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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Hell Yes to Animal/Human Organ Transplants!



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Imagine you need a new heart. A doctor takes some skin cells and then transforms them into pluripotent stem cells.

The cells are injected into a pig embryo. The piglet is raised for six months, euthanized, and the heart transplanted into your chest with little concern of tissue rejection because your own DNA would be in the organ. 

If such a procedure could be perfected–and scientists are working on it–it would end the organ shortage. 

Other than potential safety issues–some serious, for example, a porcine virus crossing the species barrier –what are the concerns?  

Some say: “We would be killing the animals!” From an article exploring the ethical concerns in the Journal of Medical Ethics (abstract only):

One possible response to this argument is that it seems strange to object to using pigs to save people’s lives when it is generally regarded as acceptable to eat them.

Eating meat is not necessary for survival, while working organs are: as such, it actually seems more reasonable for pigs to be used to grow life-saving organs than to provide the luxury of meat.

However, any such argument is predicated on the assumption that it is ethical to eat animals in the first place.

Most people won’t care about that argument. The key would be to not allow animal rights terrorist-types to impede the necessary research.

But the pigs might not have piggy lives!

Another potential objection is that pigs can be farmed in an ethical way, enjoying relatively happy lives before being used to produce meat, while chimaera animals would have relatively short lives in order to meet the supply for organs and would also have to be kept in very sterile conditions, with potential adverse effects on their well-being.​

So what? They would never know another kind of life.

And here’s a final animal welfare objection mentioned by the authors:

Finally, it should also be remembered that hundreds or perhaps thousands of animals will also need to be sacrificed as part of ongoing research into chimaera organs. While this is not very many in comparison with the number that will be sacrificed if the technique becomes widely used in humans, it should still be asked whether it is legitimate to use animals for this type of research.​

Animal research is essential to improving human wellbeing. Given the many millions of animals are sacrificed in the “grim good” of animal research every year, I can’t see why this potential objection should slow us down in the least. 

The authors argue for pursuing all forms of increasing organ availability, including animal chimera organs. Some proposals involve unethical (to me) proposals involving humans, but we need not get into that here.

If the significant safety issues involving the use of animal organs can be overcome, I say: “Full speed ahead!” 

The War on Humans Now in Paperback



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The War On Humans Book Cover

I wrote The War on Humans–my critique of the increasingly radical environmental movement–as an ebook. But it has now been published as a paperback. I am most pleased.

For those of you who prefer the joy of actually turning pages, check it out.

Here are a few blurbs (as we say in the author game). The great civil libertarian, Nat Hentoff:

If there were an international award for continuing to focus on and document cultural and political threats to basic human life and potential–I emphasize human—the winner would be Wesley J. Smith… [In The War on Humans] Smith has now written a riveting expose of this multi-dimensional assault on human beings that for life saving reasons—I kid you not—must be read by human beings beyond their political, religious, and all other affiliations.

Novelist, Dean Koontz:

The War on Humans is terrific…

In The War on Humans, Wesley Smith succinctly exposes the “philosophy” and the aims of this movement, cites its deep unreason, and brilliantly extrapolates the horrors inevitable should it triumph. Sincere conservationists should be concerned if only because anti-humanist thinking has the power, in the social and economic destruction it would create, to discredit even those with humane and reasonable goals of conservation, preservation, clean water, and clean air.

Political scientist, Steven Hayward:

It used to be said of certain kinds of scientific utopians that they loved humanity, but didn’t like any actual humans. Now many scientific utopians don’t even like humanity. Wesley Smith grasps the dangerous paradox of thinkers whose first step in exalting nature is to attack human nature. In order for nature to have ‘rights,’ it has become necessary for humans to have none.

This is always the first step toward tyrannical dehumanization of real human beings. We owe much to Wesley Smith for keeping vigil against this deeply anti-human strain of modern thought, for issuing another timely warning before it is too late to avoid another self-inflicted humanitarian catastrophe.

I didn’t write The War on Humans because I oppose environmentalism, but because I support it.

We must take the movement back from the anti-humanists that are subverting a noble tradition.

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Obamacarian Says American Voters are Stupid



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They think they are so smart. But they are really just fast-talking boobs.

And listen to how the words tumble out of Obamacarian Jonathan Gruber’s mouth as he admits Obamacare was designed to be a jumbled mess, or in his words,“intentionally written in a tortured way” to game the system and fool the American people to just get the bill passed!

And then he has the temerity to “blame the stupidity of the American voter” for forcing the Obamacare duplicity.

But we weren’t fooled, which is why the Democrats in Congress stuffed it down our unwilling throats.

Because of hubristic technocrats like Gruber–and undemocratic Democrats–we are now stuck with a dishonest law that no one really understands, and which is a disastrous mess.

But Karma’s a bitch. Because he would “rather have the law than not,” Gruber’s masters, the Democrats, have lost almost half of their U.S. Senate seats and may be out of power in the House until the 2020s. President Obama’s approval on Gallop today is 39%. It’s all connected.

The Grubers of America are so proud of themselves–I mean look at the man’s expression. But his ilk’s bad faith got us into this mess.

Lacking the essential common sense of their supposed lessers, the American people, “THE EXPERTS” are the architects of American decline.

UK to Create “Suicide Courts?”



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Talk about a death panel!

The House of Lords–pushed again to legalize assisted suicide–struggles with the nonsense of fashioning ”strict guidelines” to protect against abuse. (As I have repeatedly shown, guidelines don’t protect, they just give the illusion of control.)

The latest scheme is to create what could be called “suicide courts,” where suicidal people will ask a judge to approve their doctor-prescribed death. From the Independent story:

Judges could routinely be given the power of life or death over patients who are determined to die to end their suffering.

Proposals to use judges as the final arbiters of who can be helped to die go some way to satisfying opponents to Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. Lord Pannick QC proposed judicial oversight in amendments to the Bill which went before the House of Lords yesterday. The Lords, in the first Parliamentary vote on the Bill, gave it their approval.

This is nuts! This would be worse than Oregon, in some ways, more destructive than Belgium and the Netherlands!

Assisted suicide should be illegal because it amounts to a joint enterprise to end a human life.

With legalization, you have private transactions between doctors and suicidal patients. It’s wrong, but the government isn’t officially or directly involved in the death.

But a suicide court would make the government a direct participant in suicide.  The State would be ruling that some lives are not worth living. It would give an explicit imprimatur to suicide. 

That’s a huge and dangerous step that should never be taken. 

And here’s the irony: The UK opposes the death penalty. Trying to accommodate the Culture of Death is driving us out of our minds.

Suicide is not “Dignity,” it is “Suicide”



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Beware movements that word engineer and deploy gooey euphemisms to further their agenda. It generally means there is something very wrong with the agenda.

In the wake of Brittany Maynard’s death, suicide promoters are now using the word “dignity” as a synonym for suicide, more than implying that dying naturally is not dignity.

That is not only cruel, it is wrong.

Dignity is intrinsic. Sick and dying people seeking to be assured they still have it look at us–our faces–like mirrors. If they see us thinking they are less than they once were, it can be devastating.

In the Guardian, Brian Smith–obviously no relation–says his father should have been able to commit dignity rather than die of old age and the effects of post-polio syndrome. From, “What Do You Tell Your Father When He’s Ready to Die?”

But over time, his body began to break down, and breathing became labored. The polio had come back, this time in the form of post-polio syndrome, which weakens muscles that were affected the first time around. Dad’s ailment would slowly strip him of his independence, his ability to move and, eventually, his ability to breathe. If this was death’s door, he was rapping it with what knuckles he could. His decline would last nearly a decade before his doctors gave up on treatments and assigned visits from hospice nurses.

For my father’s disease, there is no cure.

But there is always care–and love–which Smith family apparently gave dad in bounteous quantities. Good.

But Mr. Smith continued to decline:

As his days devolved into a drudgery of pills, bad daytime TV, and constant reliance on a breathing machine, Dad told us he was ready to die. “I’m done,” my father said. But choosing to die, or even assisting someone who wants to die, is a felony in California. Our options to humanely end the suffering were limited.

Self-starvation and dehydration remain the only legal ways to help someone choose when they die in the state. But few of us can muster the strength to starve to death, and caretakers – including Medicare-supported hospice nurses – are not in the business of starving people.

Saying, “I’m done,” isn’t the same thing as saying, “I want to commit suicide!.” Yet, that is what Smith wished for his father. Indeed, Smith never writes that his father asked to be killed.

I have been there. When my dad was dying of colon cancer, a moment came when he was sitting on his bed and we were talking. He suddenly looked up at me and sighed deeply with an expression that said, “I’m done,” more loudly than if he had uttered the words.

That wasn’t the same thing as saying, “Kill me.” Dad wasn’t saying, “Get me the poison pills.” He was saying, “I am done fighting.”

We moved to hospice mode, and he died a few months later–with true dignity. He did not commit suicide.

As the column notes, people can make themselves dead if they really want to. Do we really want to make suicide easier?

And note the consequences of accepting the destructive meme that suicide is dignity. One commenter takes Smith’s advocacy to its logical place:

The Oregon law is a good beginning, but it should apply also to those facing incurable pain, paralysis or imprisonment that could go on for years.

Exactly right. When it comes to assisted suicide, in for a penny, in for a pound.

The question isn’t terminal illness. Many people suffer more and for longer than the dying

The issue is whether facilitated suicide is a right. If it is, it can’t be limited to the dying. Indeed, perhaps other than to those with only a transitory desire to die, it can’t be limited at all.

So, let’s have an honest debate. A right to facilitated suicide? Yes or no. Just don’t call it “dignity.”

P.S. My good friend, the late poet and disability rights activist, Mark O’Brien, contracted polio at age 6 and lived the rest of his life in an iron lung. Mark was adamantly against assisted suicide. He too died from post-polio syndrome. He died with dignity, not by suicide.

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How Assisted Suicide Advocacy Hurts the Sick



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Imagine you have Lou Gehrig’s disease. You know you are dying.

But your struggle is made even more difficult by advocates who claim:

1) You should commit suicide if you want “death with dignity;” and,

2) Your society should help you do it.

That was the circumstance in which my hospice patient–nay, good friend–Robert Salamanca found himself in the late 1990s. As the Supreme Court grappled with whether to create an assisted-suicide Roe v. Wade (it refused 9-0), the media covered the story like they just did Brittany Maynard–with ALS patients used as the bloody flag to create emotional support for doctor-prescribed death.

Bob was devastated by such advocacy. I will never forget coming to his house one day after one of the networks did a high-profile story on an ALS patient who wanted assisted suicide. He was livid: “They are trying to drive me from the well-lit boulevards into the dark alley,” he said angrily. 

Bob also told me that such advocacy made it harder to “keep moving forward,” e.g., to maintain an upbeat outlook and “get every moment that life still has to offer,” while constantly hearing that life with progressing disabilty wasn’t worth living and having to contend with pro-euthanasia fear-mongering that he would die “choking on his own spit” (to quote the lie uttered repeatedly on television by Jack Kevorkian’s odious lawyer, Geoffrey Feiger–including during a debate against me on Good Morning America.)

In fact, Bob had been suicidal. He had wanted to go to Kevorkian, but his family wouldn’t cooperate. And he was so glad! “I came out of the fog,” he told me. “I am so glad to still be alive.”

Bob was so incensed against assisted suicide that he wrote a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle. He told me that he hoped I would make use of his work in the continuing fight against assisted suicide. In that spirit–and as an antidote to all the Brittany Maynard media poison–I reprint his entire piece below:

I DON’T WANT A CHOICE TO DIE

By

Robert Salamanca

have lived with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease) for seven years. On January 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments concerning whether terminally ill people have a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. After the two-hour hearing, with its blending of emotion and law, the justices seemed highly skeptical.

I hope so. For as Chicago’s beloved Cardinal Joseph Bernardin wrote to the Supreme Court just before he died: “There can be no such thing as a ‘right to assisted suicide’ because there can be no legal and moral order which tolerates the killing of innocent human life, even if the agent of death is self-administered. Creating a new ‘right’ to assisted suicide will endanger society and send a false signal that a less than ‘perfect’ life is not worth living.”

Euthanasia advocates believe they are doing people like me a favor. They are not. The negative emotions toward the terminally ill and disabled generated by their advocacy is actually at the expense of the “dying” and their families and friends. We often feel disheartened and without self-assurance because of a false picture of what it is like to die created by these enthusiasts who prey on the misinformed.

What we, the terminally ill, need is exactly the opposite — to realize how important our lives are. And our loved ones, friends, and, indeed, society need to help us feel that we are loved and appreciated unconditionally.

Instead, reporting in the media too often makes us feel like token presences, burdens who are better off dead. For example, in a recent ABC “Nightline,” Ted Koppel interviewed a pro-euthanasia supporter with ALS who announced to the world that he was going to take his life on a specific date. He felt he was obligated to do so because of his beliefs and the terminal situation of his disease. I found this act of showboating pretentious and ABC’s presentation of his condition exploitive. Mr. Koppel asked him why he had not yet taken his life and his only answer was… no answer. It was obvious to me that despite what he said, this man really wanted to live. Indeed, the people around him urged him to live. He listened. He did not commit suicide but died a peaceful and natural death with loved ones at his side.

Many pro-euthanasia groups “showcase” people with ALS. They portray us as feeble, unintelligible and dying by slow suffocation. This is absolutely false, and I protest their efforts vehemently. By receiving proper medical care, a terminally ill person can pass away peacefully, pain-free and with dignity. We are not people just waiting for someone to help us end our misery, but to the contrary, we are people reaching out to love… to be loved… wanting to feel life at its best.

Too many people have accepted the presumption that an extermination of some human lives can be just. Are we becoming a society so starved for heroes that we are too quick to embrace the Jack Kevorkians of the world? Where has our sense of community gone? True, terminal illness is frightening, but the majority of us overpower the symptoms and are great contributors to life.

If physician-assisted suicide is legally available, the right to die may become a duty to die. The hopelessly ill may be subtly pressured to get their dying over with — not only by cost-counting providers but by family members concerned about burdensome bills, impatient for an inheritance, exhausted by care-giving or just anxious to spare a loved one further suffering.

In my view, the pro-euthanasia followers’ posture is a great threat to the foundation upon which all life is based, and that is hope. I exhort everyone: Life is worth living, and life is worth receiving. I know. I live it every day.

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Robert Salamanca, of Pleasanton, CA, is living intensely with ALS. His article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, 2/19/97, and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Bob died peacefully–with dignity–of ALS in his sleep. I was honored to give his eulogy.

Cohen: Until Science Kills Death--Suicide!



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Good grief. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has written a ridiculous column about Brittany Maynard, in which he replaces argument with insult and makes naked emotional assertions in place of principled reasoning.

Cohen supports Maynard for her “courage” in killing herself–so harmful!–while swallowing the tranhumanist fantasy eschatology that science will defeat death. From, “The Courage of Brittany Maynard:”

The death of death is fast approaching — fast being a matter of decades or maybe more, but sooner or later science will kill the Grim Reaper and future generations will look back on us and wonder what it was like knowing the end was always coming.

And people make fun of the faithful for having hope for eternal life.

Cohen then makes outright insulting arguments against religious communities and the medical establishment that oppose assisted suicide.

First, he claims religious opponents of assisted suicide selfishly want to retain what is left of their diminishing influence:

Death has always been in the domain of religion — the portal to the afterlife promised, or threatened, to us all. Little by little, science and modernity in general have circumscribed religion’s domain, so religion is making its last stand, so to speak, by telling us when we can make ours. As with Maynard, lots of us are not accepting this.

No, resisting assisted suicide isn’t about power, but love.

The medical community are only trying to assuage their guilt for past sins, Cohen says,–even bringing up the Holocaust!

As for physicians, they not only reaffirm the mantra that they are healers, but they are haunted by the times when they were not. In Germany, many of them cooperated with the Nazis in the administration of death, not just in the Holocaust, but even earlier in the sotto voce euthanasia programs that killed the mentally or physically ill.

In the United States, some health professionals participated in programs to sterilize the so-called mentally feeble and, of course, in Alabama black sharecroppers were tricked into enlisting in a hideous medical experiment in which 28 of them were allowed to die, untreated, of syphilis.

No. Killing isn’t a medical treatment. Assisted suicide corrupts medical ethics. Caring for patients–healing, palliating, educating, supporting–is the job of physicians. Hello? Hippocratic Oath!

The many and varied reasons for opposing assisted suicide go utterly unexplored by Cohen; from the threat doctor-prescribed death poses to the vulnerable, to the reality that assisted suicide could be used to control medical costs, to the inevitability of state-sanctioned suicide metastasizing beyond the terminally ill, as it already has in Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland’s systems of near death on demand.

And then he gets to the nub of his thinking: It’s all about him, and he doesn’t who else gets hurt:

When death dies, so too will heaven and hell — and the comforting myth of eternal equality. Before that happens, I will die. This is certain and I don’t like it one bit — and I don’t like, either, that future generations will look back and wonder what it was like to live with death, not lots of it, but the certainty of it.

But as long as it is going to happen, I want my say over it. I want the same control over the end that I have had over what came before it. This is all that Brittany Maynard wanted. I salute her common sense and a courage that, in a fearful time to come, I may well envy.

Such me, me-I,I thinking is destroying Western civilization. Principle and rational discourse is being swept away by solipsism and emotionalism

What an odd column: Science will kill death, but until it does, we need the “courage” to control it through suicide

But if suicide is courage, doesn’t that mean fighting until the end of living in as much comfort as possible until the end is cowardice? 

Cohen isn’t promoting courage. He is pushing surrender and abandonment.

Maynard Advocacy Threatens Vulnerable



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The San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Debra J. Saunders (my wife), has a really good piece out about the Brittany Maynard tragedy. 

The Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices wants to exploit her assisted suicide as a crow bar to pry open California and other states to legalizing doctor-prescribed death. That would be profoundly unwise, writes Debra. From, “Maynard’s Storybook Death Shouldn’t Add Support for Assisted Suicide:” 

If Maynard died with dignity, then does that mean that others who do not choose to choreograph their death lack dignity? There’s no getting around the language advocates have chosen — “Death with Dignity” suggests that there is something undignified about holding onto life. You’re Superman and ready to die with a smile — that’s dignity. Or you are a pathetic hanger-on.

That’s certainly the strong implication. Think about it: If Maynard had decided to live, cared for by hospice, nobody would have ever heard her name. Compassion and Choices certainly wouldn’t have been touting her “courage.”

Debra notes that the issue is bigger and more far-reaching than the death of any individual, no matter how poignant the circumstances:

There are no guarantees with that approach. But it does mean that the medical system isn’t upended so physicians migrate from healers to end-of-life concierges. Most important of all: The focus of medical care in California would remain on treating disease and relieving suffering. The state would not embrace the notion that wanting to live is undignified, or that sick people should prefer to die than endure seizures or loss of motor control.

I certainly know of people struggling with terminal disease who have been devastated by assisted suicide’s advocacy meme that their lives are not worth protecting. More on that in awhile.

Debra concludes:

When families lose a young person, they go crazy with grief; any distraction, even anger, can be welcome. I fully appreciate how a young woman would want to find a cause to give meaning to her end. But if Maynard’s death helps to change California law, be clear that the brave new order will spell abandonment for lonely vulnerable people. These people need friends and family who make them feel wanted, not undignified.

Please read the whole thing. It is an oasis in the desert wind of emotionalism and suicide boosterism to which we have been subjected for the last few weeks.

“Political” Animals Just More Rights Nonsense



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Words lose their meaning. Definitions are blurred. Nothing can really be discussed.

Latest example, university professor (of course!) Justin E.H. Smith’s claim that animals are part of the political community.

First, Smith asserts that animals have their own forms of politics. Well, bucks do cross antlers to decide who gets to enjoy the does–war being politics by other means. And there is no doubt that animals can act in concert. Whether that is “political,” let’s leave to another day.

But Smith’s larger point is that animals are joined with us in a political community. From, “We Are not the Only Political Animals:” 

But there is another way of understanding animals as political that even the most defiant human-exceptionalist cannot dispute: not as separated out into their own discrete political societies, each according to its kind, but rather as part of a single, global political formation that includes, notably but not exclusively, human beings.

“Defiant” human exceptionalist? Belief in HE is rational and common sensical.

But what does Smith mean by this nonsensical assertion? From the best I can tell, that we have duties toward animals–a core principle of the very human exceptionalism Smith apparently rejects!

In their groundbreaking 2011 book, “Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights,” Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka argue compellingly that animal rights theory has been limited to the extent that it has emphasized only negative rights of animals, a category that is conceived as universal and without any distinctions of moral significance within it. They argue instead that theorists would do well to focus on relational obligations that human beings come to have to animals that figure in different ways in human society. For them, nonhuman animals belong to the polis, too.

And then Smith bizarrely conflates cause and effect:

The emergence of state structures thus seems connected not only to the rise of grain storage, and therefore also of private property and of social inequality and slavery, but also to the systemic domination of certain animals by human beings. It is hard to say what exactly civilization is, but one thing seems certain: there could be no civilization without domestication.

Clearly, animal husbandry was essential to our leaving the caves. But that was because we learned to use animals as means to benefit our ends.

That did not make these animals part of the community. Rather, they were more like money today, not participants in the polis.

The domination of animals went together with their symbolic incorporation into human society. We know that without exception early livestock-holding societies took the animals they dominated to be absolutely central to their own social existence as human beings. 

Sure, as in becoming food and clothing, as measure of wealth–and because they had value, victims to be sacrificed to the gods. That is nothing like part of a political or moral community.

And then the odious habit of comparing what happens with animals to the same thing if done to humans:

Manifestly, however, the ways animals figure in society, and what may be done to or with the animals representing different social categories — vermin, livestock, pets, wildlife, beasts of burden, seeing-eye dogs, and so on — mirrors the different ways in which different human groups are endowed with or deprived of their rights. Endowing and depriving different human groups of rights and resources is, in one understanding of the term, precisely what we mean when we speak of politics.

And the Holocaust!, a comparison Smith rejects before he seemingly accepts:

However, it does not insult the memory of those human beings who have been deprived of their rights and excluded from consideration as political subjects to note that, as a matter of fact, the animals that play a central role in our society are systematically excluded from the polis, from the scope of the political. Their exclusion is what makes possible the perpetuation of the system of mass slaughter as if this were not an expression of our society’s political will.

The solution to a non-problem?

Perhaps it is time to rethink the boundaries of the political.

Like how? Allow animal rights activists to have their proxy vote? Smith doesn’t say.

Gibberish. Utter nonsense. And of course, proudly published in the anti-human exceptionalist, New York Times.

Oregonian: Maynard Dies by Lethal Overdose



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According to the Oregonian, it appears that Brittany Maynard ingested the poison prescribed by a doctor as allowed in Oregon law. Final verification is pending.

I know that I am supposed to keep quiet and simply offer condolences. Frankly, I doubt her family would want them from me–given how her illness and death were politicized in the cause of using our great empathy for her to demolish laws against doctor-prescribed death and my implacable opposition to that dark agenda.

But, of course, I am saddened. Who wouldn’t be? Her cancer and death, if the report is accurate, are a terrible tragedy. I wish her husband, family, and friends nothing but the best.

Expect suicide advocates to now use her death to stoke emotions even higher around the assisted suicide debate. But emotionalism is the last approach that should be taken in pondering such a radical, culturally transforming agenda and the threat legalized assisted suicide poses to the most weak and vulnerable among us.

Assuming the report is true, given who they are, it wouldn’t surprise me if Compassion and Choices holds a press conference announcing they video-taped the death for public airing. That’s the kind of thing assisted suicide/euthanasia promoters have been doing since Jack Kevorkian took his lethal injection of Thomas Youk to 60 Minutes. I hope I am mistaken.

I am sure there will be much talk about this going forward. But for now, I will shut up. 

Force-Feeding as “Torture” at Gitmo



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If a prison official sees a prisoner hanging himself as a political protest, should he prevent it? Yes. 

If a prison official sees a prisoner banging his head into a wall as a political protest, should he restrain him? Yes.

Is either action violating autonomy or free speech? No. Prisoners don’t have the same level of autonomy as those at liberty. Moreover, prison officials have a duty to prevent those under their charge from self-harm.

So why don’t the same rules apply to force feeding a prisoner when they reach the point in a hunger strike that they are at risk of serious harm or death?

The medical community and liberal commentariat want Guantanamo prisoners allowed to starve themselves to death as a means of getting the public to support closing Gitmo. That’s politics, not ethics.

To get from here to there, they claim that preventing self-starvation is “torture.” From Joe Nocera’s column, “The Guantanamo Tapes:”

“A five-man riot squad in complete armor pins the guy to the floor, shackles him, and carries him out,” [lawyer for the terrorist, Jon] Eisenberg says. Then the detainee is strapped into a restraint chair — which the prisoners have dubbed the “torture chair.” One soldier holds the detainee’s head, while another feeds a tube into his nose and down to his stomach. It is very painful to endure.

Who’s fault is it?

And here’s a interesting irony: Lawyer Eisenberg filed an amicus brief on behalf of starving and dehydrating Terri Schiavo to death. 

Back to the issue at hand: Courts have ruled previously regarding normal domestic prisoners, that force-feeding prisoners is acceptable, If it’s okay here, why not Gitmo?

Yet some doctors and bioethicists even want to aid terrorists in hunger strikes by being allowed to palliate the symptoms of starvation.

The allegation has been made that the procedures used to force feed Guantanamo violate usual medical protocols:

There are strict medical protocols for force-feeding hospital patients or prisoners. If the military violated those protocols — especially if detainees were force-fed in an abusive, punitive manner — then she could order them to stop…

One of those who testified on Diyab’s behalf, Steven Miles, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, said it’s not even a close call. He was first horrified to discover that the government had been lubricating the tube with olive oil instead of a water-soluble lubricant. “When you pass the tube, some of the lubricant can drop into the lungs,” he said. Olive oil in the lungs can cause an inflammatory reaction called lipoid pneumonia. (The government says it stopped using olive oil as a lubricant over the summer.)

That’s a different and legitimate issue. No question, proper protocols should be used. (Note, there isn’t an allegation that any prisoner actually contracted pneumonia.)

But also note: Bioethicist Miles apparently thinks that any force-feeding of Gitmo prisoners is “torture,” 

Nocera wants the tapes of the force feeding released–which have nothing to do with whether the right lubricant was used:

It turns out that the government has videotapes of Diyab enduring the forced cell extraction and the force-feeding. With some prodding from Kessler, the government was forced to allow the defense to see the videotapes. On Oct. 8, the last day of the hearing, in a closed courtroom, both Diyab’s lawyers and the government’s lawyers played portions of the tapes, putting them into evidence. When I asked the lawyers what they saw, they told me they were not allowed to say — because the tapes are still classified.

But 16 news media outlets, including The New York Times, have petitioned the court and asked Kessler to allow the public to see the videos. In a ruling she handed down in early October, she agreed that they should be made public. But she then stayed her ruling to give the government time to decide whether to appeal it.

There’s no question that the images, if they are made public, will be shocking to many. The prisoner will kick and scream and be held down. Force will be applied. They–the terrorists–will be made to look like victims, which is the point of the whole propagandistic exercise.

Lost in the emotionalism and uproar, will be the fact that the only reason the prisoner is strong-armed is to prevent him from dying or suffering serious health harm from malnutrition. 

Moreover, something can be done too forcefully or inappropriately, and not be torture.

But calling it that word will hand another propaganda victory to the real torturers​, as the very meaning of the T-word becomes dumbed-down.

This is torture: Crucifying people.

This is torture: Cutting off the heads of prisoners with a knife on video.

This is torture: Forcing girls into sex slavery or “marriage.”

Force-feeding is an unpleasant duty required of prison authorities to prevent self-harm. Proper procedures should be followed. If being done inappropriately, that should be corrected.

But it isn’t torture–at least if that word is to retain its vibrancy.

Hucksterism Behind Brittany Maynard Media Blitz



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I have had two great mentors in public advocacy work. The first, Ralph Nader, with whom I co-authored four books.

The second, Rita Marker–whose book Deadly Compassion compelled me to leave my former work in 1993 to advocate on behalf of human exceptionalism and the equal dignity of all human life. I’ve never looked back, and indeed, continue to work as a paid consultant to the Patients Rights Council, which Rita directs.

She has a piece out in the American Thinker that looks at the proverbial man behind the curtain orchestrating the Brittany Maynard media frenzy. From, “A Deadly Campaign Masked as a Personal Decision.”

This explosion of coverage was due to a public campaign facilitated by Compassion & Choices (the former Hemlock Society) to legalize Oregon-style doctor-prescribed suicide in every state.

The organization has established the Brittany Maynard Fund to raise money for political campaigns to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in targeted states across the country.

And, to strengthen the resolve of the young woman for whom the campaign is named, Compassion & Choices has posted “Britanny’s Card” on its website. “Let’s get 1 million people to sign Britanny’s card,” states the message, adding, “Sign the card and let Brittany know you support her bravery in this very tough time.”

Wow. Does anyone think C & C would be doing that if Maynard wanted hospice (or indeed, would have mounted the media blitz)?  Not. On. A Bet.

Rita is right: The card-signing campaign pushes Maynard to carry through with suicide. What else could be meant by “support her bravery”?

Perhaps worse, C & C sees Maynard as an evergreen money tree:

But sending a message comes with a catch. In a startling note of hucksterism, the site states that “By signing Brittany’s Card, you agree to receive periodic communication from Compassion & Choices.”

Meaning, continual requests for donations.

I have seen repeatedly shocked at the cynical manipulations that erupt from time-to-time from assisted suicide volcano. But this crass using of Maynard’s tragedy–albeit with her cooperation–including applauding her planned suicide, is the most cynical of all. 

#justwhenyouthinkyouveseenitall

Euthanasia About Killer’s “Choice”--For Now



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We keep hearing about the “right to die.” There is no right to die–no escape, of course,–but no right.

Yet, I hasten to add. No right to die, yet.

What do I mean? The killing decision in euthanasia and assisted suicide isn’t really the suicidal person’s “choice:” It is the killer’s or helper’s. In other words, life will end only if the joint venturer in the killing believes the suicidal person’s life is not worth living. 

This ultimate truth about euthanasia–even in wild death cultures like Belgium and the Netherlands–came to mind as I read about gay activist David Mixner’s confession that he “mercy-killed” 8 friends with AIDS during the height of the epidemic. From the Daily Beast story:

Into this network, says Mixner, came medical professionals—“nurses and doctors, heavily into the epidemic”—who saw what AIDS did to their patients and the lack of effective medicine to lessen their suffering, and who wanted to provide death with dignity.

“I would only do it when I was 100 percent sure that there was no hope,” Mixner tells me. “When I felt there was no hope, that all had been done for them, then I would do it. Some of the patients got angry. They’d say, ‘We want to die now.’ But I could only help to do it when it felt right to me.”

In other word’s, it was Mixner’s choice. And the killing is not really a medical act. Of course, in their hearts, people know that even if they pretend they don’t.

I moved to San Francisco at the height of the AIDS catastrophe. The underground euthanasia network Mixner described was well known. 

This was the time I began my anti-assisted suicide activism,  As my public profile rose, I would be invited to debate in SF about The City’s underground euthanasia network. 

In debating the underground killing network it became clear how subjective the kill decision was for assisters. One doctor told me in a debate that he wouldn’t do it unless the patient got below 90 pounds. That was his personal line and he stuck to it!

I challenged him:”But your colleagues have different lines, don’t they?” He admitted they did. Some didn’t wait very far along in the death process at all. 

Also, I sensed that the assisted suicide virus was as contagious as HIV. Dying in that way came to be seen as an act of defiance against an oppressive culture. The idea was, “You can’t tell us who to love or how to die,”–astonishing to me at the time that gay rights would be conjoined with the killing of (mostly) gay men.

So, whether a despairing and sick AIDS patient was killed depended on whether the killer thought the ill gay man’s life was still worth living!

Perhaps Mixner feels guilty in making his confession. Why? When the new drugs suddenly burst on the scene, AIDS patients literally bounced back from death’s door to vitality. In other words, some of those killed by the euthanasia network might not have died at all but for being the subject of homicide!

The same “doctor’s choice” phenomenon occurs in Oregon, Belgium, Netherlands, etc. This leads to what I call doctor shopping, that is, the suicidal person looking for a medic with a prescription pad willing to kill or help kill them under their individual circumstances. Heck, even Kevorkian said no once in a while.

But Wesley, you always warn that assisted suicide will end up in “death on demand!” Indeed, it will.  

The idea is to turn euthanasia into abortion. In Victoria, Australia, every doctor must be complicit in abortion-on-demand, either by doing the fetus killing or referring to a doctor know to be willing.

The KNMG (Dutch Medical Association) issued an ethical opinion–not yet law–opining that Dutch doctors opposed to a legally qualified patient being euthanized must refer to a death doctor willing to do the snuffing. 

In Quebec, that is already the law–and the homicide is paid for by the state.

But for now, the “right to die” is mostly the right to lethally prescribe or administer if asked. Think about the power in that–the right to determine whether another person lives or dies.

I Criticized Media, not Brittany Maynard



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Sigh. This blog is linked over at CNN in a story about Britanny Maynard deciding to postpone her suicide.

But this blog is linked with the following words, meaning this is what the story says about me: 

She’s also become a lightning rod for criticism from people who criticize that approach.

No. I specifically didn’t criticize Maynard for wanting to commit suicide in the post CNN linked. I criticized the media! Here is what I wrote about her. From, “Brittany Maynard: The Vultures Circle:”

I wasn’t going to write about Maynard because I am not critical of her. No one knows what our limits might be. But more importantly, she is a living, very ill woman. No way I am going to do anything to add to her burden.

What about the words, “I am not critical of her,” does CNN not understand?

And here is what I wrote about media ghouls–like CNN–breathlessly acting as propagandists instead of journalists:

Media know they are being played. But, if it bleeds, it leads!

- By breathlessly pushing the Maynard story, the media are pushing suicide. This totally violates media guidelines for reporting suicide stories issued by the World Health Organization.

- Why is this case making headlines? There have been hundreds of assisted suicides with nary a peep from the media. And cases that make legalized prescribed suicide look bad are assiduously ignored.

- Many of the stories read as if she has no choice but to kill herself. No mention of the potential of hospice and other care opportunities to alleviate her suffering.

- By pushing suicide as death with dignity–and by giving so much attention to her death–the media tell others that suicide is the right answer for them too.

- Many media support assisted suicide and are using Maynard for ideological reasons.

- This is like 60 Minutes playing the video of Jack Kevorkian murdering Thomas Youk, with Mike Wallace repeatedly asking, “Is he dead yet? Is he dead yet?” Or the BBC playing the video of a death at one of the Swiss suicide clinics.

- And here’s the thing: If she kills herself on November 1, they will barely remember who she was on November 3.

So, thanks to CNN for linking me. I’m flattered. But I do wish it had reported that they–and cynical assisted suicide ideologues–are my lightening rod, not Maynard.

Using Maynard to Stifle Suicide Opponents



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I find myself forced to yet again take keyboard in hand to point out that those who claim the loudest to want a substantive discussion of legalizing assisted suicide from the Brittany Maynard advocacy offensive, actually use her tragedy to stifle debate.

Latest case in point: Physician Anand Veeravagu and medical student Tej Azadand write in today’s San Francisco Chronicle in praise of Maynard–fair enough–arguing that her willingness to discuss her pending assisted suicide should spark meaningful discourse. But then they stamp on those who would debate legalization by suggesting opponents brand the dying woman “cowardly.” From the piece:

Conversations and decisions about death are difficult and emotionally charged. It is paramount that we treat differing opinions with respect and compassion.

There are those who will identify Maynard as weak and her decision as cowardly. This is as misguided as it is unfortunate. It poisons the well for an important national conversation that requires the perspectives of individuals, like Maynard, personally facing these decisions.

Do you notice how they write that differing opinions should be treated with “respect and compassion”–and then smear those with differing opinions with a vicious canard?

No one I know has called Maynard “weak, “cowardly,” or any such thing. I have seen people asking her not to kill herself out of care and concern, but not from a place of judgmental castigation. And, as I have noted, none of us knows what might cause us to be suicidal.

I have criticized Maynard for using her own tragedy as a means to shut others up about the issue as it relates to determining proper public policy. That’s not the same thing at all as criticizing her for her for being suicidal. In fact, it is treating her with respect. Refusing to criticize her where deserved because she is ill would be condescending. 

(And none of the, “She’s not suicidal,” nonsense. Maynard says she wants to kill herself to end suffering. That’s as much suicide as the mother who kills herself because of the intense grief caused by the deaths of her children or the person who kills himself from the agony caused by clinical depression.) 

Veeravagu and Azad only want one side to have the microphone. That’s all too typical in assisted suicide advocacy–and most particularly in the media which often only reports one side of the issue.

We should not surrender to emotional blackmail. No personal attacks on Maynard–opponents are usually the ones attacked personally–but no surrender to suicide promotion or the advocacy nuclear weapon of using her brain cancer as a bludgeon to silence opposing voices.

Only Pro-Assisted Suicide Types Yell “Religion!”



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Such two-dimensional thinking by so many pro assisted suicide advocates.

It’s about forcing religion, they yell. “Pope, keep your hands off my body!”

For example, Steve Siebold–who laughably advertises himself as “an expert in the field of critical thinking” (who does that?)–says that assisted suicide isn’t legal throughout the country because of religion. From his blog post at the Huffington Post:

What’s holding back physician-assisted suicide to become the law of the land? For one, the Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, suicide is a sin because only God has the authority to end a human life. No evidence exists to support this claim, yet it’s the undercurrent of the laws banning assisted suicide.

It’s time for thinking people to stand up and start pushing back on issues that involve human suffering. If someone chooses to believe that God wants her to suffer through a terminal illness that’s her decision, but when you force the rest of us to obey laws based on evidence-less beliefs it’s wrong and needs to be stopped.

What utter, shallow crappola. What noncritical thinking!

All major opponent of assisted suicide of whom I am aware make rational, secular, and public policy-related arguments against legalization. They don’t talk religion.

I am a consultant to the Patients Rights Council, perhaps the most prominent nonprofit educational organization opposing assisted suicide. Check its Website: It never mentions religion.

Moreover, in my view, assisted suicide has been primarily thwarted by the disability rights movement, most members of which are distinctly secular, generally liberal politically, and indeed, not pro-life on abortion.

Sure, the Catholic Church opposes assisted suicide. But in so doing, it doesn’t make “sin” arguments.

Case in point: The splendid Richard Doerflinger is the point man against assisted suicide for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He never talks sin, or God, but public policy. For example, hit this link to read his Congressional testimony against assisted suicide and in favor of the Pain Relief Promotion Act–ultimately killed by assisted suicide advocates because it didn’t permit killing–and you will see that religion is never discussed. Here is a brief excerpt:

When we accept assisted suicide as a “good enough” solution for these patients, we preach a counsel of despair to all terminally ill patients. We tell them that we find it easier to kill them than to find ways to kill their pain. By rejecting the “quick fix” of assisted suicide, however, we reaffirm to ourselves and to the medical profession that these patients have lives worth living, and that they deserve real solutions for the pain, depression and isolation that they may experience.

One might disagree with Doerflinger–I agree with him–but it is a more substantive argument than screaming, “Look at Brittany Maynard!”, added to the bald assertion that assisted suicide is a “right.” Siebald calls that “critical thinking.” Hardly. 

But let’s get even more specific. Hit this link to read a “fact sheet” about assisted suicide put out by the USCCB. Note, no mention of God or “sin;” not one! Here’s an example of its rational advocacy:

A decade after Oregon’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide took effect, suicide had become “the leading cause of injury death” in Oregon, and “the second leading cause of death among Oregonians ages 15-34.” The suicide rate in Oregon has been rising since 2000, and in 2007 was “35 percent higher than the national average” – without counting physician-assisted suicides of seriously ill patients, which Oregon law does not allow to be counted as suicides.

State public health officials have recommended special efforts to prevent suicide among young people, seniors, and veterans (who tend to have more physical health problems than others), and to “promote universal depression screening and care for adults, particularly seniors by healthcare providers” — screening that Oregon law does not require, and Oregon doctors usually do not provide, for those requesting physician-assisted suicide.

One can think there is no connection between legalization of assisted suicide and the increased suicide rate in Oregon–I think there is–but it isn’t a religious argument.

Using the religion canard allows “critical thinkers” like Siebold to avoid a substantive and thorough discussion. It is a way of avoiding true engagement by setting up a straw man to knock down. It is lazy, insipid, and all too predictable.

#shallowendofthepool

Obama OKs IVF Industry to Sell US Citizenship!



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Reverse biological colonialism!

I have written about this before, but now the Obama Administration has given its imprimatur to foreigners buying U.S. Citizenship for their babies.

Here’s how the scheme works: Imagine a Chinese couple create embryos using IVF in Beijing. The embryos are shipped to the USA and implanted in an American woman’s uterus. She gives birth and the babies are taken back to China by the biological parents. Should the kid be a US citizen?

The Obama Administration has just promulgated regulations saying yes! From the USCIS summary:

Under this new policy, a mother who meets this definition but does not have a genetic relationship with her child (for example, she became pregnant through an egg donor) will:

- Be able to petition for her child based on their relationship

- Be eligible to have her child petition for her based on their relationship

- Be able to transmit U.S. citizenship to her child, if she is a U.S. citizen and all other pertinent citizenship requirements are met.

Realize that under surrogacy contracts, THE SURROGATE WAIVES LEGAL PARENTHOOD! But for purposes of opening America’s doors, the Feds say baby citizen if surrogate was the legal mother at birth.

So, the contracts will just provide that the waiver of parenthood occur after birth, and voila, instant citizenship. For sale. Unbelievable.

The voracious IVF industry is way out of hand. And now, it has the seal of approval from the U.S. Government to sell American Citizenship.

This scheme will turn a pretty penny!

#theydon’thaveourbacks

HT: Daily Caller

PS: Neil Munro of the Daily Caller shows another way this could work:

The change means that a woman who is a U.S. citizen can be hired by a reproductive medical clinic to become pregnant overseas and to give birth in China, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else, and then effectively hand a U.S. passport to the baby.

Either way, there’s money in selling citizenship.

Brittany Maynard Tries to Stifle Debate



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The Brittany Maynard media explosion (my takes here and here) is an intense advocacy offensive–funded substantially by the culturally subversive George Soros through his support of Compassion and Choices–that is intended to do two things:

1. Drive assisted suicide into implementation by the power of hyper-emotion.

2. Silence those who want to discuss non-lethal approaches to caring for terminally ill patients in the larger context of the issues raised by Maynard’s illness.

Thus, Maynard has unfairly attacked palliative care expert, Dr. Ira Byock, for daring to state that people with terminal brain cancer can die peaceful deaths without taking poison. From a transcript presented on Thaddeus Pope’s Medical Futility Blog:  

“I am Brittany Maynard and it concerns me that Dr. Ira Byock will speak on my ‘behalf’ at all again.

I watched a special on PBS where this same individual spoke about my case as though he knew personal details about me, saying some things that were quite frankly not true. “For example, he said that a gentle death would be available to me easily through hospice, unfortunately that would be after a great length of time, with lots of suffering (physical and emotional), and loss for my young body. 

Byock did not speak on her “behalf.” He hasn’t treated her and wouldn’t do that.

To the contrary, he addressed the issue of what hospice can do for patients with terminal brain cancer. Maynard–and more particularly, Compassion and Choices–are just trying to shut up voices they don’t want heard in the discussion by using her tragedy as a bludgeon.

Back to Maynard:

As a terminally ill patient, I find it disrespectful and disturbing when people discuss my personal health with details that are not accurate to push an agenda.

My request is that physicians speak only what they directly know to be factually true and have a right to discuss.

Do you see what is going on? Do you see the cynical tactic?

Maynard put herself into the international spotlight to push assisted suicide–and then uses her own tragedy as a bludgeon to shame anyone who gainsays the agenda into silence. 

Well, baloney: Nobody is violating Maynard’s privacy. To the contrary: She and C & C are inserting her story into in every possible venueThat being so, people have every right to comment about the ISSUE presented–and that includes what hospice can do for people with brain cancer–as well as whether assisted suicide is appropriate or beneficent public policy.

People also have every right to opine about whether she is doing the right thing in her campaign and in deciding to take poison. She brought the issue up.

To put it bluntly, whether to legalize physician-prescribed suicide is about much more than Brittany Maynard’s individual circumstances, as tragic and emotionally compelling as that may be.

Scotland Pushes Anyone-Assisted Suicide



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So much for “aid in dying” as a “medical treatment.”

In Scotland, a bill is pending to authorize anyone-assisted suicides. From the honestly named–as opposed to US proposals--”Scottish Assisted Suicide Bill:”

No criminal liability for assisting suicide (1) It is not a crime (of any kind) to assist a person to commit suicide. 

That basically means anyone can assist

The person who wants to die has to be age 16 or higher, have two doctors state that he or she has a terminal or “life-shortening” illness–which,when you think about it, could be almost anything:

(5) The kind of illness or condition referred to in subsection (4)(a) is—(a) an illness that is, for the person, either terminal or life-shortening, or (b) a condition that is,;for the person, progressive and either terminal or life-shortening.

That’s a wide enough gap to drive a hearse through. Many conditions are far from terminal but could be considered “life shortening,” including diabetes, asymptomatic HIV infection, MS, plugged arteries in the heart, bi-polar disease, Lupus, perhaps even, obesity or nicotine addiction.

And they are pursuing Jack Kevokian’s dream of non-physician “licensed suicide facilitators:”

A licensed facilitator is to use best endeavours—

(a) to provide, before, during and after the act of suicide (or attempted suicide) by the person for whom the facilitator is acting, such practical assistance as the person reasonably requests,
(b) to provide the person with comfort and reassurance,
(c) to be with the person when any drug or other substance or means dispensed or otherwise supplied for the suicide of the person is taken or used by the person,
(d) as soon as practicable after the expiry of the period of 14 days referred to in section 17(2), to remove from the person any such drug or other substance or 20 means still in the person’s possession.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Bonnie?” “I want to help people kill themselves, Ma!” “That’s a good girl.”

Note there is no provision for intervention by a suicide preventer.

And this provision turns over the whole process of licensing to suicide promoters:

Licensing of facilitators
(1) The Scottish Ministers may, by order, appoint—(a) a person or a body, association or group of persons to be the licensing authority, or (b) persons or bodies, associations or groups of persons to be licensing authorities,for facilitators

Think about how the ideologues at Compassion and Choices or Dignity in Dying would tingle at the mere thought of being able to license suicide assisters! 

As radical as the bill already is, it would only be a launching pad for eventual active euthanasia as people got used to killing as an acceptable answer to human suffering.

We are being pushed steadily and consistently toward a culture of death on demand.

Different places are further down that road than others. But make no mistake: All assisted suicide/euthanasia roads lead to the same destination

 

 

Equality? Point Should be Well-Adjusted Children



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In Brave New World, society “hatches” children instead of women giving birth. We know where that leads…

Now, some are extolling using artificial wombs as a means of guaranteeing women “equality.” From,“The End of Pregnancy,” by Reihan Salam:

I think Tong is probably right and that something essential would be lost if pregnancy becomes obsolete. Yet, artificial wombs still seem inevitable. The powerful, feeling-filled bond between a mother and her child is a big part of what leads working mothers to take their child-rearing responsibilities more seriously than working fathers.
If this essential difference is the problem, if it is the root of gender equality in the workplace, and if our highest priority is to eliminate gender inequality, then ectogenesis offers a way forward.

And here I thought the “highest priority” was to have well-adjusted and happy children. Oh, Wesley, you’re so 1950s!

Of course, if there were artificial wombs and a woman didn’t want to be pregnant, there would be a solution that could both save the baby and give the woman “choice.”

Right, that’ll really fly!

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