Health Care News & Discussion
On the beginning of life, the right to not be born, assisted suicide and racial profiling in medicine
03/05/2002 3:26 AM
When is a Human Being a Human Being?
In his current editorial, Robert Jacoby, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Writers Association(AMWA) and medical writer at John Hopkins, states the embryonic stem (ES) cell research debate has as its epicenter one fundamental question: When does the physical dimension of a human being begin via sexual reproduction?
The answer lays a foundation for the current discussions of ES cell research. He says we should avoid such misleading terms as “pre-embryo” or “fertilized egg.” When mature gametes, the oocyte and the spermatozoon, become a zygote, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed. The diploid number of chromosomes (46) is restored; chromosomal sex is determined. The unique mingling of paternal and maternal chromosomes produces a new variation of the human species as cleavage of the zygote initiates an embryo, and a new human being is brought into physical existence. Once this is understood as the foundation of the embryonic stem cell, then agendas can appear, be they moral, political, ethical or philosophical.
Declaration of Rights vs The Concept of Wrongful Birth
From France, the nation that gave the world the Declaration of the Rights of Man, lawyers representing a child with Down’s Syndrome successfully sued doctors because the condition had not been detected using ultrasound, and consequently an abortion had not been performed.
Dr Cihak and Dr Glueck, in their electronic journal, The Medicine Men, on World Net Daily, report that French obstetricians were “refusing to carry out ultrasound scans on pregnant women” after a court found they could be liable, should a disabled child be born.
Instead of ordering too many tests and procedures to guard against future legal action, they’re refusing to act at all. The authors mention a similar lawsuit filed in this country several years ago, which made the list of “wackiest lawsuits of the year” because it conflicted with everyday experience and common sense. The authors point out that from the Nazis to the communists, the law was always on the side of those who declared that some lives were not worth living.
The lawyers in the French case claimed that the baby wanted to be killed in the womb. Cihak and Glueck feel there is a continuum between the courtroom in civilized France, the deeds of the Nazis, the totalitarians and the jihadists. Although not obvious, the connection between “wrongful birth” and mass murder perverts itself when not killing becomes a crime.
Racial Profiling in Medicine
Sidney Goldstein, head of cardiovascular medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, states in his editorial in theMedical Tribune, that African-American patients with heart failure do not experience the same benefits that whites do when treated with ACE inhibitors or beta blockers. ACE inhibitors reduced the hospitalization rate for whites but not African-Americans, who require higher doses of ACE inhibitors to reach a target blood pressure. Beta blockers reduced mortality in whites, but not in African Americans.
This racial disparity is not unique in cardiology. African-Americans with hepatitis C infections also have poorer responses to treatment. Certain diseases, such as sickle cell anemia in African-Americans or Tay-Sachs disease in Ashkenazi Jews, are confined to specific gene pools. In a recent US census, almost seven million people identified themselves as members of more than one race.
Thus, racial profiling will be necessary for clinical studies so that the appropriate therapy can be administered. Until the Human Genome Project gives us power to uncover the true origins of genetic variations, a “Jewish female with …” can be described as a “BRCA1 female.”
Dr Miguel Faria, Editor of the Medical Sentinel, reviews the data from Physician-Assisted Suicide in Oregon. In 2000, 21 terminally ill people chose to use Oregon’s assisted dying law, three more than the previous year. All 21 had health insurance, and 17 were receiving hospice care. Ten were males, 11 were females, all were Caucasians.
For the third year in a row, loss of autonomy, rather than pain, was the reasons all 21 patients gave for using Oregon’s law; fear of loss of control was listed by nearly all patients. “The option of a dignified, hastened death gives terminally ill people the hope and comfort to carry on,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion in Dying Federation… Reminds me of my pathology professor who recounted, over the autopsy table, the story of a man who wanted to be buried in his Cadillac. As the car was lowered into the ground with the wealthy man draped in a black body bag in the driver’s seat, an observer at the side of the grave remarked, “Man, ain’t that living.” Or today’s version, “the hope and comfort to carry on.”
A Cruise to Die For
NewsMax.com reports that euthanasia advocate Dr. Philip Nitschke, wants to anchor a Dutch registered death ship off the Australian coast in international waters. Since euthanasia is illegal in Australia, he is offering to kill terminally-ill patients. According to this report, “This idea is an extension of Dutch doctor Rebecca Gompert’s plan to launch a baby-killing ship and anchor it off the coasts of nations where abortion is illegal.”