Category : Life Ethics

The Church of England’s adviser on medical ethics responds to calls for ‘[so-called] doctor assisted dying’

The authors speak of ‘safeguards’ to ensure that vulnerable people are not put at risk and reference the provisions of the ‘Meacher Bill’. Safeguards on paper, however, are worthless unless they can be consistently, universally and comprehensively translated into practice.

It is a tragic irony that on the day the authors’ article was published, news headlines were dominated by the deaths of three vulnerable adults in Care. In spite of every written policy, protocol, and approved practice, their reality was tragically different.

These were not isolated incidents; we have only to think of the hundreds of avoidable deaths in the Mid-Staffs hospital scandal, abuse of residents with learning disabilities in Eldertree Lodge and ‘systemic biases contributing to unequal mortality outcomes in ethnic minority women and women facing multiple problems and deprivation’.

We can add to this, the recent experience of many elderly care home residents in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic who were given DNACPR notices without proper protocols being followed.

Human lapses and failings build upon one another until catastrophic outcomes ensue…a process that, in too many instances, no amount of assumed monitoring or paper safeguards has been able to capture, never mind stop.

What can possibly give us confidence that similar safeguards will provide a better outcome if the law on assisted suicide were to be changed?

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Theology

(Neolife) A Portrait of a professional baby maker

When it comes to stories about prolific gamete donors, it’s typically sperm donors and sperm banks who get the attention for producing donor siblings families in the dozens—and sometimes in the hundreds. In recent years, stories have surfaced about donor siblings connecting through private Facebook groups, and often finding their donors through DNA tests. Who can forget the 2013 Vince Vaughn comedy, Delivery Man, about a childless man having a midlife crisis who discovers that he had fathered over 500 kids conceived with sperm he donated in his youth. These are the extreme consequences of the age of “collaborative reproduction,” a term coined by the late John Robertson, a law professor and bioethicist at the University of Texas at Austin, to describe the expanded array of civil rights for LGBTQ+ families, lifestyle choices, and medically assisted methods of reproduction available to 21st century families. A large and growing component of collaborative reproduction is the increasingly open roles that surrogates and gamete donors often play in these modern families.

It’s less common, however, to hear stories of such prolific egg donors like Tyra. At a time when so many Millennials like her have become less interested in marriage and children and are also delaying having children for their careers, she is a new kind of female fertility archetype: nurturing and distant at the same time. She fulfills her sense of altruism and her desire to procreate, but in a directly transactional way, selling access to her body and body parts for her own financial gain and freedom. “I’d say it’s 50 percent business, 50 percent having a purpose,” she says. “I never fall into a career. I always thought I’d be a professional athlete between volleyball and golf. And I got my pilot’s license at a young age, but I never fell into my niche. I feel like maybe procreating for others is it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

Tim Farron interviewed by the English Churchmen

Farron also believes that honesty and integrity in public office holders are key factors that have been largely missing in much of public life both in government and the church. He said, “we’ve almost got to the point where there’s little accountability”. He went on, “All lead by example—either good or bad”.

He thinks JKA Smith’s book, ‘Awaiting the King’ offers a pretty good explanation of the current situation. Farron said in one portion, “King refers to ‘western liberal democracies bearing the crater marks of the gospel’ and agreeing explained; “even though we may not largely be a Christian country today, our values, norms and institutions are nevertheless based on a Christian world view: justice, grace, personal responsibility, care for the needy, the knowledge that if people are sinners then you don’t want power concentrated in the hands of too few of them! The ‘crater marks’ point is more that as we move away from Christianity, then those marks will become fainter and fainter until such point that integrity may matter less and less”.

When asked about what he sees as the next big moral issues facing the nation he was quick and to the point: 1.) “the effort to decriminalise all abortion up to the point of birth”; and, 2.) “assisted dying”. He does not believe that the former will find the support necessary to be approved by parliament and that assisted dying will be a big battle.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A group of C of E Bishops back women’s Down’s Syndrome legal challenge

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, together with the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, the Church of England’s lead bishop for health and social care, and the Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, said people with disability should be “valued, respected and cherished”.

The “#downrightdiscrimination” campaign led by Heidi Carter (née Crowter) and Máire Lea-Wilson argues that the law discriminates in its treatment of people with Down’s Syndrome.

