What are most current and pressing ethical issues in the field of bioethics? How is euthanasia being practiced in Canada? What are the new horizons in surrogacy? What is the state of the law concerning IVF in the US? Join Scott and Sean for this stimulating discussion of the most current issues especially some of the “out there” new horizons in bioethics.

Episode Transcript

Sean McDowell: What trends are taking place in bioethics that we need to think biblically about? Whether it's the FDA making abortion pills easier to access, Quebec euthanasia deaths being the highest in the world, or a Catholic hospital being forced to perform gender-affirming surgery, there are some issues that we need to think biblically about. I'm your host, Sean McDowell.

Scott Rae: I'm your co-host, Scott Rae.

Sean McDowell: This is “Think Biblically” brought to you by Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Scott, sometimes looking at these stories and I think, "You can't make this up, can you?" We're going to get to some stories that I literally can't believe this is happening. But let's start with one that I can believe, and we both saw it coming, but we've got to address it that the FDA is now making abortion pills easier to access. What's going on?

Scott Rae: Actually, we interviewed Dr. Donna Harrison not long ago on this podcast, and she told us this was coming. But it came just not that long ago, early in January of 2023, where the Food and Drug Administration approved pharmacies to carry abortion-inducing drugs, RU-486 is their street name, accessible over the counter and without a prescription, and without any necessary medical pre-exam or follow-up necessary. So the do-it-yourself, over-the-counter abortion is now about to be the law of the land by decree of the Food and Drug Administration.

Sean McDowell: Now, our concern as Donna walked through, again, she's an OB-GYN, is that there are serious medical fallouts for many women who take this, excessive bleeding. And so really what this does is it moves it out of the hand of a medical doctor into somebody to just do at home. That's one concern. Are there other concerns we have with this being accessible?

Scott Rae: Well, yes, because the drugs are prescribed specifically for certain stages of pregnancy. So there's a different mix of the cocktail for early in pregnancy as opposed to say early in the second trimester. And so where a woman is in her pregnancy will determine what exactly the mix is that she needs to take. And that needs to be under a physician's care because most women don't know how far along they are until they've consulted with a physician. Just a pregnancy test alone is not going to tell them that. And most, you know, not most, probably 40% statistically of all uses of RU-486 result in some sort of medical, if not surgical, follow-up to finish the job that the drug started. And so, in many cases, women will only see their family doctor, for example

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: who may or may not be trained to do any of this. And so they may not be able to get to a specialist in time, I mean, to get to the right setting in time. And so women should not expect that they should go through, be able to do this without complications ensuing. And so they need to at least be prepared what will take place if they have complications that they can't manage themselves at home.

Sean McDowell: Now, some like me, I'm sure many of our listeners want to think that the FDA distinctly has our best interest at heart, and this is motivated by medical need. I'm really suspicious when this happened, namely in 2022, we saw the fall of Roe versus Wade, that there's going to be, I'm sure, some wonderful people that worked there. I'm not disparaging all of the FDA.

Scott Rae: Not at all.

Sean McDowell: Don't hear me saying that. But that there's some serious politics behind this where the genuine health of women– And second, of course the baby, it's obvious,

Scott Rae: Of course.
Sean McDowell: that's obvious, need not be stated, but it has to be stated today, is driving this thing. Do you see it the same?

Scott Rae: I think that's true. I think this was largely done as a reaction to the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade because this actually, they actually by the FDA will allow access to RE486 in states that have elected to put pretty serious limitations on access to surgical abortion. So I think the design seems to me, this is my own, hopefully reasonably sanctified speculation, my sense is that this was done in order to safeguard access to abortion even in states that are, about half the states have already passed measures to restrict it. It may be undermining what the Supreme Court intended to do in their reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Sean McDowell:That makes sense. Now, this is going to completely change the abortion landscape in the sense that on so many fronts, number one, now a woman is not going to have to go publicly to a place like Planned Parenthood, so it removes that barrier from having an abortion.

Scott Rae: Well, it also removes the barrier of having to face protesters outside the Planned Parenthood doors.

