Dispatches > Quick Takes

QuickTakes

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002

Lethal loopholes

Australian Nancy Crick said she wanted to die with dignity. Yet after she committed suicide to the applause of euthanasia activists, one of the campaigners for her death revealed that she may not have had terminal cancer. Dr. Philip Nitschke said it was "irrelevant" whether the Crick case was terminal. "The quality of her life was such that she thought death was preferable," he told an Australian Medical Association conference. Meanwhile, Shawn Donnan of The Christian Science Monitor reports that Australian euthanasia supporters are pursuing a different strategy than death advocates in other countries. Five years ago, the country's federal government overturned a local law legalizing euthanasia. "While in the rest of the world euthanasia advocates are now trying to replicate the legalization of voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Oregon, in Australia advocates have all but given up on changing the law legislatively," he writes. "Now, they want to find a way around it." He said that the movement's goal is to create legal loopholes like those available for abortion, which is technically banned in most of Australia.

Cloning caution

MIT's Rudolf Jaenisch says healthy reproductive cloning is scientifically impossible. "As a scientist I have an obligation to warn against this," the respected biologist said in an interview with Technology Review. Regrettably, Dr. Jaenisch supports therapeutic cloning, but says the other sort is impossible. He claims that the artificial process fails to activate the embryo's genome. "Most clones die immediately, some die later because of gene malfunction, others die at birth, and very few make it to adulthood," he explained. "Now we have hard data to argue that these adults are not normal. We've looked carefully at adult cloned mice and found that they have significantly shortened lifespans and have, for example, major pathological alterations in their livers."

Southern injustice

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Don't get sick in Mississippi, writes Dick Boland. The columnist (and Wizard of Id comic writer) argues that the state's draconian malpractice laws are driving doctors to other states. Mr. Boland calls the Magnolia State America's tort capital because it puts no lids on jury awards. "Too bad we can't buy stock in law firms," he writes. "They seem to be the growth industry of the future, at least until we have no more industry." Multimillion-dollar judgments mean fewer surgeons performing high-risk surgeries, fewer obstetricians delivering babies, and regular doctors facing $200,000 insurance premiums. "Juries look at doctors like they are a well of money with no bottom," he writes. "As a result, these same jurors may find themselves with a serious problem when it comes to seeking treatment for whatever illness they may develop."

Multicultural straitjacket

Political correctness kills, according to Mark Steyn. The Canadian contrarian complains, in Britain's Spectator, about America's intelligence, pointing out that the real danger is a small number of Arab men-and treating everyone as an equal menace risks disaster in the name of equality. "Even after 11 September, we can't revoke the central fiction of multiculturalism-that all cultures are equally nice and so we must be equally nice to them, even if they slaughter large numbers of us and announce repeatedly their intention to slaughter more," he argues. Case in point: Zacarias Moussaoui, the would-be 20th 9/11 hijacker. Mr. Steyn writes that the Justice Department backed down from investigating him over fears that liberals would accuse them of racial profiling. So the feds knew something was going on at American flight schools, he says, but were handcuffed from doing anything. "OK, there are 20,000 students," Mr. Steyn writes. "Eliminate all the women, discount Irv Goldbloom of Queens and Gord MacDonald of Winnipeg ... and just concentrate on fellows with names like ... oh, I dunno, Mohammed, and Waleed, and Ahmed. How many would that be?"

Home is where the parents are

A lot of adults are moving back in with their parents, reports The Washington Post's Susan Levine. She cites census figures showing that over one quarter of adults aged 34 and under live with Mom and Dad. The trend is a result of people staying single, collecting debt, and boomeranging back home. "Credit or blame a complex of factors, starting with housing-in Washington, the average one-bedroom apartment rents for more than $1,100 a month-and the weakest job market in eight years," she writes. "Pile on the $17,000 to $19,000 in student loans that the average college student now accrues by commencement-double the amount of a decade ago-which can grow much higher if he or she opts for graduate school."

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