The bishops said: “The Church of England has consistently argued that the law on abortion is discriminatory on two counts.

“In the first instance, it permits abortions to be carried out solely on the basis of disability; secondly, it removes the twenty-four week time limit for abortions in cases of disability.

“We do not believe that such discrimination, founded on the probability of disability, is justifiable.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics

(Scotsman) Legalising assisted suicide risks the principle of equality of all lives – Dr Calum McKellar

The expression of a life unworthy of life was coined in Germany in 1920 by the law professor Karl Binding and psychiatry professor Alfred Hoche. It then became a slogan used between the 1930s and 1940s in this country to defend the belief that if a person becomes unable to enjoy life, then his or her life could be ended. But when the German government, at the time, also accepted the principle that certain lives were unworthy of life and that all lives were no longer absolutely equal in value, this then had catastrophic consequences. Indeed, it meant that some lives could be seen as having less worth than others, which eventually resulted in barbarity and the killing of many different kinds of persons. As a result, Scottish society through its parliament should avoid being naïve or gullible when considering the consequences of accepting that some lives are unworthy of life and that assisted suicide should be legalised.

Of course, because a life is seen as belonging to an individual, it could be argued that he or she should be able to decide for himself or herself whether it is a life unworthy of life. But for state assisted suicide to be possible, those around this individual (including society as whole) would also have to accept that this life is indeed unworthy of life so that they can assist in ending it. In other words, it would mean that the equality of all human life is, for the first time, no longer accepted by society. Thus, if a parliament legalises assisted suicide, the very basis of the equality of all lives on which this parliament is built would become a thing of the past. It would also mean that the protection in compassionate care of those whose lives are difficult or who experience suffering would become meaningless. Instead, it would be seen as preferable if the lives of such persons, considered to have unworthy lives, were ended even though appropriate palliative care may be available.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Language, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Assisted Suicide bill to be lodged at Scottish Parliament

A new bill to legalise assisted dying will be lodged at the Scottish Parliament, the BBC has learned.

The proposals – brought forward by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur – aim to introduce the right to an assisted death for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

Previous attempts to change legislation in Scotland have failed.

A cross-party steering group of MSPs have outlined their support of the bill in an open letter.

The bill will be lodged at Holyrood on Monday and it is understood a consultation on its contents is expected to take place in the autumn.

Read it all and there is more there.

Posted in --Scotland, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

(CNN) The world’s most premature baby has celebrated his first birthday after beating 0% odds of surviving

A baby born weighing less than a pound has beaten the odds and celebrated his first birthday, becoming the most premature baby to survive, according to Guinness World Records.

When Richard Scott William Hutchinson was born five months prematurely — recognized by Guinness as the world’s most premature baby — his doctors prepared his parents for the worst.

Richard was born at Children’s Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after his mother, Beth Hutchinson, suffered medical complications that caused her to go into labor.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(KC Star front page) ‘An execution’: Kansas City faith group says video shows March 25 police shooting

A group of faith leaders in Kansas City held a news conference Tuesday announcing they have video of the fatal police shooting of Malcolm Johnson earlier this year.

Johnson, 31, was killed March 25 during a confrontation with Kansas City police officers at a gas station near East 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday, the group of ministers gathered outside the gas station and said they had obtained video of the shooting and were releasing it to news media. The video they released did not show the shooting itself, but the faith leaders said it, and other facts surrounding the shooting, showed the initial account given by the highway patrol was not accurate.

“What I saw was an execution,” said the Rev. Darron Edwards, a leader with Getting to the Heart of the Matter, a group of local faith leaders who have been cooperating with the Kansas City Police Department.

“Regardless of the sound quality and the video not showing the actual shots, it is clear that the report does not match the video,” said the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III. “We are demanding justice.”

Read it all.

Posted in City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) A New Study Shows That Political Privilege Is Harmful for Christianity

Why is Christianity growing in some countries but declining in others?

For much of the 20th century, social scientists answered this question by appealing to the so-called secularization thesis: the theory that science, technology, and education would result in Christianity’s declining social influence.

More recently, some scholars have suggested the cause is rather the accumulation of wealth. Increasing prosperity, it is believed, frees people from having to look to a higher power to provide for their daily needs. In other words, there is a direct link from affluence to atheism.