Sean McDowell: Which is a big piece of it. That's exactly right.

The other thing that it does is it just makes it so much easier now to get an abortion. I'm guessing the cost probably is going to go down for this. You don't have to shell out of your own pocket. Maybe some insurance companies are going to cover it. Maybe that remains to be played out.

Scott Rae: Oh, I suspect every insurance company is going to cover this.

Sean McDowell: They will all cover it. So that makes it even easier. But even emotionally, one of the most powerful ways of convincing somebody pro-life is the ultrasound. But now we're dealing with the earliest moments when somebody is pregnant. They don't need to potentially wait to go see an ultrasound because it's going to be earlier and easily accessible. This is going to even shape the way we need to make the pro-life case, isn't it?

Scott Rae: Yeah, because it just further privatizes that abortion decision and takes it completely out of the public realm, unless of course they need follow-up afterwards

Sean McDowell: Sure, sure.

Scott Rae: which I think you should assume that that's going to be the case. But making this will further reinforce the notion that abortion is a woman's private decision over her own body that she can do in the sanctity of her own home, without recourse to physicians who might try to talk them out of it, without recourse to an ultrasound that I think touches - I think just hearing the baby's heartbeat and seeing that little blip on the screen in the ultrasound, that's very powerful for a woman. And it awakens maternal instincts that are counterproductive for a woman who's attempting to end a pregnancy.

Sean McDowell: So let me play a skeptic here before we move to the next story that's going on. As I imagine somebody could say, "Look, this stuff is already accessible and available on the black market for somebody to order through the internet from another country anyways. At least we're trying to bring it in house. So it's through a pharmacy, it's through the FDA, it's with a doctor who prescribes it. Isn't that good?” Now, part of me in the back of my mind, as I'm asking this question, I hear people say they said the same thing about marijuana. And I don't think that has worked for reasons we won't go into. But what would you say to the skeptic goes, look, we're just trying to make this easier and better and more professional and actually help women than getting it off the black market? Well, I think there is, I think, something to that. But I don't think we should be under the illusion that the safety of women's health is the primary concern.

Sean McDowell: Ok.

Scott Rae: If that were true, then there would be some sort of involvement with a physician before they are able to access the drug. Because the physician is necessary in determining how far along the pregnancy is, therefore what mix of drugs is best suited for where they are in the pregnancy, plus they've got somebody readily available for follow-up if necessary. It seems to me if we were really interested in protecting women's health, we would do at least those three things. I remember, as Dr. Harrison pointed out to us, that these kinds of loose standards for any other aspect of obstetric gynecology would be considered malpractice.

Sean McDowell: Fair. Good response. All right, let's move to the second story, which is about Quebec, euthanasia deaths the highest in the world. Now, according to a study you and I both saw, about 5.1% of all deaths in

Quebec are somehow tied to a physician helping assist that death in some fashion.

Scott Rae: Either euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Sean McDowell: What is going on in this story and why would it be so

high in Canada?

Scott Rae: Well, the interesting thing is in the Netherlands, where this has been going on for at least 30 years, above ground and below ground, but long before that, it's slightly lower. It's only 4.8%, in Belgium 2.3. And in California, the interesting thing, in California, in 2021, because it was legalized in Canada about the same time it was legalized in California, less than 500 people died using the state's assisted suicide program.

Sean McDowell: Oh, interesting.
Scott Rae: Which we could, a question to raise is why is that number so low?
Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Scott Rae: Canada, over 10,000 people, just in a year. Sean McDowell: Wow.

Scott Rae: You took advantage of medically assisted aid in dying. That's the general term for it.

Sean McDowell: Sure.

Scott Rae: What's going on there, I think in other parts of the world, particularly in other parts of the United States, the hospice movement is much stronger than it is in other parts of the world.

Sean McDowell: Oh interesting.

