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Michael Egnor: Stop Making Killing a Form of Cure

Euthanasia and abortion are not forms of medicine, he says

Recently, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor pleaded with medical colleagues to take a stronger stand on the rapid normalization of killing as a form of “cure” in our society:

The medical profession should take a clear stand on this issue: doctors who deliberately kill — whether by abortion or by physician-assisted suicide or by euthanasia — are not practicing medicine when they kill. Medical practice always entails the maintenance of health, the treatment of disease, and the relief of suffering. Ending the life of a patient or of the child in his mother’s womb is neither the maintenance of health nor treatment of a disease nor the alleviation of any suffering. It is simply the killing of an innocent unwanted child.

I am realistic, of course, and I realize that in our current political and moral environment the practice of abortion will continue to be sanctioned widely by the medical profession. Abortion is generally sanctioned in the U.S., physician-assisted suicide is gaining acceptance in many nations and is permitted in several states, and euthanasia has been accepted in many countries and undoubtably will eventually be accepted in the United States. Their acceptance as medical practice is a grave development and reflects shame on our culture and particularly shame on the medical profession.

If abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia are to be sanctioned in our rapidly degenerating culture, I plead with the medical profession to wash its hands of any kind of deliberate killing. If the American people insist upon abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, doctors as healers should refuse to play any role.

Michael Egnor, “Are Abortion, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Euthanasia “Medical Practice”?” at Evolution News and Science Today (May 24, 2021)

In a comparatively short period of time, there has been a complete inversion of values in our culture on these topics. For example,

● “Limit on lab-grown human embryos dropped by stem-cell body” The International Society for Stem Cell Research relaxed the famous 14-day rule on culturing human embryos in its latest research guidelines. The embryonic humans that were formerly “terminated” after 14 days can now be kept alive indefinitely, with no clear point at which they acquire official “human” status. There is reluctance to adopt any new rules for how long they can be kept alive artificially.

● Countries like Canada and organizations like the World Medical Association are slowly removing the right of health professionals to refuse to engage in abortion or euthanasia. Such practitioners, in following their consciences, are thought to violate the rights of those who want the various termination services. IN Canada, advocates have floated euthanasia for children as well, with or without parental involvement.

● As laws against euthanasia are relaxed in many jurisdictions, the harvesting of organs from euthanized persons is gaining ground, creating significant potential for conflicts of interest. In Canada, for example, euthanasia will soon be permitted for mental health reasons as the sole ground, creating a large potential market for organs from younger, healthier individuals. – “Now, organ harvesting after euthanasia has become so normalized within the medical intellegentsia, that an American Medical Association publication, JAMA Surgery, had a letter debate — not about the propriety of killing and harvesting, but about whether the kill should begin at home or in a hospital.” … Moreover, in Onatario, Canada, the organ donation society is told in advance by doctors of a planned euthanasia, and representatives call the patient/family to ask for their organs! – National Review (May 26, 2021)

● At one time, scientists defended themselves against the accusation of “playing God.” Now, in a world where standards are relaxing, slowly or rapidly, some are enthusiastic about the idea. One proponent explains: “‘Biology is imperfect,’ she says. ‘Let’s make it better.’ Her position, in short, is that biology is not well-designed and that, given the opportunity, scientists can and should finally ‘intelligently design” life.’” – Evolution News and Science Today (May 17, 2021)

It’s interesting to note that in the 1980s, those who feared such outcomes were ridiculed. The outcomes turned out not only to be possible but widely accepted, especially among the social elite. But even when elites begin to waver, faced with distressing outcomes, the force of their past decisions is hard to counter. Former Dutch euthanasia advocate Theo DeBoer writes, for example,

In 1972 my own (Protestant) church was the first worldwide to support it. However, with hindsight, many regret supporting the law, including me. Since 2006, the numbers have increased incessantly. Last year 7,000 people received euthanasia, and in some neighbourhoods one in every five deaths is preceded by euthanasia. Is this the “last resort” we once advocated?

Theo Boer, “Assisted dying and euthanasia” at The Irish Times (May 19, 2021)

Boer asks readers not to “romanticise” the Dutch “experiment.” But that hardly matters now. In Canada, where the experiment proceeds apace, health care providers will be expected to kill or maybe just leave the profession.

When a society’s values begin to shift radically, there is no point at which that shift just stops all on its own.

You may also wish to read: Abortion advocate admits in a medical journal that unborn children feel pain. The scientific community has for decades misrepresented the straightforward science of conception and fetal development for ideological reasons. (Michael Egnor)

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Michael Egnor: Stop Making Killing a Form of Cure