In a peer-reviewed study published this month in the journal Sociology of Religion, my coauthor and I challenge the perceived wisdom that education and affluence spell Christianity’s demise.

In our statistical analysis of a global sample of 166 countries from 2010 to 2020, we find that the most important determinant of Christian vitality is the extent to which governments give official support to Christianity through their laws and policies. However, it is not in the way devout believers might expect.

As governmental support for Christianity increases, the number of Christians declines significantly. This relationship holds even when accounting for other factors that might be driving Christian growth rates, such as overall demographic trends.

Read it all.

Posted in Life Ethics, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Down’s syndrome: Abortion case heads to High Court

Campaigners are set to have a review of abortion law relating to Down’s syndrome heard at the High Court.

Heidi Carter, of Coventry, and Máire Lea-Wilson from Brentford, west London, are challenging the government over a clause in the current law which allows abortion for up to birth for a foetus with Down’s syndrome.

Mrs Carter, 25, who has the condition, said the current law is “not fair”.

The case is due to be heard on 6 and 7 July.

Currently, there is a 24-week time limit for abortion, unless “there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped” .

Mrs Carter, who campaigns under her given name of Crowter, previously wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying all non-fatal disabilities should be subject to the same standard 24-week limit.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

(EF) Spain legalises euthanasia

The Spanish Parliament has approved the first euthanasia law in the country on 17 December.

The rule, promoted by the Social Democrat government party, PSOE, received 198 votes in favour, 138 against and 2 abstentions. Spain becomes the fourth country in Europe and the sixth worldwide to legalise euthanasia, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada and New Zealand.

The law was approvedafter several attempts in which the Parliament voted against it. The government coalition of PSOE and leftist party Unidas Podemos, along with the deputies of liberal party Ciudadanos, leftist party Más País, Catalonian parties ERC, CUP and Junts per Catalunya, Basque parties PNV and EH Bildu, and Galician party BNG, all voted in favour.

The conservative parties PP and UPN and far-right Vox voted against it. Vox has announced that they will file an appeal of unconstitutionality against the text.

The law, which has yet to be approved by the Senate, although it is expected to do so, could come into force in the first months of 2021.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Spain, Theology

(WSJ) Vatican Pushes Against Growing Acceptance of Euthanasia

The Vatican condemned the spreading international acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide, including in some traditionally Catholic countries in Europe, in a strongly worded document that reasserts traditional teaching.

“Euthanasia is an act of homicide that no end can justify and that does not tolerate any form of complicity or active or passive collaboration,” the Vatican’s doctrinal office said in a document published Tuesday and expressly approved by Pope Francis. “It is gravely unjust to enact laws that legalize euthanasia or justify and support suicide, invoking a false right to choose a death improperly characterized as respectable only because it is chosen,” the document says.

Spain’s Parliament is considering a law that would make the country the fourth in Europe to legalize euthanasia, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Legislators in neighboring Portugal are considering similar proposals. In February, Germany’s highest court overturned a law banning assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is the painless killing of a patient suffering from a physical or mental disease. In assisted suicide, patients administer lethal drugs to themselves under medical supervision.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Mirror) Abortion rates hit record levels as parents worry about cost of bringing up children

Abortion rates have hit a record high in England and Wales as parents are becoming more conscious of the costs of bringing up a child.

Office for National Statistics figures show 24% of females who fell pregnant in 2018 chose a termination.

Up from 22.7% the previous year, it was the highest percentage since records began 30 years ago.

Abortion care charity BPAS suggests financial concerns are putting women off. Clare Murphy, director of external affairs, said: “We’ve seen an increasingly cautious approach, likely to be driven by factors from the two-child limit to Brexit .”

