Dying British teenager won right to be cryogenically preserved
by Michael Cook | 20 Nov 2016 | 3 comments
A 14-year-old British girl who was dying of cancer won a court battle last month to be cryogenically frozen in the hope of being revived in 200 years’ time. Her divorced parents could not agree about whether to carry out her wishes, so she sought permission from the UK High Court. In a letter to the judge, the girl, known only as JS, wrote,
"I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I'm only 14 years old and I don't want to die, but I know I am going to. I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years' time. I don't want to be buried underground. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance. This is my wish."
According to the Telegraph, JS told a relative: “I’m dying, but I’m going to come back again in 200 years. After her death on October 17 her body was frozen and taken to a facility in the United States.
Only 10 Britons have ever been frozen. Even the companies which store frozen bodies and heads admit that there is currently impossible to revive a frozen cadaver. So at best cryopreservation is a leap of faith; at worst it is quackery. It is not cheap, either. Basic cryopreservation packages costs about £37,000, or, in the words of the Judge, Justice Peter Jackson, “about ten times as much as an average funeral”. In this case, JS’s maternal grandparents have paid for freezing her body.
In his judgement Justice Jackson said that the court was by no means endorsing cryogenics:
“I cannot emphasise enough what this case is not about. It is not about whether cryonic preservation has any scientific basis or whether it is right or wrong. The court is not approving or encouraging cryonics, still less ordering that JS's body should be cryonically preserved. Nor is this case about whether JS's wishes are sensible or not. We are all entitled to our feelings and beliefs about our own life and death, and none of us has the right to tell anyone else – least of all a young person in JS's position – what they must think.”- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/14-year-old-to-be-cryogenically-frozen-in-uk/12098#sthash.YZ2QP0N2.dpuf
In 2005 Peter Singer confidently forecast the demise of the "sanctity of life" by 2040. His objections to the idea were mainly philosophical, but he cited two piece of evidence. One was the amazing success of a South Korean scientist named Hwang Woo-suk in creating embryonic stem cell lines. The other was the continuing advance of legal assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Within months, Hwang Woo-suk was exposed as one of the greatest scientific frauds of the last century. As for euthanasia, Singer could still be right (although fears do persist that it could become, in his words, a "holocaust)". One out of two is not an impressive result and does little to inspire confidence in his prediction.
But there is another problem with Singer's critique of the sanctity of life argument, as we report this week. A British bioethicist, David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, points out that it was not Christians who "invented" the sanctity of life, but Singer and his cronies. In a very thought-provoking article in The New Bioethics, he says that "sanctity of life" is just a straw man set up to label discredit arguments against Singer's "quality of life" approach. It is a controversial thesis which deserves to be debated.
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