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April 22, 1983

Rationing Human Life

JAMA. 1983;249(16):2223-2224. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330400069027

What is a human life worth? Is each human life worth the same as every other? Or does the worth of a human life depend on the following:

  • What country, state, county, or city a person lives in?

  • The color of a person's skin, the language spoken, the person's age, gender, or sexual preference?

  • Whether the person: Has an IQ of 150 or less than 50? Is a heart surgeon or a jaundiced newborn? Is a concert violinist or a victim of trisomy 21? Is a star professional quarterback or a quadriplegic? Is a millionaire or is on welfare? Is a mother of five young children or is a convicted rapist? Is a practicing psychologist or an institutionalized schizophrenic? Is a social worker or an active street heroin addict? Is a celebrated ethicist or a functional illiterate?

  • Is primarily productive or primarily consumptive?

These questions are being asked and choices

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