Friday, October 30, 2009

Death Panel Dudgeon

A very public disagreement between two prominent American bioethicists shows that they have only themselves to blame for attacks on their profession.

...Failed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was the first to ring alarm bells about "death panels" of bioethicists who would have divine powers of life and death in President Obama's health care plan. Palin highlighted the "Orwellian thinking" of President Obama's chief health care adviser, Ezechiel Emanuel, and basically accused him of introducing euthanasia by stealth. If she didn't name other bioethicists, the media did.

This infuriated the ASBH. Portraying the work of these thoughtful people as an attempt to hasten the deaths of patients was "a heinous form of intellectual violence" and contemptible dishonesty. This inflammatory rhetoric not only defamed individuals, but also "denigrate[d] bioethics as a profession," the ASBH said. The “death panels” – however absurd they were – became a public relations nightmare for the bioethics industry. "Bioethics" had become something sticky and malodorous on the sole of your shoe. Weeks later, the situation hasn't changed much. Dr Emanuel is still in the cross-hairs of critics of Obamacare. Earlier this month the head of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission had to apologise for bestowing an imaginary "Dr Josef Mengele Award" upon him in a rabble-rousing speech...
Read the rest of the article here