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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Putting Loved Ones Out of Our Misery



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Emotional whipsawing is the lifeblood of euthanasia advocacy (pardon the pun). The movement thrives on often truly heart-wrenching stories to convince society to grant a general license allowing doctors or family members to help kill the disabled, despairing and dying.

The Daily Mail carried such a report recently of a mother named Heather Pratten who smothered her son as he was committing suicide because he was in anguish at having Huntington’s disease. From the story:

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, she explained how on his 42nd birthday, Nigel had tried to take his life with a massive heroin overdose. Lying next to him and seeing him struggling to breathe as the drug took hold, she took a pillow and suffocated him to relieve his suffering.

She told hosts Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield: ‘I thought “this has to end”. I couldn’t take it any longer. I put a pillow over his face. When I took it away, he was gone.’ Although she was arrested and charged, an autopsy concluded her actions would not have changed Nigel’s fate.

Nigel had always been very depressed, leaving home, drinking to excess, etc.. From what we can tell in the story, he was not receiving psychiatric help.

Nor was he was not at the end stage of the disease when he took the overdose. Now Heather is campaigning to legalize assisted suicide. (Notice the Mail used a photo of Nigel as a child to hype the emotionalism. He was actually 42 when he died.)

We saw the same kind of thing in Canada some time ago when Robert Latimer was hailed as a hero by many Canadians after he murdered his 12 year-old daughter Traci because she had cerebral palsy.

We can have great empathy for the anguish of Pratten–without condoning killing or opening the door to the abandonment of assisted suicide.

Besides, there is another side to this issue that usually receives media short shrift. Recall the assisted sucide of Myrna Lebov, in which her self-described “compassionate” husband became an instant assisted suicide movment hero after claiming to have helped his wife die because she had progressive MS.

But it turned out that he had actually pushed her into the death and had been planning to write a book about his deed all along. From my piece about the case in the Weekly Standard:

On March 28, 1995, Delury wrote in his diary that he planned to tell his wife: I have work to do, people to see, places to travel. But no one asks about my needs. I have fallen prey to the tyranny of a victim. You are sucking my life out of my [sic] like a vampire and nobody cares. In fact, it would appear that I am about to be cast in the role of villain because I no longer believe in you.

Delury later admitted on the NBC program Dateline that he had shown his wife that very passage. Moreover, not only did he push her into “death with dignity,” but smothered her with a plastic bag to make sure she died.

For many the Pratten and Latimer cases resonate far more strongly than Lebov’s killing.

Ah well.  We live in pro-suicide times. We should take a long, hard look in a societal mirror about that. 

Me Versus Euthanasia at Iowa Capitol Rotunda



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I was honored recently to be invited to speak in the Iowa Capitol Rotunda against assisted suicide to an audience that included the governor, lieutenant governor, and many legislators. It was a very well-attended event. I thought I would share it with anyone interested.

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You Can’t Have Resuscitation!



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Over in the UK, doctors tried to withhold resuscitation from a terminal cancer patient without discussing the matter with her or close family members. From the Daily News column by the victim, Sally Farmiloe:

The instruction on my medical notes was unequivocal: if I fell unconscious, if my heart stopped beating, I should not be resuscitated. There would be no attempt to save my life: instead, nature should take its course. For a few seconds I turned the words over in my mind, struggling to grasp their enormity. Then, as their meaning engulfed me, it was as if an icy hand had grasped my heart. If I stopped breathing, I would simply be left to die.

Do Not Resuscitate Orders are a legitimate part of medicine. But they should be agreed to by patients/family/duly appointed patient surrogates.

Unfortunately, UK law allows doctors to impose a DNR if the patient can’t communicate, with only an attempt at discussion with family, who can be distant relatives. Rather than speak to Farmiloe’s daughter who was nearby, doctors called in in-law who didn’t understand her intense desire to fight.

Doctors said she wouldn’t live this long. But she has beat the odds and wants the law of DNR changed:

For the guidelines which govern DNR orders state that if you are unable to make and communicate this vital decision on your own — if your faculties are impaired or you are terribly confused, as I was — then the decision will be made for you by doctors, who should discuss the issue with your family.

