Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

End of “Abandon All Hope” Hospice Model?


When I was researching my book on bioethics, Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, the late Dame Cecily Saunders honored me with a 30 minute interview at her St.Christopher’s Hospice. For those who may not know, Dame Cecily–the creator of the modern hospice movement–was one of the most important medical humanitarians of the 20th century. 

I asked for her impression of hospice in the USA. She said not enough people accessed the services here. 

I asked her why she thought that was so: Medicare had made a huge mistake, she said, by requiring patients to forego all life-extending treatment as a condition of receiving hospice care. “It’s like saying, ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” she told me, shaking her head.

Now, Medicare might finally be seeing the light. A new pilot program willl allow patients to receive both treatment and hospice. From the Reuters story:

A new program from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may remove a barrier that makes patients hesitate to opt for hospice care near the end of life. Until now, to receive hospice care, patients had to agree to forego any further attempts at curative treatments. The new Medicare Care Choices Model will soon offer an option for Medicare beneficiaries to receive palliative care services from certain hospices while still receiving treatment from curative care providers…

Don Schumacher, president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), said this model may change the future of end-of-life care. “One of the biggest sadnesses and regrets in hospice is that patients are admitted and die within a very short time,” he said, underscoring that too many are not enrolled long enough to realize benefits.

According to the NHPCO, the median length of hospice service in 2011 was 19 days. One benefit of receiving hospice care sooner might be that symptoms could be addressed before they become difficult to control, said Szmuilowicz. “It’s a lot easier to stay on top of somebody’s pain than catch up to it.”

As a former hospice volunteer, I can attest that the problem usually isn’t going into hospice too soon, but too late.

I have been very critical of this administration’s health care policies. But they sure hit a home run with this one. Bravo.

(For my obituary tribute to Dame Cecily, hit this link.)

Free Jailhouse Assisted Suicider!


It’s time to stop the suppression of autonomy and allow cruel and unusual death with dignity

The “ultimate civil liberty” says that we have the absolute right to choose the time, manner, reason, and method of our death. So why is this man being charged with a crime? From the Fox Carolina story:

A Charleston County Detention Center inmate has been charged with one count of assisted suicide. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents on Wednesday arrested 30-year-old Michael Robert Bixby of Hobart, Indiana, almost two weeks after his cellmate was found dead in the jail.

Bixby told investigators he helped Matthew Glidden, of North Charleston, commit suicide by strangling him until he was dead. The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office asked SLED to investigate after Glidden was found unresponsive in his bed on March 24. The information provided by SLED did not indicate how agents knew Glidden wanted to commit suicide.

Barbaric of a Red State to charge such a compassionate supporter of autonomy with a crime. Stop forcing your religion on the rest of us! The assister should be given a medal.

The dead man was charged with a sex crime against a minor. Who wouldn’t want to die? Choking can be ”aid in dying” too! Why should “deliverance” be limited to the ill and disabled?


The New York Times’ War on Humans


When the New York Times Magazine did a huge profile of the animal rights fanatic and lawyer, Steven Wise–extolling his campaign for chimp personhood–I thought, “Enough with the anti-humanism, already!”

I decided to do a larger article than I can here pointing out how reliably subversive to human exceptionalism–the philosophical core of Western Civilization–the New York Times has become. From my Weekly Standard piece, “The Paper of the Apes:”

Particularly in politically progressive circles, assignment of special status to people—as opposed to flora and fauna—is increasingly seen as hubristic and arrogant. If we just demote ourselves to merely another animal in the forest, we are told, we will live more gently on the land and save the planet.

While the Times frequently hosts this latter view, it rarely—outside the occasional Ross Douthat column—publishes an unequivocal defense of the unique importance of human life.

I get into the puff profile of Wise and the equally ridiculous Magazine piece the week before extolling the Dark Mountain Project’s ecological push for “uncivilization.” I also note that the Times’ Sunday op/ed published an article promoting “pea personhood,” and one of its science writers calling plants “ethical.”

What’s it all mean?

Some might maintain that the frequent criticism of human exceptionalism appearing in the Times (these examples are nowhere near exhaustive) simply reflects the increasing prominence of these ideas, which “the paper of record” has a duty to acknowledge. The claim would be more persuasive if the paper also regularly hosted defenses of the ancien moral régime.

But that’s not how the New York Times rolls. The paper is substantially agenda-driven. Progressives have long denied that any superior dignity attaches to human life, deeming the idea irrational, unscientific, and religiously based. So, naturally, the Times lends its space to views corrosive of any “outdated” belief in the sanctity of human life.

The next time the Times promotes the idea that human beings are not special, just consider the source: It is the “paper of record” for The War on Humans.

