This Is Really Sad

The Daily Signal is reporting today that the United Nations Human Rights Committee drafted a memo saying that abortion and physician-assisted suicide should be universal human rights.

The article reports:

The United Nations Human Rights Committee drafted a memo saying that abortion and physician-assisted suicide should be universal human rights.

The memo, or “general comment” on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, calls for abortion to be decriminalized everywhere. Nations and states should “not introduce new barriers and should remove existing barriers [to abortion] … including barriers caused as a result of the exercise of conscientious objection by individual medical providers,” it said, Crux Now reported Thursday.

To see where this is headed, we need only to look at a New York Times article from October 2016. The headline reads, “Dutch Law Would Allow Assisted Suicide for Healthy Older People.”

The New York Times reports:

In the Netherlands, a country vaunted for its liberalism, a proposal to legalize assisted suicide for older people who are generally healthy but feel they have led a full life has stirred up an ethical storm in some quarters.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for patients who were suffering unbearable pain and had no prospects of a cure.

Now, some critics say the country has gone too far with a proposed law that would allow people who are not suffering from a medical condition to seek assisted suicide if they feel they have “completed life.” Proponents of the law counter that limiting assisted death to patients with terminal illnesses is no longer enough, and that older people have the right to end their lives with dignity, and when they so choose.

Edith Schippers, the health minister, read a letter to the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday defending the measure. It is needed, she said, to address the needs of “older people who do not have the possibility to continue life in a meaningful way, who are struggling with the loss of independence and reduced mobility, and who have a sense of loneliness, partly because of the loss of loved ones, and who are burdened by general fatigue, deterioration and loss of personal dignity.”

We are in danger of creating a world where life has no value in itself–it only has value in how useful or convenient it is to the people around it.

To add to the picture of what is happening, The Daily Signal also reported today:

Get ready to watch one of the most heart-wrenching pro-life ad campaigns you’ve ever seen.

It’s called “Endangered Syndrome,” and in it, children with Down syndrome dress up as endangered species—pandas, polar bears, and lions.


Because like endangered animals, in many parts of the world, children with Down syndrome are becoming critically endangered, if not extinct. The point is simple—if we care so much about endangered animals, shouldn’t we also care about endangered humans, too?

This is the video:

Are you comfortable with where we are headed?

We Have Lost Our Perspective On Life

Last week The Washington Times posted an article about Stephanie Packer, a California woman suffering from a terminal form of scleroderma (a cancer).

The article reports:

Stephanie Packer, a wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of scleroderma, said her insurance company initially indicated it would pay for her to switch to a different chemotherapy drug at the recommendation of her doctors.

“For a while, five months or so, we’ve been trying to get me on a different chemotherapy drug for the infusions, because my doctor felt that it would be less toxic than some of the other drugs that we were going to be using,” Ms. Packer said in a video distributed by The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network on Monday.

“And I was going back and forth, and finally I had heard back from them, and they said, ‘Yes, we’re going to get it covered, we just have to fix a couple of things,’” she continued.

But shortly after California’s End of Life Option Act, which authorizes physicians to diagnose a life-ending dose of medication to patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live, went into effect, Ms. Packer’s insurance company had a change of heart.

“And when the law was passed, it was a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they were going to deny coverage for the chemotherapy that we were asking for,” Ms. Packer said.

The article goes on to explain that when Ms. Packer called the insurance company to ask about their decision, she asked if they would cover suicide pills. The representative explained that suicide pills would be covered under her plan.

The article further reports:

Her story comes as the D.C. Council considers permitting physician-assisted suicide. Modeled on Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, the District’s legislation would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending drugs at home.

The “Death With Dignity Act” will go before the D.C. Council for a final vote on Nov. 1.

After the right-to-die movement began garnering national attention, Ms. Packer said she noticed a change in tone at her support groups for terminally ill patients. While the meetings were formerly positive and encouraging, she said the specter of suicide now hangs above them like a dark cloud.

“And people, once they became depressed, it became negative, and it started consuming people,” she said in the video. “And then they said, ‘You know what? I wish I could just end it.’”

It is cheaper to kill someone than to treat their disease, so how do you make it acceptable? Simple, you paint the murder with nice words–it is compassionate to kill someone who is suffering, it is compassionate to save the family and the healthcare provider the cost of treatment, it is compassionate to protect the family from seeing their loved one suffer. No matter how you phrase it, you have decided to murder someone for the sake of convenience. We have reached the point where murder is only against the law when it does not apply to the unborn and the sick. We will soon reach the point where murder is only against the law when it does not apply to the elderly. Then it will be murder is not against the law when it applies to the handicapped. You get the picture.

I would like to say that a patient always has the option of refusing treatment if they chose not to go through the rigors of chemotherapy; however, that is different than taking suicide pills and ending your life. As people, we are not in charge of life and death–that is seriously above our pay grade. It is a mistake to think that insurance companies or the government have the right to determine who lives and who dies.

