Skip to comments.Simply abandon the ‘norm against killing’ to solve organ transplant problem: leading US bioethicists
Posted on 02/08/2012 1:15:20 PM PST by NYer
February 8, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) The conundrum faced by the organ transplant industry, that the removal of vital organs kills the donor, can be easily obviated by abandoning the norm against killing, two leading U.S. bioethicists have said. In an article titled, What Makes Killing Wrong? appearing in last months Journal of Medical Ethics, the authors have moved the argument forward by admitting that the practice of vital organ donation ignores traditional medical ethics.
Traditional medical ethics embraces the norm that doctors must not kill their patients. This norm is often seen as absolute and universal. In contrast, we have argued that killing by itself is not morally wrong, although it is still morally wrong to cause total disability.
Traditional ethicists have responded, warning that this stream of thought, now common in the medical community, will ultimately undermine the right of anyone to life or the protection of law, and will annihilate public trust in the medical profession.
If this dreadful doctrine is permitted and practised it is impossible to conjure up the degradation to which it will lead, said Anthony Ozimic, communications manager of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). A physician has but to certify his patients as unproductive and he receives the command to kill.
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong a Duke University bioethicist and Franklin G. Miller, an ethicist with the National Institutes of Health, the federal health authority in the US, admitted that patients who are routinely declared dead for purposes of organ harvesting are in fact alive and that removing their organs kills them.
Pro-life objectors to the practice of non-heart beating organ donation have long argued that it is tantamount to murdering helpless patients, reducing human persons to mere organ farms. The article proposes, however, that this is simply not a problem. Killing a patient who has lost all functional abilities and autonomy, cannot disrespect her autonomy, because she has no autonomy left. It also cannot be unfair to kill her if it does her no harm.
Killing by itself is not morally wrong, the authors said, although it is still morally wrong to cause total disability. The problem with killing is not that the act causes loss of life or consciousness but rather that the act causes loss of all remaining abilities.
Ozimic called the paper obnoxious and warned that its authors have forgotten the lessons of the 20th century, referring to the utilitarianism-based eugenics programmes of the pre-war Nazi government.
Ozimic quoted the famous 1941 sermon of Clemens von Galen, Cardinal Archbishop of known as the Lion of Munster for his opposition to the Nazi euthanasia programme: Once admit the right to kill unproductive persons then none of us can be sure of his life.
Ozimic said that if it is allowed to continue the concept will spell the end of our current understanding of medicine as doing good for human persons.
We shall be at the mercy of any committee that can put a man on the list of unproductives. There will be no police protection, no court to avenge the murder and inflict punishment upon the murderer. Who can have confidence in any doctor?
But the articles authors admit that the situation is already grave from the point of view of traditional medical ethics. The so-called dead donor rule, they say, is already routinely violated in transplant practice anyway.
In order to be consistent with traditional medical ethics the practice of organ transplants, already a multi-billion dollar international medical industry, would have to be stopped immediately. But stopping organ transplants on the mere grounds that it kills people, they said, would be extremely harmful and unreasonable from an ethical point of view.
Ozimic critiqued the paper, saying, According to some doctor, or because of the decision of some committee, they have no longer a right to live because they are unproductive citizens.
The opinion is that since they can no longer make money, they are obsolete machines, comparable with some old cow that can no longer give milk or some horse that has gone lame. What is the lot of unproductive machines and cattle? They are destroyed. But men and women, Ozimic said, are neither machines nor cattle who can be discarded when they no longer serve someone elses needs.
Here we are dealing with human beings, with our neighbours, brothers and sisters, the poor and invalids . . . unproductive - perhaps! But have they, therefore, lost the right to live? Have you or I the right to exist only because we are productive?
Shocking as it may sound to the laymans ears, however, the articles position is not unusual in the bioethics community. The notion that the value of human life is founded upon the individuals abilities has become run-of-the-mill in universities and, more crucially, in hospital ethics committees. It was popularised by Peter Singer, the professor of ethics at Princeton University, who infamously proposed that parents have the power to convey personhood upon their newborn children and should be allowed to kill them at will.
The fixation on autonomy, one of the three principles that utilitarian secular bioethics regards as the ultimate indicators of human value, has driven much of the international pressure for legalised euthanasia. Around the world, secular bioethicists supported the killing of Terri Schindler Schiavo on the grounds that her autonomy was permanently impaired.
Experts have noted that this form of bioethics, as distinct from classical, Hippocratic medical ethics, has since the 1970s become the leading stream of thought in most medical organisations in developed countries. The movement has succeeded in legalising euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium and assisted suicide in three US states.
In addition to outright euthanasia and legalised assisted suicide, other means of killing patients are sneaking in under the legal radar in response to the demands of autonomy-obsessed Bioethics. Terminal sedation and death by dehydration or withdrawal of life-saving drugs and treatments have become common causes of death among elderly and disabled patients in the UK, Canada and across Europe.
Well, since Dr. Miller and Dr. Armstrong feel that way, how about one of us show up on their doorstep and decide to harvest THEIR organs? After all, why is that morally objectionable?
Simply abandon the ban on compensating donors and their heirs, and the problem would vanish.
Liberal/progressives better not support this sort of "bio-ethics". They could be slaughtered by the millions.
because the right to life is a God-given natural right.
They’ll just have the murders relabeled as “post-birth abortions.”
> Well, since Dr. Miller and Dr. Armstrong feel that way,
> how about one of us show up on their doorstep and decide
> to harvest THEIR organs? After all, why is that morally
You mean, you didn’t know?
Didn’t you realize?
Couldn’t you tell from the dazzling display of genius that they are higher life forms than we are?
We are just untermenschen, to be disposed of at will for the benefit of the ubermenschen class, like Drs. Miller and Armstrong.
To them, we are little more than lab rats to be examined, experimented with, and dissected for their pleasure.
My thoughts as well. This could easily be used against the OWS crowd.
This is exactly what the Nazis claimed in order to excuse their mistreatment and murder of the mentally-ill, mentally-handicapped, and the elderly.
“they have no longer a right to live because they are unproductive citizens”
Those taking welfare, both the rich and the poor, could easily be labeled as ‘unproductive.’
Now where have I heard that phrase “moving forward” before? And why does it mean going backwards in civilization?
I’ve always argued that the left does not view life as intrinsically limited, but as a resource of the state.
Sowell points out that “intellectuals” know they won’t get recognized for their brilliance if they simply affirm common sense or common morality.
They have to come up with something bizarre or abhorrent in order to get recognition from their peers.
I’ve come to believe that braised U.S. bioethicists are quite tasty if served in Bernaise sauce with a nice Côtes du Rhône.
After all, killing people is fine if its for a good cause.
You see, they’ve persuaded me.
It truly is chilling to see what some people will advocate under the premise of “the common good.”