Tuesday, September 20, 2016

First Child Euthanized in Belgium


A terminally ill minor has become the first child to be euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions were lifted in the country two years ago, according to several sources.

A Belgian lawmaker told CNN affiliate VTM that the physician-assisted suicide happened within the past week.

The child, who was suffering from an incurable disease, had asked for euthanasia, Sen. Jean-Jacques De Gucht told VTM. The identity of the child and age are unknown.

"I think it's very important that we, as a society, have given the opportunity to those people to decide for themselves in what manner they cope with that situation," said Gucht, a supporter of euthanasia legislation.
Read it all here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Two Perspectives on Female Circumcision



The World Health Organization reports that more than 200 million girls and women currently have been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting worldwide, and three million girls continue to be at risk each year. Vicenzo Puppo, an Italian sexologist, argues in the journal Clinical Anatomy that this “is a violation of human rights and must be abandoned”. In his article, he outlines various strategies to change what he describes as a cultural rather than religious ritual, especially the creation of alternative rites of passage for young women.

Coincidentally, Australian bioethicists argue in the leading journal Bioethics that Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery for adolescents should be permitted if they insist upon it. Merle Spriggs and Lynn Gillam discuss labioplasties for girls with body dysmorphic disorder. Patients with this condition can be so distressed by the appearance of their genitals that 21% to 44% are said to commit suicide.

So while the minor operation may not be physically necessary, “‘medical necessity’ should be interpreted broadly, and should include reduction of psychological distress just as much as restoring physical function”. From an ethical point of view, they say, this is not a controversial principle. A number of other common procedures do not restore health, but apparently reduce anxiety: C-sections, contraception, sterilization, laser surgery for short-sightedness, puberty- suppression treatment for an adolescent with Gender dysphoria. A similar argument is made for justifying abortion.

One strong objection to permitting adolescents with BDD to have genital cosmetic surgery is that they will subsequently move the focus of their distress to some other aspect of their appearance. But given that the surgery is minor, “The possibility that a condition may reappear after surgery, is not in itself a good reason not to do the surgery in the first place.”

Spriggs and Gillam note that this is a “counterintuitive” conclusion and one which made them feel uneasy initially. However, “this outcome shows the power of ethical reasoning. If pursued thoroughly, using the available evidence and working from first principles, it is similar to the scientific method, in that it leads to a logical conclusion, regardless of what one might have expected at the outset.”

Read more here.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Killing of Disabled Girl: Hitler would be proud


The euthanasia of Nancy Fitzmaurice, a severely disabled child who was not dying, has made international waves with disability advocates especially outraged. Nancy’s mother had requested that her daughter be killed and was granted approval by the British legal system. While the 12-year-old Nancy had significant disabilities, she was able to breathe on her own and did not require life support.



Following the starving of Nancy through the withholding of fluids, the Autism Self Advocacy Network [ASAN] has released a statement slamming this decision, calling it “troubling” and “concerning”.


They said that:

The decision constitutes an extremely troubling legal precedent, representing the first time the British legal system has allowed a child breathing on her own, not on life support and not diagnosed with any terminal illness, to be killed by the medical system.

Euthanasia of people with disabilities is an extremely dangerous and wholly inappropriate solution to inadequate pain management. In cases where painkillers are insufficient, a number of alternatives for pain management exist. A policy of euthanasia targets vulnerable people, particularly when it is applied to children. People with disabilities who experience chronic pain should have same access as others to life-sustaining medical treatment.

When parents and physicians have the ability to authorize the killing of disabled children, we see serious abuses. Recently, ASAN and twelve other disability rights groups filed an amicus brief in a case challenging the University of Wisconsin Hospital’s practice of counseling parents to withhold care from children with disabilities for treatable but life-threatening medical conditions. In one such instance, a child with developmental disabilities died after a hospital doctor advised his parents that they could withdraw his feeding tube – which provided fluids and nutrition – based on his supposedly low “quality of life.” The medical condition supposedly justifying this measure was treatable pneumonia. The child died the next day, after administration of morphine. Such actions demonstrate the results of a policy that allows families and clinicians to discriminate on the basis of disability in the application of life-sustaining treatment.

ASAN furthermore was “concerned that the voices of people with disabilities with similar support needs were not heard in this discussion.”

ASAN hits the nail on the head, and especially so by calling out the media coverage of this story, which has been overwhelmingly positive.