The Government’s policy of limiting welfare benefits to two children prevents parents from seeking extra funding for a third child, if born after April 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Wales, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics

(1st Things) Wesley Smith–Death On Demand Comes To Germany

…even I never expected full-bore death on demand to arrive in the West for another decade. I was too optimistic. A recent ruling from Germany’s highest court has cast right-to-die incrementalism aside and conjured a fundamental right both to commit suicide and to receive assistance in doing it. Moreover, the decision has explicitly rejected limiting the right to people diagnosed with illnesses or disabilities. As a matter of protecting “the right of personality,” the court decreed that “self-determined death” is a virtually unlimited fundamental liberty that the government must guarantee to protect “autonomy.” In other words, the German people now have the right to kill themselves at any time and for any reason. From the decision (published English version, my emphasis):

The right to a self-determined death is not limited to situations defined by external causes like serious or incurable illnesses, nor does it only apply in certain stages of life or illness. Rather, this right is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence. . . . The individual’s decision to end their own life, based on how they personally define quality of life and a meaningful existence, eludes any evaluation on the basis of general values, religious dogmas, societal norms for dealing with life and death, or consideration of objective rationality. It is thus not incumbent upon the individual to further explain or justify their decision; rather their decision must, in principle, be respected by state and society as an act of self-determination.

The court wasn’t done. The right to suicide also includes a right to assist suicide:

The right to take one’s own life also encompasses the freedom to seek and, if offered, utilize assistance provided by third parties for this purpose. . . . Therefore, the constitutional guarantee of the right to suicide corresponds to equally far-reaching constitutional protection extended to the acts carried out by persons rendering suicide assistance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(EF) Spanish parliament starts the final process to decriminalise euthanasia

The first official debate to finally pass the draft law to decriminalise euthanasia, proposed by the social democrat party PSOE, took place this week in the Spanish Parliament.

It has the support of the majority of the parties. The draft law, inspired by the Dutch and Belgian model, proposes that those who suffer a serious and incurable or disabling illness, with unbearable suffering could ask for euthanasia.

First, the patient and a doctor will have to agree, afterwards a second medical opinion is needed, then the patient will have to confirm his decision two weeks later, and 15 days later it can be made. The process will not last more than a month.

Furthermore, the law foresees the creation of a Commission for Control and Evaluation in each region, in addition to a registry of health professionals who decide to be conscientious objectors. Doctors who allege this cause must do so in writing.

The draft law must now go through the Health Commission, go back again to the Parliament and, finally, to the Senate. A process that could be resolved before summer.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Spain, Theology

(Crux) Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops call assisted suicide plan ‘deeply troubling’

As Canada’s government works to expand the criteria for individuals seeking medically assisted suicide, the head of Canada’s Catholic bishops has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his government has failed to provide an impartial consideration of the matter.

“Suffering and death are indeed terrifying and the instinct to flinch from pain is universal. But euthanasia and assisted suicide are not the answer,” wrote Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter dated January 31.

“We strongly urge the Government of Canada, before proceeding further, to undertake a more extensive, thorough, impartial, and prolonged consultation on the question, in order to ensure all pertinent factors – social, medical, and moral – are carefully and thoroughly considered,” he continued.

The letter is in response to the Trudeau’s government’s efforts to extend the categories of individuals who are allowed to seek medical support to end their lives, following a ruling from the Superior Court of Quebec saying it is unconstitutional only to allow the practice to individuals who are already near death.

Gagnon, who is also the archbishop of Winnipeg, called the move “deeply troubling.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

Two Church of England Bishops Respond to an open letter on abortion

Further to the letter ‘Abortion Pledges,’ (Times – 28/11/19) we are grateful to the signatories for raising concerns in connection with this important and emotive subject.

The Church of England’s stated position combines principled opposition with a recognition that there can be strictly limited conditions under which abortion may be morally preferable to any available alternative. This is based on our view that the foetus is a human life with the potential to develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love. Those facing unwanted pregnancies realise the gravity of the decision they face: all abortions are tragedies, since they entail judging one individual’s welfare against that of another (even if one is, as yet, unborn). Every possible support, especially by church members, needs to be given to those who are pregnant in difficult circumstances and care, support and compassion must be shown to all, whether or not they continue with their pregnancy.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Theology

(Vatican News) Abrahamic religions: no to euthanasia, assisted suicide, yes to palliative care

“We oppose any form of euthanasia – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional act of taking life – as well as physician-assisted suicide – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional support of committing suicide – because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions.”

Representatives of the Abrahamic religions made the statement in a position paper that they signed and released in the Vatican on Monday regarding end-of-life issues, such as euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative care.

