Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs, Jospeh Maraachli, and "Reproductive Health:" My Take

The lives of Steve Jobs and Joseph Maraachli are quite different. I've posted about both:

Steve Jobs, Today's World - - -

Most folks seem to think that Steve Jobs was worth the resources it took to feed and clothe him. Apparently even the expense of treating his cancer isn't controversial.

For what it's worth, I think Steve Jobs changed the way many folks saw information technology: and arguably made the sort of global online communities we have today possible. Or helped, anyway. I'm glad that Mr. Jobs was able to live as long as he did.

- - - And Caring For Sick People

I also think that treating any sick person is:
  • A Good idea
  • Not a waste of time
    • Even if the sick person is
      • Young
      • Old
      • Ugly
      • Useless
That's not just my opinion. The Catholic Church says that "ordinary care" for the sick is a good thing to do. Even if they're going to die, anyway. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2279)

Steve Jobs' life was "productive." Joseph Maraachli's life? Not so much. Not by contemporary Western standards.

Culling Inferior Stock?

Joseph Maraachli had Leigh's disease, a defect that seems to be inherited. One of his sisters died from the same condition.1

From a strictly utilitarian point of view:
  • Joseph should have been killed as soon as his condition was diagnosed.2
    • To avoid 'wasting' resources
  • Surviving members of the Maraachli family should have been sterilized
    • To prevent contamination of the gene pool
I think sterilizing the 'unfit' is a bad idea, but eugenics was all the rage at one time.3

Never mind what I think, though. The Catholic Church says culling inferior stock from humanity's gene pool is wrong.4 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2268)

Odd Health Care

I might be more sympathetic with the health care center's decision to pull the plug on Joseph Maraachli's life support, if they'd been willing to let him die elsewhere. Telling Joseph's parents that their son wouldn't be released for treatment elsewhere?5 That seems to be carrying 'doctor knows best' to an extreme.

Moving on.

Euphemisms and Assumptions

Sometimes a euphemism, "an inoffensive or indirect expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive or too harsh," can be useful. Let's say that a particularly dense dinner guest asked why you were rushing toward a lavatory. Saying "I need to use the bathroom" might be a better choice than a more direct, clinically accurate, explanation.

On the other hand, euphemisms can let folks avoid thinking too much about what they're actually doing. Like "white man's burden," or "here, Granny, this'll put you to sleep."

The idea of killing other people seems to upset many folks. Particularly when the other person isn't a threat. Road rage is an example of inappropriate reaction to a threat, real or imagined: and that's yet again another topic.

I think this disinclination for unjustified violence is rooted in natural law. More topics.

Humanity Denied

Aversion to homicide often goes away when folks feel that the other person isn't really another person.6 Or not quite a person. Abuses involving that sort of 'depersonalization' aren't limited to killing other people.

Examples are the old '3/5 of a person' in the Constitution, and the Dred Scott v. Sanford case. America corrected those appalling lapses in judgment: eventually.7

I hope it doesn't take us two centuries and a major war to sort out Roe v. Wade.

This may not be what you've been told, but the Catholic Church says slavery is wrong. Yet one more example of the Vatican butting into people's lives, from one point of view.8

Dred Scott v. Sandford and WWII propaganda, may seem like topics in a dusty history book. In a way, they are.

Slavery was, finally, abolished. Flushing cultural debris from that abhorrent practice is still going on: but eventually someone with African roots will be in the White House. Wait a minute - - -.9

Wholesale extermination of the 'unfit' seems to have lost some of its allure. I'm impressed at how many folks recognize that Germany's efforts at applying eugenic principles to Europe were a bad idea.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that today we have doctors practicing "reproductive health care" that involves products of conception, or "potential" people being terminated.

See how useful euphemisms can be? Put that way, killing babies seems like a nice, caring thing to do.

"Reproductive Health," Yes: "Maternal Health," No

Someone who'd been away from Earth for the last half-century might think that "reproductive health" means taking care of pregnant women and their babies. And so it does.

