Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Speaking of internal organs,

you can have mine over my dead...


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Melanie Philips and John Smeaton talking about utilitarianism, one of my favourite subjects.

Philips in the Daily Mail:
In recent years, ‘brain stem death’ has been increasingly questioned as we realise how little we know about the brain.

Doctors are discovering that, among patients in a persistent vegetative state whose brains are presumed to have stopped functioning, there is in fact a large amount of brain activity. The implications for what patients presumed to be ‘brain dead’ might be experiencing are simply unknowable.

More and more experts have been expressing increasing concern about brain stem death and organ donation. Three doctors wrote in a medical journal last year that declaring patients dead for the purposes of harvesting their organs was in effect a fiction, and that prospective organ donors were not being told the truth.

And a professor of philosophy and expert in medical ethics, Michael Potts, has drawn the horrifying conclusion: ‘Since the patient is not truly dead until his or her organs are removed, it is the process of organ donation itself that causes the donor’s death.’

In Britain, however, the medical establishment backs organ donation and the proposed opt-out scheme. This is because the British Medical Association and the medical royal colleges long ago lost their own ethical plot.

Renouncing the core medical precept, ‘First do no harm’, they have come to believe instead in the amoral doctrine that the end justifies the means.

As a result, from abortion, embryo research and cloning to starving and dehydrating ‘dispensable’ patients to death, respect for human life has been replaced by the belief that individual lives are merely instrumental to the creation of the happiness of the greatest number.

This way lies the most alarming infringement of human rights and a descent into tyranny.

A system the public believes embodies the highest form of altruism rests instead on deception and unlawful killing. Far from being forced into an automatic/opt- out donation system, people should finally be told the truth.

and on SPUC's new blog:
Many arguments for an opt-out system are utilitarian, where the goal is just to obtain a better outcome i.e. a greater number of organs donated. The worst situation would be where people's deaths could actually be hastened because their organs were needed for someone else. There is already pressure for this. The International Forum on Transplant Ethics proposed that lethal injections be given to people who are long-term unconscious, in so-called persistent, or permanent, vegetative state, and for whom life has been deemed unworthy of living. It is argued that such injections could produce better-quality organs than if the person died naturally. While the donor would be dead when the organs were taken, the death would nevertheless have been caused to enable their removal. Even if the patient had given consent, medics would be involved in hastening his or her demise.

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