Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Learning From Charlie Gard

From First Things:
Those who held power over Charlie decided that his life was not worth living. They reached this judgment on the basis of his expected mental disability. They denied him treatment, and ordered his ventilator removed, not because of the burden of the treatment, but because of the burden of his life. In a cruel act proposed by doctors, approved by courts, cheered by the press, and blessed by certain high clerics, Charlie Gard was euthanized. It was euthanasia by omission, but it was euthanasia all the same.

This fact was not lost on Julian Savulescu, the Oxford ethicist and student of Peter Singer, who asked: If Charlie’s life is not worth living, why shouldn’t we directly kill him? The answer is uncomfortable for those who supported the UK decision. There is no moral difference between aiming at the deaths of infants like Charlie by omission and aiming at their deaths by direct action. No logical barrier prevents those who supported the UK’s decision from endorsing outright infanticide. This is precisely what many supporters of the direct killing of infants argued in an “infanticide symposium” published by the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2013.

How we come to view Charlie Gard’s case has direct import for how we will view the direct killing of infants, an ancient and barbaric practice that has been reintroduced in the Netherlands in deceptively civilized guise as the “Groningen protocol.” This protocol allows the killing of infants of less than one year of age; the victims are very often disabled. (Read more.)

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