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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

A “Harvestable” Child Harvestable No More



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We hear continually from the elites of bioethics about how people diagnosed as permanently unconscious (persistent vegetative state, or PVS), are no longer persons, and thus, they can be treated as if they were not fully human. That is abhorrent in any event, but the PVS diagnosis is often wrong, as in this case of a young boy named Devon Rivers who was apparently unconscious for 22 months and then, unexpectedly awakened.

We will now undoubtedly hear much dissembling from this sector that Devon wasn't really PVS and all that jazz. But these pushers of crass utilitarianism are on record as advocating that profoundly disabled people like Devon can, in some cases, should, be made to die by having their feeding tubes removed. Some assert that people in PVS are actually "dead" and thus can be used for organ harvesting. Others, would use patients like Devon--who they would have claimed was not really a patient when doctors thought he was permanently unconscious--are perfectly suitable for medical experimentation.

This is the key point: None of us is expendable. None of us should be viewed as a mere thing to be used for the benefit of others. There should be no disposable human caste. This is true of Devon and every other PVS patient whether they awaken or not.


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