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Bioethikos: Bringing Life to Bioethics

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Archive for February, 2007

 

Viable Thinking About Life

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Back in 1973, Justice Blackmun in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision said that states could not prohibit abortion until after “viability.” This is the moment when the unborn child could possibly survive outside of the womb. According to Blackmun, “Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks” (Roe v. Wade). Even then, Blackmun acknowledged that such a distinction was arbitrary.
Viability has always been suspect as a measure of the personhood of an unborn child. As Frank Beckwith has said, “Viability measures medical technology, not one’s humanity.” Indeed, advances in medical technology have pushed back the limits. The American Association of Pediatrics now places viability at less than 23 weeks gestation and less than 400 grams weight. According to the AAP, there’s no reason to resusitate an infant born before that time.
Amillia Sonja Taylor is breaking all such rules. Born on October 24th, little Amillia weighed 280 grams and was just 240 centimeters long (slightly longer than a ballpoint pen). She arrived just a day less than 22 weeks after conception. Though she has had a few respiratory problems and received careful neonatal care, she is now out of danger, and is going home. It is expected that she will live a normal life.
This miracle story demonstates just how inappropriate the “Blackmun limit” was and is, and should further expose the serious flaws of the Roe v. Wade decision.
What else does tiny Amillia teach us? Perhaps that not all intensive care of preemie newborns is futile. Or perhaps that God is sovereign after all.

Postmodernity Redux

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

On February 1st, Bill O’Reilly (on Fox News) interviewed actress and now radio talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg about her views on the war in Iraq. O’Reilly commented on Whoopi’s influence, which is considerable, then asked her if she knew what she was talking about. In other words, it was a matter of credibility. Along the way, O’Reilly pointed out that he had based his conclusions on a careful examination of the facts. Here, in part, is Whoopi’s response:

[W]hen I take a stance on something, all I can talk to you about is how I feel about it and why. And I don’t have to justify it . . . And you want to go and get lots of facts and not go from your heart. I go from my heart.

There you have it – a candid admission from the political Left: “My position is based on a feeling.” Facts are unimportant, and we can determine our own reality. This subtle denial of any absolute standard of truth is at the heart of the way some people in our society justify their ethical ideas. There’s no right or wrong – just opinions.

Story from “The O’Reilly Factor”