Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Published in Bioethics

Political Philosophy

Leon Kass on the Real War on Poverty

At the AEI annual dinner Dr. Leon Kass explains life--work, love, service, and truth. He concludes with the need for hope:

In this most fundamental sense, hope is not a hope for change, but an affirmation of permanence, of the permanent possibility of a meaningful life in a hospitable world. Hope in this sense is not only a Judeo-Christian virtue. It is not only the most essential--and abundant--American virtue. It is the condition of the possibility of all human endeavor and all human fulfillment. Yes, there is still much spiritual poverty in America. But we go forward with confidence that our spiritual hungers can yet be nurtured in this almost promised land, provided that we have the courage to insist that the well-being of the spirit is central to our notion of national success and personal flourishing. This war on poverty--on our spiritual poverty--will not add a cent to the deficit. It can enrich our lives beyond measure.

Today, poverty, like pollution, needs a deeper understanding.


Transhumanism and the Perfection Imperative

E. Christian Brugger is a Senior Fellow of Ethics at the Culture of Life Foundation. In a recent interview with Zenit, he spoke on the bioethics of the philosophy of "transhumanism." 

In October 2004 the bimonthly magazine Foreign Policy published a special report with the title, The World's Most Dangerous Ideas. Eight prominent thinkers were asked to reply to the question: "What ideas, if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity?" Francis Fukuyama responded with an essay entitled "Transhumanism." By "transhumanism" he was referring to a current of thought, gaining prominence in the past fifteen years, committed to using science and technology to transcend the limitations of human nature. Scientific research traditionally has striven to overcome the effects of human disease and degenerative illnesses -- purposes broadly therapeutic in nature. Transhumanism aims to move beyond therapy to enhancement. "Its proponents," to quote one advocate, "argue for a future of ageless bodies, transcendent experiences, and extraordinary minds."

The moral considerations of biotechnology are fascinating - hence the genre of books and movies toying with the concept. But sci-fi often becomes reality over time - far less time than we sometimes imagine. While most biomedical treatments are still therapeutic, some enhancements are already among us: vaccines, for example, do not remedy existing illness but empower the body to resist the onset of diseases to which humans are naturally susceptible. Supply and demand will ultimately dictate that women (or petri dishes, as the case may be) are treated with an embryonic wash to ensure the newly-conceived cell-cluster / baby is afforded an equal chance in the world (i.e., increased mental and physical attributes). Couple this with biotechnology to improve the senses and, eventually, mental capacity, and Superman will begin looking a bit more average (minus the flying bit, of course). 

The question is whether there will come a time when we will simply cease to be human, as the term is presently understood - and whether there is a moral quality to the decision to effectively end the human race.

Categories > Bioethics


Death Delivered to Your Door

The Dutch have dispatched "mobile euthanasia units" which will make house-calls throughout the Netherlands in order to euthanize the sick and elderly - free of charge.

The scheme ... will send teams of specially trained doctors and nurses to the homes of people whose own doctors have refused to carry out patients' requests to end their lives.

Set aside for the moment questions of moral culpability, warnings of a slippery slope and the shocking disregard for human dignity which leads a society to condone roving bands of doctors killing the elderly in their homes. Euthanasia is a delicate issue upon which men of good will may disagree.

Rather, consider that even the Netherlands - which allows delivery services for death in the same manner as pizza - allows for conscience protection.

The Netherlands was the first country to legalise euthanasia in 2002 and its legislation on the right to die is considered to be the most liberal in the world.

But doctors cannot be forced to comply with the wishes of patients who request the right to die and many do refuse, which was what prompted NVVE to develop a system to fill the gap.

How far ahead of the liberal curve is Barack Obama, who seeks to force everyone - doctors, employers, insurers - to bend before the social doctrine of the culture of death? Even the most liberal country in the world respects religious liberty. If only Obama could adopt their more moderate and just posture.

Categories > Bioethics


Liberals: You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

How does America pay for the crushing costs of Obamacare?

Acording to the Obama administration, by ending the human race.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel Thursday that a reduction in the number of human beings born in the United States will compensate employers and insurers for the cost of complying with the new HHS mandate that will require all health-care plans to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that cause abortions

"The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception," Sebelius said. She went on to say the estimated cost is "down, not up."

"So you are saying, by not having babies born, we are going to save money on health care?" [Rep, Tim] Murphy asked. Sebelius replied, "Providing contraception is a critical preventive health benefit for women and for their children." Murphy again sought clarification. "Not having babies born is a critical benefit. This is absolutely amazing to me....

As I noted in my previous post on Obamacare and the Church, there is a certain logic to this liberal thesis. Abortion is surely cheaper for parents than raising a kid for 18 years (and possibly beyond, including college tuition). Pregnancy is likened to a disease among many liberals and feminists, such that preventative medicines (including abortion) ought to be available to treat the condition. The human person who is the object of the pregnancy is likewise reduced to excess matter in the liberal equation. The prevention and termination of pregnancies and excess matter thus become "health benefits."

