By Dave Andrusko
Over the last few years, NRL News Today has posted dozens of stories warning about the increasingly brazen attack on those who have conscientious objections to participating in abortion or “assisted suicide.” Among the most prominent commanders in the army of intolerance are bioethicists Udo Schuklenk and Julian Savulescu.
Now, in the words of Tom Blackwell, writing for the influential Canadian newspaper, The National Post
The paper by professors at Queen’s and Oxford universities, who are also editors of two major bioethics journals, throws rocket fuel onto a debate already inflamed by the new law allowing assisted death.
Schuklenk and Savulescu mince no words. Writing in the journal Bioethics, they tell us
“Doctors must put patients’ interests ahead of their own integrity” ….
“If this leads to feelings of guilty remorse or them dropping out of the profession, so be it. ….
“There is an oversupply of people wishing to be doctors. The place to debate issues of contraception, abortion and euthanasia is at the societal level, not the bedside.”
To his credit, Blackwell quickly gives the opposition a turn at the plate:
But a physicians’ group at the forefront of opposition to assisted death says the arguments are an extreme, intolerant attack on the kind of pluralism and diversity that Canadians cherish — and that is constitutionally protected.
“In every jurisdiction in the world, conscientious objection is recognized in some form,” said Larry Worthen of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada.
“The only governments in the history of humanity that have stripped away the conscience rights in this way are totalitarian governments. Are we going to get to the point where there’s an ethics test at the beginning of medical school, and if you have too much in the way of ethics, you’re going to be screened out?”
When you read their paper, you see that it is in response to a prior article in the same journal that defended the right of conscientious objection and noted
Schuklenk’s arguments appear very reasonable, and his concern for patients is genuine. What he and Savulescu lack is an explanation of why their arguments have failed to move legislators or professional bodies.’
Guess what? Schuklenk and Savulescu grudgingly (sort of) concede the point but only to place the “blame” where it belongs (you’ll never guess where–okay, yes, you will):
To the extent that this is true, the answer is obvious: the influence of organized religion in society.
This is hardly the first time the two have made the case that the right of conscience is old hat. But the environment has changed in Canada. Assisted suicide is legal and local bodies have been less than eager to allow physicians to opt out.
Who is Udo Schuklenk? According to Michael, Cook, “He is the co-editor of Bioethics, one of the world’s leading journals in the field, and a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, in Ontario, Canada. He was one of the authors of an influential white paper commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada for the debate which eventually led to legalization.”
Who is Julian Savulescu? He is director of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford and editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics.
The two are about as high-profile as you can get among the bioethicist set. If possible Savulescu is even further out to sea than Schuklenk. Here’s an example.
Here’s how Herald Sun explained one of his proposals:
A LEADING Australian ethicist has advocated genetically screening embryos to create a smarter society of superior “designer babies” with higher IQs. Melbourne’s Julian Savulescu, now Oxford’s practical ethics professor, has said it is our “moral obligation” to use IVF to choose the smartest embryos, even if that maintains or increases social inequality.
He has little patience with waiting until are actually dead before harvesting their organs:
“Why should surgeons have to wait until the patient has died as a result of withdrawal of advanced life support or even simple life prolonging medical treatment? An alternative would be to anaesthetize the patient and remove organs, including the heart and lungs. Brain death would follow removal of the heart (call this Organ Donation Euthanasia)…. Organs would be more likely to be viable, since they would not have sustained a period of reduced circulation prior to retrieval. More organs would be available (for example the heart and lungs, which are currently rarely available in the setting of Donation after Cardiac Death. Patients and families could be reassured that their organs would be able to help other individuals as long as there were recipients available, and there were no contraindications to transplantation.”
Even in a movement rife with avant-gardists, Schuklenk and Savulescu stand out as the vanguard. They know better, not just better than civilians like you and me, but anyone and everyone in the medical profession who refuses to collaborate in death-dealing.