Skip to comments.Useful Lives: The American Medical Association Ethics
Posted on 06/21/2003 9:31:33 AM PDT by Coleus
Useful Lives: The American Medical Association Ethics
This past week, the governing body of the AMA did the unspeakable...
Catholic Way - Useful Lives: The American Medical Associations Ethics of Homicide
(c)Patrick W. Lappert, MD
This past week, in a vote that went without debate, the governing body of the AMA gave public approval to human cloning for research and therapeutic applications. Because this approval was given by the nations largest association of physicians, it will carry considerable weight into the arena of public policy and legislation.
Human cloning is the process by which human genetic material is extracted from a living human cell, and is implanted into a human egg which has been stripped of its genetic material, and is induced to divide and grow into an embryonic human being that is theoretically genetically identical to the human who donated the genetic material. In principal, the process produces an exact copy of a living human being.
Why would anyone go to such lengths? The idea is to produce a source of cells, tissues or complete organs that can be used to effect the cure of diseases that the chromosome donor might be suffering from. Say for example I am suffering from a particular form of diabetes in which I lack sufficient numbers of insulin producing cells in my pancreas. Scientists could produce a clone of me, and at some stage in its growth the fetus could be sacrificed, the islet cells extracted from its pancreas, and transplanted into my body. Because it is genetically identical to me there would be none of the tissue rejection issues that plague such transplants. Because my diabetes would thereby be cured, I would be spared the kidney failure, blindness, chronic wounds, amputations and so on. The utilitarian logic would tell us that although cloning is expensive, these chronic diseases are worse. Similar examples are made for Parkinsons disease, spinal cord injuries, kidney failure, heart failure and so on.
The AMA in its statement of principle rejects the idea of reproductive cloning. Reproductive cloning is exactly the same process, differing only in that the clone is allowed to develop into a fully viable child. Their ethical concern is that the offspring may suffer from genetic problems, or from a process hinted at in animal clones whereby the offspring age rapidly and die. That famous sheep clone Dolly died such a death.
Since many of the diseases that plague humanity can be characterized as essentially the degeneration of some particular tissue or organ, this line of research offers great promise in that there is a comparatively simple way to engineer fresh tissues. Taken to its technical perfection, I could theoretically live forever on this fountain of regeneration.
Why did the AMA produce this position statement now? According to Art Caplan, a bioethicist at University of Pennnsylvania, it is because arguments are being made that challenge the idea that such embryos could ever develop into viable human lives. In other words the old arguments that allow for the elimination of the weak are being applied to such lives.
The AMA opinion was rendered with the help of medical ethicists. It appears that the only ethical problem that the ethicists encountered was the potential of generating imperfect life. The fact that they had trouble with reproductive cloning confirms the suspicion that they understand the product of cloning to be a human life. It is therefore quite safe to say that they have applied the word ethical to what is essentially a utilitarian argument against reproductive cloning. They do not have an ethical problem with sacrificing that same life for the therapeutic application of that childs body to the treatment of someone elses disease.
A few years ago the AMA established policies regarding the use of fetal tissue in therapeutics. The ethical position entitled: E-2.161 Medical Applications of Fetal Tissue Transplantation lays out strict guidelines that are aimed at preventing such abuses as informing the mother about the therapeutic uses of the aborted child that would influence her to choose abortion; allowing the abortion provider to profit from the therapeutic application of the aborted child; allowing the mother to designate the recipient of the childs tissues, and so on. It is a remarkable piece of ethical sophistry, because the ethics of the very act of abortion are not called into question, just the ethics of influencing consent, and the financial consequences of the abortion. It is made all the more startling by the fact that every criterion established by E-2.161 is abandoned when the method of conception is shifted from ordinary fertilization to cloning. Now the person or persons producing the child produce it with the express intent of destroying it for therapeutic use, they de-facto designate the recipient, and they profit handsomely thereby.
This glaring contradiction focuses us clearly on the murderous sentimentalism that passes itself off as ethics that characterizes support for abortion in general, and the AMAs policies in particular. The classic exceptions in the cases of rape and incest are the progenitors of this AMA policy. Essentially what is said is that the right to life depends on the motivation of the father. A child produced by evil aggression is something less than human, and therefore unworthy of life. This is also seen in the idiocy of state laws that call the murder of Laci Petersons child a second homicide, but if she had lived and walked into Planned Parenthood it would have been called a medical procedure to which she is entitled by constitutional law. According to this logic therefore, the right to life is a function of how the mother feels about the child.
This ethical self contradiction is the stock in trade of the AMA. In their policy on Partial Birth Abortion (H-5.982: Late Term Pregnancy Termination Techniques) the AMA expends most of its ink on objecting to the term Partial Birth Abortion as being inadequately medical. The AMA prefers the words Dilatation and Extraction (D&X). In explaining what a D&X is they describe partial delivery (birth), followed by evacuation of the intracranial contents to permit removal of the child (abortion). In this stupendous exercise in ethical circumlocution the AMA acknowledges:
-there is no identified situation in which partial birth abortion is the only option
-recognizes that it is generally unnecessary for the preservation of the life and health of the mother
-recognizes that such maternal health issues that would demand the termination of the pregnancy would be singularly extraordinary
-recognizes that the viability of the child would argue for the delivery of the child, and yet
-affirms the right to such an abortion on the basis of the Roe v. Wade decision, and does not in any way exhort the membership of AMA to counsel the patients against this barbaric act.
