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January 22, 2015 12:00 pm
NC Family president John Rustin talks with Wesley Smith, a lawyer and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, about the dangers of the bioethics movement and some of the increasing threats to life taking place in the United States and overseas.
This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family and now from the studio. Here's John Rushton, president of the North Carolina family policy Council, thank you for joining us this week. Profamily policy matters. It is measured to have Wesley J's on the program. Wesley is a lawyer and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute center on human exceptionalism is also a consultant to the patient's rights Council in May 2004 the national Journal named him one of the nation's premier expert thinkers on bioengineering. He is also been named a great defender of life by human life review for his work against the legalization of euthanasia. Wesley is the author or co-author of 13 books in his human exceptionalism blog which is hosted by national review is one of the premier blogs dealing with the dignity and life issues. Wesley is with us to talk about bioethics movement and some of the increasing threats to life that we are seeing in the United States and overseas. Wesley tried to have you with us on the program today went very much and I love your listeners well. Thank you for your time. Now you been writing about the issues of life and human dignity for over 20 years. What inspired you to leave a successful legal practice and get involved in speaking out against what you have referred to as the culture of death in our society watch.
I left the legal practice. Before that, and I had become an author and that I had a friend commit suicide under the influence of Hemlock society literature and my friend told herself on her 76th birthday. She was that she had leukemia but it was treatable.
She had some pain issues, but she wouldn't take her pain control, and after she pulled herself. I was so upset and I thought something was really wrong here that I asked her executrix to send me her personal files which I knew she after she was looking organized person and in that file I found Hemlock society literature, which I hadn't heard of before, which is basically how to commit suicide and we give you more permission to do it, and sell what she had underlined the drugs to take how to use a plastic bag to make sure she died and so forth. It was proselytizing for suicide and I was told that about this that I wrote a piece for Newsweek magazine in the my current section called the whispers of strangers and and and the whispers of strangers lien was here her friends that this was her name was depressed. We were trying to keep her in life. And here were these strangers telling her it's empowering to get out of life and that came out in June 1983 and I received so much hate mail telling me euthanasia was the future suicide was noble, you know, may you get cancer. This kind of think and remember John.
That's when you have to write a letter and put on a stamp. It was an email so people had to work to send in the hate mail. I was so stunned that I thought what happened to my culture and where was I when it happened and that's when I took at the turn and started moving against assisted suicide and and then I began to see the entire field in bioethics and how human life is being devalued in a utilitarian manner and to change my life completely and this is where we are, well, that's an amazing experience.
I appreciate you sharing that with us and one that honestly has affected you in very significant ways. Euthanasia is becoming increasingly accepted in some areas, especially overseas.
It is legal in the Netherlands and Belgium for listeners who might be unfamiliar with the term. What is euthanasia and what can we learn about the dangers of euthanasia laws that have been approved in other countries. Euthanasia is when a prickly eye doctor gives a lethal injection to a patient to supposedly and suffering, assisted suicide, which we do have legal in this country and Oregon, Washington and Vermont is when the doctor since Dr. assisted suicide gives the patient a prescription to take a lethal overdose, knowing that what the patient intends far as I'm concerned in terms of the ethics of think it's kind of visible differences like the left leg in the right leg walking there the same the same thing ethically and what you're seeing in and not in Europe shows what will happen if we follow that course here because once you find telling is an acceptable answer to human suffering, then areas of suffering that qualify for killing continually expand is no way not to because it's logic. So, in the Netherlands, for example, doctors have been allowed to do euthanasia first in a decriminalized way and now legally since 1972 from a court decision and they've gone from killing terminally ill people ask for chronically ill people who ask for it to disabled people who ask for.
Now there killing people with mental illness psychiatrist, writing journals about how liberating it is to mentally ill patients to get euthanasia old people are are being euthanized because they're tired of life. Infants, even though it's technically still illegal to commit infanticide in the Netherlands. It is done openly. They've even published something called the ground and Jim protocols.
If a bureaucratic checklist for committing infanticide and Belgium what it took the production 30 years to get to the Belgians of jumped off the head. That same clip with enthusiasm. In addition to the things I just described, and Belgium are doing joint euthanasia killings of elderly couples if they don't want to be widowed you seen a terrible some terrible cases on a transsexual didn't like her sex change surgery and was so upset she went to be euthanized, and was you had disabled people killed. They just passed a law in the Belgium where you can have child assisted suicide. No age limit and the Belgians are now beginning the Dutch. They have joined euthanasia of disabled and mentally ill people with organ harvesting. It is a terrible fall off the deep vertical moral cliff, but it is the logic of the euthanasia movement well you been an outspoken critic also of the bioethics movement in particular bioethics sounds like a somewhat harmless enough term is this movement all about and why is it so dangerous. Bioethics is short for biomedical ethics and it shouldn't be dangerous except for the people who predominate in the year what I call the mainstream by witnesses are the ones with the greatest influence you have like a bioethicist who don't agree with this kind of thing, but will always have a modifier in front of their name, such as a Catholic bioethicist or conservative bioethicist, but most of the influential practitioners of this such as Ezekiel Emanuel, who was very instrumental in helping to create Obama care. Others, like Peter Singer and some of your listeners might have heard of. They take a very utilitarian approach. That is, they have rejected the sanctity of human life. The quality of human life in order to embrace what they call a quality-of-life epic in healthcare and that not only opens the door for many of them to things such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, but the healthcare rationing to something called medical futility are futile care theories were doctors are beginning to be permitted through bioethics committees and so forth. Refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment based on their perception of the quality of life for the cost of the patient care, all becomes about politics and who has the power on this issue of end of life care really came to the nation's attention to a great degree last year in the United States with the suicide of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard and Oregon in this was really a push by the right movement to bring this issue into the spotlight. Now Brittany had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and chose to end her life under Oregon's death with dignity act to look at the language they use. John yes, assisted suicide, but they don't want to call anything.
