Tuesday, October 03, 2006

PVS Patients: The New Human Guinea Pigs

First, utilitarian bioethicists wanted to redefine people with PVS as dead so they could be treated as so many organ farms ripe for the harvest. Now, several articles published in the misnamed Journal of Medical Ethics urge that patients diagnosed with PVS be used to as guinea pigs to see whether animal organs can be safely transplanted into humans, a field of study known as xenotransplantation.

I haven't read the whole articles, but plan to as soon as I can get my hands on them. But the abstracts are bad enough. See, here, here, here, and here.

The gist of the argument these writers make seems to be that if people consent ahead of time, once they become profoundly cognitively impaired, doctors should be allowed to take out their kidneys (perhaps transplanting them into someone else?) and replace them with pig or other animal organs to see if xenotransplantation is "safe."

This is deeply and profoundly wrong on so many levels, that I will not expound upon it fully here but will explore the matter fully in a more appropriate venue. For now, let me just state this: When we lose sight of the crucial ethical presumption that all humans have intrinsic value simply and merely because they are human, when we say that the value of a life depends on its presumed quality, we open the door to the worst forms of oppression and exploitation.

Consent ahead of time has nothing to do with it. The Nuremberg Code taught us that such human experiments are an ethical abomination. How soon we forget the lessons of history.

HT: BioEdge

10 Comments:

At October 03, 2006 , Blogger Jason Rennie said...

I'm not sure we have fully learned the lessons of WW2 and the reality of eugenics, "life unworthy of life" and other lessons. It seems that may have just been the first chapter in a long book that is still being written.

 
At October 03, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Eugenics: It's baaaaack!

 
At October 04, 2006 , Blogger Jason Rennie said...

I fear so. It cost 55 million lives in a war last time and culminated in the dropping of 2 a-bombs, the destruction of europe and industrialised killing on a scale never before seen. What will it cost this time I wonder before we learn the error of our ways ?

40 million unborn at least so far, and now we start on the elderly and the infirm.

 
At October 05, 2006 , Blogger gwenhwyfar said...

Indeed, I don't think we have. I just can't believe that so many proponents of euthanasia/abortion/personhood theory are so convinced that any reasonable person would agree that they think opposition to it is merely being used as a smokescreen to distract from supposedly larger issues or a political ploy to get social conservatives to the polls and regard it with disgust. They don't seem to be aware of what's at stake here and it seems like whenever someone tries to inform them and remind them of all the atrocities that have occured in the past and those that are occuring right now, they are accused of using scare tactics.

It's frustrating, and it's a crazy world we're living in when those who don't want innocent human beings killed are the ones who are vilified and constantly having to defend their position.

 
At October 05, 2006 , Blogger Susan said...

I for one don't lump abortion in with the other "bioethic" issues because, quite honestly, the motivation by those who want to criminalize it aren't actually motivated by preserving fetal life but are motivated instead by a desire to curb women's rights.

The problem with abortion is the fetus is almost always dependent on the woman for survival. When a woman has an unwanted pregnancy, forcing her to have a child goes right against her rights. The woman's rights are always going to take precedence regardless of the situation, regardless even if abortion is illegal.

It's an entirely different ball of wax when talking about the disabled and the elderly, who ARE human beings legally and morally. Their rights are being violated in the attempt to kill them by the medical establishment.

It's clever by the right-to-lifers to lump embryos and fetuses with the disabled and the elderly, but some of us out here know there's a huge difference.

 
At October 05, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Susan: Thanks for writing. One of my passions is to unite pro life and pro choice, who disagree about abortion, around the issues about which I advocate. Certainly, this is one!

 
At October 05, 2006 , Blogger Bernhardt Varenius said...

Susan: "...those who want to criminalize it aren't actually motivated by preserving fetal life but are motivated instead by a desire to curb women's rights."

Susan, you're being quite unfair here. Do you really think that the entire pro-life movement is about nothing but oppressing women? That's about as well-founded as claiming that the pro-choice movement is motivated by feminists' hatred of children. You may disagree with their position, but at least be fair enough to assume good faith on the part of most pro-lifers.

Susan: "It's clever by the right-to-lifers to lump embryos and fetuses with the disabled and the elderly..."

It's not "clever", it's simply logically consistent given their basic premises. You may hold different ones, but that doesn't make their arguments into sophistry or some kind of con.

Now, I will agree completely that one can oppose euthanasia yet not oppose abortion, and rhetoric that always links the two has the danger of driving away liberals who would be willing to combine forces in areas of agreement. One of the strengths of Wesley's approach is that he takes pains to show that euthanasia is not merely a "pro-life" issue but rather one that transcends stereotypical boundaries.

 
At October 06, 2006 , Blogger bmmg39 said...

"I for one don't lump abortion in with the other 'bioethic' issues because, quite honestly, the motivation by those who want to criminalize it aren't actually motivated by preserving fetal life but are motivated instead by a desire to curb women's rights."

Wow! It's amazing how you were able to climb into their heads like that and learn what their "real motivations" are. Howja do that?

 
At October 06, 2006 , Blogger Jason Rennie said...

I don't know where susan gets these crazy ideas from.

Does she seriously believe that pro-lifers are not actually interested in preventing children from being dismembered in the womb, and that the whole thing is really just about oppressing women ?

That sure is strange given the large number of women who are pro-life, and that the group most supportive of a womans right to kill her unborn child is 20 something males, those with the most to gain and least to loose from a womans "right to choose"

 
At October 06, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Okay: Time to put a stop to the discussion of abortion. Take it outside, as the barkeeper once said. Thanks.

 

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