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Bioethikos: Bringing Life to Bioethics

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Archive for October, 2014

 

CedarEthics: New Student Papers

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

The Center for Bioethics is happy to announce the latest edition in our online journal of outstanding student bioethics papers.

For example, in her paper, “Ethical Duties in Ectopic Pregnancy,” recent graduate Josephine Hein describes the clinical condition:

An ectopic pregnancy (EP), from Latin roots meaning “out of place,” is a pregnancy that does not correctly implant into its normal location in the endometrium of the uterus. Instead, the developing embryo implants in the fallopian tube, the cervix, the ovaries, or the abdominal or pelvic cavity. EPs today constitute about 2% of all pregnancies, of which 97% implant in the fallopian tube. A ruptured EP can be deadly, leading to 6% of all maternal deaths from massive hemorrhage. What are the ethical implications of treating this condition?

In addition, current student Lynley Turkelson has a fascinating analysis of end-of-life fears, in her article: “Why Christians are Afraid of Removing Artificial Nutrition and Hydration.”

Finally, bioethics graduate student and professional chaplain Thomas Kehr gives a comprehensive summary of end-of-life care in: “End of Life Ethics: Hospice and Advance Directives.”

All of these papers are available full-text at the Cedarville University Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/cedarethics/

Pro-Life: A Broader Meaning

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

(By Dr. Heather Kuruvilla)

What do you think of when you hear the term “pro-life?” Do anti-abortion protestors come to mind? Do you imagine volunteers faithfully reaching out to women with crisis pregnancies? Do you reflect on lawyers and legislators working to change our laws to recognize the unborn as persons? These are all good and necessary, but being pro-life means much more. A robust pro-life ethic comes from a theological position holding mankind in high regard, created in God’s image.

If we truly believe that all people are image-bearers of God, then this belief involves many ways of “loving our neighbor.” Here are just a few examples:

  • We should reject the “hookup culture” because it devalues human worth and dignity.
  • We should support hospice and palliative care that treats the dying with compassion and dignity until the natural end of their earthly lives.
  • We should search for safe, productive alternatives to the destruction of human embryos for research.
  • We should support sustainable farming practices and wise stewardship of agricultural technologies to adequately feed more of the world’s population.
  • We should provide clean water and increased access to health care for all who lack these resources.
  • We should adopt or provide foster care for the orphans among us, in keeping with biblical commands.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it illustrates the idea that the “pro-life” movement needs people with many different gifts. We need healthcare workers, environmentalists, researchers, biotechnologists, and other committed citizens, united in this common view: human life is precious because it reflects an awesome Creator. A broader definition of “pro-life” means that every member of the body of Christ can uphold these principles, while living a life committed to the Gospel. In fact, many of us are already doing so. May the Lord give us grace to continue.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matthew 25:40).

Ezekiel Emanuel is Wrong

Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Physician-ethicist Ezekiel Emanuel seems to love being at the center of controversy. One of the architects of Affordable Care Act, he is director of Clinical Bioethics at the NIH and chairs the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at U Penn. He has frequently (and often unfairly) been criticized for pointing out the flaws in our current health care system, which he describes as  “truly dysfunctional” (Wash. Post). Worse of all, many think of him as a real utilitarian pragmatist, and have accused him of trying to ration health care. He has denied this.

So it comes as a bit of a shock to see Emanuel’s latest article in the Atlantic, “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” He claims that he will stop using the health care system at age 75. He puts it this way:

[H]ere is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long . . . renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic (source below).

Emanuel goes on to say that this is no death wish, but he feels that he may no longer be productive and enjoy things at age 75. So he hopes that will be the end. If he has cancer or develops pneumonia, he will refuse chemotherapy or antibiotics. His last colonoscopy will be at age 65. And when he hits 75, no flu shot.

Why this somber navel-gazing with 18 years to go?  What is Emanuel trying to prove? He is implying, I think, that there is no more to life than our contributions to society. He is subtly saying that older patients are selfish to use so many health care resources, and that we should all just forget about living long lives. Ah, but that of course is the ultimate lie that so many functionalists would have you believe. We are valuable because of what we do, not for who we are.

On the other hand, the Christian view of the human person teaches that we are valuable for our own right. Each of us was made “a little lower than God,” and our Creator has crowned us “with glory and majesty” (Psalm 8:5, NASB). The elderly deserve honor; they have the right to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Our value is intrinsic, and does not depend on our age or our abilities.

Don’t let a pontificating utilitarian make you feel guilty for living out the full lifespan that God has allotted you.

Article in The Atlantic