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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Let’s Do What is Right Regardless of What Governments Tell Us is Right and Wrong



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There was a column in yesterday's SF Chronicle that dealt with the mortgage crisis. That issue is way beyond our scope here, but one point made by the writer hit my SHS nerve endings. From the column, "Are You an Idiot to Keep Paying Your Mortgage?":

But what about the moral obligation to pay off a debt?

Elected officials have been chipping away at that by blaming the foreclosure crisis largely on predatory lenders. In a campaign fact sheet, President-elect Barack Obama says he "recognizes that the real victims in the subprime mortgage crisis are not the lenders, but the millions of borrowers who followed the rules and whose only crime was taking out mortgages that lenders told them they could afford."

That should be irrelevant. Whatever the government's policies, we should do the right thing if we can--in this example, keep our word. What others do or that which government permits is irrelevant.

I bring this up because I fear we are heading into very dark days in which the government may legalize or tacitly approve many things that promote human unexceptionalism, abandonment, and death causing. This will not mean that these policies and actions or omissions are right, or that we should individually acquiesce simply because the government has smiled upon them.

For example, assisted suicide can and should be resisted in Washington and Oregon--by physicians refusing to participate, families refusing to agree with a despairing loved one that poison is the answer, friends who refuse to support a desire for assisted suicide rather than assuming that saying anything other than "youe choice" is judgmental and unloving, and by patients who reject that their lives are not equally worth living as those of others, and let all support that realization unequivocally and unconditionally.

We will also have to protect physicians and other health professionals who may become early martyrs of the emerging nouveaux regime. As I have noted repeatedly, the culture of death brooks no dissent and eventually will seek to make resisting doctors complicit in the killing by, for example, requiring them to find a compliant doctor for the patient if they say no to the death request. Such an active referral obligation is required in Australia's new abortion law, even though it permits termination through the ninth month. This tack was also taken in the original version of AB 2747, which would have permitted patients with 1 year to live to demand palliative sedation as a back door method of assisted suicide, with doctors who said no required to refer. (This entire section was gutted from the bill that eventually passed.) Or, it may involve facilities being prohibited from denying access to assisted suicide on premises, attempted already in one of California's failed assisted suicide legalization attempts.

Or it may come in the form of private voluntary associations refusing to countenance members participating in these agendas. The Oregon and Washington assisted suicide laws prohibit any sanction by any organization against doctors who participate (or refuse to participate) in the killing. Resist! If a member of Physician for Compassionate Care, for example--a wholly voluntary organization--assists a suicide, he or she should be given the boot regardless of the law. Then, if sued, that section should be attacked as an outrageously unconstitutional violation of the guarantees to freedom of association in the Constitution.

In writing this post, please don't misunderstand: I am not saying that the culture of death has won the day and we should just fold our tents and steal away. But reality is reality. The new administration and many states will be, at best, indifferent to the official SHS positions, and most likely implacably hostile. My job--and that of those who agree with me--will be to stand tall and "speak truth to power" (unlikely to be celebrated in the media anymore), accepting the brickbats that will follow as we await a better day. But each of us will also have to strive to the best of our ability to live our lives consistent with the morals we espouse. Indeed, doing that in love--which is the why, more than the how--may be the most powerful antidote to the culture of death.


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