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It’s Time to Shudder

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For years, I have documented the growing calls within bioethics and organ transplant medicine to kill the “dead donor” rule to allow live organ harvesting. Over at First Things, I note that euthanasia and organ harvesting have been conjoined in Belgium and Netherlands (and probably soon, Canada).

And now, some doctors for those countries want to skip the lethal injection and kill the patient by removing organs. From the piece in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

The dead donor rule states that donation should not cause or hasten death. Since a patient undergoing euthanasia has chosen to die, it is worth arguing that the no-touch time [the wait between cardiac arrest and procurement] could be skipped…contributing to the quality of the transplanted organs. It is even possible to extend this argument to a “heart-beating organ donation euthanasia” where a patient is sedated, after which his organs are removed, causing death.

I point out that such utilitarianism has been coming on for some time, quoting a 1970 California Medicine editorial calling for trashing the equal value of all human lives and the utilitarian refashioning of our culture into a “biological-oriented society.” And indeed, it is coming to pass. I conclude:

We now can clearly discern what a “biologically oriented” society looks like: a culture in which the deaths of the most vulnerable are seen as having greater value than their continuing lives. As Leo Alexander presciently cautioned 67 years ago, “At this point, Americans should remember that the enormity of the euthanasia movement is present in their own midst.”

As the great Leon Kass once put it, “Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder.”

Image credit: © rogerphoto / Dollar Photo Club.

Cross-posted at Human Exceptionalism.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.



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