Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America

By Wesley J. Smith | Go to book overview

4
Creating a Duty to Die

Baby Ryan Nguyen was born in Spokane's Sacred Heart Hospital on October 27, 1994. He was very premature, just twenty-three weeks gestation. Ryan's kidneys were not working well, so doctors put him on dialysis. But when the doctors determined that he was not a good candidate for kidney transplantation they decreed that continuing his treatment was futile. His father was told, "The time has come for your baby to die," and Ryan's dialysis was discontinued.

Ryan's parents vehemently objected and retained an attorney, who quickly obtained a temporary court order compelling doctors to continue his treatment. Unhappy that their will had been thwarted, hospital administrators reported Ryan's parents to Child Protective Services, accusing the Nguyens of "physical abuse" and "physical neglect" for obtaining the injunction. 1 When that tactic didn't fly, administrators and doctors fought the parents in court, swearing under oath that "Ryan's condition is universally fatal," that the infant had "no chance" for survival, and that treatment could not "serve as a bridge to future care." Based on these contentions, Ryan's doctors urged the judge to ignore the desires of Ryan's parents and permit them to cease his treatment, considering it futile and a violation of their integrity, values, and ethics. 2

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Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books by Wesley J. Smith *
  • Culture of Death *
  • To Ralph Nader: Friend, Mentor, Visionary *
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1: Harsh Medicine 1
  • 2: Life Unworthy of Life 33
  • 3: The Price of Autonomy 81
  • 4: Creating a Duty to Die 123
  • 5: Organ Donors or Organ Farms? 155
  • 6: Protecting Animals at the Expense of People 189
  • 7: Toward a "Human Rights" Bioethics 219
  • Acknowledgments 241
  • Appendix 245
  • Notes 249
  • Index 274
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