The Lesson Of History

The Daily Signal posted an article today about the legislative battle currently waging regarding abortion.

The article reports:

A Democratic senator blocked on Monday night the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which would have ensured children who survived abortions were given medical care.

Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be a complete shock. In the years since Roe v. Wade, our culture has continued its downward trend to supporting death, not life.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and came on the heels of comments last week from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia insinuating that he supports infanticide in some instances.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., objected to the bill, arguing that the legislation is unnecessary, and thus preventing the bill from receiving unanimous consent.

The article cites an interesting contrast:

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., pointed out that the Senate unanimously confirmed legislation congratulating New England Patriots on winning the Super Bowl but, sadly, couldn’t unify on behalf of a resolution condemning infanticide.

Freshman Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., called upon American citizens to speak out against infanticide and added that he was surprised to encounter pro-infanticide sentiment so soon in his tenure.

Braun is right to be horrified by the situation and he is right to ask citizens to speak out.

That is a sad commentary on the relevancy of the Senate.

The article continues:

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion by implicitly categorizing an unborn baby as the “personalty” (a legal term referring to one’s private property). Thus, ironically, merely a few years after America’s affirmation of the Civil Rights movement, the Supreme Court majority in Roe declared that there was, after all, an entire class of human beings—unborn babies—for whom there would be no guarantee of justice and equality.

Regrettably, left-leaning jurists such as Justice John Paul Stevens supported the perverse logic of Roe by arguing that an unborn baby does not become a human being until the moment of birth.

But such an argument is deeply incoherent; a being’s nature is not determined by its location.

Furthermore, as Valparaiso University law professor Richard Stith argued 20 years ago, the incoherence of this progressive argument—that the moment of birth is a “bright line” at which an infant becomes a human being—may very well lead to the embrace of infanticide.

In other words, since medical science makes clear that there is very little difference between a baby the day before birth and the day after birth, Stith speculated that progressive thought leaders would increasingly argue for the legalization of post-birth abortion.

And that is exactly what has happened in ensuing years.

The article concludes:

Since the Netherlands legalized euthanasia nearly 20 years ago, doctors have taken the lives of thousands of elderly citizens annually. In the Netherlands’ culture of death, it is therefore not surprising that thousands of citizens carry cards prohibiting doctors from euthanizing them, and some elderly citizens express fear about going in for basic medical care because of the possibility of euthanasia.

Recently, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that a Dutch family had to hold down their mother, as she fought against being euthanized by her doctor. The patient, who was not named in the reports, suffered from dementia and had reportedly told medical officials that she wished to be euthanized when “the time was right.”

And yet, even though she reportedly said “I don’t want to die” several times in the days leading up to the killing, the doctor, who was also not named, determined that the time was right, slipped a sedative into her coffee to relax her, and then tried to administer the lethal injection. The patient awoke and resisted the doctor, causing the physician to ask the family for help in holding down the patient down while he finished her off, per the reports.

Northam’s support for infanticide and Murray’s objection to anti-infanticide legislation should not be viewed as insignificant. However, they should likewise not be seen as entirely surprising.

Anti-life legislation is arguably the most consistent consequence of the culture of death enshrined in our legal code since Roe v. Wade. Northam and Murray represent a powerful movement to stay true to the ethic undergirding pro-abortion activism, and they are gaining support day by day.

This unashamed movement to undermine the sanctity of human life must be resisted, not only by Congress but by the citizens of our great nation. If the United States Congress can unify to support a football team, then surely they can unify to defeat any movement that threatens the sanctity of human life.

The generation that first made it legal to kill their children will be the first generation to be killed by their children.

Scary Things Our Children Are Being Taught In College

On Wednesday, National Review posted an article about Professor Jerry Coyne, a professor in the department of ecology and human evolution at the University of Chicago. Professor Coyne writes a blog called “Why Evolution Is True.” I don’t have a problem with his belief in evolution as long as he also explains that it is a theory and that there are other theories. However, I am concerned about a recent post on his blog.

Professor Coyne writes:

If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born?

…After all, newborn babies aren’t aware of death, aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgments (and if there’s severe mental disability, would never develop such faculties). It makes little sense to keep alive a suffering child who is doomed to die or suffer life in a vegetative or horribly painful state.

Professor Coyne states:

As for the “slippery slope” argument — that this will lead to Nazi-like eugenics — well, this hasn’t come to pass in places where assisted suicide or euthanasia of adults is legal.

The article at National Review reminds us that what Professor Coyne states about the “slippery slope” is not entirely true:

Superficially, he is correct, but it is silly to think that abuses will occur only in such an explicit manner. “The violence we commit,” writes Hart, “is more hygienic, subtler, and less inconvenient than that committed by our forebears.” Indeed, Wesley J. Smith has highlighted how an increasing number of mentally ill patients are euthanized in countries where it is legal. As he noted at NRO, these patients tend to be “the prime candidates for conjoining euthanasia with organ harvesting.” Sometimes, however, fatal malpractice is more explicit: In 2015, hundreds were euthanized in the Netherlands without request.

