Human Exceptionalism

Hey Kids: Let’s Organ-Harvest the Suicidal!

I warned this would happen back in my first anti-assisted suicide article–Newsweek, June 28, 1993–in which I wrote:

Of greater concern to me is the moral trickledown effect that could result should society ever come to agree with Frances [to legalize assisted suicide].

Life is action and reaction, the proverbial pebble thrown into the pond. We don’t get to the Brave New World in one giant leap. Rather, the descent to depravity is reached by small steps. First, suicide is promoted as a virtue. Vulnerable people like Frances become early casualties. Then follows mercy killing of the terminally ill. From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to killing people who don’t have a good “quality” of life, perhaps with the prospect of organ harvesting thrown in as a plum to society.

As I have covered here, Belgium doctors now harvest the disabled and mentally ill who ask to be euthanized. The Netherlands is drawing up regulations to do the same.

Switzerland law allows suicide clinics to which people fly from all over the world to be made dead. Now, a Brit bioethicist–and organ ethicist!–named David Shaw sees these suicidal people who live in or travel to Switzerland as splendid sources of organs. From the SwissInfo.ch story:

D.S.: I’ll just say upfront I’m not saying that we should be killing people to take their organs. But Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world where several hundred people use assisted suicide every year. This is a situation where you have people who want to die, you know when they’re going to die, and many of them are probably registered organ donors.

So it’s also more respectful to the people to let them do this final kind of parting gift to humanity.

The trouble when you have an idea like this is that some people might get a hold of it and say, ‘These crazy ethicists. They want to kill everyone and take their organs out.’ Not the case at all. I’m just saying, people are dying because we don’t have enough organs.

There are also ethical objections, that more people will choose assisted suicide because they think that they can save other people’s lives and they feel they’re a burden. The burden argument is used a lot in assisted suicide debates, and it’s not really very convincing. The bioethics literature is quite clear on that. 

None of us should give a fig about the opinions expressed in “bioethics literature:” Like I say in Culture of Death, bioethics has become an orthodoxy, perhaps even, an ideology. But we don’t have to succumb to “expertitis.” We don’t have to allow those with views fundamentally different than most of the people (I hope) to control our health policies.

Where are organ professional organizations condemning harvesting the suicidal? As far as I can tell, they are silent! That too will undermine our trust in the sector.

I can think of nothing more dangerous than for vulnerable and despairing people to believe their deaths have greater value than their lives. Well, perhaps one thing: When their own society believes the same.

We are going to hell, whether metaphorical or literal, take your pick.

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