Brave New Bioethics
Brave New Bioethics is a series of podcasts recorded by Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith exploring the many policies and proposals in bioethics, bioscience, and animal liberation that threaten the belief that human life has worth merely and simply because it is human. Episodes are listed below.
Bio Science Views
Bio Science Views is a series of brief radio commentaries by Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith. Under 90 seconds each, these brief clips provide pithy insight into some of the hardest issues of our day. These episodes are now being broadcast on Immaculate Heart Radio around the West Coast and coming soon to other radio markets. Episodes are listed below. Click on the link to listen.
On this episode of Brave New Bioethics, senior fellow Wesley J. Smith explains how a new bill introduced in the US Senate actually authorizing human cloning can yet be called a ban on cloning.
New congressional legislation that explicitly legalizes human cloning and also authorizes researchers to pay women to harvest their eggs for cloning research. The bill has been named by its sponsors, Senators Hatch and Feinstein, the Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Protection Act. Smith shows how they use definition sleight of hand to get away with it.
On this episode of Brave New Bioethics, CSC senior fellow Wesley J. Smith looks at the newly release statement from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine on the issue of physician assisted suicide in which they assume a position of neutrality. According to Smith, their new position is both a cowardly act and a backdoor repudiation of a long established philosophy of hospice care in respecting each patient’s life. Such terminal non-judgementalism is an abandonment of the hospice organization’s professed goal of promoting proper hospice care and, worse, is an abandonment of patients whose lives depend on doctors acting to relieve their suffering while abiding by the Hippocratic oath.
On this episode of Brave New Bioethics, Wesley J. Smith takes a look at how an anti-human agenda like that of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is capable of causing great human harm. In the story of Dr. Edward Taub, we find that animal rights liberationists who literally believe that animals are equal to human beings are a threat to scientific research and the health and wellness of many.
There is no question that Chinese transplant centers sell their wares. China has admitted to selling the organs of executed prisoners. The question is whether some of these organs come from Falun Gong dissidents executed for heterodox religious beliefs that the Chinese government disagrees with, as discussed in a report by human rights attorneys, Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China. A recent update to the report shows that the Chinese military may be running these organ transplant centers as a means of generating much needed revenue.
There is a new religion spreading across the globe. It is called transhumanism. Transhumanists believe that natural humans arent good enough, smart enough, strong enough, athletic enough, beautiful enough, or genetically diverse enough. They reject the very idea of normal, indeed, of there being any virtue at all in remaining fully human. Let’s look at what exactly transhumanists want, and what the trouble is with transhumanism.
I am often asked how I became an anti-euthanasia activist. Like most people on both sides of the issue, it began with a personal experience.
Usually after a suicide, those who were close to the deceased person wonder why, grieve, and finally go on with their lives. But I had a queasy feeling that there was more to Frances’ death than appeared on the surface. It was as if she had somehow been encouraged to pursue death. Yet, I knew her friends had all tried to persuade her to embrace life. I decided to investigate.
I have had several requests to comment on the story of the cognitively disabled girl named Ashley, whose parents subjected her to hormone treatments and invasive surgeries (hysterectomy, mastectomy) to keep her “small.” The point of these “treatments” was to ensure that by remaining at about 75 pounds, Ashley’s care could still be provided by her parents. I certainly don’t question the parents’ motive. They thought this was the best way to continue to be able to care for their daughter at home. Still, the core questions as I see them, are whether these interventions supported Ashley’s intrinsic worth and whether they were therapeutic and therefore ethical for a doctor to perform.
The answer to both questions, I think, is no. The motive was love, I agree. But, in the end, I think it was wrong.
Jack Kevorkian will soon be out of jail on parole, but we likely will not be told much about the ultimate goal Kevorkian sought to achieve through his nearly 10-year, law-defying campaign of assisted suicide. Kevorkian does not believe that assisted suicide should be narrowly applied to the dying as is often reported in the media. This fact is easily discernible from his remarks, his writings, and his actions. Unfortunately, this ugly truth will probably be lost in the stampede to talk and write about Kevorkian after his release from prison. Instead, we will hear of Jack the Martyred Saint, a man punished simply because he wanted to alleviate the suffering of “the terminally ill.”
On this episode of Brave New Bioethics, Smith highlights the stark difference between the attitudes of two men toward the weakest and most vulnerable among us, a difference that can be described literally as the distinction between loving and killing. The choice we make about such contrasting paths will determine whether we remain a moral society committed to the pursuit of universal human rights.
What is this new idea called personhood theory? Under personhood theory, each human being doesnt have moral worth simply and merely because he or she is human, but rather, we each have to earn our rights by possessing sufficient mental capacities to be considered a person. Personhood theory provides moral justification to oppress and exploit the most vulnerable human beings. Indeed, based on the writing of some of the most influential writers in bioethics in the worlds most reputable bioethical and medical journals, being denigrated as a non-person can have lethal consequences and lead to the worst forms of abuse.
Are we headed for a brave new world where unconscious people are treated as if they were simply biological machines? Wesley warns that we may be headed down that path, even though today most people believe that treating people as mere things violates the intrinsic dignity of the individual and the equal moral worth of all human life. And yet prominent bioethicists and philosophers are contemplating, and even championing, ideas and legislation that could lead to a bleak future where human exceptionalism is ignored.