Thursday, November 01, 2007

Great Bioethics Article

At this link to the weekly Standard on line is a great article by Wesley Smith on the growing number of cases of people who have recovered or were discovered to be very much able to think after being diagnosed as as almost brain dead. Such people are regularly killed through withholding normal care like food and water. These examples show why that might not be as ethical a practice as commonly supposed. See


Delta said...

Hey, I love the blog! Admittedly, your blog title caught my eye! When I first saw it, I laughed because I thought of "Teflon Don", due to the initials, I think. At any rate, you've some interesting articles on here!

Dean McConnell said...

Thanks Delta. It is kind of you to say so.

Anonymous said...

My father is a minister and often at the bedside when lives end.
He told me of a parishioner who was thought to be irretrievably comatose. After he recovered he told about listening in, fully conscious, to conversations about whether or not he was "still in there", whether or not to remove life support.

Smith's comment about using terminal patients for experiments reminded me ofsomething my ICU nurse wife told me. She claims end-of-life patients are often effectively practiced on, especially in teaching hospitals. And especially patients without loved ones hovering over them.

The hospital will often go to extraordinary lengths doing procedure after procedure in an effort to "save life".

I wish it on no one, but if you ever happen to be the loved one standing by, trying to decide whether to keep trying or give up, clinging to threads of hope, notice whether the ones doing procedures are suddenly interns, student nurses, student therapists. If so, chances are they think there is no hope and are switching operating principles from Dignity to Utility.

It's not black & white and it's not explicitly stated even among themselves.

Anonymous said...

Major Stem Cell Discovery

Recently, research in both Japan and the United States demonstrated the ability to reprogram a skin cell to produce pluri-potent qualities similar to embryonic stem cells.

This has been described by one researcher as the scientific equivalent of the flight by the Wright Brothers.

Ian Wilmut, the British scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep has indicated that he will not pursue a license for embryonic stem cell research (using somatic cell nuclear transfer) because of this new development.

This is a major development in the stem cell debate and a validation of the idea that ethics and science must co-exist. Those who sought to rush to judgment before the evidence was in, can no longer hide behind the argument that anyone who opposed them was putting faith before scientific reason.

In fact, ethical principles must inform science. Although science can tell us what we "can" do, it cannot tell us what we "should do."

This stem cell breakthrough is a vitory for both ethics and science--both of which are public goods. If is an affirmation that when faith and reason inform each other the public interest is best served.