Unhappily, a provider of "reproductive health" often takes care of youngsters the way a B-movie mob enforcer "takes care of" troublesome witnesses for the boss.

Which is why a group that cares for pregnant women and their babies won't get help from Canada. This group won't kill people who aren't up to spec, you see.

Noble-Sounding Motive

What the Canadian government is doing, and their motive, isn't as crazy as it looks.

In their language, "reproductive health care" is killing babies that don't meet some standard. There are many establishment-approved reasons for terminating a product of conception, including:
  • The mother
    • Is too poor
    • Might not send the child to Vassar or Yale
    • Doesn't look like an ideal parent
  • The child
    • Is deformed
    • Won't grow up in the right neighborhood
    • Belongs to a group with too many people
    • Doesn't fit into the mother's career plans
    • Might be ugly
    • Was conceived during rape
      • Sounds noble
        • Except it's killing a child because of a crime the father committed
'Obviously' the kid is better off dead. According to government standards, anyway.

Euphemisms: So Convenient!

Doctors who are into that sort of "reproductive health care" may believe that they aren't killing people. Not 'real' people. From what I hear, they may think they're only killing "potential people."10

Canada's Got Company

America's establishment is at least as determined as Canada's, when it comes to supporting lethal "reproductive health care." This time, though, it's the Canadian government that doesn't want to get involved in saving people's lives:
"Maternal health group denied funding over Catholic beliefs"
Marianne Medlin, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (October 6, 2011)

"A Catholic maternal health group has been denied Canadian government funding for the eleventh time in nearly a decade, while organizations such as Planned Parenthood receive millions from the country.

" 'We were told that we would never get funding simply because we wouldn't provide reproductive health—that we were 'too Catholic' and too close to the Pope,' Dr. Robert Walley, president of Matercare International, told CNA.

"Walley's organization, a group of worldwide Catholic gynecologists and obstetricians, works to reduce the over 330,000 preventable maternal deaths that occur each year in developing countries...."
As I said, there are some noble-sounding reasons for killing people. Some of the reasons are personal, often involving careers or income.

Some of the reasons may be the 21st century's version of old, unpleasant, assumptions.

Dealing with 'Inferior Races'

Apart from 19th and 20th century histories, I haven't run into the phrase "inferior races" in a long time. For which I'm duly grateful.

And for a short time after Germany's efforts at 'cleaning' the European gene pool, it looked like Western civilization had gotten eugenics out if its system.

Good news: Genocide is Still Gauche

I take some solace in genocide's continuing unpopularity. There's even a law against it.11 I'm quite certain that Canada's Parliament would reject a program that had elimination of an 'inferior race' as its stated goal.

Bad news: "Maternal Health Care" Kills

I'm quite certain that the Canadian government has no intention of entirely wiping out the entire black population in Africa. At some point, dark-skinned Africans would merit 'endangered species' status, and that might be an embarrassment for folks who put them there.

That said, I've been impressed at how fervently melanin-deficient folks strive to keep dark-skinned people from having 'too many babies.' All for the most noble of motives, of course: saving the environment; ending poverty12, and all that.

Sounds noble, doesn't it?

Related posts:
In the news:

1 Joseph Maraachli's diagnosis:
"...Doctors at the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center diagnosed Joseph with Leigh's disease, a rare neurometabolic disorder which causes the degeneration of the central nervous system. The disease is usually inherited, but no genetic link for Joseph was found after his parents were tested.[20] The Maraachlis lost an 18-month old child to the same condition eight years before Joseph was diagnosed.[23] The doctors at the SSM hospital said the tracheotomy they performed gives Joseph a more stable airway, extra mobility and comfort, and protects his lungs.[23]..."
("Joseph Maraachli Case," Wikipedia)
2 Much to the credit of the Canadian health care facility which had possession of Joseph, he was permitted to live. I even think their decision to pull the plug on his life support system may have been justified. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2276-2279)

3 This hero of both eugenics and birth control is, I think, worth remembering:
I don't agree with her: but then, I'm the sort of unfit blot on the face of humanity she wanted to cull out. On several counts.