This avoidance of strong counseling is peculiar since the AMA goes to great lengths to exhort its membership to counsel against smoking, drunk driving and the ownership of firearms. When looked at more closely however it is entirely consistent. It is consistent because the AMAs ethics are entirely utilitarian. The policy against smoking is also the policy that seeks to use tobacco money to pay for health care under the mechanism of the tobacco settlements. The policy against second amendment gun ownership is the same policy that seeks gun industry monies to fund inner city emergency rooms through litigation that is essentially a mirror of the tobacco law suits. So too we will be seeing obesity diseases managed by the plundering of the fast-food industry. In essence, the treatment of the disease is to be funded by the on-going profits of the very industries that are thought to produce the disease. No ethical problems there.
And so it is with cloning and fetal tissue research. The only issues of importance to the AMA are utilitarian. In his address to the membership in June 2002 at the annual meeting, AMA president Richard F. Corlin, MD bemoans the fact that physicians have been leaving or avoiding membership in the AMA for such reasons as participation in HMOs, and objection to the AMAs policy on partial birth abortion. In his speech these two objections are given equal ethical weight. And what is President Corlins argument for putting these objections aside and joining the AMA? His argument is that by joining the AMA, doctors will more likely succeed in obtaining the more important goal of tort reform. Containing the cost of practicing medicine is more important than infanticide. This is the medical ethic of the culture of death, and the AMA is now its official wholesaler.
Is it unthinkable that an organization of such history as the AMA would be in the business of promoting homicide on the basis of ethics that treat particular groups of human beings as something less than human? I would remind you that the policy of euthanising the mentally feeble and justifying it on quality of life terms was formulated for the Nazi party by the then president of the German Red Cross.
I would encourage you to ask your doctor if they are a member of the AMA. If they are, I would encourage you to ask them to resign their membership, and to let the leadership of the AMA know that the resignation is precisely in objection to the organizations policies on abortion, fetal tissue research, and human cloning. Encourage them to join one of the Christian medical associations, and to make their practice of medicine a sign of their faith. If they think these things are unimportant, find a doctor who views human life as important.
Dr. Pat Lappert serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for "Your Catholic Voice Foundation" and "Common Good Foundation". He is the Chief Medical Advisor of both and Chairs both of their "Medical Advisory CouncilsYour Catholic Voice FoundationCatholic Online". He, his wife Patrice and their "domestic church", currently reside in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska.
IT'S FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE 21ST CENTURY!
We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by AMA rhetoric. what they are supporting is the creation of life for the sole purpose of experimentation.
It's mad science, and we cannot afford to sit idly by while 260,000 doctors move to accept what is simply another form of abortion.
Grassfire is asking everyone who has a family doctor to help us put intense pressure on the AMA for their endorsement of the "clone to kill" procedure.
We need your help in two very specific ways:
In next three weeks, Grassfire will deliver 425,000 "Petition for Life" petitions on your behalf to the AMA in Washington, DC, expressing our outrage and offense, and urging them to retract their position!
However, we are about 30,000 petitions shy of our goal. But with your help we are confident that we can reach our goal in time for this important delivery.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, CO-WORKERS AND CLERGY, ASKING THEM TO JOIN WITH YOU IN THE FIGHT FOR LIFE BY: CLICKING HERE
Contact your family physician and let he/she know that you are offended over the AMA's endorsing of the "clone to kill" procedure.
Urge your doctor to oppose to ALL forms of human cloning, research or reproduction!
For the millions of Americans who believe life starts with two cells, this is an issue we simply cannot afford to let pass!
Thank you for taking action today!
Real Impact. Real Feedback. Real Results.
P.S. While Grassfire finalizes our delivery to the AMA, we ask that you take action with us by forwarding this important message to as many of your friends and family as possible-- urging them to take action with you by clicking on the link below.
P.P.S. Be sure to listen to our special Partial-Birth Abortion radio update (available after 12am, June 19). Click below to listen:
IF YOU HAVEN'T YET SIGNED OUR "PETITION FOR LIFE" PETITION, PLEASE CLICK HERE
I would encourage you to ask your doctor if they are a member of the AMA.
Well, fewer than half of docs belong to the AMA now. Nevertheless, on this subject I say, 'good job, AMA'
Both types of somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning reproduce the donor; the chosen destiny for the newly conceived clone defines the procedure a short lifetime for a harvesting target (so called therapeutic cloning), or a long lifetime as an individual identical twin (so called reproductive cloning).
Why is it important to realize that an embryo is a human being at an early age along a continuum of individual life? Because therapeutic cloning coupled with embryonic stem cell harvesting aim to cannibalize individual human life. Defenders of therapeutic cloning are seeking to characterize that type of human cloning as non-reproductive, but the truth is, ALL somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning is reproductive, conceiving an individual human life. Defenders and promoters of therapeutic cloning deny that the embryonic individual life is a human being at that age of a lifetime begun at conception.
Tha AMA clearly support killing the newly conceived individual human being before further ages can be reached along the continuum of life begun at a designer, cloning, conception ... because of their utilitarian value regardless of their humanity.
The science of Embryology holds as fundamental truth that even an embryo no bigger than a grain of sugar is an individual human life. Is it acceptable to kill that individual for body parts? If it is, that's cannibalism as surely as eating body parts or whole embryos for medical cures. The AMA is squarely endorsing cannibalism, the cannibalizing of individual human embryos conceived specifically for their body parts, their stem cells.
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