Monday, November 03, 2008

Bio-"Ethics" v. Morality

The Medical College of Wisconsin sports an "ethicist" whose judgments and pronouncements are almost always questionable.

There's a reason.

Bioethics was established as a quasi-ethical framework by order of the US Congress to address research on human subjects. In 1974 Congress passed the National Research Act which mandated that a National Commission be set up which in 1978 issued the Belmont Report. The report identified three ethical principles to be used by government to evaluate research on human subjects: respect for persons, justice, and beneficence, but perverted the definitions of these terms to suit their own ends.

1978. Hmmmm. That was the Carter Administration? And the appointments: that woulda been Gerry Ford?

Rather than the traditional Hippocratic understanding of beneficence as doing "good" for the individual patient, the report used a utilitarian definition: doing "good" for society, or, "the greatest good for the greatest number". While "justice" in its classic Aristotelian definition refers to treating people fairly as individuals, the report saw justice as allocating the benefits and burdens of research fairly across the social spectrum. And finally, "respect for persons" became respect only for 'persons' defined as fully conscious, rational adults capable of acting autonomously. The redefined principles, according to Dr. Irving, "bear no relation to the patient-centered Hippocratic ethics that for nearly 2500 years required physicians to treat every human being in their care as worthy of respect no matter now sick or small, weak or disabled."

Now you know that "bioethics" has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the health of individuals.

And if you read between the lines of those three "operating principles," you ought to be afraid. VERY afraid.

HT: Orwell's Picnic

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