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.
Yes, the acceptance quotient for the vast majority of Americans falls somewhere between the notions of legal protection for all conceived individual human life and legal protection for partial birth abortion. I was once somewhere between the two extremes, but the truth offered from persons who had dug deeper into the science and issues regarding nascent human life awakened me from my comfortable slumber. The realization that awakened my brain was that with tacit acceptance of in vitro fertilization and then the apparent necessity for some abortion, our society too quickly arrived at acceptance of, no, DEFENSE OF, infanticide. Apparently deceased Democrat Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, had a similar epiphany, since he characterized partial birth abortion as infanticide.
After thirty years of 'somewhere in the middle', legalized abortion has lead directly to the maximum cheapening of individual human life. We have Americans defending infanticide for convenience and profit. But is that really the maximum corruption of our founding principles regarding the unalienable right to life? Perhaps we can and will degenerate further. Lets explore such a probability.
A straight-line course from our current inhumane reality will have us embracing actors in Hollywood who insinuate that exploitation of embryonic life is needed to bolster unencumbered lives of worthy pursuit a notion made palpable by deranged feminists and their political champions who have insisted that in order to be 'fully empowered' a woman must have a legal right to commit violence upon her conceived children. Because of our tacit acceptance for the extreme treatment of individual prenatal life --forceful withdrawal of life support, abortion-- it is assumed by the societal engineers that we will accept conception of individual human lives and then killing those individuals for their body parts. Thats cannibalism.
Stricken Hollywood actors and power-crazed politicians, in order to convince you that exploitation of individual embryonic life is right, must arrange your tacit agreement that killing and harvesting embryos is not the same as killing an individual. But the scientists they would employ and fund with your taxes, to carry out this medical marvel, already know the truth. Here's the key to their reasoning: those seeking your tacit acceptance of embryonic exploitation must have you first agree to a blatant lie ... or worse, have you agree that these are individual human lives being exploited in earliest stage of their less worthy life, defining a higher purpose for these embryonic individuals, to sustain others who were not stripped of life support to harvest their body parts. The first level of agreement --that embryos are not individual humans-- is based on a calculated lie; the second descending level of agreement is acceptance of cannibalism based on that same specious axiom that embryos are not human individuals existing in the normal stage of a human lifetime.
Weve lost our hold on the goodness of supporting human life (the humane necessity of life support). Now, exploitation of nascent life is a reality: the fetal tissue harvesting industry, with more than a billion dollars in business receipts each year, already influences when a woman ought to have the abortion she seeks because fetal tissue differentiation makes later rather than earlier killing and harvesting of the fetus more desirable to those who will profit from the killing. But that's just the beginning of the horror: 1) embryonic stem cell exploitation now demands the conception and killing of untold numbers of embryos; 2) therapeutic cloning is based on the in vitro fertilization/conception of human life, with killing and harvesting as the goal when the embryo has differentiated sufficiently to make specific target-cell identification reliable. Both of these 'scientific advances' require our nation to accept the specious notion that an individual human life doesn't begin with at least first cell division (onset of mitosis).
Having read this far, some will insist, But an embryo in a petri dish is not the same as an implanted embryo, not the same as a fetus, not the same as a born child, not the same as , yet the very science now hurrying to exploit embryonic life is convinced an embryo IS an individual human lifetime begun. Outrageous assertion, some will say. Okay, let the goals of their scientific pursuit speak for the scientists.
First, let us examine the goal of in vitro fertilization. In this procedure, a female gamete is fertilized by a male gamete (gametes are the sex cells of the adult male or female). Once cell division is evidenced and the embryo reaches a desired number of body parts (the embryonic stem cells), the individual embryo is placed into the uterus of the target woman (and in most cases, several individual embryos are implanted at the same time, running the odds so to speak; if too many achieve life support, the attending medical personnel will advise on aborting one or more, to improve the odds for the escaping survivor).
The technician watching the product of fertilization (the conceptus) in the petri dish is looking for cell division, to assure that an individual life has begun to express itself, to grow the technician implants only the embryo proven to be building her or his individual body!
