What has Glenn Beck so fired up that he said on his radio show “If this doesn’t wake your a** up this morning, then nothing will?” How about this quote from prominent bioethicists comparing killing a human being to pulling weeds from a garden.
Two bioethicists — one from Duke University, the other from the National Institute of Health — bring up the question “What makes killing wrong?” in the latest issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics. Using their definition of killing, the authors conclude if the person is “universally and irreversibly disabled” and has “no abilities to lose” then killing them to take organs for donation in order to save the lives of others should not be considered morally wrong
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, a professor of practical ethics from Duke, and Franklin Miller, a senior faculty member in the NIH Department of Bioethics, state in their abstract ”What makes an act of killing morally wrong is not that the act causes loss of life or consciousness but rather that the act causes loss of all remaining abilities.“ They argue that if no abilities remain then the ”dead donor rule,” which is the ethical practice that a person must be declared dead before removing vital organs, should apply to patients whose hearts have stopped and are being removed from a respirator.
This discussion has been ongoing for several years and continues with this article. BioEdge, a publication discussing bioethical news, brings a few segments from the subscription-only journal in which Sinnott-Armstrong and Miller publish their opinion. BioEdge reports that the authors are seeking to make a case for organ donation after cardiac death when a person is taken off of a respirator. Once off the respirator, the person’s organs would be immediately harvested, but even at this point, BioEdge states, Sinnott-Armstrong and Miller believe the person is not yet dead because there is the possibility that his or her heart could start beating again.
Read more here.