until he died.

But he didn’t die. “Martin just kept going, just kept going,” his mother says. His father would get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, get him dressed, load him in the car, take him to the special care center where he’d leave him.

“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney says. That was their lives, for 12 years.

Unknown to the doctors, he could hear everything going on around him:

Over time, Martin began re-engaging with his thoughts.

And slowly, as his mind felt better, something else happened — his body began to get better, too. It involved inexplicable neurological developments and a painstaking battle to prove that he existed.

That he existed?

DO THEY EVEN MENTION that, but for loving parents, he could have had his feeding tube removed to the applause of these same outlets, most bioethicists, and many among the public? No!

At least this story didn’t say, “Terri Schiavo was different.” That’s a refreshing change.

She wasn’t. He could have been dried to death just like she was, his skin cracking, his organs slowly shutting down.  Had that happened, no one would ever have known that he knew what was happening as he died. Nor would anyone have known that years hence, he would fully recover.

P.S. The NPR story casually uses the V-word, an odious epithet the dehumanizes and degrades, just like the N-word and the C-word for women. Shame. On. Them. This is why the cognitively disabled face lethal discrimination.

Hobby Lobby Protects Another Company



Text  



Last year’s very limited Hobby Lobby ruling–the hysteria by those disagreeing was a wonder to behold–has protected the Catholic owners of a closely-held company from being forced to pay for contraceptive and sterilization coverage against their faith. From the LifeNews.com story:

John Kennedy, CEO of the Michigan-based company, along with other family member owners of Autocam, have always held that the government has no right to require that Autocam purchase group insurance coverage, providing its employees with morally objectionable contraceptives, including abortifacients and sterilization.

Prior to the government’s implementation of the controversial mandate, Autocam had specifically designed a health insurance plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan to exclude contraception, sterilization, abortion, and abortion-inducing drugs, in keeping with its owners’ deeply held religious beliefs.

The Kennedys faithfully embrace the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that contraception, abortion, and sterilization are serious wrongs. The Obamacare HHS mandate tried to force Autocam’s owners to flout their deeply held religious convictions and to operate their company in a manner that they sincerely held to be gravely wrong.

As I wrote at the time, the Hobby Lobby decision was a limited ruling involving statutory interpretation–that will not impact large, publicly-held corporations–and only protect the religious liberty of a relatively few business owners.

So why the angry reaction to the ruling among the usual suspects?

Obamacare isn’t only about guaranteeing access to insurance. Obamacarians want to use the centralized regulatory control imposed by Obamacare as a cudgel to impose their cultural values.

And here’s something to ponder: I doubt Congress would pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act–the basis of the HL decision–today. If it did, I have no doubt that President Obama–unlike Bill Clinton–would veto it.

Many, particularly secularists and political liberals, want to reduce “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship.”  Those are not the same things. You cant call yourself a civil libertarian if you don’t stand for freedoms about which you have no skin in the game.

Pages

Subscribe to National Review