Below are remarks from Wesley Smith who together with Ralph Nader has crafted a statement regarding Terri Schiavo.
The excerpts below however are not about Terri specifically -- they are about us
. For those seriously interested in where the field of bioethics is taking us, I urge you to read this entire article. Be sitting down, and have a full stomach and pause to wonder if you or yours could be in the "new' classifications of non-persons:
"..."....So who are the so-called human non-persons? All embryos and fetuses, to be sure. But many bioethicists also categorize newborn infants as human non-persons (although some bioethicists refer to healthy newborns as “potential persons”). So too are those with profound cognitive impairments such as Terri Schiavo and President Ronald Reagan during the latter stages of his Alzheimer’s disease.
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.”
Such thinking is not fringe in bioethics, a field in which the idea of killing for organs is fast becoming mainstream. In 1997, several doctors writing for the International Forum for Transplant Ethics opined in The Lancet that people (like Terri) diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state should be redefined as dead for purposes of organ procurement:
If the legal definition of death were to be changed to include comprehensive irreversible loss of higher brain function, it would be possible to take the life of a patient (or more accurately to stop the heart, since the patient would be defined as dead) by a lethal injection, and then to remove the organs needed for transplantation subject to the usual criteria for consent.
Knowing that this kind of thinking predominates in contemporary bioethics, I decided to bring up the matter in my Court TV debate with Bill Allen.
Wesley Smith: If Terri is not a person, should her organs be procured with consent?
Bill Allen: …Yes, I think there should be consent to harvest her organs, just as we allow people to say what they want done with their assets.....
Terri Schiavo, bioethics, and our future.