Animal Rights War on Medical Cures


If we want to advance our biological knowledge toward the end of creating new medical treatments and cures, we absolutely must allow animal research. That is incontrovertibly true, blatant lies by the ilk of PETA claiming no human good comes out of animal research, notwithstanding. 

One can argue legitimately that despite the gains we receive from animal research, we foreswear from the enterprise for ethical reasons. I disagree, but it is an argument with integrity, albeit terribly misplaced priorities.

That said, animal researchers should not be vilified. But that is what animal rights activists frequently do, sometimes leading to violence, as happened with disturbing frequency for a time here in California.

But personally vilify they do–all over the world. In Germany, a researcher into the brains of monkeys has been continually attacked. Court cases have been brought and he has been completely cleared of all unethical behavior.  Yet, he is attacked personally in ads, his photo shown as a special method of intimidation. From a Science story:

The text says that “animal experimenters are a special kind of being—you should not lightly call them human.” The ad questions the validity of Kreiter’s study results and denounces his group’s research as “cruel,” “barbaric,” and “scientifically pointless.” It ends with an appeal to citizens to “treat animal experimenters with contempt.”

No, animal rights activists who personally attack researchers should be treated with contempt.

Like a wolf pack, these animal rights bullies always pick one person or company to attack and try to drive them out of their careers. As I documented in my book, A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy, sometimes it works.

I am reminded of the infamous Silver Spring Monkey case in which Dr. Edward Taub was infiltrated by PETA activists and his life and work almost destroyed by false allegations of cruelty to monkeys. Yet, thanks to Taub’s work with monkeys, a wonderful new treatment for stroke infirmities came into being. From my NRO piece, “A Monkey for Your Grandmother:”

More importantly, the animal research that so distressed animal liberationists helped Taub achieve a medical breakthrough in the treatment of stroke victims–called Constraint-Induced Movement (CI Therapy)–by which the brain is induced to “rewire itself” following stroke or other serious brain trauma. CI Therapy is so successful that there is now a long waiting list of stroke patients with upper limb impairments at Taub’s Alabama clinic.

The technique is also in further human trials for other conditions, including as an approach to treating children with cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury.

Not only has the treatment been approved for Medicare coverage, but Taub is teaching the technique all around the world. The human suffering he has ameliorated can’t be measured.

Here’s the truth: No medical treatment in the last 60 years could have come into being without animal research.  It is a human rights issue of gravest import, first instituted as such by the Nuremberg Code.

Moreover, many dangerous approaches were kept from hurting people because of animal research. Our knowledge of basic science has grown exponentially because of animal research.

As Taub told me, he could either have not used animals in research or he could have not developed the stroke treatment. That’s what I call the “grim good” of animal research. I know which I choose.

Will Bioethicists Support Hunger Strike Death?


Last year, I argued against permitting prisoners from harming their health from hunger strikes–by force feeding if necessary. 

The issue has been primarily discussed here at HE in the context of Guantanamo, but there was also advocacy for doctors both helping ease inmate’s hunger strike symptoms and/or refusing to participate in forced feeding.

For example, here is what.bioethicst George Annas said about doctors’ duties to cooperate with the hunger strike by inmates. From my post quoting Annas:

Guantanamo is not just going to fade away, and neither is the stain on medical ethics it represents. U.S. military physicians require help from their civilian counterparts to meet their ethical obligations and maintain professional ethics.

In April the American Medical Association appropriately wrote the secretary of defense that “forced feeding of [competent] detainees violates core ethical values of the medical profession.” But more should be done. We believe that individual physicians and professional groups should use their political power to stop the force-feeding, primarily for the prisoners’ sake but also for that of their colleagues.

Similarly, bioethicist Art Caplan has argued against force feeding prisoners on a hunger strike as a matter of general principle:

Some would argue that refusing food and water is an act of suicide and prisons do not have to accept suicides on the part of inmates. But a hunger-strike is not a suicide attempt. It is an act of protest. Coleman himself says he does not want to die, but he is willing to in order to draw attention to what he believes is his unjust conviction.

Risking death is a means to an end. The end may be horrific, but even prisoners have the right to refuse medical care to make their point.

Cut to real life: An inmate died recently in Kentucky from what was either a hunger strike or suicide by starvation, and there will be consequences. From the AP story:

Embry, 57, died in January at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville after the hunger strike that included a nine-day stretch in which he lost 32 pounds from his six-foot frame, dropping down to just 138 pounds.

Embry’s death of dehydration and starvation, first reported by The AP, prompted an internal investigation by corrections officials and a separate investigation by state police. The case exposed lapses in medical treatment and the handling of hunger strikes, and the local prosecutor is considering whether a grand jury should hear the case.