Scott Rae: And I think the reason that makes a difference is because the criteria for being a candidate for euthanasia or some sort of medical aid in dying in Canada includes the category of unrelievable suffering, pain and suffering. The hospice movement specializes in treating pain and suffering at the end of a patient's life. In fact, they are now treating more for mental health kinds of things

Sean McDowell: Wow

Scott Rae: at the end of life, in addition to physical pain. What we discovered is through lots and lots of research that when patients' pain and suffering is under control, at least moderately under control, surprise, surprise, they want to live. And I don't feel like there are candidates for that, which around the world now, the primary rationale for getting medical assistance in dying is based on autonomy, not pain and suffering.

Sean McDowell: Okay.
Scott Rae: Because the average hospice physician can come on and debunk that in just a few minutes.

Sean McDowell: Okay, so the claim that's made is that there's unalleviated suffering, and this is the only way to alleviate it by giving somebody control of their own death. What you're saying is in the

hospice movement, which is what separates, say, California from Quebec, helps alleviate that suffering, and most people then don't want to die.

Scott Rae: That's correct. Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: So, I think it's misleading to say that unrelievable pain and suffering is the primary motivating factor for people who want to enlist this. It's actually autonomy. It's control over my own life because, you know, I believe that the timing and manner of my death is a personal private decision that the state shouldn't have any right to enter into.

Sean McDowell: So I guess two-part question. If you said the Netherlands, I think you said was 4.8%, Quebec 5.1. Do I have a reason to think that this is going to kind of plateau. I mean, it's not going to go up obviously to 100%.

Scott Rae: Yeah. Actually, I think the number is actually likely to increase. Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: And the reason is because in the Western world in general, we have, you know, the baby boomers have become the geyser boomers. And there are, we have the largest percentage of people in those countries over the age of 65

Sean McDowell: Oh gotcha.

Scott Rae: that we have ever had before with a shrinking working population paying taxes to support them. And so, increasingly, this is going to become an economic decision, whereas a colleague of mine, not a Talbot colleague, but a bioethics colleague of mine said several years ago, she said, "You know, it sounds callous, but there's nothing cheaper than dead." And we've already had cases in the United States and in Canada both where insurance companies are denying expensive end-of-life treatment but are authorizing paying for assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Sean McDowell: Okay.
Scott Rae: So there's going to be an economic incentive

Sean McDowell: Gotcha.
Scott Rae: because we simply don't have the financial resources to give everybody all the medical treatment they want and need all the time.

Sean McDowell: So does that mean then California should not be as concerned about this push towards euthanasia because of hospice, but we should be concerned economically that people will be living longer and taking more resources? And I hate to frame it that way, but I just did within the way the dialogue is.

Scott Rae: Well, that is the way the dialogue goes. And I mean, just so our listeners know, roughly half of what you will spend on medical care in your entire life is spent in the last 12 months of your life.

Sean McDowell: 12 months? More than half? Scott Rae: More than roughly half.

Sean McDowell: Wow

Scott Rae: So, arguably when that will do you the least amount of good. And so there's a huge financial incentive to promote assisted suicide and euthanasia and to promote the stopping, premature stopping of treatments. And that's just a financial reality. And in Europe, at least, they are starting to be clear about what's motivating it. And they're actually saying up front that it is a financial decision.

Sean McDowell: Oh, they're owning it.
Scott Rae: They're owning it.
Sean McDowell: Interesting.
Scott Rae: Now, it's not great public relations. Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Scott Rae: But I mean, God bless them for owning that decision.

Sean McDowell: That'd probably be a lot harder to own in California in the US, although maybe not. I would suspect it would be. I guess we'll find out

Scott Rae: We will find out

Sean McDowell: as it moves that direction. That's something that's looming. Well, let's move to our third story. There's something called the Right to Build Families Act, which is aimed to protect the IVF industry in the United States. Now, why is there...so I guess in part, let's start with what's going on to protect the IVF industry that hasn't happened before? What is this act?

Scott Rae: Well, the IVF industry feels threatened by the Dobb decision that reversed Roe v. Wade.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: Because they understand that the pro-life movement considers embryos people too. And just, you know... in my view... we correctly view them that way.

Sean McDowell: Right.

