Cruel and Unusual Death with Dignity

Belgium is on the verge of executing its first murderer by lethal injection. Well, not exactly “executing.” The state isn’t going to kill convicted murderer/rapist Frank Van Den Bleeken for his crimes. Rather, it is helping him be euthanized. By a doctor. At a hospital. To which he was transferred after a court ruled that Den Bleeken’s request to end Read More ›

Lethal Ageism

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 Read More ›

Standing Against the Human “Dignity Deniers”

God may not be dead, but considering the imago Dei in philosophical discourse and public policy certainly is. Not only that, but the rational reasons for acknowledging the exceptional dignity of humans are wrongly denigrated as merely reflecting our religious past in which rigid moralism supposedly trumped reason. Today’s dominant cultural voices argue that an individual’s moral worth should be Read More ›

The Ethics of Food and Drink

Should the law compel nursing homes to starve certain Alzheimer’s patients to death? This is not an alarmist fantasy, but a real question, soon to be forced by advocates of ever-wider application of assisted euthanasia. The intellectual groundwork is already being laid for legislation or court orders requiring nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities to withhold spoon feeding from dementia patients who, though they take food and drink willingly, once requested the withholding of life-prolonging meas-ures in an advance medical directive. 

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Will Doctors be Forced to Kill?

The wailing and gnashing of teeth in some quarters over the modest Hobby Lobby decision has me worried. Apparently, many on the political port side of the country believe that once a favored public policy has been enacted, it immediately becomes a “right” that can never be altered or denied. More, once such a “right” is established for the individual, Read More ›

Pushing Suicide for Suffering

Those of us who have never experienced severe physical disability have no clue about the depth of suffering it can cause. But NPR’s megastar talk show host Dianne Rehm does, up close and personal. Her husband John had severe and progressive Parkinson’s disease, leading him to suicidal despair. John asked his doctor for assisted suicide. Told that was not possible, Read More ›

Death Be Not Proud

One of the last things my friend Frances did on Nov. 1, 1992, was to send identical suicide letters to each of her friends: “Today is my 76th birthday,” it began. “Of my own free will, I have chosen to take my final passage.” Why would she do such a thing? Frances was not terminally ill and had years of Read More ›

Starvation as the New “Death With Dignity”

Self-starvation has become the latest craze among the “death with dignity” crowd. This has been coming on for some time. Removing feeding tubes from cognitively disabled people who can’t swallow has been allowed for decades, under the right to refuse unwanted “medical treatment.” But what about people who can eat and drink by mouth? Assisted suicide advocates argue that it isn’t fair that they can’t die too.

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What Happened to Switzerland?

In 2008, bioethicist Yuval Levin in his book Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy identified a subtle but momentous shift in the philosophical driver of the West:  The worldview of modern science . . . sees health not only as a foundation but also a principal goal, not only as a beginning but also an end. Relief and preservation—from disease and Read More ›

The Next Logical Step

Like most people, I was shocked by the macabre story that broke in the United Kingdom this week. It seems that “at least 15,500” aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated to heat several hospitals over the last few years. Not cremated and respectfully interred, mind you: Incinerated as fuel to run the boilers. Shocked yes, but not surprised. The law only reflects Read More ›