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When his teenaged son Christopher, brain damaged in an auto accident, developed a 106-degree fever following weeks of unconsciousness, John Campbell asked the attending physician for help. The doctor's response: Why bother? The boy's life was effectively over. Campbell refused to accept this death sentence. He threatened legal action and the doctor finally relented. With treatment, Christopher's temperature subsided almost immediately. Soon he regained consciousness and today he is learning to walk again. This story is one of many Wesley J. Smith recounts in Culture of Death. In this deeply felt but coolly argued book, he goes behind the scenes of out health care system to show how a new, self-proclaimed elite of "bioethicists" threaten patient welfare by undermining the Hippocratic Oath. Under this new worldview, "death" is being redefined to include "irreversible" coma. The case is being made for organ harvesting from the terminally ill and disabled. Cognitively disabled patients are dehydrated to death by having their tube-supplied food and water withheld. Animals receive greater protection in medical experiments than people. Because of this new thinking, Smith believes that American medicine is "changing from a system based on the sanctity of life into a starkly utilitarian model in which the medically defenseless are seen as having not just a 'right' but a 'duty' to die." He sees the medical world as being transformed by Futile Care Theory, which allows doctors to withdraw desired care based on their evaluation of patients' likely "quality of life"-a development he compares to the sign in the windows of some restaurants; We have the right to refuse service. These ideas have consequences for individuals, as Smith shows in his discussion of cases like that of Robert Wendland. Brain-damaged in an accident, Wendland is able to wheel himself in a chair, and yet a court of appeals, acting on a hospital's recommendation, said that the feeding tube that keeps him alive could be removed. Bioethics ideas have consequences for policy too, as Smith shows in his analysis of medicine in the state of Oregon, where assisted suicide is covered under Medicaid but some organ transplants are not. After reading Culture of Death, it will be hard to disagree with Wesley Smith's contention that we stand at a medical and cultural crossroads and that we must embrace a new bioethics of human rights if we are to reassert the sanctity of life.
When his teenaged son Christopher, brain-damaged in an auto accident, developed a 106-degree fever following weeks of unconsciousness, John Campbell asked the attending physician for help. The doctor refused. Why bother? The boy's life was effectively over. Campbell refused to accept this verdict. He demanded treatment and threatened legal action. The doctor finally relented. With treatment, Christopher's temperature subsided almost immediately. Soon afterwards he regained consciousness and today he is learning to walk again. This story is one of many Wesley J. Smith recounts in his groundbreaking new book, Culture of Death. Smith believes that American medicine “is changing from a system based on the sanctity of human life into a starkly utilitarian model in which the medically defenseless are seen as having not just a ‘right' but a ‘duty' to die.” Going behind the current scenes of our health care system, he shows how doctors withdraw desired care based on Futile Care Theory rather than providing it as required by the Hippocratic Oath. And how “bioethicists” influence policy by considering questions such as whether organs may be harvested from the terminally ill and disabled. This is a passionate, yet coolly reasoned book about the current crisis in medical ethics by an author who has made “the new thanatology” his consuming interest.
Buy The Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America by Wesley J. Smith from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781893554498 & 189355449X
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