Tag Archives: Medical Ethics

UK doctors who refuse to perform sex changes can be banned from practicing

Dina sent me this alarming article from the UK Telegraph.


The General Medical Council has issued guidance warning that it would be “discriminatory” for doctors not to prescribe either the pill or morning-after pill because they disagree with people having sex before marriage.

[…]The draft GMC guidelines, entitled Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice, stipulate that doctors “cannot be willing to provide married women with contraception but unwilling to prescribe it for unmarried women”.

“This would be a breach of our guidance as you would be refusing to treat a particular group of patients,” the document adds.

It also warns it would be illegal for doctors to refuse to carry out “gender reassignment”, because it would also amount to discrimination.

“Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk,” the guidelines warn.

[…]Bishop Tom Williams of the Archdiocese of Liverpool claimed the advice discriminated against “certain groups of doctors” and risked creating an “atmosphere of fear” in which doctors would be “prohibited from ever expressing their own religion”.

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship and a former surgeon, said the rules would “marginalise Christian health professionals in Britain”.

He told the Daily Mail: “The problem is that 21st century British medicine now involves practices which many doctors regard as unethical.”

In other secular left regimes like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, conscience rights for medical professionals were similarly frowned upon. For a socialist, whatever the state wants is right, and who cares about the individual’s freedom?

Many Christians today in the United States, and especially in socialist countries, think that it is a good idea for the government to provide medical care to everyone, regardless of their lifestyle choices. It doesn’t matter if some people are freely choosing lifestyles that expose them to higher medical costs, like promiscuity or homosexuality. These socialist Christians think that individuals and their employers should be taxed in order to pay for abortions, sex changes, HIV treatments, and so on. The secular left things that birth control pills, which can cause abortions, are “health care”, and socialist Christians agree with them.

A dollar can only be spent one way. It can be spent on an apologetics book, or it can be spent on a sex change. It can be spent on private Christian school tuition or it can be spent on a partial birth abortion. What would God prefer? Would he rather that people who are sinning face higher costs for their sins, so that they think twice about committing them? Or would he rather that people who are sinning have the costs paid by someone else who isn’t, so that the sin becomes cheaper? Well, when I talk to socialist Christians, especially in Canada, they think that God is happier with a bigger secular government, so that sinful people have lower costs and government approval. That doesn’t make sense to me, though.

New paper in medical ethics journal argues for infanticide

ECM sent me a link to this paper.

Here is the abstract:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Wesley J. Smith says that this sort of thing is not uncommon in bioethics.


So, if a woman has a mixed racial affair, she and her same race husband should be able to prevent gossip and embarrassment by killing the baby?  (I know of one such case, although the woman wasn’t married, she aborted simply because she didn’t want to have a mixed race child.)  Heck, if the baby’s life is worth so little, let’s harvest her organs and give them to those babies whose parents want them to live.

As just one other example of many I could give, the Journal of Medical Ethics also published an article claiming that scientists should be able to remove the kidneys from people diagnosed with PVS–denigrated as merely “living cadavers”–and transplant in pig organs in the place of their own organs to test the safety of pig-to-human xenotransplantation.  And it isn’t “just” the Journal of Medical Ethics.  Look at all the “respectable” bioethics journals that have published outright advocacy to allow doctors to kill for organs.

This doesn’t mean the law will accept come to accept the premise–although it could–this is precisely how the right to dehydrate the persistently unconscious started, with articles in bioethics and medical journals.  The point is that such arguments are deemed respectable in bioethics, which would reject racist or homophobic advocacy out of hand.

I don’t know why everyone is so interested in having fun all the time. Why do we have to be happy, even if our being happy means hurting other people?

How euthanasia eroded medical ethics in the Netherlands

Joe Carter writing in First Things. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)


For centuries, the Hippocratic Oath, including the admonition against abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, formed the core of Western medical ethics. While the Hippocratic ideal has been eroding for decades, the most direct challenge has emerged in the Netherlands, with the cultural and legal acceptance of the right to die. The medical community and broader citizenry have so embraced the right to choose death for oneself that the Dutch parliament is currently considering legislation that would allow assisted suicide for anyone who has reached the age of seventy and has merely grown tired of living.


The Royal Dutch Medical Association has since called for increased reporting to bolster public trust in euthanasia laws. But enthusiasm for following these procedures and standards remains muted, since doctors know that no penalties will be incurred by simply ignoring the law. Prosecutions for guideline violations are exceedingly rare and no doctor has ever been imprisoned or substantially penalized for noncompliance. Even when the government is made aware of cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, no legal action is likely to be taken.

The Dutch have even expanded the scope of protected physician killing to include children. With their parent’s permission, a child between the ages of 12 to 16 years old may request and receive assisted suicide. Initially, minors could obtain an assisted death even if their parents objected, but after domestic and international criticism, the law was changed to require parental consent.

[…]As reported in one Dutch documentary, a young woman in remission from anorexia was concerned that her eating disorder would return. To prevent a relapse, she asked her doctor to kill her. He willingly complied with her request.

[…]Over a period of forty years, the Dutch have continued the search for where to draw the line with euthanasia, shifting from acceptance of voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill, to voluntary euthanasia for the chronically ill, to non-voluntary euthanasia for the sick and disabled, to euthanasia for those who are not sick at all but are merely “suffering through living.” While the initial impetus may have been spurred by a desire to give expanded rights to the person who faces extreme suffering or imminent death, the effect has been to concentrate power into the hands of state-sponsored medical professionals. And while the justification for assisted death is usually the supposed well being of the suffering patient, the Dutch have redefined natural dependency into an unacceptable or unwanted social burden.