The state fired the prison’s lead doctor and is pursuing dismissals or disciplinary action against several other staff members.

Exactly right.

Prisoners lose a certain amount of autonomy once they are behind bars. That includes the right to harm themselves, either by hunger strikes or otherwise, regardless of the reason for engaging in the self-destructive behavior.

But if Annas, Caplan, and the AMA position quoted above, are correct, the prison doctor and officials should be cheered for honoring the man’s autonomy rather than being under investigation.

What about it bioethicists? Here’s a real death of a prisoner who was allowed to refuse sustenance. What say you?


Not Human: “Just a Ball of Cells”


21 weeks

New technology allows a three-dimensional model to be made of fetal ultra sound images. From the Daily Mail story:

It’s a defining moment in a parent’s life: Seeing their unborn child’s image on an ultrasound for the first time. Now pregnant women could have the chance to hold a life-size model of their unborn baby. The startling new medical technology is the result of a Royal College of Art design student’s PhD.

Brazilian student Jorge Lopes has pioneered the conversion of data from ultrasound and MRI scans into life-size plaster models of living embryos using a method called rapid prototyping. ‘It’s amazing to see the faces of the mothers. They can see the full scale of their baby, really understand the size of it,’ said Dr Lopes. ’

Not human, “just a ball of cells.”

The “Quality of Life” Slouch Toward Infanticide


I have long argued that our neurotic obsession with eliminating suffering–we should, of course alleviate and mitigate it–leads very quickly to eliminating the sufferer.

Many mainstream bioethicists push this meme as part of their attempt to convince society to permit infanticide for the same reasons that we allow late stage abortion. Always, these efforts are couched in eliminating suffering and killing based on quality of life–the approach of pro -euthanasia Canadian bioethicist Udu Schuklenk. From, “What We Should Do About Severely Impaired Nowborns?”

My [debate] opponent also argued that we should ask ourselves whether we would want to live in a society that terminated the lives of such vulnerable newborns. That’s a good question to ask as it forces us to think more carefully about the values that are at stake in such situations.

If we merely go by the newborn’s quality of life and life prospects it seems indeed best to end the unfolding tragedy sooner rather than later, but probably a decision should be arrived at with parental consent as opposed to against the unfortunate parents. It turns out that one can reasonably answer the rhetorical question of whether one would want to live in a society that terminated the lives of certain severely impaired newborns if one held the view – as I do – that the newborn’s current and future quality of life is all that matters here. I could live in such a society where empathy for human suffering trumps religious conviction.

Don’t be fooled by the “parental consent” nonsense. First, parents shouldn’t have the power to have their babies killed. Beyond that, if we owe a duty to the baby to kill him, then parental rights become irrelevant and it’s veto time. Relevantly, back in the late 1990s, The Lancet reported that 27% of infanticides in the Netherlands–all based on a supposedly “unlivable life” occurs without parental consent.

If the parents’ reason for wanting to love their baby as long as he lives can be viewed as religious–strongly hinted by Schuklenk as the only reason anyone could oppose, it’s really veto time!

Add in the issue of medical costs, and if we live in a society based on “quality of life” instead of equality/sanctity of life, and–yes, you guessed it–veto time!

Schuklenk pushes the QoL poison:

This view, in turn, requires us to rethink how we go about doing medicine, at least to some extent. It would require us to give up on what is called the sanctity-of-life doctrine in medicine and replace it with a quality-of-life ethic.

There is no point in maintaining human life for the sake of it if that human life cannot enjoy a moment of its existence and is trapped in a never-ending cycle of immense pain and suffering. A quality-of-life ethics would not merely ask ‘do you exist’, but ‘do you have a life worth living?’, or ‘will you have a life worth living?’ We are not there yet, but significant changes in this direction are occurring in many countries.

But that’s in the eye of the person or bioethics committee granted the power to decide, isn’t it? And it ignores many, ”severely disabled” from birth, who are so happy to be alive. I’ve met them.

What makes this debate so frustrating is that we’ve been there before with catastrophic results: German doctors killing disabled babies as a “healing treatment.”

This wasn’t Nazis, it was doctors imposing the quality of life ethic.

After the Nuremberg medical trials, Dr. Leo Alexander wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, explaining how German medicine so easily embraced evil:

Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived.

This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans. But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which this entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude toward the nonrehabilitable sick…

What is that wise saying about those who refuse to learn the lessons of history? Unfortunately, showing the flow of the currents, I don’t think the NEJM would publish Alexander today.

But to answer Schuklenk’s title question: What should love them. We should care for them. We should alleviate their suffering. We should value them.  

We definitely should not kill them.