As Our Population Ages, This Is Important

 The Wall Street Journal posted an opinion piece this morning about the impact of doctor-assisted suicide on the practice of medicine. The author of the piece is Dr. William L. Toffler, national director of Physicians for Compassionate Care.

The article points out that in recent years, there have been about two dozen suicide bills introduced in legislatures in America. Dr. Toffler suggests that before we support these measures, we examine what has happened to the practice of medicine in Oregon, where assisted suicide was introduced 20 years ago.

The article details some of the impact of assisted-suicide laws:

In one case a patient with bladder cancer contacted me. She was concerned that an oncologist treating her might be one of the “death doctors,” and she questioned his motives. This was particularly worrying to her after she obtained a second opinion from another oncologist who was more positive about her prognosis and treatment options. Whichever of the consultants was correct, such fears were never an issue before.

Under Oregon’s law, a patient can request lethal drugs only if he has a terminal illness and less than six months to live. However, it is nearly impossible to predict the course of an illness six months out, and many patients given such prognoses live full, rewarding lives long past six months.

There is also the question as to whether cost enters into assisted-suicide decisions:

Also concerning are the regular notices I receive indicating that many important services and drugs for my patients—even some pain medications—will not be covered by the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program. Yet physician-assisted suicide is covered by the state and our collective tax dollars. Supporters claim physician-assisted suicide gives patients choice, but what sort of a choice is it when life is expensive but death is free?

It also appears that the statistics on physician-assisted suicide are being hidden:

A shroud of secrecy envelops the practice of assisted suicide. Doctors engaging in it do not accurately report the actual manner of death. Instead they are required by state law to fabricate the death certificate, stating that the cause is “natural” rather than suicide. In late 1997, right before assisted suicide was about to begin, the state legislature implemented a system of two different death certificates—one that is public and includes no medical information and another that is kept private by the state. As a result, no one outside of the Oregon Health Division knows precisely how many assisted suicides have taken place, because accurately tracking them has been made impossible.

Dr. Toffler shared his own experience with a patient afflicted with MS:

One inquiry came from a patient with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis. He was in a wheelchair yet lived an active life as a general contractor. I asked him how the disease affected his life. He acknowledged that MS was a major challenge and told me that if he got too much worse, he might want to “just end it.”

I told him I could understand his fear and frustration and even his belief that assisted suicide might be a good option. I also told him that should he become sicker or weaker, I would work to provide him the best care and support available. No matter how debilitated he might become, his life was, and would always be, inherently valuable. As such, I said that would I not recommend nor would I participate in his suicide. He simply replied: “Thank you.”

As our population ages, there will be an increase in the number of terminally ill patients. Most of us have watched a loved one struggle with terminal illness and wondered what in the world was being accomplished by their suffering. I suspect we will never know the answer to that question. However, we need to look at the impact of doctor-assisted suicide on the practice of medicine.

When researching this article, I discovered the following at Wikipedia:

It is a popular misconception that the phrase “First do no harm” (Latin: Primum non nocere) is a part of the Hippocratic oath. Strictly speaking, the phrase does not appear in the oath, though an equivalent phrase is found in Epidemics, Book I, of the Hippocratic school: “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient”.  The exact phrase is believed to have originated with the 19th-century surgeon Thomas Inman.

It seems to me that even if “First do no harm” does not appear in the Hippocratic oath, it is a really good idea. I have no answers as to why some people suffer through terminal illness, but I also do not feel that as mere human beings we have the right to decide when a person dies. I truly think that decision is above all of our pay grades.

Just as an aside, I recently attended my 50th High School Reunion. The person I sat next to at the reunion was told years ago that he would only live a few months (he had cancer). He was sitting next to me, cancer free, and fully alive. It would have been a shame if someone had wanted to ‘end his suffering,’ which I am sure he went through in fighting the disease.

What’s Tanning Got To Do With This ?

A website called the Vermont Press Bureau is reporting today that a “Death with dignity” amendment has been added to a tanning bed regulation that would bar people under the age of eighteen from using tanning beds.

The article reports:

With no discussion and no testimony, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 3-2 in favor of adding the death with dignity amendment to the tanning bed bill and then voted 3-2 to approve the overall tanning bed bill.

A battle will surely ensue in the Senate — which is closely divided  on death with dignity — over whether the physician-assisted suicide amendment is “germane” to the tanning bed legislation.

But Sen. Hinda Miller, a Chittenden County Democrat who sponsored the amendment, argued it is germane because both bills are related to cancer. The tanning bed bill is designed to prevent it, and physician-assisted suicide would be used by people dying from it, Miller said.

This is not a good direction to be moving in.

The article reports that the Vermont leadership is divided on the bill:

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell is opposed to the physician-assisted suicide bill, but Gov. Peter Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith support it.

Stay tuned.


Enhanced by Zemanta