Combining euthanasia and organ donation remains highly controversial, and is currently only permitted in Belgium and the Netherlands, both countries with notoriously lax euthanasia laws. However, two Canadian doctors and a bioethicist are now arguing for an even more extreme situation – taking organs from people who have chosen to end their lives through euthanasia while they are still alive. They are not even referring to cases of so-called ‘brain-death’, which many argue does not constitute actual death, but rather to cases where the patient is very far from being in that state.
Subverting the ethical foundations of medicine
In the September edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Ontario doctors Ian Ball and Robert Sibbald and Robert Truog, a Harvard Medical School bioethicist, argue that it is ethical to change the guidelines to enable organ donation by euthanasia, if consent is obtained.
As Wesley J Smith explains, the “dead donor rule” – that a patient be declared dead before vital organs are procured and that the surgical transplant procedure not be the cause of the donor’s death – is the ethical foundation of transplant medicine.
However, the authors urge that those rules be loosened in countries where euthanasia is legal:
“Although some patients may want to be sure that organ procurement won’t begin before they are declared dead, others may want not only a rapid, peaceful, and painless death, but also the option of donating as many organs as possible and in the best condition possible. Following the dead donor rule could interfere with the ability of these patients to achieve their goals. In such cases, it may be ethically preferable to procure the patient’s organs in the same way that organs are procured from brain-dead patients (with the use of general anesthesia to ensure the patient’s comfort).”
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Pressuring vulnerable people
This means the patient could be anaesthetised and his organs procured while he is still alive. The article goes on: This would “require an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada, which defines medical assistance in dying as the administration of a ‘substance’ by a qualified provider. By this definition, organ retrieval is not an accepted cause of death.”
Linking organ donation and euthanasia is already very worrying as it could lead vulnerable people to feel pressured to choose euthanasia in order to donate their organs. Under this proposal, they would not even be dead before they do so. The proposal helps to confirm how the logical slippery slope is alive and well when it comes to euthanasia.
LifeNews Note: Courtesy of SPUC. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is a leading pro-life organization in the United Kingdom.