Lethargically Legalizing Human Cloning


The Center for Bioethics and Culture asked me to weigh in on the great underreported story of 2014: Human cloning is here and it is now!

Ten years ago the headlines would have been humongous. Now, a whisper in the night. Why? First, Bush isn’t president. But even more importantly, the scientists have really downplayed the C-word.

Still, if something isn’t done to legally prohibit human cloning, it will keep on coming. I give a litany of reasons why that is a very bad idea, and then come to the following conclusion. From, “If We Do Nothing, They Will Clone:”

Human cloning presents humanity with one of its most profound moral challenges. Yet, even though human cloning is here, the question of what—if anything—to do about it isn’t even being discussed.

But as the old saying goes, time and tide wait for no man. Today, scientists are busily cloning away. Unless the nations of the world do something about that soon, cloning will be legalized by the world’s current lethargy

Hey, did you hear that Sterling dissed Magic!?  Let’s join the lynch mob. 

Canada’s CBC Pushes Suicide Culture


The media are society’s premier suicide pushers. 

Oh sure, they decry suicides of teenagers and veterans. But they push suicide for the elderly, the disabled, the chronically and terminally ill–sometimes even, the mentally ill. 

Canada’s CBC is the latest example. It interviewed an octogenarian about his plans to commit suicide before becoming too old. Then, after he died, they ran the profile.  From the story:

A Toronto man’s decision to end his life, simply because he felt it was time to die, has raised questions and concerns among family, friends and experts, some of whom say it could take the assisted suicide debate down a “slippery slope.”

John Alan Lee, a former professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, died in December. He had carefully planned his own death for months and discussed his decision with a CBC crew.

Do you see how insidious this is? By going out with cameras and wide-eyed reporters to cover his suicide plan, the CBC actually validated Lee’s desire to die. Indeed, I would warrant it would make it harder to walk back.

How often have we seen this? Suicides are given high profile, even laudatory coverage. And the “experts” are quoted as saying we have to have the difficult conversations about permitting assisted suicide.

Then, once we do, the conversation is over forever because a new “right” has been created that can’t be taken away.

The CBC gives great respect to the idea that suicide can be “rational,” a dangerous meme in the mental health professions against which I have been warning for years:

Lee’s position reflects a broader philosophy known as “completed life” or “rational suicide.” The Dutch Parliament recently debated giving seniors over the age of 70 the right to euthanasia, regardless of illness.

The story even says Socrates embraced his own [rational] suicide as a way of avoiding old age–without mentioning that he drank hemlock in the context of a death penalty:

John’s philosophy that you choose the time of your death to avoid physical decline is controversial, but not novel. Centuries the Greek philosopher Socrates famously welcomed an early death, telling his followers he was avoiding the worst part of life.

The media’s favorable stories in support for the assisted suicide movement pushes ”rational suicide.” If suicide is a proper answer to human suffering, there is no way to materially limit what constitutes “suffering” for which suicide should be made available.

Beyond that, when the media promotes suicides, it pushes us–with malice aforethought, in my book–toward a suicide culture. That’s why the WHO Media guidelines urges media not to highlight particular suicides–it validates suicide and gives some readers/viewers ideas.

But media have taken sides on legalizing assisted suicide, big time!  So, WHO go away. Media will only refuse to glorify suicide or laud those who so died when it involves cases with which they disagree.

Celebrities Push Suicide Pacts


A celebrity UK couple are publicly pushing suicide–in the context of planning their own if they become seriously ill. From the Telegraph story:

TV couple Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan say they have given each other “a pledge” to help end their lives if they become seriously ill. The pair, who have just announced their choices for their latest book club, said the recent death of Madeley’s mother had got them thinking about the subject.
He told the Daily Telegraph: ” If Judy was really ill and in logical mind, and at that point where you just need a little push to go over the edge I wouldn’t give a tuppenny f*** if there was a risk of being prosecuted. I’d do what was right for my wife. And I’d take the consequences. That is your job, that is your responsibility as a partner.” Finnigan agreed, telling the newspaper: ” And I’d do the same. Stuff it all. We’ve made ourselves give each other a pledge along those lines.”

Why limit it to illness? If life becomes unacceptable to your beloved, help push him or her off suicide cliff. 

It is particularly dangerous when the famous and admired give their blessing to suicide. It can cause those barely able to stay on this side of the line a license to take the step.

Ah Wesley, so what? What matters is them. They are, after all, celebrities!

Unilateral Non Resuscitation at Mass.General!


Can this have something to do with Romney/Obamacare?

