Human Exceptionalism

Verbal Gruel from the Ethics Director of the Canadian Medical Association

Regular readers of SHS will (I hope) recall the comment I made the other day about an article in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing that was so neutral on infanticide, it seemed to me to be greasing the skids toward moving policy toward professional permissability. In that entry, I said in part:

Terminal Non Judgmentalism Alert: An important professional journal aimed at pediatric nurses has discussed killing sick and profoundly disabled patients with studied neutrality.

This is precisely how the Culture of Death permeates our society. A bioethical practice once almost universally condemned is promoted at the fringes. The initial response is resistance. But soon, the non judgmentalism arrives, usually in professional journals and among “progressive” pundits, asserting that these issues are “complex,” or “difficult,” or “gray,” or “complicated.” Once this non judgmentalism softens the ground, the issue shifts to one of mere “choice”…

The same phenomenon is at work in the answers given by Dr. Jeff Blackmer, ethics director of the Canadian Medical Association in an interview about assisted suicide and euthanasia. In the interview, Blackner is asked whether the CMA would support a euthanasia bill pending in Parliament. He responds, in part:

Obviously that is a difficult question to answer. On these types of issues–that is, a serious potential bill coming before the House or a serious development publicly–we would reevaluate this policy closely. We reevaluate all ethics policies every year. If public feeling has shifted, we would ask if this is something we need to reconsider, to look at through another lens.

What an utter abdication of professional responsibility to lead the public in the right direction, particularly for the ethics director of a major medical association. Consider: If the public seemed to support racial discrimination in health care, would that mean that the CMA would have to “reconsider” its opposition? Of course not. The same should be true about assisted suicide/euthanasia: Either medicalized killing is right from a professional perspective, or it is wrong–regardless of public polls.

Read the whole interview, and you will see it contains the usual mealymouthed terms like, “difficult issue,” and “watching to see what happens,” and “look through another lens,” in other words, the lexicon of terminal nonjudgmentalism that isn’t really conflicted, but actually seeks to start a tide running in a certain direction by erasing existing principled impediments.

Alex Schadenberg also opines on the interview, here.