The Living and the Harvestable

Those are the two types of people in the world according to a growing number of bioethicists. Wesley J. Smith has written a chilling article on “personhood theory” at National Review Online:

Personhood theory would reduce some of us into killable and harvestable people. Harris wrote explicitly that killing human non-persons would be fine because ?˘??Non-persons or potential persons cannot be wronged?˘?? by being killed ?˘??because death does not deprive them of something they can value.

If they cannot wish to live, they cannot have that wish frustrated by being killed.?˘??

And killing isn?˘??t the half of it. Some of the same bioethicists who have been telling us how right and moral it is to dehydrate Terri Schiavo have also urged that people like Terri ?˘?? that is, human non-persons ?˘?? be harvested or otherwise used as mere instrumentalities. Bioethicist big-wig Tom Beauchamp of Georgetown University has suggested that ?˘??because many humans lack properties of personhood or are less than full persons, they?˘?¬¶might be aggressively used as human research subjects or sources of organs.?˘??

Interesting that Georgetown is a Jesuit university. Would Tom Beauchamp have classified the pope as a “human non-person” toward the end of last week?

Calling Terri Schiavo’s case the first step down a slippery slope to Josef Mengele’s Germany now seems to be inaccurate; I must have missed the first couple of steps because I wasn’t paying attention. We’re farther down that slope than I realized.

Thanks to Diana at Ruah for spotting this one.

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3 responses to “The Living and the Harvestable

  1. Curious as to how PETA would feel about this, since all animals are “non-persons”.

  2. Great question Garrett! While people were talking about how criminals have more rights than Terri Schiavo, we forget that even animals seem to have more rights than Terri did. I am sure that there is not one municipality in one state that would hesitate to vigorously prosecute a person for animal cruelty who starved an animal to death. Not that I am for starving animals, mind you!

  3. Non-persons, yes, but “bioethicist”–there must be a better term for him–Peter Singer would argue that animals have more rights than a newborn, since animals display more of the characteristics of “personhood”.

    The way many bioethicists see it, an entity that is capable of “demonstrable rationality” or of valuing its own existence qualifies as a “person”. Under those definitions, my pet dogs qualify–and so would certain machines.

    It’s one of the enemy’s great lies: A human life is worth only what it can “contribute” to society. Of course, “contribution” is determined by the government, the highest authority to which we answer, since this worldview is based on the premise that God does not exist.

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