Bioethics

Organs, Tissues, & Planned Parenthood

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Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.24.50 PMThe recent debacle surrounding planned parenthood has been… well, uproarious to say the least. Some people are saying that PP is selling organs for profit, some are saying that PP is not making a profit but using the money for processing fees. I am not going to try to parse through the competing information on this. What I want to do is something similar to what I did with my post on genetic engineering and human children… I want to go through the possible scenarios and come to a reasonable conclusion that can be applied, no matter what the truth of the situation is.

I’d also like to make an important suggestion. Before we say “I disagree”, we should seek to understand what is really happening. Once we understand it, we can point out the problems with it. There’s no need for us to fabricate evil… if the evil truly is there. For those unaware of my stance on abortion, I am pro-life. I wrote about it here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Awesome Podcast Recommendation – Life Report!

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Its not very often where I will recommend a podcast that has [probably] stopped producing content. However, if you’re interested in one of the best pro-life audio resources available, allow me to point you to…

cover170x170Life Report
Pro-Life Talk. Real World Answers.
(iTunes link)

There’s so much that could be said about Life Report in terms of the valuable content, the character of those doing it, the value in the way they approach the issues… everything. This podcast is great.

While employed at Right to Life of Central California, Josh Brahm spear-headed Life Report with the help of several other people. Eventually, Josh ended up splitting with Right to Life of Central California and establishing the Equal Rights Institute, which ended Josh’s contribution to the Life Report podcast (you can read about that announcement here).

Josh’s last episode was episode 199.
Who ends on 199?! That would kill the completionist in me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Abortion 101 – Laying a Pro-Life Foundation

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Yesterday, January 22nd, was the anniversary of the famous Roe v. Wade decision made by the US Supreme Court in 1973, which was effectively a federally signed permission slip for women to get abortions. But many people, including myself, do not agree that the issue of abortion is settled by court fiat because… well, the court was wrong.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 9.52.54 PMAbortion is an issue fraught with emotionally and rhetorically powerful arguments, so we have to make sure that we handle this issue with care. However, we are discussing an issue of great importance; if the pro-lifers (those against abortion) are correct, then we have been allowing the systematic destruction of the most helpless member of society for the last 42+ years. And if the pro-choicers (those in favor of abortion choice) are correct, then pro-lifers are looking to take away a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

Most of the ‘street-level’ arguments for and against abortion are a combination of assuming what they’re trying to prove (begging the question), personal attacks, accusatory motivational assumptions, straw men, loaded questions, and any number of other logically fallacious ways of thinking. How often have you heard a discussion on abortion where the pro-lifer is accusing the pro-choicer of hating babies and wanting to use abortion as birth control? …and in response, the pro-choicer accuses the pro-lifer of misogyny and being against women’s rights?
In fact, if you’re trying to hone your skills in logical fallacy identification, watch a popular level debate (on Fox News or CNN or something, those are almost always hilariously bad) and count the number of fallacies used by both people. That’s some hardcore on-the-job training, so be warned.

When we are approaching the issue of abortion, we have to ask two vitally important questions – one scientific and one philosophical.
What is the unborn? This is a scientific question.
What gives us value? This is a philosophical question. Read the rest of this entry »

Why You Should Genetically Engineer Your Children

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Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 8.45.55 PMMost of us would do anything to help our children have the best future possible. We would make sure they had the best prenatal environment, the best diet and be sent to the best schools, all so that they could have the best possible future opportunities. But what would we do if we could, before they were born, alter our child’s genes in order to guarantee that advantage? The choice of genetically engineering our children is rapidly becoming a scientific reality, and we are faced with the question: If we are able to safely engineer a child at the genetic level… should we?

Genetic engineering is a topic that is greeted with a combination of curiosity, skepticism and apprehension. Those in favor of genetic engineering have been accused of “playing God”, whereas those opposed have been characterized as being against scientific progress. Many people view genetic engineering as something confined to the domain of science fiction; something so far in the future that it needn’t be worried about. However, with the advance of modern technology, this attitude towards genetic engineering is not only misguided, but can be dangerous.
Read the rest of this entry »

Virtue Ethics & Organ Donation

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Biomedical technology is one of the fastest growing areas of research in modern society. Whether it is reproductive technologies, cloning, genetic engineering or any other topic, people generally approach these with an attitude of both awe and hesitation. Most of us recognize the seemingly limitless potential of new technologies when it comes to curing diseases, elongating lifespans or increasing quality of life. At the same time, we also recognize that these new technologies bring difficult (and seemingly unanswerable) ethical questions. It seems that the reason many people find these questions so hard to answer is that they don’t have a well-established ethical framework from which to answer them. Once we establish an ethical framework, we can explore the answers to the difficult questions. In this paper, I am going to take a virtue ethics perspective on the topic of post-mortem organ donation. I don’t plan on defending virtue ethics as a theory, but I will clarify some of the important issues as they relate to the donation of organs after death.

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A brief look at the medical statistics reveals a significant problem; there is ahuge disparity between those who are waiting for organs and the number of organs available. “According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) 83,472 people were waiting for an organ transplant in the United States as of January 2004. From January to October of 2003, 19,101 transplants were performed” (Glannon, 2005). As of today (December 3, 2013), there are 120,845 people waiting for organs in the United States (www.unos.org). The number has increased by approximately 37,000 people in only 9 years, and doesn’t show any signs of decreasing. It is obvious that the human body is a valuable resource, and until medical technology researchers develop fully functional artificial organs, the human body is the primary source for the ‘spare parts’ used in organ transplants. It is also clear that “… we are being prodigally wasteful in our funerary practices and stupidly selfish in our use of vital organs while we live and even more so when we die”. (Fletcher, 1979) So what should we do? Should we donate our organs after we die? When approached from a virtue ethics perspective, we may have a moral obligation to donate our organs after our death. Donating our organs may be how we could continue behaving virtuously even after our life is over.
Read the rest of this entry »