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Human Exceptionalism

Center on Human Exceptionalism

A Gruesome Plan

The Hippocratic Oath is dead. “Do no harm” medicine is fast becoming extinct. Contemporary health care is increasingly under the sway of a utilitarian bioethics that makes the elimination of suffering the prime directive—to the detriment of traditional standards of medical morality that deem all human life equally worthy of care and protection. The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has been among the instigators of this shift. As early as 2005, the journal published (without significant criticism) the so-called Groningen Protocol—a bureaucratic checklist from the Netherlands that instructs Dutch doctors which terminally ill or seriously disabled babies they can lethally inject. In 2010, NEJM published advocacy in favor of an invidious health-care rationing measure known as the QALY (“quality-adjusted life year”), adoption of …




The Wages of Death

Twenty-five years ago, Newsweek published my first essay. In the wake of my friend’s suicide under the influence of the Hemlock Society, I worried that some suicides would be “promoted as a virtue” if assisted suicide, or euthanasia, was ever accepted. (Assisted suicide involves a doctor’s knowingly prescribing drugs for use in the patient’s suicide; euthanasia involves a doctor’s lethally injecting the patient.) After that, I predicted, eligibility for hastened death would expand to those “who don’t have a good ‘quality’ of life,” “perhaps with the prospect of organ harvesting thrown in as a plum to society.” Read More ›



Weird Science: PETA is no Friend of STEM

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) makes no moral distinctions between humans and animals, believing, as its alpha wolf Ingrid Newkirk put it once, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” The organization opposes any instrumental use of animals—no matter how beneficial to human thriving—insisting that they are “not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.” PETA’s adamant opposition to animal research puts it squarely in the anti-science camp. Not because they are ethically opposed to such experiments—although that marks the group as anti-human in my book—but because the organization routinely slanders animal researchers as cruel and sadistic and persists in its false and dishonest claim Read More ›


Your Mind Uploaded in a Computer Would Not Be You

Transhumanists, as they are often called, pursue several approaches to attaining, if not exactly eternal life, then an indefinite existence. Some aim at radically extending life expectancy through biotechnology, such as by overcoming cellular aging, manufacturing cloned organs to replace worn-out body parts, and using stem cell therapies. But the most prominent transhumanist immortality proposal these days aims to upload our minds into computers, enhanced with artificial intelligence capabilities, whence we can “live” in the Cloud or as cyberbeings. Read More ›


Wesley J . Smith: Who Decides to Discontinue Medical Treatment?

Medicare will now reimburse doctors $86 for half-hour consultations about the kind of treatment patients would—or would not—want should they become incapacitated. Writing at The Weekly Standard, DI Sr. Fellow Wesley J. Smith explains why this new regulation exposes patients to the threat of a doctor’s potential refusal to provide them with the life-extending treatment that they want. Read his article at The Weekly Standard.


Lethal Ageism

By Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith. Originally published at First Things. A story out of Belgium vividly illustrates how our elderly are becoming personae non gratae in a society increasingly obsessed with avoiding difficulty. Francis and Anne are healthy and happily married octogenarians. Not wanting to live without each other, they plan to die together on their sixty-fourth anniversary. Rather than engaging suicide prevention, their children procured a doctor to euthanize them. Digging more deeply into the Daily Mail story, we can glean that there’s more to this case than the couple’s fear of widowhood: <blockquote<John Paul said the double euthanasia of his parents was the ‘best solution’. ‘If one of them should die, who would remain would Read More ›