Bioethics has hardened into an activist ideology that pervades the medical world, the schools, and government. This explains why Leon Kass, a moderate conservative who heads the president's committee on bioethics, is under such fierce attack and why Princeton University picked Peter Singer as its first scholar in bioethics. Singer thinks parents should be able to kill disabled newborns.
Among bioethicists, Kass says, "there is a kind of condescension toward the views of the general public [and] a very real danger that what constitutes meaningful life among the intellectual elite will be imposed on people as the only standard by which the value of human life is measured." Under pressure from bioethicists, norms have been collapsing. Fifteen years ago, as author Wesley Smith writes in his 2002 book The Culture of Death, legally assisted suicide was unthinkable. So was harvesting the organs of terminally ill patients, which is done today and approved by bioethicists.
Pushing the culture toward outcomes previously considered immoral is routine in bioethics. The Rev. Richard Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of the nation's best religious journal (First Things), wrote, "Thousands of ethicists and bioethicists, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on its way to becoming the justifiable, until it is finally established as the unexceptional."