Saturday, October 07, 2006

Use the Comatose for Medical Experiments?

From Lifesite News:
Patients designated as in a “persistent vegetative state (PVS)” should be used for medical experiments, according to several top bioethicists, regardless of whether or not prior consent was obtained.

Several articles published in the recent issue of the Journal of Medical
(sic) debated the potential use of patients with non-responsive brain function for such medical experiments as animal organ transplants—to bypass ethic prohibitions against using a living human being for medical experimentation, some even suggested designating such patients as “dead,” saying their cognitive impairments justified treating them as cadavers.

[…] Dr. Steven Curry of the University of Melbourne, who supports experiments using PVS patients, said it would be too difficult to convince the public that PVS patients were “dead”, according to commentary by the bioethics news watch BioEdge on Oct. 3.

Regardless, he said, their bodies should be used for medical research. Repeating a common fallacy of the bioethics debate on PVS, Curry stated that such patients will not recover. “Those who are in a PVS will not ever wake up, they feel no pain or discomfort and have no continuing interest in their own survival…”

While making the argument that PVS patients have no right to mental autonomy since they have no apparent functioning mental capacity, Dr. Curry excused the medical “use” of their bodies by suggesting such patients should be allowed to choose to donate their bodies for the good of science, saying, “…these patients must also have a right to risk that life for the common good.”

As a further basis for his argument, Dr. Curry stated that PVS patients’ inability to bear children and their lack of any capacity for movement justified the “possible confinement” caused by experimentation.

“Also,” he said, “no risk of withdrawal of consent exists.” While stating that obtaining prior agreement to experimentation would be preferable, he pointed out that such agreements would be unlikely, since few people would anticipate living in a “comatose” state for several years.

Dr. Curry would support permitting family members to give permission for a comatose relative to be used for medical experimentation, “with reference to the person’s values and stated preferences.”

This is the thoroughly sensible and logical result of a utilitarian worldview which measures a person’s value in terms of his usefulness and his ability to function, not in his intrinsic worth as the imago Dei. You’ll notice, I did not say “end result.” The next step is to make it an obligation to remove yourself from society when you can no longer make a positive contribution due to age or illness. Wait, they’re already pretty much doing that in the Netherlands. Maybe the next step will be to off you if you’re not smart enough. Wait, the vast majority of Down’s Syndrome kids are already being aborted, even though with modern treatment and education they can perform at a remarkably high level. If you don’t think things will ever get to the point where involuntary euthanasia is required for everyone a couple of sigma off the mean, think again.

Satan isn’t stupid. He blew it with the Nazis when he went for world conquest. He blew it with the Reds when he took away incentives for people to work hard. His arguments now are much more seductive and convincing, and he’s learned the value of incrementalism. First abortion, then the “right to die,” then physician-assisted suicide and the right to remove comatose people from life support. Now this. People will walk into hell smiling, if you get them to follow you one small step at a time.