Readers of the print version of the New Zealand Herald, will have read "Killing babies 'the same as abortion' " about an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, which discusses the "rationale" that babies should be able to be killed after birth, not just during pregnancy. I failed to find the URL on the Herald website, the only article available, being a sanitised version (pdf here) - no doubt at the request of the PC brigade. Naturally, there has been a huge public reaction which has prompted the editor of the journal, Julian Savulescu to defend publication.
What is really interesting about his defence, is that it doesn't centre around the "ethical" rationale. It centres around the tenor of the public reaction to the article. Savulescu highlights "abusive" correspondence and internet comments and he sums up his defence by saying that such nasty comments are indicative of:
"the deep disorder of the modern world." and that "the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement." (emphasis mine)
This sort of comment is typical of a certain breed of "medical ethicists", who perhaps we should call "ethical militants", who consider that any dissenting opinion to their ethically impeccable reasoning is a "disorder". The "disordered" are "fanatics" (or denialists), and their opposiition to "rational" ideas, is therefore completely unreasoned.
Savulescu's defence could best be described as "dripping linguistic contempt".
But abortion issues, go way way deeper than just "abortion".
There is an equally big medical discussion going on behind mainly closed doors, about the need to have legislation in order to increase donor organs. Numbers are falling, and the "need" is skyrocketting. Not much of this debate has reached the ears of the public.
One BMJ rapid response to the issue sums up the situation quite well. There is a need to improve the "conversion rate". A body organ is now equated to stealing a car. One of their major stumbling blocks is family who don't want their family member's body used as spare parts!
The desired future direction is "presumed consent", as seen in this blog, where everyone is considered a donor because they have not said they don't want to be. So Legislature change would require people to opt out, rather than opt in, as the present law is written. However, as this doctor says, the problem comes down to "ethics", and "ethics are fickle and often offer only a subjective assessment".
He asks further on, "is it really unethical taking organs from someone who has not expressed a view against that and, by virtue of being dead, no longer has a use for these organs or is it ethical that through a lack of presumed consent in this country, we have let thousands of people who could have benefited from these organs die? Is the loss of two lives more ethical than one life lost, one life saved?"
I'm sure the next question for all these "concerned" ethicists, would be, "What about all these unwanted foetus's and babies?" Such "medical waste, how unethical!"
Another medical "ethicist", Dr Anna Smajdor - who is responsible for medical school curricula oversight, has already positted that pregnancy is unethical, and that babies should be grown in a baby factory in tanks exemplified by the pictures in this blog. It's called Situational Ethics.
If you tie all these "situational reasonings" together, then it presents to me at least, a moral vacuum. From blogosphere and internet response, it seems that the average Mr and Mrs Ewe N Mee thinks that as well.
However, let us put ourselves into the heads of Savulescu, Giubillini, Minerva and Smajdor, and ask how they in the future - as the current breed of "ethicists" - might hypothetically resolve these dilemmas.
Savulescu's grand new world?
Let's imagine a future new version of "The Brave New World", where in order to solve pesky problems like what to do with wasted medical resources of unwanted foetuses and babies - and the falling number of organ transplants, plus difficulty of getting family consent to "harvest" organs, ... another "reasoned" solution by these eminent ethicists, to improve "conversion rate" might look like this....:
These "non-person" foetuses and babies to be discarded, would have no guardian for consent, therefore could be tended by "the state" in a medical facility called "the Center for Healing Treatments" (from Robert Jay Lifton:"The Nazi Doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide" p.46,1986).
This would be next to an adjoining in-utero factory, called "The Centre for Life Development". From The Centre for Life Development, any defective fetuses could "graduate" to the "Centre for Healing Treatment".
In the Centre for Healing Treatments, these "discards" could be put into life support tanks where they are fed tailor-made nutrients and hormones, to grow and mature for many years. The "higher brain" responsible for recognising individual "life and quality thereof", could be "disabled", allowing the lower brains to orchestrate the blueprint of development for "growth". Over the years, trained staff would carefully and sequentially harvest various organs or tissue from the same 'collection number", on request from their venerable surgical colleagues. Perhaps....hair for bald politicians, eyes for the blind, skin for grafting, kidneys, etc you name it until the "coup de grace" of the heart harvest. This could all be carefully thought out, to ensure the longest possible existence of such a valuable resource for "healing treatments".
The institutes would satisfy the distaste certain women have for pregnancy, while at the same time, demanding only perfect children, .. and improve the "conversion rates" for transplants. Better yet, such institutes would be certified "eco-green", on the ecological principle of "Waste not, want not."
This isn't actually some offensive, hair-brained idea from Hilary's Desk. The implications of exactly this, are spelled out in an allegorical novel called "Winterflight" written 31 years ago by Joseph Bayly.
Will we see some future proposal to operate such a developmental and spare parts medical centers, world wide?
After all - based on their current and past ethical utterances, how could Savulescu et al, possibly see anything "unethical" about such facilities?