According to a medical study, since 2006, Massachusetts General Hospital’s Bioethics Committee has forced people to not receive wanted resuscitation by imposing unilateral DNRs. And apparently, it’s all done in Star Chamber secrecy. From Thaddeus Pope’s blog (quoting from a medical symposium presentation):

Unilateral Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders are a specific type of medical futility decision in which clinicians withhold advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest despite objections of patients or their surrogates. There is little information on how often and to whom unilateral DNR orders are applied. The ethics committee at Massachusetts General Hospital has had a unilateral DNR policy since 2006. We investigated the incidence, sociodemographic and clinical predictors, and outcomes of patients with unilateral DNR orders.

If I read this correctly, thirty-eight percent of those upon whom the unilateral DNRs appear not to have been at the end stage of a terminal disease:

Patients for whom unilateral DNR was recommended were more likely to have conditions judged to be endstage rather than potentially reversible (62% versus 41%, p=0.05).

And who can be surprised that non whites were more likely to have an involuntary DNR imposed?

This is medical tyranny. People are refused potentially life-saving treatment based on the secret views of strangers in committee who have given themselves the power to so dictate.


Transumanism and the “Will to Evolve”


I am covering a conference on transhumanism and religion, about which I will write at some length elsewhere.

For now, I have to say that my previous opinion of transhumanism as a materialistic religion–or perhaps better stated, a worldview that seeks to obtain the benefits of religion without submitting to concepts of sin or the humility of believing in a Higher Being–are being substantially borne out.

It is interesting how important evolution seems to be to the entire concept. But in so doing, it seeks to transform human evolution from a purposeless phenomenon to one steeped in meaning. As one participant stated:..

Transhumanism is a thrust toward transcendence. It is not classical mysticism but seeks a temporal transcendence The driving force behind this is evolution…

What is reality? Reality is evolution. It has a direction from the simple to the complex; the most complex [outcome] is intelligence. Thus evolution is aimed at intelligence.

We should thus have a will to evolve. We have a moral responsibility to increase evolution and do so by continually striving to expand our abilities throughout life by acting in harmony with the evolutionary process…

Science and technology move us toward Utopia. One of the most exciting things about transhumanism is that all will be fixed.

Tellingly, from my perspective, we have seen no real discussion of love at the conference–except an oblique reference to a “Chrisitan transhumanist” (not present) who disagrees with the thrust toward intelligence.

For now, I want to focus a bit on what could be called transhumanism’s will to Utopianism, perhaps the most alarming ideological drive of the movement.  

Religion isn’t the source of evil. Neither is atheism, agnosticism, or other isms. But all of these can become very dangerous when they presume that facilitating their views into wide acceptance is of such importance broadly that they justify all means. That leads to horror and tyranny–as in the French Revolution–a secular movement–and Al Qaeda, a religious movement.

Thus, I am not overly concerned with the technological aspirations of transhumanism. For example, I don’t believe we will ever upload our minds into computers. But I do worry about the value system and the zeal to achieve a materialistic New Jerusalem that transhumanism can engender.

Utopian transhumanism is also profoundly anti-human exceptionalism–from both sides of the coin. First, it holds that there is nothing special about human life per se. And it so asserts toward the end that we presume license to seize control of our own evolution and remake ourselves in our own image.

I don’t see any way that can lead to a positive outcome. We don’t have the wisdom to intelligently redesign ourselves into an inherently different being–as contrasted with, say, using technology as a tool to improve our circumstance, for example, the grafting of a prosthetic arm after amputation.

We are, after all, the species that built the unsinkable ship Titanic.

Execution by Assisted Suicide


So many of those who believe in assisted suicide and euthanasia don’t agree with the death penalty. The recent problems in executing a man–who buried one of his murder victims alive–has sparked an idea in Practical Ethics. From, “Lethal Injection: Time for the Chop:”

In recent times, doctors have reflected on the most gentle and effective ways to kill people in the context of end-of-life care. In Oregon, for example, the Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill persons to end their lives by taking an oral dose of a barbiturate. A similar system could be devised for death row inmates, giving them the freedom to choose when to ingest the lethal cocktail, within a given period. The doomed inmate, once offered the drugs, would retain some autonomy on when to die.

I call such ideas cruel and unusual death with dignity. Of course, the authors are actually against the death penalty:

Lethal injection, the preferred method in many jurisdictions, is the aesthetic choice, rarely offending the sensitivities of the viewers. It is, however, a technical procedure that is prone to failure…

Cutting a person’s neck is more graphic than lethal injection but, if the public favours capital punishment, it must confront the true nature of the act. It is the premeditated killing of a human being who does not want to die. If the sight of a severed head or the sound of falling blade awakens people to the violence of the act, then that is a good thing. Stopping the heart and causing havoc to the internal organs does not make the execution any less brutal. The brutality is simply hidden from view.