The term, Abrahamic monotheistic religions, derives from the Old Testament biblical figure Abraham who is recognized by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

They categorically condemned any pressure upon dying patients to end their lives by active and deliberate actions.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Islam, Judaism, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(EF) Britons no longer see euthanasia, pornography, drugs as “immoral”

Abortion, pornography, drugs, homosexual relationships – these are some of the issues which most British people no longer consider to be “immoral”.

Kings’ College in London compared figures of 1989 with opinion polls conducted this year on a range of moral issues. In the last 30 years later, there has been a significant fall in the number of people who see gay relationships as morally wrong, down from 40% then to 13% today. The percentage of citizens who believe having children outside marriage is not moral is now 13%, down from 24% in 1989. On the issue of pornography, adult sex magazines were seen as immoral by 38% of the population 30 years ago, a figure that falls down to 22% (the biggest shift happening in the female population).

The number of people who perceive taking soft drugs such as cannabis as morally wrong has also collapsed. In 1989, it was 60%, now it is 29%. Even the consumption of heroin is now seen as acceptable by 33% of the population.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pornography, Religion & Culture

Walter Isaacson–Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

The French Quarter, where we live [in New Orleans], is hopping that weekend. There is a naked bicycle race that is intended (oddly enough) to promote traffic safety. There is one of many parades and second lines to celebrate the life of Mac Rebennack Jr., the funk musician known as Dr. John. There is also the gay-pride parade and related block parties. And coexisting quite happily is the French Market Creole Tomato Festival, featuring truck farmers and cooks showing off the many varieties of succulent non-genetically modified local tomatoes.

From my balcony, I marvel at the diversity of the passing humanity. There are people short and tall, gay and straight and trans, fat and skinny, light and dark, and even a few wearing Gallaudet University T-shirts excitedly using sign language. The supposed promise of CRISPR is that we may someday be able to pick which of these traits we want in our children and in all of our descendants. We could choose for them to be tall and muscular and blond and blue-eyed and not deaf and not … well, pick your preferences.

As I survey the delightful pageant with all of its natural variety, I ponder how this promise of CRISPR might also be its peril, up there with the encoding of unequal opportunities. It took the laws of nature and of nature’s God more than 3.2 billion years to weave together three billion bases of DNA in a complex and occasionally imperfect way to permit all of the wondrous diversity within our species. Are we right to think we can now come along and, within a few decades, edit that genome to eliminate what we see as imperfections? Will we lose our diversity? Will we become less flavorful, like our tomatoes? Will that be good for our species?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(Christian Today) A grotesque abortion ruling in the UK was defeated – but why was an abortion activist the judge?

You will have an abortion, she said.

You will have an abortion even though you wish to keep the baby. You will have an abortion, even though your mother has said she will care for the baby if you cannot. You will have an abortion, though your social worker has said the pregnancy should proceed. You will have an abortion, even though you are now 22 weeks pregnant.

You will have an abortion because we will not countenance the child being adopted or fostered. You will have an abortion, the judge said. And that is the end of the matter.

Except that, by the grace of God, it wasn’t. A court ruling last Friday, which sickened Christians across the UK has now been overturned by appeal judges. Hallelujah and Amen!

The original decision by Judge Nathalie Lieven in the Court of Protection was that a young woman with a learning disorder should be forced to have an abortion – against her will.

But in the Court of Appeal on Monday, Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Jackson overturned the decision. Their reasons will be made public later. But even as countless Christians rejoice over the saving of a child’s life, many questions come to mind

Read it all and follow all the links, especially to the First Things article by Obianuju Ekeocha.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

((BBC) Sperm donor is child’s legal father, Australian High Court rules

The 49-year-old man and the child’s mother, who was single at the time, had been friends when he agreed to donate his semen in 2006.

They arranged to raise the child together but the pair later had a falling out, his lawyers said. The woman’s lawyers argued he was not the father.

However, the man was identified as a parent on the girl’s birth certificate and she called him “Daddy”.

On Wednesday, the High Court of Australia ruled that he had the legal status of a parent, effectively preventing the family from moving to New Zealand.

The judgement said: “To characterise the biological father of a child as a ‘sperm donor’ suggests that the man in question has relevantly done no more than provide his semen to facilitate an artificial conception procedure on the basis of an express or implied understanding that he is thereafter to have nothing to do with any child born as a result of the procedure.

