Human Exceptionalism

Center on Human Exceptionalism

Killing Them Softly

We reserve the right to refuse service: Most people have seen these signs at restaurants and retail shops. But now, metaphorically, some hospitals are hanging such notices over their entryways by promulgating “futile care” protocols that grant doctors the right to say no to wanted life-extending medical treatment to patients whose lives they consider lacking in sufficient quality to justify Read More ›

Twin Killing

ALAS, POOR MARY. She’s the conjoined twin in England, united at the chest with her stronger sister Jodie, and she’s been called a parasite, a tumor, a bloodsucker: someone whose “primitive” brain makes her life unworthy of protecting. And all that by two British courts, which have wrenched away from her parents the right to decide whether or not to Read More ›

Privacy That Kills

ON THE FACE OF IT, representative Tom Coburn and New York assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn are mirror opposites: He’s a staunch Republican, she’s a fiery Democrat; he’s pro-life, she’s pro-choice; he’s socially conservative, she’s a booster of gay rights; he’s a fundamentalist Christian, she’s Jewish; he’s Oklahoma, she’s pure Queens. But across this yawning political and cultural divide, the two have Read More ›

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., now director of the NIH, stands to the right of then-President Bill Clinton (J. Craig Ventner, Ph.D., left) at the announcement that an international consortuim had completed the first

Genome Project Raises Fears, Hopes

Two rival groups of scientists have announced that the race to decode the human genome has ended-in a tie. J. Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics, and Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, joined in a White House ceremony on June 26 to announce that they’ve deciphered the human hereditary script. The two organizations had Read More ›

Is Bioethic Ethical?

The case of James H. Armstrong, M.D. v. The State of Montana should have been merely a skirmish in the never-ending national struggle over abortion. Instead, relying on the reasoning of certain “experts” in the moral choices surrounding health care, the Montana Supreme Court issued in October 1999 a sweeping decision that could make huge changes in the way Montanans live—and Read More ›

The Contradictions of Nazi Medicine

The Death of Medicine in Nazi Germany: Dermatology and Dermatopathology Under the Swastika. By Wolfgang Weyers, M.D. Madison Books. 472 pp. $18.95. The Nazi War on Cancer. By Robert N. Proctor. Princeton University Press. 365 pp. $29.95. Reviewed by Wesley J. Smith For lovers of history and those interested in preserving cultural morality and virtue, the Nazi era is a mine that never runs Read More ›

The Death of Us

The Definition of Death, Contemporary Controversies, edited by Stuart J. Youngner, Robert, M. Arnold, and Renie Schapiro. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 346 pp., $ 54 In just thirty years, bioethics has grown from a group of ruminating philosophers and theologians into one of the country’s most fiercely secularized and influential intellectual forces. Bioethicists sit on presidential advisory commissions, teach in Read More ›

Old male doctor visiting young male patient
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When Death Is Our Physician

It is hard to tell the truth about assisted suicide. Or rather, it’s hard to get people to listen. Folks generally are about as eager to delve into the issue of assisted suicide as they are to work out the details of their own funeral. It’s a delicate and unnerving subject, involving the ultimate issues of life: the reality of Read More ›

Suicide Unlimited in Oregon

LAST WEEK, Congress took up the issues of pain control and physician-assisted suicide, with the House voting 271-156 to pass the Pain Relief Promotion Act. The legislation, if passed, would improve pain control while deterring physician-assisted suicide. Doctors who prescribe lethal drugs for the purpose of killing their terminally ill patients would be subject to losing their federal licenses to Read More ›

Intravenous cannula placed in the hand of an elderly patient for palliative care of a terminal patient.
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Don’t Kill the Pain Relief Bill

Last week, by a vote of 271-156, the House approved the Pain Relief Promotion Act, designed to promote effective medical treatment of pain while deterring the misuse of narcotics and other controlled substances for assisted suicide. The bill’s passage prompted an outpouring of hyperbole and misinformation from opponents. Here are the facts about the act: It would not outlaw assisted Read More ›