Human Exceptionalism

Center on Human Exceptionalism

Justice for Jahi

In California, Jahi McMath is legally dead. In New Jersey, she is legally alive. Now, the deceased—or profoundly disabled—teenager is the subject of litigation that could make history. A quick rundown: In 2013, the then thirteen-year-old girl suffered a cardiac arrest after undergoing throat surgery. Jahi’s brain was deprived of oxygen, and her doctors at the highly respected Children’s Hospital Read More ›

How the Media Promote (Some) Suicides

I began my work against assisted suicide in 1993. The emotional zeitgeist at the time focused intensely—and exclusively—on preventing all suicides. Since then, I have witnessed a very disturbing transition. Today’s society asks us to support suicide in circumstances involving serious illness, disability, and even advanced age. Meanwhile, despite an increase in suicide rates, the intensity of suicide prevention campaigns has declined. As Read More ›

AI Should Never Have “Rights”

Efforts to expand rights beyond the human realm are ubiquitous and reflect, in my view, a deep misanthropy and a threat to universal human rights. That includes the movement to declare sophisticated artificial intelligent machines (“strong AI,” not yet here) to be “persons,” entitled to entry into the moral community. Today, there is an extensive discussion of this meme in Religion & Read More ›

Let’s Use Pigs as Organ “Donors”

There are approximately 120,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list, about as many people as live in Charleston, South Carolina and Hartford, Connecticut. Many of these people’s lives will ultimately be saved, after long and harrowing waits—as former Vice President Dick Cheney’s was. But others on the list will die before their turn comes up and a suitable donor Read More ›

Real baby being vaccinated with a syringe in the thigh by a pediatrician doctor to avoid the spread of diseases.
Real baby being vaccinated with a syringe in the thigh by a pediatrician doctor to avoid the spread of diseases.

The Young and the Vulnerable

When I was a small boy, polio terrified me. Each year, it would strike thousands of children like me — and you never knew when or where it would hit next. In the 1952 epidemic, a very bad year, there were nearly 60,000 reported cases in the United States and more than 3,000 deaths. Summer was the worst time, and Read More ›

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Stop Assisted-Suicide Opioid Abuse

The opioid crisis is tragically real and requires a concerted national commitment to remediation policies such as those recommended by the President’s Commission. In such a crisis, we cannot warn people not to abuse these powerful drugs, while at the same time allowing doctors intentionally to prescribe overdoses. Combating opioid abuse must apply to all abuses — including the use of these pain-killing drugs in suicide.

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Putting Infants “Down Like Dogs”

The Charlie Gard tragedy has renewed public advocacy for legalizing infanticide. Writing in the New York Times earlier this month, Gary Comstock recounted the tragic death of his son, Sam, who was born with a terminal genetic condition. Many years later, Comstock believes that his son should have been killed instead of being taken off of life support: It seems the medical community has few options Read More ›

Charlie Gard and the Age of “Do Harm” Medicine

Why wouldn’t you call what is happening to Charlie Gard a medical kidnapping considering the hospital won’t let his parents transfer or take him home to die? I think that the language is too provocative. This is a very sensitive thing. I use strong language, but I don’t want to use overly provocative language. Kidnapping is a crime; this is Read More ›

Whose Baby Is Charlie Gard, Anyway?

“The time has come for your baby to die,” a doctor told the grieving parents of a catastrophically ill baby. No, this wasn’t the ongoing Charlie Gard case—so prominent in the news today—in which United Kingdom doctors and judges have told Charlie’s parents that their son’s life support will be removed, no matter what they want. (Charlie has a rare terminal mitochondrial disorder.) Rather, that Read More ›