Top Ten Bioethics Stories of the Naughts

The topic of bioethics is of some interest to me because my latest science fiction book examines some of the implications of Transhumanism, which were touched on only tangentially in my earlier book THE GOLDEN AGE. In that book I simply assumed the men of the far future to be all of morally upright and perfect sanity, human weaknesses having been long ago bred and trained out of the race: ergo none of the particular moral quandaries pertinent to men with the power to remake mankind would arise.

Be that as it may, I confess I am a little disappointed by the current state of what is called Bioethics, which seems to consist of finding clever-sounding excuses to commit things we all instinctively know to be gruesome, or criminal, or both. ( I would have thought the final defeat of the Nazis would have put paid to the idea of breeding humans like showdogs, and suchlike. Apparently not. The next generation with no living memory of the Nazis will know nothing of them, except perhaps they will learn in public school, or by reading mainstream news commentary, the someone named George W. Bush was their leader, and that the Nazis opposed gun control, high taxes, diversity quotas, vegetarianism and opposed speech codes. To the next generation a ‘Stormtrooper” will mean a good-guy soldier from STAR WARS who fights bounty hunters. )

Wesley J. Smith lists what he considers to be the Top Ten Bioethics Stories of the Decade.

I give a heavily edited version of his list below, with his comments.

10: The ascendance of an anti-human environmentalism. Deep ecology, the most radical expression of environmentalism, maintains that human beings are the world’s enemy … during the last decade, vocal and unapologetic support for draconian depopulation has become a part of the environmental mainstream.

9. The growth of biological colonialism. Desperate and destitute people are increasingly being exploited for their body parts and functions. Matters were even worse in China, where it was credibly charged that prisoners — perhaps practitioners of Falun Gong — were executed and their organs sold…. Poor women in India are renting their wombs to rich women for gestation….

8. The increase in American pro-life attitudes. Polling showed a dramatic increase in the number of people who identify themselves as pro-life.

7. The struggle over Obamacare. The debatewill not end with the passage or failure of a bill, and health-care reform will likely be one of the most important stories of the coming decade.

6. Legalization of assisted suicide in Washington. As soon as the law went into effect, so did the pushback: Many Washington doctors and health-care systems publicly opted out of participation. A month later, a Montana trial judge declared a constitutional right to assisted suicide; the Montana supreme court eventually vacated the decision…

5: The success of adult-stem-cell research. Embryonic stem cells proved difficult to …  In contrast, adult stem cells have …  helped diabetics get off insulin, restored sensation to paralyzed people with spinal-cord injuries, helped heal unhealthy hearts, and provided hope to patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

4. “Suicide tourism” in Switzerland. Over the last decade, Switzerland became Jack Kevorkian as a country, its suicide clinics catering to an increasingly international clientele — mostly from the United Kingdom — with the victims ranging from the terminally ill, to people with disabilities, to even a double suicide of a terminally ill elderly woman and her frail husband, who wanted to die rather than be cared for by others.

3. IVF anarchy. The story of Nadya Suleman — better known as “Octomom” — Because there were no regulations on the number of embryos that could be made during an IVF procedure, we now have 400,000 “spare” embryos on ice, looked upon by some as being akin to a crop ripe for the harvest…

2. The Bush embryonic-stem-cell funding policy. When Pres. George W. Bush signed an executive order restricting federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research to lines already in existence on Aug. 9, 2001, he set off a nearly decade-long firestorm. … the real poke in the eye for the Science Establishment and liberal media was that Bush’s policy sent a clarion message that embryos — which are, after all, nascent human life — matter, thrusting his policy into a buzz saw involving our most touchy cultural issues, particularly abortion.

1. The dehydration of Terri Schiavo.  The culture of death.

My comment: One frequent criticism of the Catholic Church is that she forbids not only abortion and contraception, euthanasia and suicide, but artificial insemination. The common thread in these prohibitions is not hard to see. The detractors of the Church are reduced to senseless sputtering about Christians being “against science” — conveniently forgetting the entire history of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Counterreformation, and remembering only the trial of Galileo.

I notice that we never would have heard either of Nadya Suleman nor of Terri Schiavo in a nation that adhered to Christian conclusions about the sacredness of human life, rather than pagan or postchristian notions about the convenience or inconvenience of human life.