Ditto euthanasia and assisted suicide. Yet, advocates say it is the essential alternative to violent suicides.

Back to the piece:

The case of Clayton Lockett reminds us that, for all the disagreements on the issue of capital punishment, one point is beyond dispute: the most effective way to avoid botched executions is not to execute people.

Again, why couldn’t we say the same thing about assisted suicide? Surely it is the act of killing that can cause the physical distress, not whether someone wants to die. 

And what if a murderer wants to die as an act of contrition? It happens. Should they be granted assisted suicide?

Some have said yes, as well as for those sentenced to long term incarceration. Like I said,, cruel and unusual death with dignity.

By the way, as a study out of the Netherlands demonstrated, there are severe adverse physical side effects–other than dying–associated with lethal injections and swallowed assisted suicide.  Indeed, fewer with lethal injections. Hmmmm.

Following the logic of the piece, if you don’t want botched “deaths with dignity,” doctors shouldn’t do it. 

Australia Pro Life Legislation Sparks Firestorm


A Victoria MP is creating major storm waves because he wants to bring the state’s abortion law into some measure of reason. From the Herald Sun story:

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said maverick MP Geoff Shaw was “off the reservation” and Labor would not support a debate on his radical proposed changes to abortion legislation…

The MP, whose vote keeps Premier Denis Napthine in office, had been expected to introduce a Bill that would end the obligation for anti-abortion doctors to refer women to specialists who performed the procedure. But Mr Shaw has told the Herald Sun he has now changed his mind and will push for six radical changes to the state’s abortion laws.

Radical? What’s so [expletive deleted] radical? Here they are:

Protect the consciences of doctors who oppose abortion by repealing the requirement that they refer to fetus-killing colleagues: That’s about freedom;

Ban Partial birth abortion: That’s about basic decency;

Require saving the lives of babies born alive after a failed abortion: That’s because they aren’t fetuses anymore, they’re babies;

Require pain control for fetuses being aborted capable of suffering: That’s because it can hurt to be killed;

Outlaw gender selection abortions: That should be a matter of basic human rights to prevent discrimination, particularly against females, who are the usual victims.

– Informed consent and counseling before abortion; Destroying a fetus is a huge decision. Surely, adequate information before proceeding is warranted.

Those aren’t radical or anti-choice. They are humane and just.

It is a measure of how radical the pro abortion movement has become that a bill that promotes common decency and takes the issue of abortion seriously would create such outrage, not to mention, biased reporting.




Turning UK Patients into Human Guinea Pigs


Well, this is alarming. A proposed bill in the UK would permit doctors to experiment on their patients. From the “Medical Innovation Bill:”

(2) It is not negligent for a doctor to depart from the existing range of accepted medical treatments for a condition, in the circumstances set out in subsection 3), if the decision to do so is taken responsibly.

And get the open-ended license subsection 3 creates:

(3) Those circumstances are where, in the doctor’s opinion—(a) it is unclear whether the medical treatment that the doctor proposes to carry out has or would have the support of a responsible body of medical opinion, or (b) the proposed treatment does not or would not have such support.

That’s inexcusably vague. So what does it mean? UK law professor Jacqueline Laing explains on her blog:

Medical practitioners in the UK will be given considerable freedom to experiment on patients if the new Medical Innovation Bill becomes law. Ignoring human rights concerns, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt reasons that it is the role of the government to do whatever is needed to remove barriers that prevent medical innovation. “We must create a climate where clinical pioneers have the freedom to make breakthroughs in treatment”, he argues. He has, however, fundamentally misunderstood the responsibilities of government to protect the lives, freedoms and safety of its citizens…
The draft bill offers few if any concrete restraints on medical experimentation on patients whether terminally ill or otherwise. On the contrary, the proposed legislation invites widespread, unaccountable, degrading and inhuman treatment.

I’d say that’s pretty clear since the bill only requires that “the decision be taken responsibly.” For that matter, Neither is there anything in the bill restricting the unapproved experimentation to the dying.

Laing is also disturbed by the lack of standards:

In short, medical experimentation on patients is mainstreamed while no clear conditions as to what would constitute degrading and inhuman treatment are anywhere outlined. Indeed, the very possibility of degrading and inhuman treatment is not considered, whether in the language of the bill or in any preamble, and safeguards nowhere outlined.

Sorry. In our increasingly utilitarian medical milieu–and where costs are a factor–such loosey goosey language should be completely unacceptable. Laing agrees:

Routine medical experimentation on patients, particularly the dying, naturally undermines patient safety, endangers the desperate, and makes forensic determinations of medical wrongdoing almost impossible….