Read it all here.

Bioethicists and Death Control


"Thousands of medical ethicists and bioethicists, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on its way to becoming the justifiable until it is finally established as the unexceptionable."—Richard John Neuhaus


Wesley J. Smith

If you want to see what is likely to go awry in medical ethics and public healthcare policy, pay attention to the advocacy of bioethicists—at least of those who don’t identify themselves as “conservative” or “Catholic.” In their many journal articles and presentations at academic symposia, they unabashedly advocate for discarding the sanctity- and equality-of-life ethic as our moral cornerstone. Instead, most favor invidious and systemic medical discrimination predicated on a patient’s “quality of life,” which would endow the young, healthy, and able-bodied with the highest moral value—and, hence, with the greatest claim to medical resources.

Thanks to the work of bioethics, life-taking policies that a few decades ago were “unthinkable” now are unremarkable. Withholding tube-supplied food and water from the cognitively disabled until they die—Terri Schiavo’s fate—is now legal and popularly accepted, much like abortion. The legalization of assisted suicide is a constant threat. Even where lethal prescriptions or injections cannot be legally provided, some of our most notable bioethicists urge that doctors be permitted to help the elderly and others commit suicide by self-starvation—a process known in euthanasia advocacy circles as VSED (Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking).

Promoters of the culture of death never rest on their laurels. Listed below are a few of the more dangerous “advances” being promoted in bioethics.

Read it all here.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant to the Patients Rights Council. His new book, Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, was just published by Encounter Books.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Freedom of Speech on Campus: When professors get involved


C. Bradley Thompson is a political science professor and the executive director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism. In regard to disruptive speech on campus, he said that indoctrination is a major reason why there seems to be so much hostility to principles of free speech on campus.

Particularly troublesome, he said, is the reemergence of 1960s-style “struggle sessions” in which people are made to publicly confess their “sins.” Thompson cited a recent case from North Carolina’s Guilford College in which students demanded that each week, one white professor be required to publicly denounce his or her “white privilege.”

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Philosophy 301 Approved Topics


The final paper is to be 5 pages and is due on Monday, October 10, 2016. There is no flexibility with this deadline as I need time to grade all the papers before the course ends.

Use this outline:
Statement of intention/thesis statement - What you wish to show, demonstrate, prove, expose as false, etc. in this paper
At least 3 supporting observations, explanations, facts, quotations, etc. to support your intention/thesis, each with elaboration.
Conclusion in which you summarize your intention and the supporting points you made. In the conclusion you may include your personal view. Do not include personal viewpoints earlier than the conclusion.
Bibliography

Select a topic from this list:

APPROVED TOPICS




Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Australia Seeks Legislation on Surrogacy



A government report has backed calls for an international treaty on surrogacy and for uniform legislation within Australia banning commercial surrogacy.

A Senate committee tabled its conclusions this week. In a nutshell, it backs altruistic surrogacy, but not commercial surrogacy. In a society where marriage and the family are changing rapidly, with many children lacking genetic connections with parents, surrogacy can be a solution for infertile couples, it contends.

However, the report left a number of issues in the too-hard basket. They include changing birth certificates to include all people who could qualify as parents – genetic, gestational and intended and making use of commercial surrogates overseas illegal.

Research shows that about 250 children from commercial surrogacy arrangements are brought back to Australia every year. Australia is powerless to stop this, argues the committee. The best the government can do is to give advice about the dangers of offshore arrangements and the possibility of abusing the human rights of the women involved.

Everyone agrees that fundamental principle of surrogacy must be the “best interests of the child”. However, there is a stark division on what those are. Some people told the committee that surrogacy in any form could never be in the best interests of the child because it creates confusion about his or her identity and is inconsistent with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Others declared that it could be consistent. The committee sat on the fence.

Another issue is reimbursement for “reasonable expenses” for altruistic surrogates. The committee backed “appropriate reimbursement”.

From here.

Commercial surrogacy is a complicated and controversial topic. Ethical concerns arise on many grounds: the cost of adoption, the welfare of the infant; and the potential for exploitation of poor women.

In India the commercial surrogacy grosses over $1 billion each year. In October 2015, the Indian government announced pending legislation that would ban foreigners from exploiting poor Indian women or traveling to India on what the government called "reproductive tourism."  Read more here: How Commercial Surrogacy Became a Massive International Business