Scott Rae: Because if personhood begins at conception and there's no break, you know, somehow between conception and birth, then there's, you know, conception is the only logical place to put that point of demarcation. So the IVF industry, I think, is protecting their rear flank on this to ensure that if the pro-life movement comes after them, they have the safeguard of federal law. So this bill was introduced in the Senate last year, and I believe if I have this right shortly after the Dobbs decision was handed down.

Sean McDowell: Makes sense.
Scott Rae: It will certainly be debated this year in the Senate. So I think that's what's driving this.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: And it's being introduced under a right to start a family.

Sean McDowell: Okay so-

Scott Rae: Which is sort of, that's almost as all American as motherhood and apple pie. The right to start a family, I mean, who can argue with that?

Sean McDowell: Sure.The way it's framed, everybody's on board. Make the connection exactly for me why IVF would feel like it's in jeopardy for its business model in light of Dobbs. What's the connection? Well because if embryos are persons as well

Sean McDowell: Right

Scott Rae: although Dobbss did not say that personhood begins at conception. But the pro-life movement has been very clear about that, that personhood begins there for the most part.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: And so the normal practice of in vitro fertilization creates... Sean McDowell: Multiple.

Scott Rae: Yeah, that's an understatement in some cases. And there are, at last count, there are close to a million embryos in storage in infertility clinics in the United States and Canada.

Sean McDowell: Frozen embryos, yeah.

Scott Rae: Frozen, yeah. And we would say that those are, you know, the children of the couple, couples who conceive them that are being frozen, held in storage, and will likely be eventually discarded. Now, in some cases, they're donated to other infertile couples

Sean McDowell: Sure, sure.

Scott Rae: they're used for research, but most of them are going to basically go down the kitchen sink at some point. So the normal standard of practice in IVF is, I think, is a serious problem for a follower of Jesus who is as pro-life as we are. Because the normal practice creates all these excess embryos that if you hit the jackpot and get pregnant with twins or triplets on your first try

Sean McDowell: Got it

Scott Rae: your childbearing days are probably over, and maybe medically over as a result of that.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: So now you've got a big problem of what do I do with my children that are in cold storage here? And so I think there's a problem, and I wouldn't, I can't think of any reasons why I would freeze a two-year-old child, even for their own benefit, I'm not sure I would do that. So freezing embryos, I think, is on the same moral plane as freezing small children.

Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: So that's, I think, the issue. That's what's problematic about it. Another problem is, in some cases, women, especially older women, are implanted with more embryos than they can safely carry. The option, then they have the option of selective termination ahead of them. Which even if I were pro-choice, I would say that's a problem.

Sean McDowell: Selective termination, what a term to use to indicate or under indicate what's actually going on.

Scott Rae: That is exactly, under indicate.

Sean McDowell: That makes sense. Now what is interesting to me is this bill you said you think came out shortly after Dobbs, which means they were anticipating it and planning it, ready to go.

Scott Rae: I think that's my best understanding. Sean McDowell: Fair enough. That makes sense.

Scott Rae: If they're, you know, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has a vested interest in keeping the infertility industry alive and well and protected from threats like this.

Sean McDowell: Fair enough. Let's shift to number four, which surprises me, probably most of all of these, that a Catholic hospital could be forced to perform gender affirming surgery. Now before we talk about what's going on, let's just answer this question. Why would a hospital care, a Catholic hospital in particular, potentially a Baptist and other hospitals would as well? Isn't it just surgery, Scott, to help somebody out?

Scott Rae: In the view of the Catholic health system, the answer to that clearly is no, because in their view, gender-affirming surgery, as it's called, the transgender transitioning, however you want to call it, is viewed as something much more fundamental than that. That it violates the created order of things where God created human beings distinctly male and female. And so, in the Catholic health system, biological sex matters. It's a trump card. That's not to say you don't treat gender dysphoria, but you do it in other ways besides radical surgery that involves gender transition, which we're finding as this goes on, the number of detransitioners is also increasing, and with lots of really interesting stories to tell about that.

Sean McDowell: Yeah.

Scott Rae: This is one of the very few areas where a physician and a medical center's right to their own conscience, to set their own standards of what's morally appropriate practice, is being undercut. Because Catholic hospitals are not forced to perform abortions, they're not forced to perform assisted suicide, but they are being forced to perform gender-affirming surgeries.