Liberals have always taken a dim view toward the propagation of the human race and many liberal policies actively seek an unqualified reduction in the quantity of humans on the planet. The antipathy which liberals feel toward human beings, due to our transgressions against the environment, animal rights and the editorial board of the New York Times, is among the most interesting pathologies of the left.

Categories > Bioethics


The Folly of Ethics

Ethics are what pass for morals among the intellectual elitists on the left who still bother with such antiquated, bourgeois notions of right and wrong. The lure of ethics as a final refuge is, of course, that they are relative, subjective and strictly a posteriori. Ethical foundations may be rooted in sound moral judgement - but that needn't be so. Hence, a leftist mind may posit any unfounded truism and commence therefrom with a corrupted, though subsequently logical, thesis. In this way, anything under the sun - even the most absurd, horrific folly - may be ethically justified.

The respected Journal of Medical Ethics, "an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals and researchers in medical ethics" associated, if I'm not mistaken, with Oxford University, published this week an article entitled, "After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?" (Spoiler alert: it shouldn't.)

The authors, Alberto Giubilini and Francesa Minerva, are respected ethicists. Their abstract follows:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Pro-life (that is, anti-infanticide) advocates have long argued not only the basic, moral abhorrence of killing unborn children, but also the slippery-slope which accompanies the murder of society's most vulnerable. I invoked this latter fear in 2008, noting that President Obama supported "post-birth abortion" (as I coined the term) by voting against the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act," a law requiring physicians to provide medical care to infants born alive during an attempted abortion 

Ethicists have now gone a (small) step further and concluded that one need not passively allow helpless infants to die of exposure, starvation or abortion-inflicted injuries, but may rather decide at any time after birth that a child should be "aborted." And they have supplied philosophic, ethical justification - founded upon the abortion-logic premise that unborn children are morally-irrelevant non-persons. 

And they are correct. That is, given the premise which whey assume, the ethicists' logic is sound. If the unborn are not human or deserving of life, the mere act of moving from the mother's belly is of no moral relevance - the child merely changes locations, which is a profound event, but not a morally significant one.

The avenues by which to cite the folly of these ethicists are myriad and, in most cases, obvious to anyone not hindered by branding themselves an ethicist. That infanticide is now openly defended by the left should cause chills to liberals everywhere ... and horror to all other people of good will. The effects of a "new ethics" are being revealed. Mike Scaperlanda takes up this theme at Mirror of Justice - which also has worthy posts on the matter by Robert George. See more at the Catholic Moral Theology blog.

Categories > Bioethics

Health Care

In re Rush

We misheard Rush on the 30 year-old law student demanding free contraception, via Obamacare mandate.

UPDATE: Now he apologizes.

Categories > Health Care



It's driven by IQ. The Sage of Mt. Airy draws a conclusion:

Check out this headline and story: "Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism"

It's not my fault then, correct?

So where do I go to get my subsidy started? Who do I see about my government grant? Does this mean they'll forgive my mortgage? Shouldn't there be a tax break? Where's the block on this form to mark "Low I.Q."? How much more time will I get to take the exam? The "passing" score's lower, right? Ain't I entitled to a parking space? When will the first check arrive? Huh? When? I got my rights you know?

While you're at his site, read the Sage's thoughts on vigilante movies--really movies about the founding and preservation of regimes, I would say.

Categories > Conservatism

Health Care

Bureaucratic Efficiency

In Liberty Fund's new blog Michael Greve points out how powerful and efficient bureaucracies can be when they have determined leaders. The issue here is HHS rules requiring religious organizations to provide contraception coverage in their employee health plans. In sum:

Follow the progression: first comes a statutory text of sufficient ambiguity ["Obamacare"] to keep the Catholic Health Association, representing Catholic hospitals, on board in support of the ACA. (Now that it's been had, one hopes the association has learned its lesson.) Then comes an administrative creep forward and a de facto delegation to a private organization of known disposition, whose perceived authority and expertise provide cover for the bureaucracy. Then comes the wholesale, underhanded adoption of the interim rule.

Categories > Health Care


Roe v. Wade and Equal Opportunity

Obama on Roe:  "And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams." So does he oppose sex-selection abortions? 

The entire statement below:

As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman's health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

Categories > Bioethics


Rethinking an Old Issue

The science columnist for the Wall Street Journal writes about sex-selection abortion and how it might be curbed. The case against this practice leads one to question the morality of abortion altogether.

Another approach, quite suitable to young adults, is presented in the Newbery award-winning novel The Giver. In the dystopian world young Jonas inhabits, he discovers that his father, a doctor, kills those deemed unfit. Progressive Montgomery County, MD assigns this as an eighth-grade text (along with other dystopian fiction such as Animal Farm and Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron.")

Categories > Bioethics