In North Carolina over 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1974 under the state’s Eugenics Sterilization Program. Indiana was the first state to implement such a program, and eventually over 30 states followed suit, including North Carolina in 1929. The Eugenics Board of North Carolina reviewed petitions for sterilizations and authorized sterilizations in over 90% of cases. Of those sterilized, approximately 38% were black and 84% were female; moreover, 71% were classified as “feebleminded.” While most states’ sterilization programs diminished in scope after World War II, almost 80% of North Carolina’s cases occurred after 1945. By the late 1960’s over 60% of those sterilized in North Carolina were black and 99% were female.
Here is an older, short talk by Greg Stock, from 2003–How Biotech Will Drive Our Evolution–on uses of present and future biotechnologies for human betterment that has recently been posted on TED Talks.
One of the interesting things is that while Stock presents a dismissive view of past hype about future technologies–e.g., the Human Genome Project and curing all ailments–there is also much more uplifting and positive talk about the uses of technology in medicine in 5-10 years, i.e., about the period that we’re almost in the middle of now. It’s nice to have predictions whose test conditions are now in place so we can, well, see how they have fared. I guess you can decide how much difference there is between the past and the present.
from Alex Schadenberg, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
There will never be a more important time to stop assisted suicide!
The promotion information for the Second-International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide states that registrations need to be in by April 25. The registration cut-off date has been extended until May 11. In the past week we have had an incredible number of registrations that have arrived. We will have an incredible Symposium, but more groups and individuals are needed to ensure a successful outcome.
The Second-International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is at the National Conference Center on May 29 – 30, 2009 (near the Washington Dulles airport) and is possibly the most important conference ever on assisted suicide.
Consider the context:
Assisted suicide has been promoted by the euthanasia lobby for many years. The pressure to legalize assisted suicide has never been greater than now. Last November, Washington State legalized assisted suicide through a referendum vote making it the second state, after Oregon, to legalize assisted suicide. Last December, a Judge in Montana imposed assisted suicide upon that state by judicial fiat making Montana the third state to allow the direct and intentional killing of its citizens. That decision is being appealed. Last year Luxembourg legalized euthanasia. This Spring, the euthanasia lobby introduced legislation to legalize assisted suicide in Hawaii, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Continue reading →
Adam Wilson posted two messages on Twitter on April 15. The first one, “GO BADGERS,” might have been sent by any University of Wisconsin-Madison student cheering for the school team. His second post, 20 minutes later, was a little more unusual: “SPELLING WITH MY BRAIN.”
Wilson, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, was confirming an announcement he had made two weeks earlier — his lab had developed a way to post messages on Twitter using electrical impulses generated by thought. That’s right, no keyboards, just a red cap fitted with electrodes that monitor brain activity, hooked up to a computer flashing letters on a screen. Wilson sent the messages by concentrating on the letters he wanted to “type,” then focusing on the word “twit” at the bottom of the screen to post the message.
The development could be a lifeline for people with “locked-in syndrome” — whose brains function normally but who cannot speak or move because of injury or disease.Read the rest here.
The webcast of the symposium on growth attenuation, held at the Seattle Children’s Hospital in January 2009, is up on the website of the Treuman Katz Centre for Pediatric Bioethics at the hospital; Emigrl has previously posted thoughtfully and in detail on this symposium both at What Sorts here and in more detail at her Eminism blog. There are two parts to the webcast, which you can link to below, but a couple of brief things about my viewing of them first. Continue reading →
Join New Tactics featured resource practitioners from April 22 to 28 for an on-line dialogue featuring “Building Human Rights Cities.” New Tactics is pleased to partner on this dialogue with the PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning, which serves as facilitators of developing human rights cities around the world. Join us to share how local civil society leaders, members of PDHRE network, facilitate the learning about human rights as a way of life for communities to generate innovative and exciting actions towards social and economic transformation. more here
Quantum Ethics: Schrödinger’s Cat & Donation after Cardiac Death
Recent discussions of transplanting hearts from so-called DCD (Donation after Cardiac Death) patients into others (for example the recent Baby Kaylee saga at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children) raise serious questions that seem to only have explainable answers in the field of quantum physics. I don’t know if physicist Erwin Schrödinger actually had a living, breathing cat but the hypothetical cat that he proposed to illustrate a paradox back in 1935 to illustrate a paradox has certainly achieved fame. Continue reading →
Regular readers will recall the case of Annie Farlow from posts we’ve done over the past year (linked below the fold). Today Annie’s family issued a media release following a preliminary hearing at the Ontario Human Rights Commission concerning a claim against the very same hospital at the centre of the Baby Kaylee case that occupied the Canadian media last week. You can see today’s CTV coverage of the story by reporter Reshmi Nair (“Parents aim complaint at Sick Kids”) at their site, and you can read the media release from the family below the fold.
