Changing bioethics

Wesley Smith writes on the direction of Western bioethics:

If you want to see what is likely to go awry in medical ethics and public healthcare policy, pay attention to the advocacy of bioethicists—at least of those who don’t identify themselves as “conservative” or “Catholic.” In their many journal articles and presentations at academic symposia, they unabashedly advocate for discarding the sanctity- and equality-of-life ethic as our moral cornerstone. Instead, most favor invidious and systemic medical discrimination predicated on a patient’s “quality of life,” which would endow the young, healthy, and able-bodied with the highest moral value—and, hence, with the greatest claim to medical resources.

Thanks to the work of bioethics, life-taking policies that a few decades ago were “unthinkable” now are unremarkable. Withholding tube-supplied food and water from the cognitively disabled until they die—Terri Schiavo’s fate—is now legal and popularly accepted, much like abortion. The legalization of assisted suicide is a constant threat. Even where lethal prescriptions or injections cannot be legally provided, some of our most notable bioethicists urge that doctors be permitted to help the elderly and others commit suicide by self-starvation—a process known in euthanasia advocacy circles as VSED (Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking).

Promoters of the culture of death never rest on their laurels. Listed below are a few of the more dangerous “advances” being promoted in bioethics…

We are building the infrastructure, through medical and insurance policies, as much as cultural sensitivities that suppose every law should favor exceptional personal choices rather than general principles, for a less humane society. Smith’s book Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine is a good primer for understanding how and why.

It occurred to me recently that most of the time that we casually use the phrase “end of life issues,” we’re not actually talking about true “you’re dying” moments, but just the “life issues” that lead to difficult questions about the future.

There’s an important role for Christians willing to conserve and promote an historically-rooted, humane bioethics in the years to come. They’ll be hated for it.

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