“Those are not the facts of this case.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Men, Sexuality, Women

(WSJ) Naomi Schaefer Riley–Christians Are Pro-Life After Birth, Too

Legislation restricting abortion in Georgia, Alabama and other states has helped bring a decadeslong conflict back to the center of American politics. Some worn-out arguments have come along with it. One is that the pro-life movement cares too much about limiting abortion instead of improving the lives of babies born into difficult situations.

This critique is increasingly out of date. Many evangelical Christians believe that caring for children without loving parents is an integral part of the pro-life movement, and over the past 15 years an impressive network of organizations has grown to do just that.

This was clear at last month’s Christian Alliance for Orphans, or CAFO, summit at the Southeastern Christian Church in Kentucky. Hundreds of faith-based organizations attended—their missions ranging from the recruitment and training of foster parents to providing assistance for kids aging out of foster care. (I spoke at the conference and was reimbursed for some of my travel expenses.)

The summit had an entrepreneurial feeling, as different groups’ leaders networked and searched for ways to improve their models. Some organizations—such as Focus on the Family and Bethany Christian Services—have been around for decades. Others sprouted up in recent years: Replanted Ministries offers postplacement support for adoptive and foster families. Patty’s Hope provides counseling, training and housing for biological mothers of kids in foster care. Reece’s Rainbow advocates for children with special needs and awards grants to families who adopt them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) Maine Becomes 8th State to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Maine legalized medically assisted suicide on Wednesday, becoming the eighth state to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with prescribed medication.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who had previously said she was unsure about the bill, signed it in her office.

Oregon was the first state to legalize such assistance, in 1997, and it took over a decade for the next state, Washington, to follow suit. While still controversial, assisted suicide legislation is winning increasing acceptance in the United States, and this year at least 18 states considered such measures.

Maine’s bill would allow doctors to prescribe terminally ill people a fatal dose of medication. The bill declares that obtaining or administering life-ending medication is not suicide under state law, thereby legalizing the practice often called medically assisted suicide.

The proposal had failed once in a statewide vote and at least seven previous times in the Legislature. The current bill

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, State Government, Theology

(AS) Wesley Smith–Canada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ Harvesting

How do you convince society to embrace euthanasia as a means of attaining utilitarian benefit — while also convincing yourselves that your culture remains both moral and compassionate? Once you get past the squeamishness of allowing doctors to kill patients, it isn’t that difficult: First, legalize euthanasia of the seriously ill and disabled. Once the community becomes comfortable with doctors committing homicide as a means of eliminating suffering, you next allow those who want to be killed to donate their organs. After all, they won’t need their livers anymore, so why not let others have them? Next, ensure that the potential of euthanasia to add to the organ supply becomes well known, both to normalize doctor-administered death and to induce people to believe they or a loved one might personally benefit from doctors killing the sick. Finally, over time, you expand euthanasia/organ donation eligibility to patients who are far from death, such as those with neuromuscular disabilities or psychiatric illnesses — better organs, don’t you know — justifying it as you go along with soothing words of respecting autonomy and preventing suffering.

Lest any reader believe that I am conjuring a paranoid dystopian fantasy, this very scenario consumed the medical and organ transplant ethics of the Netherlands and Belgium, nations in which patients with mental illnesses and other diseases are admitted to hospitals, killed by lethal injection, and then wheeled immediately into a surgical suite for organ harvesting. When I bring up these facts in domestic debates about assisted suicide, supporters of doctor-prescribed death sniff that the Netherlands and Belgium are not the United States, and that such crass utilitarian exploitation of the despairing would never happen here. But why? Once we deem certain categories of people to be killable — which is precisely what legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia does — it becomes all too easy to conclude, as Belgians and Netherlanders have, that since these patients want to die we might as well benefit societally from their deaths.

That is precisely what happened in Canada, the United States’ closest cultural cousin, and indeed, a country many Americans see as having more enlightened public policies than our own. In the three years since lethal injection euthanasia became legal in Canada, at least thirty people were organ harvested after being euthanized. That number may soon increase dramatically as the Canadian medical establishment has come out solidly in favor of letting people who die by euthanasia to also become organ donors.