4 The Catholic Church is opposed to treating people as if we're livestock. Human beings are people, cattle aren't. Even so, moral law applies to our treatment of animals, too. Which is another topic. (Deuteronomy 25:4, for example, and Catechism, 2415-2418) On the other hand, human beings are animals. And people. (Catechism, 1951, 1700, 1730) I'm a human being. The design for my sort of creature means that I can't be an angel, except maybe in a metaphorical sense. Like any other human, I'm an animal that's also a person. I don't have a problem with the way God set things up, which is yet another topic: and one I've discussed before. Angels are people, too, but they're not human. Not even close:
  • Humans
    • Rational
      (Catechism, 1700)
    • With free will
      (Catechism, 1730)
    • Animals
      (Catechism, 1951)
  • Angels
    • Intelligent
    • People
    • Pure spirit
      (Catechism, 330)
My take on people, animals, and angels:5 Maybe the Canadian facility wanted to see what happens when someone with Leigh's disease is take off a respirator. Then again, maybe not.
"The baby who was hours from being pulled off life support at his Canadian hospital has been rescued by the national director of Priests for Life and taken to the U.S. for treatment.

"Thirteen-month-old Joseph Maraachli, who is currently kept alive by a respirator and was recently denied a transfer to a Michigan hospital to undergo a tracheotomy, arrived in the U.S. early Monday morning with Fr. Frank Pavone and other Priests for Life staff...."
( (March 14, 2011))
6 'Depersonalizing the enemy' is fairly common:
"...anti-Semitic visual propaganda depersonalized the Jews by reducing them to the archetypes of 'the Jew.'...."
"The Jewish enemy: Nazi propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust
Jeffrey Herf (2006) via Google Books
And seeI think that sort of depersonalization is sometimes done unintentionally. It's not limited to the 20th century, either:7 The opinion of Chief Justice Taney, in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford is not particularly easy reading, some 154 years later:Defining some residents as 3/5 of a person is in the Constitution:
"...Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons..."
(Article I, Section 2, The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription,
The 14th Amendment (1868) corrected that injustice.

Notable events since 1787 and the slavery compromise:I think that America, Americans, have done bad things. I think this situation will continue. One reason I like living in America is that we have a long history of
  • Changing what needs changing
  • Teaching succeeding generations what happened
    • In hopes that they won't repeat the same blunders
I've been over this before:8 It's that pesky rule about not stealing. Think about it: when your freedom is stolen, how much is left? (Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 5:19, Matthew 19:18, Catechism, 2414) Like I've said before, the Catholic Church seems to have rules about everything. We're even supposed to develop - and use our conscience:9 I'm not on the same page as President Obama in many ways: but he is America's first black president. That's significant, culturally and politically. Granted, he's "black" the way I'm a Scotsman, but that's how he's perceived. Which seems to have driven some folks more than a little bonkers:10 I am not making that up. "Potential women" was the term, but I hope that the west coast journalist thinks of male human beings as people, too. Provided they survive long enough to become 'real.' More, also noted in "Related posts," above:
11 My guess is that this part of the United Nations Charter didn't have much trouble getting approved, back in 1948:12 Think about it: in principle, a government could end poverty by killing everybody under some income level; end disease by killing sick people; and end crime by killing criminals. I don't think it would be a good idea: but it could be done. I've discussed the death penalty and related issues before. Including:


Brigid said...

Missing a word: "killing babies seems a nice, caring thing to do."

Extra contraction: "Canadian government that's doesn't want"

Grammatically correct, but awkward sounding: "I take some solace in a genocide's unpopularity among America's establishment."

Which church? "Church is opposed to treating people as if"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Fixed, and thanks!

I changed the "missing a word" thing sentence, although it actually is a construction that's occasionally used: not often, though. As you said elsewhere: "awkward sounding."

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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.