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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

HASTINGS CENTER REPORT Column Validates “Anti-Disabled” Worries About Bioethics Agenda



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The Not Dead Yet blog has a post up, byline Stephen Drake, castigating an opinion column published in the Hasting Center Report, byline bioethics consultant Anita J. Tarzian (no link available), that validates all of the worries the disability rights community has about the bioethics movement. The issue is Asley's Case, which readers of SHS will recall is the disabled girl whose uterus and breast buds were removed to keep her from maturing.

Tarzian furthers the drive I have noticed among some in bioethics, to divide the moral status of the cognitively and developmentally disabled from those with physical disabilities, to the point that we are scolded for calling the former disabled at all. Tarzian wrote:
Does the disability rights discourse tend to exclude people with severe neurological impairments? Or is "disabled" perhaps a misnomer in such cases? Advocating for Ashley's "rights" as a disabled person seems to misread the principle of "respect for persons," which requires that persons who can make their own decisions should be allowed to do so (within limits), and that those who cannot make their own decisions should be protected from harm.
Indeed, people who cannot decide for themselves should be protected from harm. But that is best done by acknowledging that they are disabled--which is factual--and ceasing the constant attempts to cast such defenseless people as outside the moral community of persons. Indeed, to claim that Ashley is too impaired to be deemed disabled, and moreover, that she is a non person, would not protect her and others like her from harm. Rather, such invidious attitudes expose people with serious cognitive and developmental disabilities to the worst kinds of exploitation and abandonment.

HT: Susan Nunes


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