A major ethics “Guidance” was just published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association that establishes euthanasia kill-and-harvest (my blunt term) protocols. It makes for a chilling read.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Guardian from 2014) Giles Fraser–If Christianity is a romance, helping those we love to die is an abandonment

One of the main things that many atheists (and some believers for that matter) fail to register about Christianity is that it’s not so much a metaphysical account of the nature of the universe, nor a codification of ancient moral principles, but primarily a romance, a sort of love story.

…the logic of the romantic is that the centre of gravity in human life has to be outside of oneself to be meaningful. If it’s all about my choices, then human life has withered to the dimensions of my paltry imagination. Some will believe the control held out by autonomy to be liberating. I think it’s about trying to limit our exposure to that which is beyond our control.

If I ever got so low as to be close to suicide, I don’t want anyone respecting my choice. I want them to come looking for me and to try and love or bully me out of it – even if I am lost to a settled decision for self-destruction.

I would be secretly very unhappy if my children didn’t attempt every trick in the book to overrule me. The thought that they would go “OK, Dad, it’s your choice” feels like a terrifying form of abandonment.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Suicide, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Clarence Thomas’s Dangerous Idea

In any other area, the left would look at a history like this and ask whether those formal convictions are the only thing that matters, or whether the eugenic past still exerts a structural influence on the present. And in any other area of policy Thomas’s point about how legal abortion appears, in the aggregate, to act in racist and eugenic ways would be taken as an indicator that something more than just emancipation is at work.

Yes, in their theoretical self-conception, pro-choice institutions are neutral custodians of the right to choose. In theory the genetic-screening industry exists only to provide information. In theory the high abortion rate in black America is just the result of countless individual decisions.

But in practice, liberal technocracy still has a “solve poverty by cutting birthrates” bias inherited from a population-panic age, and abortion-rights rhetoric still has a way of sliding into Malthusian fears about too many poor kids in foster care. In practice the medical system strongly encourages abortion in response to disability, with predictable results. In practice Planned Parenthood clinics are in the abortion, not the adoption business — and the disparate impact of abortion on black birthrates is shaped by that reality and others, not just by free choice.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

(Sunday Telegraph) Professor quits Royal College of Physicians over new assisted suicide stance

Professor Weale, emeritus professor of political theory and public policy at University College London, said he saw no reason why the RCP’s governing council had decided to abandon its previous position, which stated the organisation could not support changing the law on assisted suicide.

“There seems to be no chain of coherent reasoning leading to the council’s own position – a situation I regret deeply,” he said.

He also attacked the handling of the survey of doctors which led to the change in stance.

The poll asked doctors if the RCP should be for, against or neutral on assisted suicide; 43 per cent voted for opposition, 32 per cent backed changing the law, and just 25 percent voted for neutrality.

But unlike previous polls on the same question, the RCP’s council had decided in advance they should automatically switch to neutrality unless any of the three options was backed by a super-majority of 60 per cent.

As a result, the RCP announced last month it would be neutral on the issue, despite only one in four doctors endorsing that position.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General

(Scotsman) Majority of Scots back assisted suicide according to poll done by group which favours the practice

Nearly nine in 10 people in Scotland support legalising assisted dying, according to a new poll. The Populus survey, commissioned by campaign group Dignity in Dying Scotland, found 87 per cent backed the move for terminally ill people with less than six months to live, with medical approval and safeguards. Just 8 per cent of people were opposed while the remainder said they did not know. The results, from a survey of 1,057 adults last month, were released as the campaign group starts a national advertising drive calling on people to help legalise assisted suicide. Campaigners want the Scottish Parliament to legislate to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to have the choice of an assisted death.

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Posted in --Scotland, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

The C of E Response to Royal College of Physicians announcement on assisted suicide

From there: Speaking following the Royal College of Physicans’ announcement of the adoption of a ‘neutral’ position on assisted dying The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, said:

“We note the RCP’s decision, and welcome the President’s assurances that the RCP will not be focusing on assisted dying, instead continuing to champion high-quality palliative care services, an emphasis that the Church of England shares and has always encouraged.

“We also recognise that fewer than one third of RCP members wanted the College to support a change in the current law prohibiting assisted suicide while fewer than a quarter said they would participate in assisted dying should the law change.

“The Church of England’s position remains to affirm the intrinsic value of every human life and express its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected.”

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture