Archive for the ‘Physician Assisted Suicide’ Category

Today, at age 83, Dr. Jack Kevorkian slipped into eternity and left in his wake a trail of civilizational wreckage from which we may never recover. With his Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) movement, he was one of the Twentieth Century’s architects of the Culture of Death; the Margaret Sanger of the opposite end of the life spectrum.

As Msgr. William Smith taught so very well:

1. All social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering.

2. All evil begins with a lie. Identify the lie, and we succeed in unmasking the evil.

Kevorkian began his evil with a lie by omission. He frightened terminally ill people with the specter of an excruciantingly agonizing death (and I’ve seen cancer patients go this way), while never giving equal weight to palliative care and the reality that pain can be made bearable. Moreover, he spent the last 21 years of his life as the champion of suicide, while he could have used his considerable knowledge and skills to help advance the field of palliative medicine.

He didn’t.

Kevorkian invoked the idea of “Death with Dignity,” which suggests that suffering is a hollow experience of no redemptive value. The concept also fails to address the reality of hospice care, where people die peacefully sedated surrounded by friends and family.

Death with Dignity hardly describes suicide. Suicide is desperation-driven, fueled by the twin afflictions of helplessness and hopelessness. It’s grubby and base, advanced by people who lack vision or soul. Surrendering to despair while standing on the brink of eternity is the final admission of the individual that God has no power in that moment. What should be the individual’s moment of greatest trust is laid waste by the smooth-talking clinician who says that the only sure avoidance of suffering lies in the flip of a switch on a Kevorkian machine.

As with all evil, it has metastasized throughout the medical community. The “right” to die with dignity has become an imperative to die as soon as possible when diagnosed with a terminal condition, and now in England, the obligation for the elderly to simply go away. Just this week, word has come out of England that doctors are prescribing water, WATER for the elderly in hospitals so that nurses will actually hydrate them.

Doctors caring for elderly patients in hospital are being forced to prescribe water for them in order to ensure they have enough to drink.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the NHS watchdog, found nurses sometimes left patients so thirsty that the only way for doctors to ensure they had enough liquid was to add “drinking water” to hospital medication charts.

The revelation comes in the first reports from the CQC into dignity and nutrition of elderly people treated by the NHS, which reveals a failure to attend to the most basic requirements of care. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, who ordered the reports, said the failings were “unacceptable”.

Read the rest of the story here.

The plight of the terminally ill is no light matter. The fear of confronting one’s mortal ending can be paralyzing. Add to that the specter of dying in unbearable agony. Now add to that the dishonest physician who offers no real assurance of palliative care, and offers only suicide.

That is the essence of predation.

God be merciful to Dr. Kevorkian. Nobody knows his soul, but God. However, he has done great evil during his time among us. His last 23 years were the slow suicide of a soul.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon him.

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Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — A new report from the Washington health department reveals at least 36 people died after they killed themselves under the first year of the state’s new law legalizing assisted suicides. The law was only enacted for nine months during 2009 after voters approved it on the 2008 ballot.

Read the rest here.

This is only the beginning. A patient, terrified of what-death itself? The sudden realization of finality? Fear of nonbeing? These, tied up with the thought of pain and suffering in a mutual synergy producing for the patient realities that will in all likelihood never come to pass.

Most patients who receive terminal diagnoses fear the loss of control. Suicide gives them that which their fear drives them toward-control over their ending. But why should medicine be allowed to play along in this tragic delusional thought? What is ironic is that these laws are being passed at precisely the moment in history when palliative care is undergoing revolutionary advances. If ever there were a time for medicine to coordinate its forces in psychiatry and palliative care, this is that time. However, that is not the consensus among those going into medicine, nursing, and public health.

Over at Jill Stanek’s site, I was participating in a discussion this week about the regrets felt by post-abortive mothers. Based on the testimonies of hundreds of women, I wrote the following:

“They all describe the same experience.:

Cold room.

Cold metal table.

Cold impersonal staff.

Cold, unfeeling physicians.

Cold and despair filled post-op rooms.

The word here is COLD, which conveys the essence of murder, of lifelessness, of lovelessness.”

A young woman, Megan, who is herself proudly unrepentant in her post-abortive state, and pursuing a Master of Public Health Degree wrote the following in reply:

“Gerard, shut up. I don’t apologize for my incivility. You have NO idea what you’re talking about. I’ve sat on “cold, metal tables” in an abortion clinic and many hospitals. Ho-hum. Neoliberalism dictates that efficiency is our highest virtue, rather than attentive care and compassion. When my mother was hospitalized with sequelae from her second pregnancy, nobody tucked her in with fluffy pink pillows. “Coldness” characterizes the ENTIRE medical system.”

This is what is increasingly being heard as the voice from within the medical establishment. There are connections between abortion and suicide.

They are both motivated by fear, by a sense that control is slipping from their hands.

They are both motivated by hopelessness, by a sense that the future holds no redeeming value.

They are both motivated by a sense of helplessness, a fatalism firmly rooted in fear and hopelessness.

With an ever-increasing number of abortions comes an ever-increasing number of medical professionals who have in some way participated in them, personally or professionally. The callous disregard for the fears and suffering of young women who do not realize the resources available to them fuels the numbers of innocent lives terminated and the transitioning of the woman’s mental suffering from temporary state in early pregnancy to life-long guilt and despair for all too many.

As predicted by Pope Paul VI, callousness on the one end of the life spectrum with abortion would deaden sensibilities to related issues on the other end of the life spectrum with disability and terminal illness. At their root, these issues are about people being cut off from their essential human identity. It is about loss of community and family.We have for too long tolerated the silent holocaust of abortion, and we see in Megan’s howl of despair the effects of a loveless world.

It’s time to get busy, busier than ever in evangelizing a world of Megans. The events in Washington are indeed cause for alarm, but they also represent an opportunity waiting to be seized. They open the door to the conversation of what it means to be fully human and what each person is due based on their intrinsic value. These events present us with the opportunity to push for palliative care, and to roundly condemn the medical community for cooperating in intrinsic evil. They present us with the opportunity to discuss the extent to which medicine is becoming more of what Megan has described.

Sure it’s unpleasant to talk about. But at this moment in history we have been called to this specific task, to witness to the Gospel of Life lovingly and joyfully, to bring light into darkness, and hope into despair.

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Mother- Frances Inglis Photo: Central News

Across the Pond, The Telegraph brings us the story of Frances Inglis, 57, a mother who was training to be a nurse and was driven ‘insane’ by the thought that her brain damaged son Tom was suffering. Inglis killed her son with a heroin overdose, after searching the internet for methods of performing euthanasia. Perhaps our readers from England can fill us in on some of the details not accounted for in the Telegraph story.

There are multiple layers of tragedy here in this story. The most obvious is a mother driven mad by the thought that her child was locked in a seemingly endless state of suffering, despite assurances from the physicians that he would improve.

The second layer of tragedy is the collective consciousness that is setting in regarding euthanasia, and is inversely proportional to the authentic participation in and witness to Christian Faith. Where Christian faith and hope are absent, the cult of death grows strong. It becomes the answer to all of life’s deepest challenges.

That in turn leads to the next level of tragedy, no room was left for the grace of God. As Father Anthony Padovano said of the human heart, ” It breathes the air of hope and is suffocated in despair”.

Therein lies the greatest tragedy of all. A mother whose heart was suffocated in despair took the life she brought into the world. A permanent solution to what might only have been a temporary problem.

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Montana has become the third state to approve physician-assisted suicide, after a divided State Supreme Court voted in a 5-3 ruling that said physician assisted suicide violates no laws . Read it here in the Christian Science Monitor.

As curtjester noted on a post below, once again it’s the courts doing the dirty work.

Death is sweetly seductive. We can so easily solve our most intractable problems by recourse to it. It requires no imagination, no imperative for scientific discovery, no advance in technology. It short-circuits the imperative to advance the science and art of palliative care. Excruciating suffering is not necessary at the end, execution even less so.

It’s the surrender of the smallest minds among us, and reminds us that all groups of humans will descend to the operational level of its smallest minds without vigilant leadership. It takes courage and vision, fortitude and skill to advance a civilization.

This ruling reminds us that the life issues will never be secured permanently. The mendacity of the cowardly is boundless.

As with all pro-death boilerplate, the label betrays the ignominious reality. Death with dignity isn’t. There is nothing dignified in the perversion of science and medicine, in physicians pulling double-duty as healer and executioner.

It isn’t enough to protest physician assisted suicide. We must demand that NIH fund research into pain management, that the government and medical schools fund departments and establish chairs of pain management, that graduate schools of Nursing do the same.

We must read Seduced By Death, by Herbert Hendin, a psychiatrist in favor of physician assisted suicide until he traveled to the Netherlands and saw their experiment in full throttle.

Above all, we must be prayerful warriors, relying on God’s grace to strengthen and empower us.

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