Mainstreaming medical innovation on the dying, while refusing to address the very real danger of degrading and inhuman treatment leaving it to multi-disciplinary teams governed by easily alterable GMC guidance, suggests the bill introduces new human rights incompatibilities over and above those produced by existing mental incapacity and clinical trials regulations.

I agree. Indeed, given the utter lack of standards by which to measure a physician’s experimentation, I can’t see coming to any other conclusion.

Hippocrates Pushed Torture!


The Hippocratic Oath is no longer taken by most doctors–which explains a lot. But it is still important symbolically, promoting the view that doctors should respect all human life.

Toward that end, the Hippocratic Oath bound doctors to foreswear performing abortions. This was also the overwhelming social view for centuries. Indeed, non therapeutic abortion was outlawed by most nations within my lifetime.  

But times changed and the international progressives now see the right to kill fetuses as absolutely essential to female equality. That is certainly the view of those who claim to think and speak for the vaunted international community. Now on abortion they are trying to brand the Catholic Church as supporting “torture” for its pro-life position. From the Washington Examiner story:

The United Nations is stepping up its attack on the Catholic Church’s historic opposition to abortion, suggesting at a meeting Monday in Geneva that it amounts to “psychological torture” of women and should be repealed, a move Vatican officials refuse to consider.

A member of the United Nation Committee Against Torture also charged that the church’s anti-abortion stance has led women to seek out dangerous abortions, according to a pro-church representative at the Geneva hearing Monday. “They are almost blaming the Catholic Church for unsafe abortions,” said Ashley E. McGuire of the group Catholic Voices USA in a telephone call from Geneva. “The church doesn’t believe there is anything as a safe abortion,” she added.

Certainly not for the fetus.

Modern secularists are cultural hegemonists who want to impose their cultural views by any means necessary, including now, defining torture down. That not only demagogues legitimate policy differences, but shamefully disrespects those–such as the poor kidnapped girls made into sex slaves in Nigeria–who suffer true psychological torture.

But that’s typical for the UN course, whose committee commissioners are about as diverse in their cultural views as chalk.

Stop the Cosmetic Surgery Madness!


We have doctor shortages and other pressing pressures on the medical system. Yet, how much of our limited medical resources are wasted–as in not doing anything about actual medical problems–by and on the cosmetic surgery industry?

Yet, no matter how extreme and expensive the procedures that are developed, the beauty/youth demon is never satiated. And now this. From the Daily Mail story, 

Three British women have undergone a revolutionary new operation to fit a ‘bra’ underneath the skin to combat sagging breasts. The ‘internal bras’ comprise a fine hardened silicone cup placed under the breast tissue, and fine silk straps screwed into the patient’s ribs to lift the breast.

They are invisible under the skin and will enable women to go bra-less.

Part of this will deal with reconstructive surgery after mastectomy. That’s not what I am upset about. That’s cosmetic, technically, but it is to remedy the serious physical consequences of a bona fide medical treatment.

In the real world, most of these procedures would be entirely cosmetic, marketed as a “cure” for the horrible scourge of saggy breasts:

’It has been marketed as a magical solution to address saggy breasts with very little scaring…’If a patient has had a proper breast lift and is concerned about the occurrence of sagging, this operation could prove effective.

’But it is unlikely to be effective on its own. It is important that a women has procedures to address the skin as well as the breast tissue itself.’

Talk about stoking decadence. Talk about promoting low self esteem for women who have lived real lives!

Saggy breasts are not an illness! It isn’t right to use waste precious medical resources on a ”cure” for something that isn’t a health problem. And why risk life and health over something so unimportant?

The only way to stop this is for consumers–note I don’t use the word “patients”–to shun the market. Keep spitting into the wind, Wesley. Keep spitting into the wind.

Why Doesn’t Pelosi View Sanger like Sterling?


What’s wrong with this picture? Democrat billionaire Donald Sterling has been declared persona non grata for terribly racist comments made in a private conversation. Former Speaker of the House Nancy proudly accepts Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award.

Yet Sanger was a far worse–and public–racist than Sterling has ever dreamed of being, seeing her birth control crusade as one of many tools to control the “unfit,” including people of color. She even proudly spoke to the KKK! From, “Margaret Sanger, Racist Eugenicist Extraordinaire,” by Arina Grossu:

She recounted this event in her autobiography: “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered” (Margaret Sanger, “An Autobiography,” Page 366).

Sanger’s vile eugenicism should mark her as much an American villain as eugenicist Charles Davenport and anti-Semite Fr. Charles Coughlin.