Sean McDowell: Okay, so at Catholic Hospital, if somebody had, say, cancer and a hysterectomy is the way of alleviating the cancer, that would be permissible in principle because of the higher goal of saving the life. But for shifting somebody from one sex to the next, that's out of line with God's created order. And the concern is that, notice, that Catholic hospitals could be forced to do this. The issue's not settled yet.

Scott Rae: That's correct. Yeah, the federal court has found already that they violated federal law on this. So what the consequences is going to be, we still don't know.

Sean McDowell: Got it.

Scott Rae: Now this is a little tricky legally because the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital is under the umbrella of the University of Maryland Health Center.

Sean McDowell: Oh, interesting.

Scott Rae: Which is a state university system. And so essentially what the Catholic hospital is arguing that simply by virtue of being under a state system, we don't sacrifice our rights of conscience.

Sean McDowell: Got it.

Scott Rae: We can still practice medicine the way we see fit. In my view, whether it's affiliated with a state hospital or not is beside the point.

Sean McDowell: Right.

Scott Rae: Because they're being forced to do something, or will likely be forced to do something that's against their convictions. And what I wonder is what the Catholic Health Association has said repeatedly is if they were forced to perform abortions or do assisted suicide, they would close their doors in mass, which constitutes roughly a third of all the healthcare facilities in the United States.

Sean McDowell: A third of them.

Scott Rae: That would be catastrophic for healthcare in America, particularly for the underserved communities that Catholic healthcare does so wonderfully at serving.

Sean McDowell: Now, my suspicion is a couple things are going on. Number one, that is a power move, which in my estimation is a legitimate power move. But second, I think they mean it. We saw this with adoption agencies being forced to adopt out.

Scott Rae: That's correct. Yeah, absolutely right.

Sean McDowell: I'm not mistaken in Massachusetts. It was in the Northeast and they said, "We will close our doors." And the larger culture celebrated this, which to me shows how upside down our culture is and where these dividing lines are, but I think they mean it. So if I understand [inaudible], we're seeing played out right in front of us, how far will conscious rights go for individual doctors or Catholic hospitals? I suspect this is going to have to work its way up to the Supreme Court in some fashion. Would you agree?

Scott Rae: I suspect so, because this is a major shift in how physicians practice medicine and either are or not protected under the law. Because we've acknowledged for centuries that physicians have our moral agents and they have consciences too, just like patients. And it's just because a patient wants something doesn't necessarily obligate a physician to provide that.

Sean McDowell: That's right.

Scott Rae: So now, whether it obligates a physician to refer to some other ones who will provide, I think is really the much harder question because lots of physicians view referring and doing the procedures as virtually the same thing.

Sean McDowell: Now, asking this question is probably three, four, five, ten steps down the road. But if a case like this made its way up to the Supreme Court, I'm relatively confident that the right of the doctors and the Catholics, their religious freedom would be preserved. Now, I don't know the nuances in this state, and there's some legal issues beyond me, but if I had to bet, and I'm not a betting man, I'm confident it's going to work out, but we don't know that, and it's being played out in front of us.

Scott Rae: Yeah, I think it's just a coin flip as to how this is going to come out. And it's also a coin flip as to whether the Catholic health system will consider this the same kind of deal breaker that they consider abortion and assisted suicide. I suspect that it will be, but that's still, I think, to be determined.

Sean McDowell: This is one of the first signs I've seen of like, wow, there could be not only, I've known that the agenda is wanting to force hospitals, but the first legal precedent of trying to do so is a game-changing time I think it will remember wherever this goes.

Scott Rae: I think the other thing it will do I think is make religiously affiliated hospitals much more reluctant to partner with

Sean McDowell: Oh that’s wise.

Scott Rae: state health facilities.

Sean McDowell: That makes sense.

Scott Rae: Which I think is a huge, that's a huge loss for healthcare just in general.

Sean McDowell: And you also wonder would it be restricted to states? Could some states have that right and not others? I mean there's so many options we're speculating on but we'll be covering this.