Professor Coyne is teaching the leaders of tomorrow. Hopefully they will acquire some moral clarity on the idea of killing children before they become leaders. It is scary to think of a world where we think we have the right to arbitrarily kill children or adults because we deem them defective.

 

 

 

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.

Assisted Suicide

California has just passed and Governor Brown signed a law that allows doctor-assisted suicide. I have a problem with that. I don’t want people to suffer, but I am opposed to actually taking someone’s life because they are suffering. I believe that medicine can alleviate the suffering and allow the patient to die peacefully on their own. I see no advantage to simply killing a patient before their body is ready to die.

Assisted suicide has been legal in the Netherlands since 2001. We might take a look at their experience with the practice of euthanasia to see how it works.

According to a Daily Beast article from February of last year:

Their law, which went into effect in 2002, allowed doctors to end the lives of their patients in the context of a state health care system that emphasized close consultation with family physicians over many years. The termination of life was supposed to be limited to those with “unbearable and hopeless suffering” whose mental faculties were not impaired and who had no other hope of relief.

But recent revelations about the way euthanasia is practiced by one group in The Netherlands, especially for those suffering from psychiatric illnesses, is making even the Dutch feel uncomfortable. The new debate raises questions about the way appointed commissions judge these life-ending practices, and echoes the kinds of ‘slippery-slope’ criticisms often made by right-wing and religious parties in the United States.

…But where does one draw the line? Because these patients are not physically ill, the evaluations of independent psychiatrists are under scrutiny. Does this mean any person suffering from serious depression can shop around until he or she finds someone willing to help with suicide? And euthanasia is not only for old people. How young can you be and still get legal help if you want to die? How far should society go to overcome the biologically inbuilt threshold that makes it hard to take one’s own life by aiding someone to do so?

The controversy surrounding the Life-Ending Clinic’s activities has caused the Dutch press to look at some of the other cases from recent years. In one particularly disturbing case a 35-year-old woman, the youngest to die since the Dutch law was introduced, got help killing herself in 2012. Excerpts of her file were published by Dutch national newspaper Trouw and read like a sad story of clinical depression. But the file also shows an extended period of hopefulness. Not enough apparently. A team of doctors decided there was no cause to wait, and ended her life.

I have heard reports of elderly patients in the Netherlands going into the hospital for a minor matter and being euthanized in the interest of saving money for their families. I cannot personally attest to these stories, but because of the sources, I am inclined to believe them.

It would be ironic if in America the first generation to kill their children in abortion because those children were inconvenient were also the first generation to be euthanized by their children because having an elderly parent was inconvenient.

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.

Ignoring The Value Of Life

CBN News is reporting today that Belgium’s parliament has passed a law to legalize euthanasia for children of any age. This is frightening. I know how traumatic it has been in the past for my husband and I to euthanize a pet–I can’t imaging putting a parent in a position where euthanizing a child is an option. I am sure that there will be pressure exerted on parents with extremely sick or disabled children to opt for euthanasia rather than use extensive medical resources to treat the child.

The article reports:

Under the new law, if both parents agree their child should be killed, three doctors and a psychologist would then have to certify that the child was aware of the consequences of his or her decision. The child would have to be under medical care.

“We are talking about children that are really at the end of their life, and it’s not that they have months or years to go. They will, their life will end anyway,” Dr. Gerlant Van Berlaer, chief of clinic for pediatric critical care at the University Hospital of Brussels, explained.

“And the question they ask us is, ‘Well, don’t make me go in a terrible, horrifying way. Let me go now while I’m still a human being and while I’m still, while I still have my dignity,'” he said.

But critics asked how anyone could gauge a child’s capacity for discernment in such a situation.

How long will it be before children with minor disabilities will be candidates for euthanasia?

 

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Latest News On The Vermont Euthanasia Law

The Republic (whose website lists its home as Columbus, Indiana) posted an article on Thursday saying that the Vermont state Senate has defeated an effort to add euthanasia to a tanning bed resolution that would have barred people under eighteen from using tanning beds.

The article reports:

The legislation was designed to set up a system allowing physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients in the last six months of life who repeatedly asked for it.

The bill had been bottled up in the Judiciary Committee. This week the Health and Welfare committee added it to a separate bill regulating tanning beds.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott ruled the two measures not germane to one another, and a majority of senators concurred.

For the moment, euthanasia will not be legalized in Vermont, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this battle will continue.

Why do some legislators want to give doctors the right to kill people?

The Hippocratic Oath states:

I WILL FOLLOW that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.

I realize that we have thrown out that oath in the area of abortion, but do we have to make it worse?

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