Her pernicious views were highlighted by Edwin Black in the splendid history of eugenics, War Against the Weak. From his book:

Sanger surrounded herself with some of the eugenics movement’s most outspoken racists and white supremacists. Chief among them was Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. Stoddard’s book, devoted to the notion of a superior Nordic race, became eugenic gospel. It warned, “‘Finally perish!’ That is the exact alternative that confronts the white race…If white civilization goes down, the white race is irretrievably ruined. It will be swamped by the triumphant colored races, who will eliminate the white man by elimination or absorption…We now know that men are not and never will be equal.”

Black tries to defend Sanger as not personally racist, even though she surrounded herself with blatant bigots. I don’t buy it in the least. From my HE post, “Margaret Sanger was Too a Racist:”

Sanger enabled racists. Sanger gave them respectability. Sanger befriended them. Sanger viewed them as valued colleagues. Her wicked social Darwinism would have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on minority communities.

Oh, and as the above embed–a reading of her autobiography–proves, she spoke to the Klu Klux Klan, and looked forward to receiving more invitations to speaking in front of similar groups. Add it all up, and Sanger was R.A.C.I.S.T.

I am not into comparative evil. Wrong is wrong. But why the opprobrium of Sterling and the historical amnesia about Sanger?

I can only think of one reason: The blood of abortion has bleached Sanger’s sordid history. In the minds of pro abortion absolutists like PP and Pelosi , that makes her cleaner than newly fallen snow.

Yahoo! I Had an Abortion!


So, an abortion clinic counselor doesn’t use birth control and gets pregnant. It’s termination time! And she filmed it.

It was, like you know, such a positive experience! From, “Why I Filmed My Abortion,” in (where else?) Cosmopolitan:

I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be.

Except, the “birth” was to end life, not bring it to fruition. Otherwise, I see it. No diff.

It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I’d grab…

Every time I watch the video, I love it. I love how positive it is. 

Ah. good times. Becoming irresponsibly pregnant and then having a birth-like experience of destroying a fetus–complete with pictures

Her bottom line message:

I am grateful that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt.

But you know, sometimes guilt is healthy. Sometimes there’s a reason conscience knocks on our door. Sometimes it’s the first step toward gaining wisdom. And forgiveness. Because some things are just wrong.

The Green War on Africans


In my ebook, The War on Humans, I argue that the mainstream of the environmental movement has become anti-human–both in its advocacy (people are cancer, etc.) and its policy goals and outcomes.

The throttling of African development is a cruel example I commonly give–focusing on how the green anti-humans want to prevent Africa from fully electrifying until it can be done with renewable methods. But that will take decades, during which time Africans will continue to suffer from bone crunching destitution.

Indeed, when I did the liberal Thom Hartmann Show, he said we should focus primarily on using solar panels to electrify the continent. He also said he believes the earth is a sentient being. Ridiculous! That kind of irrationality hurts African people in the name of “saving the earth.”

Africans need electricity–now–not in 2050. Lives are at stake, as a liberal activist named Caleb S. Rossiter eloquently describes in the Wall Street Journal. From, “Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change:”

I oppose my allies’ well-meaning campaign for “climate justice.” More than 230 organizations, including Africa Action and Oxfam, want industrialized countries to pay “reparations” to African governments for droughts, rising sea levels and other alleged results of what Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni calls “climate aggression.”

And I oppose the campaign even more for trying to deny to Africans the reliable electricity—and thus the economic development and extended years of life—that fossil fuels can bring.

“Well-meaning” and working to deny Africans “reliable electricity” is oxymoronic.

Because Rossiter isn’t caught up in the human-sacrificing cult of green, he wants to let Africa industrialize. Completely:

As an Africanist, rather than a statistician, that I object most strongly to “climate justice.” Where is the justice for Africans when universities divest from energy companies and thus weaken their ability to explore for resources in Africa? Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a “global warming” tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?

Even if the wildest claims about the current impact of fossil fuels on the environment and the models predicting the future impact all prove true and accurate, Africa should be exempted from global restraints as it seeks to modernize.

Why? Because human lives are at stake! Because we should not sit on people’s aspirations to live better lives:

Bringing more-reliable electricity to more Africans would power the cleaning of water in villages, where much of the population still lives, and replace wood and dung fires as the source of heat and lighting in shacks and huts, removing major sources of disease and death. In the cities, reliable electricity would encourage businesses to invest and reinvest rather than send their profits abroad.But the green anti-humans would rather take the wealth of the West and give it to the destitute as “reparations.” That would make us poorer. Much would be lost in corruption. And in a terrible way it would generate an unhealthy culture of dependency in Africa, while doing little to alleviate the continent’s general misery.

Leftists protest so-called war mongers at the drop of a hat. Yet the global warming hysterics promote continued misery and suffering on the continent and much of the left applauds. 

That’s why it’s called a war on humans. Good on Rossiter for busting the hypocrisy. Put people first.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review