Item description for The Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America by Wesley J. Smith...
Overview When his teenaged son Christopher, brain damaged in an auto accident, developed a 106-degree fever following weeks of unconsciousness, John Campbell asked the attending physician for help. The doctor's response: Why bother? The boy's life was effectively over. Campbell refused to accept this death sentence. He threatened legal action and the doctor finally relented. With treatment, Christopher's temperature subsided almost immediately. Soon he regained consciousness and today he is learning to walk again. This story is one of many Wesley J. Smith recounts in Culture of Death. In this deeply felt but coolly argued book, he goes behind the scenes of out health care system to show how a new, self-proclaimed elite of "bioethicists" threaten patient welfare by undermining the Hippocratic Oath. Under this new worldview, "death" is being redefined to include "irreversible" coma. The case is being made for organ harvesting from the terminally ill and disabled. Cognitively disabled patients are dehydrated to death by having their tube-supplied food and water withheld. Animals receive greater protection in medical experiments than people. Because of this new thinking, Smith believes that American medicine is "changing from a system based on the sanctity of life into a starkly utilitarian model in which the medically defenseless are seen as having not just a 'right' but a 'duty' to die." He sees the medical world as being transformed by Futile Care Theory, which allows doctors to withdraw desired care based on their evaluation of patients' likely "quality of life"-a development he compares to the sign in the windows of some restaurants; We have the right to refuse service. These ideas have consequences for individuals, as Smith shows in his discussion of cases like that of Robert Wendland. Brain-damaged in an accident, Wendland is able to wheel himself in a chair, and yet a court of appeals, acting on a hospital's recommendation, said that the feeding tube that keeps him alive could be removed. Bioethics ideas have consequences for policy too, as Smith shows in his analysis of medicine in the state of Oregon, where assisted suicide is covered under Medicaid but some organ transplants are not. After reading Culture of Death, it will be hard to disagree with Wesley Smith's contention that we stand at a medical and cultural crossroads and that we must embrace a new bioethics of human rights if we are to reassert the sanctity of life.
When his teenaged son Christopher, brain-damaged in an auto accident, developed a 106-degree fever following weeks of unconsciousness, John Campbell asked the attending physician for help. The doctor refused. Why bother? The boy's life was effectively over. Campbell refused to accept this verdict. He demanded treatment and threatened legal action. The doctor finally relented. With treatment, Christopher's temperature subsided almost immediately. Soon afterwards he regained consciousness and today he is learning to walk again. This story is one of many Wesley J. Smith recounts in his groundbreaking new book, Culture of Death. Smith believes that American medicine “is changing from a system based on the sanctity of human life into a starkly utilitarian model in which the medically defenseless are seen as having not just a ‘right' but a ‘duty' to die.” Going behind the current scenes of our health care system, he shows how doctors withdraw desired care based on Futile Care Theory rather than providing it as required by the Hippocratic Oath. And how “bioethicists” influence policy by considering questions such as whether organs may be harvested from the terminally ill and disabled. This is a passionate, yet coolly reasoned book about the current crisis in medical ethics by an author who has made “the new thanatology” his consuming interest.
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Studio: Encounter Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.75" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Jun 15, 2002
Publisher Encounter Books
ISBN 189355449X ISBN13 9781893554498
Availability 0 units.
More About Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute, is the author of the prizewinning Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America, as well as Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World and Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and the New Duty to Die. He lives in Castro Valley, California, with his wife, the syndicated columnist Debra J. Saunders.
Wesley J. Smith currently resides in Oakland, in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America?
truth scarier than fiction Oct 29, 2007
i heard about this author while reading a Koontz novel. am going to be enrolled in a Medical Law and Ethics course next semester. this should spark a lot of conversations...can't wait to share it.
A Revealing and Compassionate Critique of the Euthanasia Movement Jun 22, 2006
Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith takes aim at the arguments permeating our culture that devalue human life. Smith makes readers aware of the historic roots of the modern euthanasia movement, which today repeats arguments made by Nazis and proponents of eugenics tied back to 19th century social Darwinism.
Smith is extremely sensitive to the plight of the suffering and the dying. One of Smith's primary points is that while death comes to us all, those suffering through terminal diseases can make use of painkillers to ease their difficulties:
"Assisted suicide advocates often try to create a false moral equivalency between medically controlling pain and so-called mercy killing. The argument goes something like this: since some people's deaths are hastened by the powerful medications required for effective palliation, and since pain control is unquestionably moral and ethical, then assisted suicide should also be viewed as proper because the intent of assisted suicide is to alleviate suffering. There are two problems with this argument: medical studies demonstrate that properly applied pain control usually does not shorten life; and, the argument completely misapplies what is called `the principle of moral effect.'"Smith goes on to explain that there is a gulf of moral difference between taking painkillers, which is taken for the intent of relieving suffering and not to end life, and assisted suicide, which occurs under the intent to intentionally cause death as a means of alleviating suffering.
The book also reminds of the past evils connected to cultures which did not value life. The Nazi rulers of Germany called the old, weak, sick, or handicapped "useless eaters." Forced sterilization was one of the first moves of Nazi Germany, where social Darwinism ran deep in their political blood. Yet the eugenics movement itself traces closely to Darwin. Darwin's cousin Francis Galton coined the term "eugenics" ("good in birth") to advocate that humans engage in selective breeding. Early 20th century eugenics organizations offered prizes to upper class families which could have the most children. Others, such as Carrie Buck, weren't so lucky and had to undergo forced sterilization in our country between 1907 and 1960.
Smith warns that future troubles could be tied to the fact that only 14% of doctors today report having taken the Hippocratic oath to "do no harm." Smith even recounts episodes of doctors recommending that the old or sick be denied basic treatments which might potentially save life. This enlightening book unmasks unexpected occurrences in the present practice of medicine, and shines light into a future that many of us might not like.
An eye-opener to be certain Apr 2, 2006
This book is positively hair-raising. Smith's exposure of the assault on 'lesser' people is compassionate, but delivered with blunt, factual and mind blowing accuracy that can only leave us to wonder what fate we face at the mercy of others. Well researched, well backed-up claims and very thorough. Tough read but compelling and important.
Biased and Unrealistic Jan 13, 2006
Wesley J. Smith presents palliative care as the be-all and end-all solution to terminal and chronic pain. However, he doesn't address the facts and statistics. Countries with legalized euthanasia, such as The Netherlands, have exemplary levels of palliative care that transcend what is offered in the United States. The example of Oregon, the sole state where assisted suicide is allowed, has shown a marked increase in the level of pain relief for the sick and elderly.
Tragically, Smith's opposition to euthanasia leads to more pain and suffering for the terminally ill, which in turn leads to more support for euthanasia. Palliative care is far from perfect today, and it is unlikely to alleviate all pain for all patients. Most practice euthanasia 'under the radar', by calling it 'terminal sedation' by sedating the patient into a coma for weeks until they die. Frequently, they'll awaken several times in excrutiating pain. Not surprisingly, they'll do this without consulting the patient, so Smith's ideology removes more autonomy. Thusly, the patient is either condemned to a death with insufficient pain relief, or a prolonged comatose state without any choices at all.
Then there's the case of Terri Schiavo. Wesley J. Smith also opposes the removal of patients from life support. This is nonsensical - Terri's wishes were well-known among her husband and many friends. If we let doctors decide what treatment is 'best' for the patient, people will lose trust in the medical profession. Surely the one on the receiving end of painful and often futile treatment should be allowed some say in whether they undergo and/or continue some treatment. Indeed, I would say that their wishes should trump those of their doctors. Surely we do not want cancer sufferers to ignore their symptoms and avoid doctors out of fear.
In addition to this, many resources and a great deal of manpower was wasted keeping Terri alive for years after no improvement was reached and Michael, her legal guardian, decided to remove her from life support. Many lives could be saved and improved if nurses did not spend years taking care of a vegetable that could not respond, had no conscious mind and no hope of recovery, as the autopsy proved.
In the end, we all own our own lives. Smith would like to choose to live for himself. What he doesn't have the right to do is to make that choice for all of us and demand that we live on his terms.
Very compelling but [...] Apr 2, 2005
This book was very compelling on the subject about our values as humans to society. Our worth to society defined by our age or what physical condition we're in. We're at the mercy of Dr's and Judges who have decided our value to society is up [...]