Scott Rae: To be determined.

Sean McDowell: Exactly. Well, well said. Well, let's move to our last story. I got to admit, Scott, when you sent me this article. I thought you've got to be kidding me. There's no way that this is happening. But the idea is that there's new horizons for surrogacy what's called whole body gestational donation which when I read something like that, I immediately think that is a fancy way of hiding something very disturbing That's going on. What's happening?

Scott Rae: It's corpses as surrogates. Sean McDowell: Wow.

Scott Rae: Corpses that are having their vital functions sustained by heart pumps and ventilators and all of that.

Sean McDowell: Full of it being intravenously injected in some fashion.

Scott Rae: Right. Being surrogates because the rationale for this is for one, it's quite a bit cheaper. For another, the advocates of this, this first came out of Scandinavia in the last few years, but “why should these wombs go to waste?” was the rationale.

Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness.

Scott Rae: And the third is that gestation and pregnancy involve risks for women. Childbirth is not an easy thing. Most women come through it safely, but in other parts of the world that's not as true as often. And so, why not have pregnancy, have surrogacy being done by women for whom no harm can come to them if complications ensue?

So, I consulted on a case like this in one of the Catholic hospital settings that I consulted with years ago, where we had a woman who had been in a really serious car accident, made massive head injury, and was in a persistent vegetative state. And she was six months pregnant at the time and had an advanced directive to not have mechanical ventilation if she was in a vegetative state. She did not want to be sustained that way. But her husband insisted on keeping her vital function, keeping her alive until the baby could be safely delivered. And so we kept her alive for about two months. And the baby was delivered a month or so early, but that was about the limit that we could do at the time. But the baby was delivered healthy. And as soon as the baby was delivered, his wife's wishes were followed. And so you can imagine carrying home a baby from the hospital on the same day that you've authorized the discontinuation of life support for your spouse.

Sean McDowell: Holy cow.

Scott Rae: You think, I mean, what a mixture of emotions. We never really considered, you know, implanting, impregnating, or implant, I mean, implanting, an embryo in a woman who's in a persistent vegetative state, which is basically brain dead but the brain stem is still working, or brain dead where nothing's working still. And so all the functions of the brain stem are provided artificially. It's not an easy thing to do from scratch for the full gestational period. It's still a little tricky to do that, but there's no reason in principle why this can't be done.

Sean McDowell: I have so many questions about this. I don't even know where to start. Oh my goodness, like even I think about viability. If we were to do this with women, then could a child be inserted that is younger? Like viability right now is 22 weeks. If we were to use women as artificial wombs, is then it viable from conception because we have another way? Like, these are all downstream.

Scott Rae: Yeah. Well, I think the way this is being envisioned is in conjunction with in vitro fertilization.

Sean McDowell: Okay, got it.

Scott Rae: So, the embryos implanted from the start. Sean McDowell: That makes more sense than just...

Scott Rae: It's not a huge leap to an artificial womb. And advocates, what's called ectogenesis, advocates of ectogenesis have been talking about this for the last 15, 20 years, as though it were just on the horizon.

Sean McDowell: Oh they have? Okay.
Scott Rae: And it's turned out not so much. This would be something

that would be an alternative to that.

Sean McDowell: A step towards that. So I guess it raised questions. Does the woman have to have some will ahead of time? She's agreed to or not?

Scott Rae: Yeah, absolutely. It would be similar to donating your organs. You would donate is not quite right because you would... and renting is not quite the right term either.

Sean McDowell: Yeah, that is interesting.

Scott Rae: You would make your womb available to a couple who wanted to use that to gestate a child. You would certainly have to... the deceased woman would have to have previously consented to that for that to be the case.

Sean McDowell: You know, part of the concern with surrogacy for me as a whole is just that the child is developing in the womb of another woman who's not the mother. And there's a connection that takes place even during this stage. So this...

Scott Rae: And actually, that's true whether the surrogate is genetically connected to the child or not.

Sean McDowell: That's right. Guys, so that raises so many questions about how this would affect the child. Who can afford to do this, people with more money? Like, holy cow, that is a crazy story.

