Dec 102009

I’m not sure how there can be a “bio” ethics that’s different from ethics, period, just as I’m not sure how there can be a sexual morality that’s different from morality, period.

For some time I’ve assumed that the real purpose of bioethicists is to have someone to call on for cover when you need to do something really shoddy to other people.

Maybe it’s worse than that, though. Wesley J. Smith writes the following in The Weekly Standard, in an article titled, “The Long Awakening : A Belgian case revives the Schiavo decision.”

…[B]ack in the 1980s there was no question about whether a patient like Houben would receive life-sustaining care. Depriving catastrophically injured patients of food and water was not even considered–except among bioethicists, who were already quietly preparing the ground for the practice of withdrawing sustenance from such patients.

During the years that Houben was thought unconscious, society changed. Bioethicists nudged medicine away from the Hippocratic model and toward “quality of life” judgmentalism. Today, when a patient is diagnosed as persistently unconscious or minimally aware, doctors, social workers, and bioethicists often recommend that life-sustaining treatment–including sustenance delivered through a tube–be withdrawn, sometimes days or weeks after the injury.