“Are Pro-Life Laws based on Sound Science? Yes. Here’s How”

Here is a very good article by Dr. Michael New in which he rebuts a recent Guttmacher Institute analysis claiming that many pro-life laws have no scientific basis.

Here is New’s evaluation: “The Guttmacher analysis evaluates ten major types of pro-life laws and details the ways in which they supposedly conflict with established science. The restrictions are grouped into three broad topic areas: 1) restrictions targeting abortion providers, 2) counseling and waiting-period requirements, and 3) restrictions using fetal pain as a pretext. Unsurprisingly, the Guttmacher analysis is very selective in terms of the scientific research it cites. A broader view of the same research topics clearly shows that many pro-life laws in each of these three categories are consistent with high-quality, established, peer-reviewed science.”

Iowa Supreme Court recognizes wrongful birth tort

Here is link to a LifeNews.com article on a June 2, 2017 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court recognizing a tort for wrongful birth. Wrongful birth claims are claims by parents of a disabled child who argue that but for the negligence of a doctor (in, for example, failing to notify the parent that her child would be born with birth defects)  they would have aborted the child. Many states (about half the states in the US) recognize wrongful birth claims. In contrast, far fewer states recognize so-called wrongful life claims, which are brought by the child who claims that but for the wrongful conduct of the defendant the child would have never been born (because her parents would have had an abortion).

Here is a link to an article (“Statutory Responses to ‘Wrongful Birth’ and ‘Wrongful Life” Actions”) by William Duncan discussing these torts. Here is a link to another article (“The Disabling Impact of Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life Actions”) arguing, from a disability rights perspective, that these torts ought not to be recognized.


“Insights for the euthanasia debate from unpacking the concept of dignity”

Here is a link to a very good book review by Margaret Somerville. Somerville reviews “Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days” by Harvey Max Chochinov. (Here is a link for more information about the book from the Oxford University Press website.)  Much of the desire for assisted suicide is “existential distress” and not pain. The elderly often feel a lack of meaning. Assisting in their suicides or promoting euthanasia is one response; dignity therapy is another.

Here is a description of the book from the OUP site:

“Maintaining dignity for patients approaching death is a core principle of palliative care. Translating that principle into methods of guiding care at the end of life, however, can be a complicated and daunting task. Dignity therapy, a psychological intervention developed by Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov and his internationally lauded research group, has been designed specifically to address many of the psychological, existential, and spiritual challenges that patients and their families face as they grapple with the reality of life drawing to a close. Tested with patients with advanced illnesses in Canada, the United States, Australia, China, Scotland, England, and Denmark, dignity therapy has been shown to not only benefit patients, but their families as well.

In the first book to lay out the blueprint for this unique and meaningful intervention, Chochinov addresses one of the most important dimensions of being human. Being alive means being vulnerable and mortal; he argues that dignity therapy offers a way to preserve meaning and hope for patients approaching death.

Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days is a beautiful introduction to this pioneering and innovative work. With history and foundations of dignity in care, and step by step guidance for readers interested in implementing the program, this volume illuminates how dignity therapy can change end-of-life experience for those about to die – and for those who will grieve their passing.”

Somerville’s review includes this quote from Chochinov:

“Although dying is inevitable, dying poorly ought not to be. In the tradition of the modern hospice movement, ‘dignity therapy’ represents yet another way for clinicians to enhance the quality of life for patients nearing death. ‘Dignity therapy’ is by no means a panacea and not everyone will want or need this patient-affirming, meaning-enhancing approach. However, for patients and families so inclined, I have no doubt that you will be impressed and humbled by what ‘dignity therapy’ might help them achieve. Your patients, their surviving loved ones, and perhaps generations to come will forever be grateful.”

Existential distress not pain drives euthanasia

Here is an interesting story on a study about the reasons patients request assisted suicide. The primary reason cited was “existential distress” and not pain. Interestingly, in the oral arguments in Myers v. Schneiderman, the New York case involving the constitutionality of New York’s ban on assisted suicide, the plaintiffs’ lawyer repeatedly emphasized that the plaintiffs sought assistance in committing suicide due to unbearable pain.

New York Court of Appeals hears oral argument in assisted suicide case

Here is a link to a brief report on the oral argument before the New York Court of Appeals in Myers v. Schneiderman, which challenges the constitutionality of New York’s law banning assisted suicide.

“Protecting Prenatal Persons: Does the Fourteenth Amendment Prohibit Abortion?”

Here is a link to a good essay (with the title noted above) in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy by Joshua Craddock that considers whether the Fourteenth Amendment protects prenatal persons. Craddock concludes: “Based on the historical evidence, this Note presents an originalist argument that all prenatal life is included within the Fourteenth Amendment’s existing guarantees of Due Process and Equal Protection.”