This is another concern I have about single-payer health care. The way the system works is that people have taxes deducted automatically from their pay checks when they are working. And when they get older, and stop working, they have to ask for treatment from a supplier that has no incentive to provide treatment or care, since they are no longer socially useful because they can’t pay taxes. Instead of doctors thinking that they have to treat a paying customer, the doctors think that they have to avoid wasting “society’s” money on people who are too old to pay into the system.

So if you don’t pay into the system, and the system needs money to treat those who are still paying, then why would they treat you? You have no value to society unless you are making money.

There was a good article on socialized medicine and euthanasia by Richard Miniter in the Wall Street Journal a few years back that explains my concerns more.

To deal with his point about doctors changing to view their purpose as ending suffering instead of getting people well, I think that this is scary because it shows how far we have come with our hedonism. My concern is that people are viewing the purpose of life as hedonism.

People want to have happy feelings all the time, and they don’t want to be burdened with the needs of anyone else. There’s no longer any moral dimension to life that makes taking care of others worthwhile. No one sees the experience of self-sacrificial love for others as an opportunity to imitate Christ.


More horror. Patients in the Netherlands are suing to require that sexual gratification be part of the “medical services” that nurses should perform. I can’t even begin to express my revulsion at this story about health care in the Netherlands. Women were not made to be treated like this, they’re made to love and to be loved. I’m so scared of the future. It’s things like this that put me off of wanting to pursue marriage and children. What kind of world will my children grow up in? What will the government force them to do that will destroy their willingness and ability to follow Jesus? I can’t re-make the whole world.

How reliable are persistent vegetative state diagnoses?

Check out this article from The Weekly Standard. (H/T ECM)


The case of Terri Schiavo–who died five years ago next March, deprived for nearly two weeks of food and water, even the balm of ice chips–continues to prick consciences. That may be one reason the case of Rom Houben, a Belgian man who was misdiagnosed for 23 years as being in a persistent vegetative state, is now receiving international attention.

In 1983, Houben suffered catastrophic head injuries in an automobile accident. He arrived at the hospital unconscious. Doctors eventually concluded that his case was hopeless, and his family was told he would never waken. But the Houben family, like Terri’s parents and siblings, didn’t give up. They diligently sought out every medical advance. This wasn’t delusion or pure wishful thinking. Several studies have shown that about 40 percent of persistent vegetative state diagnoses are wrong.

[…]During the years that Houben was thought unconscious, society changed. Bioethicists nudged medicine away from the Hippocratic model and toward “quality of life” judgmentalism. Today, when a patient is diagnosed as persistently unconscious or minimally aware, doctors, social workers, and bioethicists often recommend that life-sustaining treatment–including sustenance delivered through a tube–be withdrawn, sometimes days or weeks after the injury.

One thing that stands out to me about this story is how the medical profession has accepted the idea that it is OK to kill people who do not have a high enough quality of life. What is behind this view? Well, I think it’s caused by secularism. Secularism has marginalized the Christian worldview that dominated the West. One component of that Christian worldview is that it is morally good to deny yourself happiness to care for the needs of others. And that the right thing is not based on your opinion or the arbitrary views of the majority of people in your culture.

On the secular worldview, though, there is no “right thing” that we “ought to do”. The universe is an accident and there is no design. The only thing to do on an atheistic worldview is to be “happy”. And you can’t be happy if other people need you to take care of them. So, I think that this is what is behind the push by secularists to kill the weak and stop them from using up resources. Secularists look at people who need them, and they want to kill them. There is no objective duty of self-sacrifice for others, on atheism.

Christopher Hitchens is fond of asking people he debates to name one thing that a Christian can do that an atheist can’t do. Here’s one: an atheist can’t rationally ground the decision to sacrifice their own pursuit of happiness to take care of the needs of others. On atheism, self-sacrifice is irrational, unless it makes you happy. You only have one life. There is no way you ought to be. The purpose of life is to be happy. The needs of the weak diminish your happiness. It’s survival of the fittest. That’s what is rational on atheism.

UPDATE: I just got back from breakfast at Denny’s and I was reading Jennifer Roback Morse’s “Love and Economics”. She was talking a lot about the helplessness of babies, and what mothers and fathers do that make children grow up capably. She writes that early on in the baby’s life they scream for everything and the mother has to be there to meet those needs or the child will never learn to trust. Later on, the parents try to encourage the child to be better-behaved and self-sufficient.

All this made me recall this post. If a selfish person believes that it is too much work to care of someone sick who needs extra love, then that person isn’t going to be willing to take care of babies, either. And I guess that’s exactly where we are as a society now, with people having fewer babies, but more abortions and day care. And of course people divorce when they have small children as well, which (usually) deprives the child of a father.

Bobby Schiavo urges caution on persistent vegetative state diagnoses

Story here from TownHall. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)


To be clear: there is no indignity more final and brutal than forcing a living person to die the death of dehydration and starvation. Try to imagine the torture my sister endured in the last two weeks of her life. Being unable to defend herself, very likely aware of precisely what was happening and having absolutely no ability to escape it. For nearly two weeks, Terri was denied food and fluids. Not so much as an ice chip was given to her. It was pitiful, it was barbaric and it was clear that she was made to suffer. When my sister expired, she was a shell of her former self.

It is because of the suffering my sister and others endured that I believe the PVS diagnosis must be either reevaluated or completely abolished. With so many medical and neurological professionals admitting that there are inaccuracies and with the diagnosis being a death sentence, it is time to rethink disability and the way we regard it and our fellow human beings.

It is not too much of a burden to provide sick people with food and water.