Medical Ethics?

Let me share with you this interesting article written by Andrew Ferguson, senior editor at The Weekly Standard. Ferguson writes about after-birth abortion.

On the list of the world’s most unnecessary occupations—aromatherapist, golf pro, journalism professor, vice president of the United States​—​that of medical ethicist ranks very high. They are happily employed by pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other outposts of the vast medical-industrial combine, where their job is to advise the boss to go ahead and do what he was going to do anyway (“Put it on the market!” “Pull the plug on the geezer!”). They also attend conferences where they take turns sitting on panels talking with one another and then sitting in the audience watching panels of other medical ethicists talking with one another. Their professional specialty is the “thought experiment,” which is the best kind of experiment because you don’t have to buy test tubes or leave the office. And sometimes they get jobs at universities, teaching other people to become ethicists. It is a cozy, happy world they live in.

But it was painfully roiled last month, when a pair of medical ethicists took to their profession’s bible, the Journal of Medical Ethics, and published an essay with a misleadingly inconclusive title: “After-birth Abortion: Why should the baby live?” It was a misleading title because the authors believe the answer to the question is: “Beats me.”

You can read his whole article here.

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12 Responses to “Medical Ethics?”

  1. I am very concerned that the article will actually harm what many ethicists, particularly Catholic ethicists, are trying to accomplish. The case highlighted is “exhibit #1″ that medical ethics that is not based on truth is not medical ethics. Many ethical theories in fact do identify that there does exist universal truth. One of the great problems when it comes to medical ethics in hospitals is that there are not full time ethicists at most hospitals and ethics committees. Ethics is a hobby or a nice conversation among those whose professions are not ethics. I have found it interesting and at the same time disturbing the number of medical professionals who have cited the principles of Beauchamp and Childress (perhaps the most common ethics text for secular hospitals) but have obviously never read their book.

    I have great respect for you Eminence, but please instead of discrediting an important field missing from many health care institutions, please highlight the great work of our Catholic ethicists and others who are trying to instill a real sense of ethics in the health care field.

  2. Dr. Frank Marotti says:

    Our society’s “ethics” indeed are puzzling. For instance, the tragic death of young Trayvon Martin is a visible manifestation of the invisible slaughter of millions of African American youth since the murderous Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. Yet, I do not see “hoodie protests” at Planned Parenthood’s racist eugenics clinics that pollute poor African American communities. It is very easy for celebrities to do the “popular” thing by wearing hoodies to protest Mr. Martin’s pointless shooting. It would take real courage to funnel Martin’s death into a liberation movement for unborn African American babies, the “Trayvon Martins” who have been and are being “terminated” with federal support. Meanwhile, the squelching of African American potential continues, the born sacrificing the “inconvenient” unborn, thereby solving social problems through violence. I urge us all to have the bold courage to make Trayvon Martin’s death meaningful by launching a campaign to stop the unethical murder of unborn children.

    Sincerely,
    Frank Marotti”

  3. Gerrie says:

    If I didn’t believe that it is important to stay abreast of what is going on in the world I would not have been able to finish reading this article. It made me feel ill. I had to shake myself to make sure that I was reading what was on the page.

    May the good Lord deliver us from these evil, self-centered and “false compassion” ideas and plans.

    Rosary! Rosary! Rosary! Its the only answer, hopefully, it is not too late.

  4. Roberta Lavin says:

    My first thought was that I found this posting shortsighted and offensive. “Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting).” This appears to be an attack on an entire profession.

    Medical ethicists advise many of us who are of good conscience, but need expert advice in our practice and our research. They review our research to make sure that we are considering the best interest of the patient and that we are not unnecessarily putting them at risk. This profession does much to ensure the protection of others in the hospital and even in situation that the Church may find violate human dignity it is the ethicist that makes sure that we carefully think through our decisions and that the patient has been fully informed. While it may have been unintentional this posting comes across as insulting to medical professionals, professors, and to people who have dedicated their entire lives to ensuring the protection of others. It is no more the fault of the ethicist if I ignore him or her than it is if I ask my Priest for advice and then ignore him. However, most of us do listen and I am grateful that there are people who think about the complicated issues and are trained to do so. You appear to be judging an entire profession based on two people.

    Just today I received a book on Catholic Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center and was considering using it as I address very complicated issues of life and death with nursing students. I am not a trained ethicist and I think it is far better to have those who have doctoral degrees in philosophy and are trained in ethics to teach students how to think through the ethical decision they will face in the hospital than it is to have me teach them with my much more limited knowledge. Please reconsider.

  5. John Calabro, MD says:

    I recently read that essay, and frankly thought at first that the authors were being facetious, to prove the point that there is in reality no difference between murdering a baby before birth and murdering the baby after birth. That they seem to be serious is truly frightening, though not too surprising.
    I recall many years ago reading some articles discussing end-of-life and end-of-treatment issues, with opinions from nurses, doctors, ethicists, nurse-ethicists, physician-ethicists, etc. It struck me that the people who seemed to have the most respect for the value of the lives of the patients were the plain-old doctors and nurses who spent their time taking care of real patients. The ethicists were the ones who were much more ready to “pull the plugs” and put the patients out of their (the ethicists’ ) misery.
    I do agree with Fr Frederici that we need good Catholic ethicists. Ethics not firmly grounded in the Faith will be speedily carried off by hot air.

