domingo, 6 de noviembre de 2016

BioEdge: The battle over conscientious objection continues

BioEdge: The battle over conscientious objection continues

Bioedge

The battle over conscientious objection continues
     


The issue of whether conscientious objection should be allowed in the Canadian health system after the legalisation of euthanasia is still red hot. Shortly after the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Julian Savulescu, and the editor of Bioethics, Udo Schuklenk, published a biting attack on conscientious objection in Bioethics, Schuklenk and a colleague have doubled down on this argument in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

In a response to critics of a JME article published online in April, Schuklenk and Ricardo Smalling, also of Queens University in Toronto, insist that conscientious objection has no place in a medical system operating in a pluralistic democracy. “A doctor's decision about the provision of particular services that patients are eligible to receive must be based on their professional judgement only,” they write. If a professional is unable to carry out a service, he or she cannot be employed. It is not unfair for a employer to refuse to hire a blind pilot, for instance.

The thrust of their argument is that if patients have a legal right to services like abortion and euthanasia, doctors have no right to impose their personal and subjective ideas upon them.

Here we have one citizen—the patient, with all the same rights as another citizen—the physician, and those two sets of rights are in direct conflict. Uncontroversially, the patient is in a weaker power position than the physician, by virtue of the medical condition that brought them to the physician as well as the physician's status as a state empowered monopoly provider. Yet the physician thinks it appropriate that they should be the sole arbiter of what rights an equal citizen—the patient—gets to enjoy purely on the basis of their personal, entirely subjective beliefs.
(Disclosure: the deputy editor of BioEdge, Xavier Symons, published a response to the original paper which Schuklenk and Smalling dismiss. He appealed to an “objective moral order”, but they suggest that there is no place for moral truth in the 21st Century.)
- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/the-battle-over-conscientious-objection-continues/12073#sthash.fHxlixMS.dpuf



Bioedge

Bioedge



With the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Bysshe Shelley’s book on human enhancement approaching in 2018, it may be worth reviewing the dramatic bioethical challenge faced by Dr Frankenstein.
You may recall that Dr Victor Frankenstein assembled an eight-foot, highly intelligent, powerful male humanoid. His creation escaped but returned to plead for a female companion. With her he would emigrate to “the vast wilds of South America”. However, the good doctor fears that their progeny would compete with humankind. “A race of devils would be propagated upon earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror.”
So he destroys his female project. Did he make the right decision? Would these creatures really have destroyed the human race?
An article in the journal BioScience has crunched the numbers for us using “competitive exclusion” theory. It turns out that had the couple escaped to South America, they would have multiplied and spread, and eliminated us within 4000 years – 4,188 years to be exact. So, at least within a framework of utilitarian ethics, Frankenstein was right. He deserves the gratitude of BioEdge readers


Michael Cook
Editor
BioEdge

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