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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 31, 2014 / 29 Adar II, 5774

How unborn babies become 'clinical waste'

By Jeff Jacoby




JewishWorldReview.com | JONATHAN SWIFT was being satirical when he penned his "modest proposal" that destitute Irish parents alleviate their financial woes by selling their children as delicacies for rich landowners. He assured his readers that 1-year-olds are delicious, "whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled."

That was satire circa 1729. Imagine what Swift at his most scathing would write today - say, a 21st-century "modest proposal" to use unborn fetuses for renewable energy.

But this - from a prominent story last week in The Telegraph, a British newspaper - wasn't satire:

"The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found. Ten [National Health Service] trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in 'waste-to-energy' plants which generate power for heat. . . . At least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4's 'Dispatches' discovered."

At Addenbrooke's, a hospital in Cambridge, England, the fetuses from 797 miscarriages and abortions were burned in a facility designed to generate electricity and heat. Releases given to the women by the hospital had specified only that the remains would be "cremated." Elsewhere, according to the Channel 4 broadcast that broke the story, hospital staff were more candid. After suffering a miscarriage, 35-year-old Cathryn Hurley recalled in an interview, she asked the nurse what would happen to the baby she had just lost. She was told it would be incinerated with the rest of the day's clinical waste.

"That was really difficult to hear," said Hurley, her voice trembling. "Because to me, it wasn't the day's waste. It was my baby. It would have been nice to have some kind of choice about it - to, kind of, mark that baby's life - and there was nothing within the hospital that gave us that opportunity."

The exposť set off a furor, and British officials quickly condemned the practice. Clearly, the thought of burning unborn babies to heat hospitals horrifies many people. But just as clearly it doesn't horrify everyone, or there would have been no scandal to expose.


An Addenbrooke's spokesman told the Daily Mail that the hospital used to dispose of fetal remains in dignity at the Cambridge City Crematorium. It decided to switch to its own main incinerator - the same one it uses to burn trash and recover energy - when the crematorium raised its prices. Hospital managers were facing budgetary pressures, and needed to be "careful with the use of limited resources."

From a strictly utilitarian point of view, why not? Not only did the hospital save £18.50 per cremation, it helped cut energy costs as well. It doesn't make any difference to the fetus how it's disposed of. Why should it make a difference to us?

The answer used to be self-evident: Human beings are more than mere flesh, more than just one organism among all other organisms. Death doesn't transform us into "clinical waste," suitable for recycling or fueling an industrial heating system. Human beings have moral agency; that is what elevates us above every other creature. It is why human rights are intrinsic and universal, it is why human life must be treated with dignity - and why human remains must be handled with dignity when we die. And yes, it's why even the remains of an unborn baby should be treated respectfully.

But we live a dehumanizing age. Our culture makes it easy to scoff at the quaint notion that in every human being is a spark of something divine. It requires a determined pushback not to grow jaded or callous, or to let human exceptionalism be reduced to little more than market value or a bundle of appetites. The renowned Princeton philosopher Peter Singer was asked a few years ago to identify a value today that will vanish within the next few decades. His answer: "The sanctity of life." He looked forward to the day when only a handful of eccentrics will "defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct." That, in Singer's view, will mark an advance. The same influential thinker argues that there is nothing inherently wrong with breeding children in order to harvest their organs, or with permitting disabled infants to be killed for up to a month after birth.

Anything can be rationalized, including the money-saving convenience of heating hospitals with dead fetuses. Our humaneness is rarely more than a thin veneer, and it takes less effort than most of us realize to peel it off, releasing the barbarism beneath.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist.

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