  6. Andrzej says:

    Father David,

    I think the Bishop wanted to say that there is no real sub-filed called “medical ethics”. Medical ethicist would want us to believe that normal ethics don’t apply in the medical field, that somehow these ethical specialists can decide what is ethical…and make it ethical.

    Enjoy this:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2011/04/01/the-doctor-meets-the-bioethicist/

  7. All that I can say, and I say this with great respect for your Eminence, but reading this simply makes me sad.

    Reading this, I am reminded of a blog post written by an ethicist friend of mine. He was opining the situation of his much beloved nephew, a boy who happens to be developmentally disabled. The nephew lives in another country, one where it would be rare for one to be asked to consider terminating a pregnancy for such reasons. On the occasion of his nephew’s first birthday, he spoke of how much they love this child and how essential the child is to the life of their family. How the child had changed so much for all of them and that it was good.

    This was causing him to then think about the implications of his work and the lives that are not lived, because they do not get to begin. Those are my words, not his, but they communicate the import of what he said. I have never stopped thinking about what he said on that day and I likely never will.

    To me this was the inbreaking of grace, perhaps the beginning of real transformative change – metanoia. Who knows where that nephew and these thoughts will lead him, as they are offered to him by God?

  8. Nick says:

    Let’s pray and fast with Jesus during this Lent.

    God have mercy upon our murderous hearts.

  9. Roberta Lavin, PhD says:

    Yesterday I received a book titled “Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Manual for Practitioners”. The book addresses many of the moral issues of our day that as a Professor I must teach to my nursing students. It is important that we have ethicists to guide our work in these areas as they are skilled at considering all of the possible alternatives and outcomes of many moral or ethical decision.

    The two ethicist who you cite did not really present anything that hasn’t been around for some time. While I do not agree with them it sometimes takes the outrageous statement to make us all examine the issues and recognize what we actually believe. Despite the case they present they are not representative of most ethicists or the role that ethicists play in our hospitals and in our universities. Only only needs to look back to the Tuskegee experiments to know why we need good ethicists and good ethics review boards.

    Many people will follow your lead and from this will take that all ethicist are bad and that ethics is not needed. I fear that if we did not have it that there would be an increased risk that generally good people would make bad decisions because they would lack the proper guidance. Until we learn to teach compassion we will need ethicists.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  10. Kathryn Marshall says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    Thank you so much for your defense of the Catholic church. I was very distress to rights. the Priest was saying that abortion, feeding the poor and capital punishment were equal evils. Logic alone would tell one that you cannot feed the dead, and the killing of the guilty is not equal to the execution of the most innocent. how can we win this battle if our Priest and so misinformed and misleading. he was presented as a “Sprititual Adivisor” for CBS news. So he obviously has been given a broad forum. very sad. I hope you were able to see this interview. Catholics should not have tsee on Bill O’Reilly the next night a Catholic Priest Edward Beck in such a disrespectful manner when a Protestant Minister was attempting to defend religiouso depend on Protestant Ministers for more Truth than we receive from our Priest.
    With Greatest Respect and Prayer,
    Kathryn Marshall
    Connecticut

  11. Pooler says:

    Had a conversation with a friend about this last night. People don’t realize that with these askew definitions of when life begins, we “walking and talking” human beings come closer and closer to that blurry boundary defined by pro-choicers. If we continue on this path, it won’t be long before it’s legal for anyone considered the slightest annoyance to be aborted. It was legal in Germany in the 1940s…why do people think that it’d be impossible for something like that to happen again?

  12. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    Lent is a time of Reconciliation. There are many Catholics who have taken the heretical Protestant view about confession. Why should I confess my sins to a man? Well, because are Lord said so, that’s why. One of the last things Jesus did before he ascended to Heaven was to give the ministry of Reconciliation (Confession) to His Apostles (esp. in John: 22-23). That power has been handed down through the ages from Pope to Bishop to Priest for close to two thousand years.

    Before the curtain in the temple was torn in two, only the high Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and have the people’s sins forgiven on the Day of Atonement. After the curtain was torn in two we can all enter the Holy of Holies and have God forgive us our sins through His Priest and the Holy Sacrament of Confession.

    The soul shower, as a friend of mine once called it is a great comfort. This Monday, April 2nd in the Archdiocese of NY every Church will be open fron 2-9 PM to hear your Confession. Take advantage of this Divine Mercy.

    Below are some Biblical citations that refer to this great Sacrament. AndyP

    Confession

    Mt 18:18 – whatever you bind & loose on earth, so it is in heaven – 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Mt 9:2-8 Son of Man has authority to forgive sins – 2 And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic–”Rise, take up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

    Jn 20:22 – breathed on them, “receive Holy Spirit” [recall Gn 2:7] – 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

    Jn 20:23 – whose sins you forgive/retain are forgiven/retained – 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

    2Cor 5:17-20 – given us the ministry of reconciliation – 17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    James 5:13-15 – confess your sins to one another – 13 Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.