Scott Rae: I suspect that this would actually be quite a bit less expensive than the way normal surrogacy is done, because the bill for normal surrogacy can run up to six figures. So it is definitely not for the financially faint of heart. So this, I think, one of the benefits of this would be to, I think, fairly dramatically reduce the cost. Although I can't imagine what the cost would be to sustain a woman on, basically a corpse on life support.

Sean McDowell: In a hospital though with that care, right?
Scott Rae: Maybe not. Maybe not. So I've... I'm not quite sure how that would cash out.
Sean McDowell: Right.

Scott Rae: So that may be a little premature to speculate.

Sean McDowell: So is this just being discussed? Is it being approved? Where are we at with this practice?

Scott Rae: I think we're in the discussion mode. Sean McDowell: Okay.

Scott Rae: But this is the first time that I've seen anybody float the idea with some seriousness. This came out of Oslo, Norway. The idea originally surfaced about 20 years ago in Israel, of all places.

Sean McDowell: Oh, wow.
Scott Rae: An Israeli physician, had I think had the first idea on this.

Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness.
Scott Rae: But I'd say this is something for our listeners, just sort of stay tuned. This is something to keep your antenna up for.

Sean McDowell: We'll come back to it and we'll cover it as it unfolds. Scott, appreciate your work in this area, staying tuned in.

Scott Rae: Crazy, wild and crazy. Sean McDowell: Oh my goodness.

Scott Rae: Can't make it up. It literally is science fiction come off the stage into reality.

Scott Rae: Yeah, we did have a case sort of like this where somebody was required to be an organ donor without their consent. This was years ago, he was a young man, about in his early 30s. He was a backup player for the then San Diego Chargers.

Sean McDowell: Oh.

Scott Rae: He was killed in automobile accident, brain dead, he was separated from his wife at the time. And so his father was the one making decisions. And his wife, literally in the middle of the night, when they were harvesting his organs, his estranged wife barges into the hospital and says, "I want his sperm to conceive a child."

Sean McDowell: Okay. Geez.
Scott Rae: Probably to get access to his estate that he had left.

Sean McDowell: Oh interesting.

Scott Rae: And so the father was, I mean, he didn't know what to do with this, and so he actually consented to it. He said, "Okay." Even though I'm pretty sure the son, you know, the deceased person would not have consented to this because certainly, I mean, most of the joy of parenthood is actually in being a father going forward.

Sean McDowell: Amen.

Scott Rae: Not just clinically passing along your genes. So there is, you know, we had to remind the organ donation people that this was a Catholic hospital that had, let's say, had unique views about how children should be conceived, and this did not fit within Catholic teaching. But it wouldn't be a big surprise to see a dead person stripped of rights, because we're already in Europe now, the consent for organ donation is a consent to opt out, not to opt in.

Sean McDowell: Oh, wow.
Scott Rae: You are... consent is presumed. Sean McDowell: Wow, interesting.

Scott Rae: It's presumed unless you... So that little dot on your driver's license means I'm out in lots of other countries, whereas here it means I'm in.

Sean McDowell: It also makes sense in the larger shift towards identity being less my body and just how I feel.

Scott Rae: That’s right.

Sean McDowell: A certain denigration of the body in our culture. In many ways, it makes sense that we would have these issues given our abandonment of a larger biblical worldview.

Scott Rae: And to think biblically about the body, there's just as much hope in the scripture for your body as there is for your soul.

Sean McDowell: Amen to that. Good word to end on. Scott, appreciate your work here. Very insightful. We'll come back and we will cover some of these stories again. This has been an episode of the podcast “Think Biblically: Conversations on Faith and Culture.” The “Think Biblically” podcast is brought to you by Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, offering programs in Southern California and online, including our Masters in Christian Apologetics, where I teach, now offered fully online. We also have courses as a part of that on ethics, visit biola.edu/talbot to learn more. If you enjoyed today's conversation, please consider giving us a rating on your podcast app. Each one helps and consider sharing it with a friend. Thanks so much for listening, and remember, think biblically about everything.