Extraordinarily, this does not have to be your next of kin. I did not authorise the DNR order — I was far too ill to think cogently. But I know absolutely that, even in my weaked state, I would have wanted to fight with every fibre of my being.

She says rightly that should be her decision, not that of doctors:

There must, I believe, be safer ways of administering DNR orders. Even those who appear to be on the brink of death can confound the wisest of doctors. I have proved as much. And I intend to continue to defy anyone who suggests that because I have terminal cancer I am dying. I am not. I have a lot more living to do yet.

I am not looking down my nose. For example, last year I helped defeat a Texas bill that would have explicitly authorized unilateral imposition of DNR.

I should have said “delayed” instead of “defeated.” The idea isn’t going away, particularly given Obamacare’s pending cost/benefit medical technocracy.

If you do or don’t want DNR, be sure and prepare a durable power of attorney for health care to better ensure that your wishes–rather than that of strangers–will determine whether you receive a potentially life-saving course.

The Obama Administration’s War on Humans



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This is exactly the kind of thing I have been pounding the drum about in my many warnings about how anti-humanism has poisoned the environmental movement. 

King Cove is a remote town in Alaska with an airport that can only handle flight in good weather. This means that when people become seriously ill and need hospitalization, they often can’t get from King Cove to life-saving help.

There is a simple solution that can save lives and not materially impact the environment. About 20 miles away, there is an all weather airport from which sick people from King Cove could be flown for medical help if they could only get there. So the people of King Cove have asked for permission to build a simple gravel one-lane road which could be used for such evacuations. They even offered a land exchange to minimize any overall environmental damage.

No! says Sally Jewell, the Obama Administration’s Secretary of the Interior–even though this could lead to people dying. From the Fox News story:

During an August visit to Alaska, Jewell was told that building a road that connects King Cove and Cold Bay was vital. But in December, Jewell rejected the road saying it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge. “She stood up in the gymnasium and told those kids, I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals, Democratic state Rep. Bob Herron told a local television station. “You could have heard a pin drop in that gymnasium.”

Shameful! But alas, as I point out in The War on Humans, such despicable callousness toward the value of human life is now rife in the environmental movement.

If it were Jewell’s loved ones at threat, if it were the swells who attend Davos or fly private jets all over the world to urge we “save the planet,’ the Obama Administration would demand that a paved highway be built to provide shovel-ready jobs. But they don’t care enough about the powerless people of King Cove to give them a better chance to live when they become seriously ill.

Hope and change! Anti-humanism, Wesley? What anti-humanism.

 

Squashing Religious Freedom With Bad Science



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New York Times lefty op/ed columnist, Timothy Egan, presents readers with a very misleading and scientifically erroneous offering today about religious freedom and the Obamacare birth control/abortifacient coverage mandate (in the midst of an article castigating the recently vetoed Arizona legislation, irrelevant here).

Egan’s column is in error about the science involved in the controversy, and implicitly misleading about the nature of the business entities involved in the litigation that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

First, Egan mocks the notion that Hobby Lobby’s owners believe that an IUD destroys a human life. From his column:

Consider the case now before the court, spearheaded by Hobby Lobby, a chain of more than 500 superstores in 47 states. It’s run by a billionaire, David Green, who is one of the nation’s most influential backers of evangelical causes. “We have tried to run our business in a way that would be pleasing to our savior,” said Green, in a 2012 speech outlining the biblical principles at the core of company.

As a corporation, Hobby Lobby asserts that life begins at conception. It opposes the health care law’s birth control mandate. A day-old zygote is a person. Preventing implantation of a fertilized egg with a standard intrauterine device, or I.U.D., is a form of abortion, in their argument.

You can see where this is going: religion that trumps medicine, or religion that trumps science, backed by the high court.

