Monday, March 24, 2014

Well, I'll Bet Those Dead Luftwaffe Pilots Feel Pretty Silly Now

... it turns out there was no reason to Bomben auf Engelend after all. The British lion would eventually see the light.
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 NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat...

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.
Oh, sure, they weren't all Jews, but at least the Tommies are on the Reich right track.

On the plus side, the Luftwaffe did leave us with this catchy tune.

Bonus question for the Sam Harris fans out there: This makes perfect sense to you, right? I mean, if the things are already "dead" then what's the fuss? Besides, the workers were only following orders don't have free will, so why get all worked up about it?


  1. The article is a bit vague on this point:

    Let's say a woman comes into the hospital with abdominal pain, and turns out to have an ectopic pregnancy. They operate, and remove the fallopian tube which contains a 6-week fetus (the references I'm seeing say that at this point it is about the size of "a grain of rice" or "a BB pellet").

    What is the appropriate thing for the hospital to do with it at that point? Is it really that offensive if they treat it the same way as they treat other human tissue removed during surgery?

  2. One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’


    your baby's the size of a peach!
    She's about 2.9 inches long and weighs about .81 ounces, and -- proportion-wise -- her head's now about 1/3 the size of her body.

    Or, for those who are visual:

  3. Foxfier:
    Yes, so that is the maximum age we are talking about, not the average. In any case, what is the distinction between "cremated" and "incinerated"? As far as I can see, a crematorium is just an incinerator designed to make it convenient for putting in bodies. It isn't doing anything special otherwise.

    (note: if you are running a waste-to-energy incinerator, you wouldn't seek out human bodies as fuel anyway. The moisture content of human and animal flesh is so high that all the energy would go to evaporating it. You need to burn other fuels to generate the heat for a crematorium.)

  4. In any case, what is the distinction between "cremated" and "incinerated"?

    Most people see a difference between routine burning of human corpses for energy and a treatment for burial that happens to involve burning. Call it the Soylent Green rule.

    Clearly you at least recognize that others see a difference, since you twice try to limit it to less recognizably human humans.

  5. So, Tim, if one of your kids dies, shall we burn her to keep warm? That's the analogy. This isn't a blob of tissue, it's a baby.

  6. "This isn't a blob of tissue, it's a baby."

    And this is our fundamental disagreement. You, and the Catholic Church, have taken the position that a fertilized egg, which is a single-celled organism, is equivalent to an actual baby. That there is a bright, shining line between "human" and "not human" occurring at the moment a sperm unites with an egg, when it suddenly gets a soul from God and turns into a person in an instant, with no transition.

    I have so many problems with this that describing them all would take pages. But the chief one is this - in their desire to avoid any sort of fuzziness in their definition of "human" versus "non-human", the Church has granted personhood, and a soul, to a single-celled organism.

    A. Single. Celled. Organism.

    So single cells can have souls, and be persons? Then animals are perfectly capable of having souls, and can be persons. Or insects. Or plants. Or even a colony of human cells growing in a tissue-culture flask. Or *bacteria*, if you like. The only reply the Church appears to have to this is "because God doesn't choose to give those other things souls", but that's pretty weak - what basis do they have for deciding who God does or does not grant souls to? They've already decided that He *could* do it, and dogmatically asserting that he *doesn't* do it (for unspecified reasons) is completely arbitrary and without support.

    Now, if you want to go full-Ahimsa and agree that killing anything is on the same moral level as killing a human, then fine, I'll concede that you are taking a consistent position by saying that killing a fertilized egg is murder. But if you don't, then I think that the most sensible position on human life is that the egg isn't a person at the start, but then gradually becomes a human over time, and that the older and more developed it becomes, the more it deserves protections and rights, and then by the time it is ready to be born it is fully human. Maybe you don't like this, maybe you think it is messy and uncertain and lacks a clear black-and-white definition of what is human, and therefore leaves us open to a lot of arguments and possible abuses, but you know what? Life is like that.

  7. There is rather bright line between "cells" and "organism."

    That's basic biology.

    It goes from being two cells to being an organism; that organism's species is set. There's a slightly fuzzy period during fusion, but that you have two cells on one side and an organism on the other is obvious.

    That your personal philosophy has issues with that pretty basic science isn't the Catholic Church's fault.

    If you wish to have the authority to declare who is "really" a human with basic human rights, please be open about it rather than trying to declare that biology is some sort of a stupid Catholic plot.