Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, and consults for the Patients Rights Council.
During World War II, German doctors euthanized disabled babies and adults. As Robert Jay Lifton reported in The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, no one forced these doctors to kill. Many of them believed euthanasia to be a “healing treatment” that ended “unlivable” lives, liberated families from the burden of caregiving, and kept the country from “wasting” scarce resources on the lebensunwertes leben(“life unworthy of life”). Such was the fruit of years of utilitarian indoctrination and the resulting societal acceptance of eugenics ideology.At the time, Netherlander doctors were well aware that German medical ethics had devolved. Thus, when the German commander of the occupation, Arthur Seyss-Inquart (now known as “the Butcher of Holland”), commanded that Dutch medical practices adjust to the German way, Netherlander doctors courageously defied the order. Continue Reading »
I never expected to get a tattoo. Until two months ago, I fully expected to go to my grave ink-free.Then, as my wife and I were planning our just-completed vacation to Israel, I came upon a [R1] about a Christian Palestinian family in Jerusalem that for hundreds of years has been tattooing Orthodox Christians as a permanent commemoration of their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I showed the story to my wife, and she voiced the thought that had popped into my head: “You should do it!” Continue Reading »
Transhumanists insist that we are quickly approaching [R1] the moment at which technology will become an unstoppable and self-directing power that will usher in the “post-human” era. To get us from here to there requires the invention of “artificial intelligence” (AI), computers and/or robots that become “conscious” and self-programming, independent of human control. Actually, these advocates would say “who” become conscious: Transhumanists believe that AI contraptions would become self-aware and thus deserve human rights. Continue Reading »
In 1991, my friend Frances invited me to a “going away party.” She wasn’t moving or going on vacation. Frances wanted her closest friends to come to her home, to tell her how much she meant to us, and to hold her hand as she committed suicide. Continue Reading »
At the end of this month, Terri Schiavo will be ten years dead. But she is far from forgotten. Everyone reading these words knows the story, and everyone has an opinion. What began in 1990 as a private tragedy—a vivacious young woman stricken in the prime of life with a severe cognitive . . . . Continue Reading »
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End ?by atul gawande? metropolitan, 304 pages, $26 Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is an eminently useful book. Gawande, a surgeon and a staff writer for the New Yorker, is anything but clinical. With a . . . . Continue Reading »
Doctors don’t take the Hippocratic Oath anymore, and haven’t for several decades. The oath’s ethical proscriptions against participating in abortion and assisted suicide cut against the contemporary moral grain, leading medical schools to dumb it down or dispose of it altogether in order to comport with modern sensibilities.
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Hospice is about living, not dying. More precisely, hospice supports life with dignity for its patients and offers invaluable social and emotional support for patients’ families. Continue Reading »
Gender dysphoria (transgenderism)formerly known as gender identity disorderwas once considered a mental illness. Today, the conditionand how individuals and society react to itis a prominent civil rights issue, the “T” in LGBT. Continue Reading »
I am often asked for interviews by students who are writing papers about the assisted suicide issue. I am always happy to oblige. Most ask why I oppose assisted suicide and whether I think guidelines can prevent the slippery slope. But, the other day, I was contacted by a high-schooler writing a paper about something I had never considered: the historical significance of Jack Kevorkian. Continue Reading »