Egan is wrong on the science questions he mentions–and Hobby Lobby’s owners are correct:

  • As embryology textbooks would inform Egan, a new human life–that is, a human organism–indeed begins at the completion of fertilization. At that point, it has its own unique genetic makeup, its sex has been determined, etc. It isn’t chopped liver or a Martian. In other words, it is a nascent human life.
  • There is no such thing as a fertilized egg in this context. Once the zygote exists, the egg (and sperm)–the joining of which created the human organism–both cease to exist.
  • The IUD does destroy this nascent human life by preventing the embryo from implanting in the uterus.

Whether this is an abortion depends on the definition of “pregnant.” One view sees a woman as pregnant once the embryo comes into being in the Fallopian tube. Another holds that the pregnancy begins with successful implantation. The IUD prevents pregnancy under the latter definition, and destroys a pregnancy under the first.

But that isn’t the point. Hobby Lobby’s owners object to forced complicity in the destroying of a human life based on their religious belief that human being has value upon coming into existence, rather than, as others believe, at some later time.

Egan mocks this as Hobby Lobby believing that a nascent human ia a “person,” which he claims would “trump” science and medicine. But science can’t tell us whether an embryo is a person. That is a question of philosophy, morality, religion, etc. Science can only tell us that the embryo is a living human organism.

Similarly, medicine isn’t being trumped. Birth control is almost always an elective medical decision. Hobby Lobby’s owners aren’t trying to prevent employees from using the types of birth control that destroy (or may destroy) human life. They don’t want to pay for it because doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

And if the Supreme Court forces them to, don’t be surprised if they close their business and force a lot of people out of work.

A little comity could accommodate everyone, but the Obama Administration wants to force the country to accept its values in this issue. Indeed, the DOJ’s legal briefs all argue that the state has a “compelling interest” in forcing heterodox believers like Hobby Lobby to violate their religious beliefs to guarantee “equality for women” in the work force. 

But that isn’t science. That isn’t medical. That also isn’t the fundamental purpose of health insurance.

Finally, Egan says that if Hobby Lobby wins, “corporations” would be able to avoid laws based on religious beliefs. That’s too cute by half.

We’re not discussing publicly held corporations, such as, say, Google or GE. Those businesses have millions of shareholders and would never be able to demonstrate they have a corporate religious belief under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (as I have written elsewhere).

Rather, we are talking closely held businesses, such as Hobby Lobby. If the owners lose, the government will be forcing them to violate their religious beliefs in the way they operate their business. 

I believe that true civil libertarians stand up for individual freedom even when their own skin isn’t in the game. Under this definition, Timothy Egan is no civil libertarian. 

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Why Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Care Abortion Takes Human Life



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There was some sturm and drang at The Corner yesterday. Andrew Johnson’s posted an entry noting Planned Parenthood’s abortion honcho sniffing that the humanity of the aborted fetus is irrelevant. Many angry comments ensued and Drudge put it on his front page. From the quote:

The president of the country’s largest abortion provider said she didn’t think the matter of when life begins is pertinent to the issue. “It is not something that I feel is really part of this conversation,” Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Thursday. “I don’t know if it’s really relevant to the conversation.”

Why is anyone surprised?  Planned Parenthood is really in the “right to a dead baby” business. Recall, for example, a lobbyist for Florida’s PP refusing to rule out infanticide after a botched abortion if that is what the mother wants. From my post of March 29, 2013: 

“So, um, it is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief,” said Rep. Jim Boyd. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

“We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician,” said Planned Parenthood lobbyist [Alisa Laport] Snow.

Note the (im)moral consistency between Richards and Snow. The real issues for PP are getting paid and the right to a dead baby.

What’s this all about? Pro-abortion leaders believe in an unfettered right to terminate at any time for any reason, which they see as the fundamental predicate to attaining true equality for women, This is the position, for example, of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 

Under this theory, Roe v Wade should be overturned–but from the other direction–because it allows too many restrictive regulations.

This could easily be justifed by shifting the relevant moral criteria from “humanhood”–as in Roe–to “personhood,” e.g., possessing certain “morally relevant” cognitive capacities.

This is the perspective of many leading bioethicists, which is why some think the life of a pig has greater value than that of a baby. From my First Things column, “A Pro-Abortion Reversal of Roe?”