What it really is any movement that have to use euphemisms as the honey to help them buckle down, perhaps you better watch watch and worry about that movement. The Brittany Maynard case is a remarkable demonstration of the power of media bias and a big time PR of money the this is a project of compassion and choices which used to be called more. Honestly, the Hemlock Society and think about this Brittany Maynard case there been more than 700 assisted suicide in Oregon since 1997 not one of them made this kind of splash not one. Perhaps the first one even really made any news.
So why Brittany Maynard why suddenly is she declared to be one of the remarkable people of 2014 because she committed suicide.
It's because you have a a holy coalition between these activists and media who like to have the if it bleeds it leads kind of storyline unit you can, of course, is the tragic case you had a very beautiful young woman with everything to live for suddenly stricken with with brain cancer but even if you see what she wrote she did not try hospice because she took it shakes and assumes you have a worse case scenario in terms of dying and then she wrote that she didn't want to have her family see her go through this kind of thing she didn't want her husband to see her undergo a period of decline and that what if that's she is innocent. She's listening to quite a great degree. I'm going to put myself out of my husband's and my family's misery.
This is a terrible thing to extol if my wife got the bid came down with something like that and she said I want to kill myself so you don't have to take care of me for the rest of my life and experience that I be really upset. I think what you think.
I'm here for an amount sizing her unit. None of us knows what our limits are but a society that gives her boost to end and make put you on the cover of People magazine for killing herself, or as if she had decided that she was going to fight against the dying of the light or had gone into hospice to have the best quality-of-life she could for the time she had left nobody would've heard of her. What does that tell us about what were going as a culture, what can individuals who value the sanctity of human life due to Shama light on issues like infanticide, euthanasia, assisted suicide, that all of these challenges that we face, you know, I might not like what I'm about to say but I think they have to focus a little less on abortion and more on these issues. People know about abortion.
Now that it's been a huge fight for many decades and I'm not trying to stop doing it. But I do think that that many pro-lifers get very caught up in this idea of innocent babies, and that's frankly easier to advocate on behalf of than some of these things like the value of an elderly woman in a nursing home or the value of somebody dying from AIDS that that's not as easy because abortion isn't really about us per se because because were born right we made it, but all of these other issues that I'm dealing with their very painful to deal with because they're a threat to us there scary and and that makes it harder for people to want to look at them. Secondly, I think pro-lifers have to be willing to work with people in coalition who may not be pro-life on abortion. For example, the disability rights community is very adamant against assisted suicide because they correctly perceive themselves as the targets and sometimes pro-lifers are reluctant to work with people who don't agree with them on abortion on. For example, you should assisted suicide.
That's a mistake because pro-lifers I don't think by themselves are enough to stop this agenda in coalition they can.
Every time we have successfully prevented assisted suicide from spreading in the society. It's because there has been a coalition of strange political bedfellows people disagreed about secularism and religious values and so forth but did agree that assisted suicide must not be allowed on the latest example of that was Massachusetts. You think that liberal Massachusetts would vote in assisted suicide, but because you had that, coalition in 2012, Massachusetts said no legalizing assisted suicide is very distal power in that kind of coalition, and it can be done if people are willing to work with those of with whom they adequately disagree another mission well enough such a key part of this and raising these issues in defending life is for people to get involved and engaged in what we unfortunately were just about out of town for this week, but where can people go to read articles that you published find out about the books that you written and also follow you on social media: thank you, my twitter is at exit Apple RCE DEX IT which was the name of my book against assisted suicide which is of course still available on Amazon and so forth.
If you go to national review online and there is a scroll of blogger blogs human exceptionalism blog is mine. If people want to go to patients rights Council.org patients rights Council.org that is the best resource for that particular issue and medical issues that I'm aware of patients rights Council.org. Thank you for sharing that Wesley Smith I want to thank you so much for your time for being with us today on family policy matters and for your incredibly important work in defending the sanctity of human life. Thanks for letting me family policy matters is information and analysis teacher of the North Carolina family policy Council known as weekly discussion on policy issues affecting the family you have questions or comments, please contact 91 907-0800 visit our website and family. One