Alchemical Musings has written a sharp (as a tooth and nail) account of some pretty troubling directions in biological psychiatry, which is moving toward the territory of prevention.
As he notes:
Instinctively, preventative health care seems like a good thing. Western medicine is often criticized for primarily responding to acute crises, instead of proactively promoting health and well-being. However, the reductionist flattening of minds into brains leads to categorical errors which pervert the Hippocratic principle to “do no harm”. Applying the medical paradigm of treating risks (instead of disorders) to mental conditions stretches the dangerously elastic diagnostic net beyond the breaking point.
The Reading Rights Coalition, which represents people who cannot read print, protested the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. The coalition includes the organizations that represent the blind, people with dyslexia, people with learning or processing issues, seniors losing vision, people with spinal cord injuries, people recovering from strokes, and many others for whom the addition of text-to-speech on the Kindle 2 promised for the first time easy, mainstream access to over 245,000 books.
Below are all 12 posts from our series of WCPA talks, Philosophy, Eugenics, and Disability in Alberta and Places North. The presentations are a helpful introduction to the history of the eugenic movement and how that history is important today. Dick Sobsey and Simo Vehmas discuss the North American and Scandinavian histories, respectively. Martin Tweedale and Rob Wilson focus on the importance of these histories to current practical issues: Martin on how the history of eugenics in Alberta should affect some of the University of Alberta’s policies, Rob on how the preservation of the history of eugenics in Alberta can serve a reconciliatory purpose.
All videos contain transcripts and the videos are also available on YouTube. Comments on the blog on any of these posts is still welcome, but we also hope that you’ll find these of interest and use down the track for individual reflection or group discussion.
Thanks to our speakers and attendees for making these presentations interesting and possible.
In June 2008 the radio program Ideas from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired a program titled “The Dark End of the Spectrum.” The two part program is an investigation and synopsis of autism. The original summary is below. Links to both parts are below the fold.
First seen as a medical oddity, autism has a fascinating and troubling story. Bernice Landry takes us from the heyday of psychoanalysis, to the blame-the-mother era, the rise of the activist parent, and the decoding of the dark secrets of our genes. For Rain Man it was numbers; for Darius McCollum, it was the New York City subway. Meet the man whose compulsion to steal trains had cost him years in jail long before he ever heard about autism. Continue reading →
Family’s Heartbreaking Plight Sheds Light on Deeper Issues
From Day One it’s been all about what Kaylee Wallace won’t do. She won’t go to school, she won’t walk, she won’t live a typical life. One of the first suggestions was not to feed her. It seems there has been very little about what she might do, what she could become and that her life, while following a different path, could be just as fulfilling, just as wonderful and just as valued as any other. The take away message has been that a life with a disability is a fate worse than death.
The Wallace family, and many that have come before them, have found themselves in a heartbreaking predicament. They are told by medical professionals and experts that their daughter’s life is in immediate peril. That efforts to support her are futile, that the family should leave her be and let her die with dignity. Families, under pressure, often sleep-deprived and in the throes of emotional trauma rely on their trusted doctors to provide them with unbiased information. They rely on their doctors to treat their children, not just with dignity and respect, but to treat their medical conditions. Life-and-death medical decisions are being made on a particular perspective of quality of life. If your child is not expected to follow a particular path perceived by others as typical development then the quality of their life is brought into question. Continue reading →
Many of you in Canada at least, like many of us in Canada, will have been following the deeply disturbing story of “Baby Kaylee”, which has been the lead story on CBC’s The National for the past three nights. The ever-perceptive folks at Not Dead Yet have posted the following probing blog on the story, and the story of the story, which should be of interest for those who know and don’t know about either. Below is a taster of the post, which you can get in full from the Not Dead Yet blog itself.
There are so many disturbing and tragic aspects of this case itself (though not quite those that the CBC and other major outlets for news have highlighted), and in how it has been picked up and covered, that it might be hard to know where to start. Well, by reading on, for a start:
Once in awhile, a story hits the news that is so heartwrenching and tragic that it seems rude and cold to ask questions – let alone challenge – elements of the story. Often, this is exactly the time that hard questions should be asked.
Right now, there is a life-and-death drama playing out at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. Kaylee Wallace, who is two months old, is receiving palliative care at the facility. On Tuesday, there was an attempt to harvest her organs under the “Donation after Cardiac Death” (DCD) or “Non-Heart Beating Donation” (NHBD) protocol. In this protocol, an individual’s organs are harvested soon after the heart has stopped beating. The organ harvesting is called off if too much time elapses between removal of a ventilator and stoppage of the heart.
On Tuesday, Kaylee continued to breathe after being taken off a ventilator. The problem was that she stayed awake – since her breathing only stops when she sleeps. (If you think you know a name for that condition, read on)