Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Randal Mengele

Randal Rauser is a civilized man. Far too civilized for OT ethics. Instead, he flies by his acute moral intuition. For instance:

By contrast, the spouse in the case I mentioned is a PVS patient. That means that the spouse has no sentient awareness and thus no self-identity, no aches, pains, hopes or fears...Consider again the scenario that prompted Steven’s comments. A couple of twenty year olds are honeymooning when one of them has a massive stroke and is left in a coma with all higher brain function permanently lost. The one that is in a coma will now live for perhaps the next sixty years in a hospital bed with no conscious life at all. Is the other spouse morally obliged to stay with the spouse that is in a coma?

From what I’ve read, PVS is a somewhat fuzzy diagnosis. The physician can’t get inside the mind of the comatose patient. So it’s just an educated guess.

But for the sake of argument, let’s play along with Rauser’s characterization. This raises a range of neglected medical opportunities. Suppose Rauser’s wife suffers a massive stroke which leaves her comatose. Upstanding bioethicist that he is, Rauser donates his wife to medical science. There are so many things that can be done with her.

Her comatose body could be harvested for organs. She could be infected with deadly diseases, then experimental drugs could be administered.

Her arms, hands, fingers, and feet could be amputated to replace the lost limb or digit of an accident victim, while the rest of her is kept on the ventilator for other uses. And you could operate on her without sedation. Save the expense of an anesthesiologist.

She could be used as an involuntary surrogate mother, or involuntary prostitute.

Up until now, med students have been limited to cadavers. Think how much more they could learn by cutting open comatose patients and fishing around.

Suppose the hospital catches on fire. Orderlies should save the sentient Wistar lab rats rather than the comatose patients.

Rauser’s bioethical philosophy resembles a cross between Dr. Mengele and the Saw film franchise. It’s truly inspiring.

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