Additionally, the technician must achieve this transfer from petri dish to human uterus at a specific stage in cell division, a specific stage in the lifetime already begun in a dish; if they try implanting too early, the embryo will not have the sticky coating it creates which allows for attachment to the uterine wall. Timing is crucial, timing that is based on proven growth processes of an individual human being's continuum of life. [If youre wondering, this continuum concept of individual human existence is the exact same reasoning regarding the onset of puberty, for example, as a normal stage in individual human lifetime. Yes, the scientist views individual human life as a continuum, having a beginning at conception and first cell division, and continuing through a myriad of differentiations and organ expressions that could last for decades.]
Let us turn now to cloning, for the methodology of a technician seeking embryonic stem cells or a technician seeking to clone life has much in common with the in vitro fertilization process.
The clone is a genetic duplicate of a parent DNA donor. The in vitro fertilization technician conceives by bringing male and female gametes together, thus achieving the contribution of 23 chromosomes from female and 23 chromosomes from male, resulting in a conceptus having the normal 46 chromosomes. With similar goal of a conceptus in mind, the clone technician seeks to use a mature female gamete from which the chromosomal nuclear ball has been removed and the 46 chromosome nuclear material of the adult donor is inserted. [Adult donor refers to an organism with a normal compliment of 46 chromosomes, not to the age of the donor. In some procedures, the product of male/female conception is stripped of the 46 resulting chromosomes prior to first cell division, and the 46 chromosomes of the donor are inserted.]
If the cloning technician seeks to fully reproduce the genetic donor, the conceptus is observed for evidence of cell division, then, just as with in vitro fertilization reproduction, the embryo is inserted into a womans uterus for continued life support life support for a proven individual human being that is a genetic duplicate of the donor, with none of the ovum donors chromosomes. [There is from-the-female DNA material in the de-nucleated ovum, associated with the mitochondria units of the ovum, but developmental characteristics of the newly conceived individual will follow the parent chromosomal route throughout growth and development. This is the complicated stuff too rigorous for discussion in a short essay.]
If, instead of reproduction for a fully expressed parent donor, the technician desires therapeutic cloning, the embryo is not implanted in a womans life supporting body. Instead, life support is provided in the petri dish until a desired stage of cell differentiation is achieved. Then the embryo (or, if they could keep the individual alive long enough, a fetus) is harvested for the desired tissue, killing the individual being conceived for a tissue specific cloning purpose.
With first cell division, the newly conceived human life is constructing its own space capsule (the placental bubble and the fluid that inflates it) and its own individual body and blood. The woman in whom an embryo resides does not construct the placenta or the body of the newly conceived individual human life. In fact, it is the newly conceived individual who commandeers life support from the womans body ... it is the embryonic individual who initiates its own growth and development AND its life support from the womans body.
Cell division proves to the scientist that an individual human being is present. But there are other telling phenomena which prove the case that an individual human being is present as an embryo. Following are two.
The production of a sticky coating by the embryonic individual on the surface of the placental barrier the embryo is growing proves the desire to survive. Is that the same as the adult desire for shelter and sustenance? No, it is more akin to the hunger response, but it is unimpeachable evidence, to a scientist, that an individual being exists. Is that being, human? If the parents are human, thats always the case. Finally, if the embryonic individual did not construct the placental barrier for its residence, the presence of a genetically foreign individual life in the womans body would cause her body to attack the other.
Why is it important to prove that an embryo is an individual human being? Because embryonic stem cell harvesting and therapeutic cloning are cannibalism.
The enlightened expect you to accept the notion that an embryo is not an individual human being. Yet the scientist seeks to conceive 'designer' individual human life --with therapeutic cloning-- and the goal of the scientist bears witness to the truth that they are conceiving then for a time supporting the life of a unique human being. Giving tacit acceptance to a proven lie is bad enough --and weve done this for thirty years-- but to embrace cannibalism founded on such a lie is far more degenerate than breaching a moral or ethical dilemma.
If we do not accomplish a paradigm shift in the nation's perception regarding individual human life, two very unpleasant leviathans --embryonic stem cell exploitation and therapeutic cloning-- will devour what remains of our national goodness.
Only Gods mercy will continue our life support, as a nation, should we slide further down the slippery slope. We must somehow ascend back to the goodness of supporting all individual human life and repudiate the cannibalistic exploitation now looming as our future.
I'm of the opinion that very few people know what was done to their heads in school. Otherwise, everyone would know that the Columbia University School of Education is the locus of evil in the modern world.
You might enjoy this:
Jimmy Akin on public schools.
6/6 show at the 4:15 mark