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FTR #117 Interview with Wesley J. Smith

Lis­ten: Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

The co-author (with Ralph Nad­er) of sev­er­al books about con­sumer advo­ca­cy, Wes­ley J. Smith has writ­ten Forced Exit: The Slip­pery Slope From Assist­ed Sui­cide to Legal­ized Mur­der [3] (Times Books, copy­right 1997), a vol­ume that Mr. Emory believes is one of the most impor­tant books ever writ­ten.

This broad­cast presents an overview of Mr. Smith’s book. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of the “work” of ser­i­al killer Jack Kevorkian, the inter­view high­lights the fun­da­men­tal changes in med­ical the­o­ry and prac­tice that are lead­ing Amer­i­ca down a path dis­turbing­ly sim­i­lar (in cer­tain respects) to the path Ger­many fol­lowed in the 1930s. (Dur­ing that peri­od, Ger­many adopt­ed the T‑4 euthana­sia pro­gram which mur­dered “dis­pos­able” per­sons in cold blood.)

Med­ical ethics in this coun­try are already evolv­ing in a man­ner not unlike that in Ger­many, in which the physician’s pri­ma­ry respon­si­bil­i­ty was seen as to soci­ety rather than to the patient. The pro­gram dis­cuss­es oth­er chill­ing changes in med­ical prac­tice includ­ing the enabling of death by dehy­dra­tion of peo­ple with cog­ni­tive dis­abil­i­ties, a par­tic­u­lar­ly bru­tal form of ter­mi­na­tion. In addi­tion, the broad­cast expos­es the fal­la­cy that “guide­lines” will pre­vent abuse, cit­ing (among oth­er prece­dents) the fail­ure of those guide­lines in the Nether­lands, which allows euthana­sia. Oth­er points of analy­sis include: the fun­da­men­tal change that for-prof­it HMOs have wrought in Amer­i­can med­i­cine and how those changes affect the issue of euthana­sia; the inabil­i­ty of most Amer­i­can med­ical per­son­nel to accu­rate­ly diag­nose both per­ma­nent brain dam­age and depres­sion in patients and that failure’s impli­ca­tions for the issue of euthana­sia; how euthana­sia can be used as a vehi­cle of social oppres­sion and how the hos­pice move­ment, pal­lia­tive care and inde­pen­dent liv­ing move­ment for dis­abled peo­ple, can alle­vi­ate the prob­lems that euthana­sia advo­cates say only death can solve.