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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Medical Ethics: Oxymoron 
19th-Sep-2008 01:10 pm
Periodically, people write emails to me disputing the point in my profile that medical ethics is such a troubled field with such low standards for professionalism that all it requires is feeling contrary to star in it.

Then examples like this come up:

Lady Warnock said: "If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives – your family's lives – and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service.

"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

"Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself."

She went on: "If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die.

"I think that's the way the future will go, putting it rather brutally, you'd be licensing people to put others down."

And now, the followup question: Baroness, should we have licensed someone to put YOU down? If not, why not?

Any takers on the bet that she wouldn't be able to do more than be "offended by the question"?

This sort of stupidity is useful to put a point to Steven Pinker's weird objections to people trying to make sure that human dignity was respected.
19th-Sep-2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I wonder if she was sad when her moral position was defeated in Western Europe in that big debate they had when she was 20-21 years old?
20th-Sep-2008 04:16 pm (UTC)

Well hey now, let's all try to remember that "human dignity" don't put money in the bank, so how useful could it be? :-P

I for one am glad that someone has finally stepped-up and put a price on human life; it was so difficult to trade on the commodity boards before. (Now if someone could just shut those Quakers up...)

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