As an article in the UCLA Law Review supportive of the equal protection standard put it, “Crucially, once the Supreme Court recognizes that people have a right to [abortion] by virtue of equal citizenship,” the right would be “on a stronger legal and political footing,” making it far less susceptible to the current pro-life strategy of “chipping away.”…

But many powerful voices no longer consider “human life” to be a morally relevant category. For example, the mainstream bioethics movement argues that what matters morally isn’t being “human” but possessing sufficient mental capacities”such as being self-aware”to be considered a “person.” In this view, only persons have a right to life. Since a fetus does not possess personhood capacities at any time during gestation”contrary to Roe ”the state has no interest in protecting fetal life even after viability.

To Recap: The American People may believe that “when a human life begins” is very relevant to the question of abortion, but leaders of the pro-abortion movement don’t.

And here’s the problem: They are well ensconced among ruling class elites. What these neo Patricians want often becomes law–regardless of the contrary opinions of the American people.

“A Place for Mom” Erases Elder Suicide Promo



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The assisted living placement service, A Place for Mom, prominently promoted assisted suicide for mom (and dad) in its blog a few days ago. I took suitable umbrage here and here.

The National Right to Life Committee also criticized the business that wants us to entrust our loved elders to them for finding senior services, but thought it wise to promote suicide for the elderly and assisted suicide’s top promoters, Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices. 

It was a stupid business decision for an organization so deeply involved with the elderly to post in favor of assisted suicide. And now, a day late and a dollar short, A Place for Mom’s boost for elder suicide has gone into the cyber ether.

Erased. Disappeared. Gone. But it will not be forgotten. 

Anger Grows at A Place for Mom’s Suicide Boost



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We’ve all seen the soothing Joan Lunden ads for the elder services referral business, A Place for Mom. Amidst the warm colors and gauzy colors, it turns out the group supports assisted suicide.

And now, the National Right to Life Committee has weighed in. From, “‘Senior Living Referral Service’ Promotes Assisted Suicide,” by Burke Balch in the NRTL News:

Have you seen the ads in which it is claimed, “You can trust A Place for Mom to help you”? Evidently at least part of what is meant is, “You can trust A Place for Mom to help you find a group to help Mom kill herself.”

As I wrote a few days ago, that isn’t hyperbole. The group’s blog pushed assisted suicide generally and boosted the assisted suicide advocacy organization Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices, specifically.

The disclaimer at the end of the post acknowledged that the issue of assisted suicide is controversial and laughably claims neutrality on the issue. So, where are the voices opposing the death agenda? The blog does not give one reason against assisting suicide, nor did it give voice to any opponent. Some neutrality.

Balch eviscerates the claim of neutrality:

A Place for Mom evidently considers referring people to a group providing “Client Support Volunteers” who will “ensure that the medical protocol for taking the life-ending medication is followed” to be an appropriate form of “educating the public.”

Yet the blog post by this “neutral” referral company, which talks of “Giving Choice to the Dying,” provides no information about suicide prevention services, or how to access available medical resources for the counseling and medication that can treat suicidal depression.

Remember, this post was aimed primarily at the family members of the elderly. In an age of terrible elder abuse, it is appalling that a business that seeks to earn the trust of seniors and their families would boost the ultimate abandonment of assisted suicide.

If I ever need help caring for my 96-year-old mother, A Place for Mom is the last organization to which I would turn.

Correction: An earlier version of this post claimed that APFM supported the Washington initiative that led to legalization. The post actually was describing C & C’s support for the initiative. I regret any confusion. 

10,000 Have Seen War on Humans Video



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Have you?

Electric Stimulation Treats Severe Brain Damage



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It appears there may be a way to improve the condition of patients in a persistent unconscious and minimally conscious states. From the New Scientist story:

People who have been in a minimally conscious state for weeks or years have been temporarily roused using mild electrical stimulation. Soon after it was applied to their brains, 15 people with severe brain damage showed signs of consciousness, including moving their hands or following instructions using their eyes. Two people were even able to answer questions for 2 hours before drifting back into their previous uncommunicative state.

“I don’t want to give people false hope – these people weren’t getting up and walking around – but it shows there is potential for the brain to recover functionality, even several years after damage,” says Steven Laureys at the University of Liège in Belgium, who led the research.

This could mean better diagnosis:

The worst scenario, he says, is that the person has some aspects of awareness but they have been misdiagnosed as persistently vegetative. Brain stimulation could now be added to the tests used to make that diagnosis. It’s an important distinction – someone in a vegetative state is thought to be unable to feel pain.

Someone with minimal consciousness can feel pain and possibly emotions, too. “The key thing is getting the diagnosis right, that’s the game-changer,” says Fins.

Gee, treating these disabled people as people rather than as “dead” or human “nonpersons” for organ harvesting. What a concept.

Here Comes the “Death Test!”



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Scientists think they may have devised a test that will tell us the chances we will die in five years–even if healthy. From the Telegraph story:

A ‘Death Test’ which predicts the chance of a healthy person dying from any medical condition in the next five years has been developed by scientists. Researchers said they were ‘astonished’ to discover that a simple blood test could predict if a person was likely to die – even if they were not ill.

They found that the levels of four ‘biomarkers’ in the body, when taken together, indicated a general level of ‘frailty’. People whose biomarkers were out of kilter were five times more likely to die with five years of the blood test.

Can you imagine the assisted suicide advocates with this information? “Why wait? Get your death pills now!”

Or the Obamacare health care rationers? “Why waste resources on you when you’re going to be dead in a few years anyway?”

The mind boggles.

Steven Hayward, Marc Morano Like War on Humans



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Steven Hayward has had a stellar career as an author, think tank member, and now a professor in Boulder. He has done much work in the field of environmentalism, which is why I am so pleased with his endorsement for my new ebook, The War on Humans:

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.

Thanks, Steve!

I was interviewed recently by Radio Free Acton, the podcast of the Acton Institute. We had a pretty good discussion of the book, which I embed below.

Meanwhile, the book received the endorsement of Climate Depot! Thanks to Marc Morano!

Test Advances Destroy Down Babies Agenda



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Currently about 90% of Down fetuses are aborted. Now, a new test makes the search part of the overarching search and destroy mission less invasive and more accurate. From NPR story:

A new blood test offers pregnant women a safe and much more accurate way to screen for Down syndrome. A study that evaluated the test in 1,914 pregnancies found that the test, which checks DNA, produces far fewer false alarms than the current screening techniques. “It’s very good news for pregnant women,” says Diana Bianchi, a pediatric geneticist at Tufts Medical Center who led the study. “It’s very important because it means a significant proportion of women are not being made anxious by being told they have an abnormal test result.”

Bianchi and others stressed that the results of the screening test would still need to be confirmed by follow-up diagnostic tests — either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which can cause miscarriages. But the new blood test would send fewer women for that risky testing. “That’s what we’re really concerned with at the end of the day,” Bianchi says. “That there’s an unintended miscarriage resulting from a procedure that didn’t need to be performed in the first place.”

Sorry. I think many will avoid further testing and eugenically abort based on this result alone. I am not alone in that concern:

“It’s a major advance,” says Michael Greene, an OB-GYN at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who co-authored an editorial accompanying the study. “This is the first test that measures DNA directly.”

But Greene and others have some reservations. The new DNA tests are more expensive (the price varies depending on the company performing it). And Greene is concerned that some women may not realize it’s still not perfect. “I’m worried that without a proper sense of perspective on the test that women may use a positive screening test as the basis for terminating what would actually have been a normal pregnancy,” Greene says. 

A tragedy either way, whether the baby would or would not have Down.

A blood test to determine problems would be very good news in a world in which all children are welcomed with unconditional love. For example, Sarah Palin has said that her prenatal testing allowed their family to prepare for her son Trig.

Technology is neutral, but our hearts are not. Even though people with Down are among the most loving among us, some want to wipe them off the face of the earth by not allowing any to be born. This test, I am afraid, furthers that goal. 

“A Place for Mom” Blog Pushes Assisted Suicide



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We have all heard the advertisements of A Place for Mom, in which former news star Joan Lunden pitches the business that helps families find assisted living facilities and other senior services.

Well, imagine my dismay to see the organization’s blog gushing over the assisted suicide advocacy group Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices–in a column ostensibly about end of life planning–but which mostly instructs family members on how to find help accessing doctor-prescribed death for the elderly. From the blog entry:

Upon request, [C & C] Client Support Volunteers are present at the time of death for their clients who elect to self-administer medication. Volunteers ensure that the medical protocol for taking the life-ending medication is followed so that family members can focus on their loved one.

The blog entry also insists that doctors who don’t want to assist suicides be complicit by providing information and referring to a death doctor:

[C&C's] Robb [Miller] asserts that medical providers, even those opposed to the option of Death with Dignity, have a professional, ethical duty to provide either basic information about Death with Dignity to their terminal patients who make inquiries about the option or refer them to someone who will.

No they don’t. The law doesn’t so require (although that is coming, I think). Moreover, I believe that doctors have an ethical duty to declare their offices “assisted suicide free zones”–at least if they believe in the professional values embodied in the Hippocratic Oath. 

The A Place for Mom blog post pushes readers into the the arms of death purveyors, and include an anti-religious tinge:

Most often, referrals to Compassion & Choices come from medical providers, such as doctors, hospice nurses and social workers who work with terminally ill patients. But, as clinics and hospices fall under the control of religiously-affiliated health care systems, more providers are being prohibited from participating in Death with Dignity.

“This forces medical providers to essentially abandon the patient in regard to this issue,” he says. “Time is precious at the end of life.” Robb adds, “If people are delayed in getting the information they need, it can have very serious consequences.”

So, one of the premier senior service for-profit enterprises leaps head-first into the culture of death.

And realize, this is aimed primarily at family members. Talk about planting ideas!

I don’t know about you. But my mother is 96. If I ever need help providing services for her the last place I will go is A Place for Mom!

We Should Follow Iran’s Kidney Selling OK?



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There is growing pressure among the utilitarian bioethics crowd to permit the poor to sell their kidneys–and there is already a thriving biological colonialism in kidney selling that prays on the world’s most destitute.

Apparently, Iran permits this odious practice in the open–and now a new book this way comes extolling the idea. From the promotion for The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran:

Dr. Fry-Revere is the first Westerner ever to witness firsthand Iran’s organ procurement system. She shares what she discovered in this fascinating book: part diary of living in a dangerous country, part ethnographic essay, and part tale of people working together to overcome death and financial ruin. The Kidney Sellers is a shocking, thought-provoking true story.

Iran? We are supposed to adopt the ethics of tyrannous Iran? We are supposed to allow the well off to exploit the destitute? Long live the “1-Percent!” Good grief.

Not surprisingly, a general in the army of utilitarian bioethics enthusiastically supports kidney markets:

Sigrid Fry-Revere has given us an amazing, courageous, provocative, even dangerous look at the complex and generally successful system of selling/donation that has solved the kidney supply problem in Iran. Eloquently, humorously written, it is one of my best reads in years. The book will be fascinating to anyone who loves a good travel adventure story, but essential for anyone interested in overcoming the organ transplant problem that costs thousands of lives each year.” –Robert Veatch, Ph.D.

Of course he likes the idea. Veatch also advocates redefining death–actually killing the cognitively devastated for their organs–so long as consent is given.

I guess we’re supposed to not care that live kidney suppliers can suffer serious medical complications.

I’ll check this book out and discuss more fully at some future date.

Jahi McMath Mother Owes No Apology



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The Jahi McMath tragedy remains ongoing as she continues to be maintained on a ventilator. Her mother has claimed her physical state has improved, but we need not get into that here.

Many in bioethics criticized Jahi’s mother for standing up for her daughter. Now, she has defended herself. From the LA Times story:

In a letter posted to Facebook, Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, referred to her critics, saying they helped make her daughter’s experience relevant to people all over the world. “I also want to thank those who felt the need to go public with their opinions about me and my daughter, positive and even negative,” Winkfield wrote. “It is because of you that my daughter’s experience is so relevant and that people all over the world know who Jahi Mcmath is.”

Medical experts and ethicists have criticized the decision to keep Jahi on a ventilator, saying there is absolutely no chance of recovering from brain death. Bioethics experts also took issue with news media coverage that often repeated family assertions that the girl was alive, saying it clouded an issue the public already has difficulty grasping.

Jahi’s mother owes no one an apology.  While I believe that properly determined brain death is dead–and so stated about Jahi’s situation–that doesn’t mean a parent shouldn’t defend her child to the best of her ability.

I also think the judge in this case did a splendid job of balancing the needs of Children’s Hospital to maintain their ethics and the desperate desire of a family to give their baby every possible chance.

Note the cost has been at the family’s own–or contributors’–expense. (For more on my views about the case, see here.)

Jahi’s body has apparently not gone into decline as almost always happens in brain dead cases. It’s too soon for eyebrows to be raised. But if she actually does improve, there will be hell to pay because it will mean she isn’t really dead. 

No judgment now. Let’s see how this plays out. But let’s not castigate a mother for loving her daughter enough to take on the Medical Establishment. 

Moving Organ Donors Instead of Organs



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I think this is a very good idea. Rather than procure organs in disparate hospitals, in the Midwest, they are now moving donors to a centralized location. From the AP story:

For decades, surgeons have traveled to far-off hospitals to remove organs from brain-dead donors and then rushed back to transplant them. Now an experiment in the Midwest suggests there may be a better way: Bring the donors to the doctors instead.

A study out Tuesday reports on liver transplants from the nation’s first free-standing organ retrieval center. Nearly all organ donors now are transported to Mid-America Transplant Services in St. Louis from a region including parts of Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas. Removing organs at this central location near the four hospitals that do transplants saves money, the study found.

The livers spent less time outside the donor’s body, which at least in theory improves the odds of success. Doctors also think they are getting more usable organs from each donor, though this study only looked at livers.

One of the problems with the organ donation process has been varying standards of declaring death and a relative lack of expertise in some facilities. This new approach offers greater efficiency and professionalism. Good.

What “Human Exceptionalism” Means



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Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed me about my new ebook, The War on Humans. Those interested can read it for themselves. But I want to quote one small section because I am so often asked about what I mean by the term human exceptionalism. From “Losing Human Dignity:”

LOPEZ: How do you define “human exceptionalism”?

SMITH: “Human exceptionalism” is a term I use to describe both sides of the unique nature of man. On one hand, we have unique value and only we should possess rights. But that isn’t the end of it.

Human exceptionalism also appeals to our unique capacity for moral agency: Only human beings have duties. We have duties to each other. We have duties to our posterity. We have duties to treat animals humanely. We have duties to treat the environment responsibly and to leave a verdant world to those who come after us. These flow from who we are. If we recognize the exceptional nature of all human beings, we will understand that the world is not ours to turn into a cesspool. I mean, if being human isn’t what gives us the obligation to be environmentally responsible, what does?

That isn’t a complete description of either the unique value or obligations sides of the human exceptionalism coin, but it is a good nutshell description of the concept.

Matrix’s War on Humans



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People are beginning to send me examples of anti-humanism in popular culture and environmental advocacy. Someone just sent this quote from The Matrix:

Agent Smith: I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.

Another Kenau Reeves movie. Hmmm. 

It’s really getting anti-human out there. Keep ‘em coming, folks!

Violent Imagery Supports War on Humans



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Imagine if conservatives used violent imagery of people being murdered for not agreeing with their ideas and ideological goals. The screaming would–rightly–never stop.

But exactly that kind of violent imagery is being deployed in pursuit of global warming alarmism and other environmental “war on humans” agendas, with little criticism. In Sunday’s New York Times, for example, a cartoon depicts a “climate change denier” being murdered with an icicle:

Even worse, the “No Pressure” advertisement in support of a campaign to reduce our individual carbon output by 10 percent. It graphically murders school children and others who refuse to get on board.

Check it out: But be warned, the images of children and others exploding are graphic and realistic:

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