Todayâ€™s AI concerns the tragic brain-death of 12-year-old Motl Brody, who lost a six-month battle with cancer, and is currently being kept alive by a respirator and drugs that keep his heart beating.
Motl’s brain has ceased to function and begun to decompose. Doctors have determined his condition as â€œbeyond a persistent vegetative stateâ€ â€“ that means worse than Terri Schiavo. And despite this information, his parents are fighting to keep him on life support, not because they have any hope for his recovery, but because it is their religious obligation to do so.
Itâ€™s a classic clash between science and religion.
Doctors include brain-death in their definition of death. Some orthodox Jews believe that death doesnâ€™t occur until the heart and lungs stop functioning, because they believe the personâ€™s â€œsoulâ€ is still alive. Brodyâ€™s parents believe that it is their religious obligation to keep Motlâ€™s heart and lung functioning, despite the fact that he has no chance of survival.
The debate has ended up in the courts, with doctors fighting to remove Motl from life-support based on his prognosis, and his parents fighting to keep him on life-support based on their religious views.
Who should determine when death occurs? Is it a philosophical or scientific issue?
(Hat tip to TheSkepticalMale for this topic.)