Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's In The News: America "On The Brink of Being Totally Anti-Life"

Last Saturday I was sitting in the Scranton Hilton Hotel ballroom, attending the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Conference.

The day concluded with the 300 white, mostly elderly attendees being encouraged to write letters to their local paper. Those who wanted to "report" on the conference were given press releases to send to their newspapers. Photos were taken of attendees with speakers for publication in newspapers, journals, and local weekly publications. "You know those papers where reunions are reported on? You could use that paper to educate Americans about "pro-life" issues."

And so, from the MonroeNews comes this "article" from Dean Cousino. There's no doubt that this preaching, masquerading as a "news" item, is ideologically motivated. And it's in a local Michigan newspaper. Expect more of this trend in your local news outlets:

America is spiraling downward because it is losing a spiritual battle with forces promoting a "culture of death," a speaker told the Focus on Life Benefit Dinner audience Thursday.

The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, a pro-life organization, said America is on a slippery slope.

"America is fairly close to the edge of the spectrum," the Rev. Euteneuer (pronounced Eyetenower) said. "We are on the brink of becoming a totally anti-life society. We are very far down that slippery slope (because) we are tolerating the greatest injustice in a free society — the killing of unborn children and people like Terri Schiavo."

Appointing a pro-abortion judge to the U.S. Supreme Court could push the country over the edge, he said.

Fifty years ago, both abortion and euthanasia were believed to be an "unspeakable evil," he said. He called lawmakers in Washington, D.C., the most "anti-life" Congress in history with multi-faceted proposals that attack life.

"Every society is pro-life until someone comes in to distort it," the diocesan priest from Florida told about 220 people at the banquet, held at LaRoy’s Hall. "We can stand up and say no, but it much harder in our country because we are supposed to be open-minded and tolerant. That is our great weakness."

In his 40-minute address, the Rev. Euteneuer, 47, described abortion as a "demonic religion," an "institutionalized form of killing" and a rebellion against God’s plan for human life.

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Family Research Council Press Release on Health Care Bill.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership introduced a new version of the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" which provides federal funds for elective abortion, reauthorizes Indian Health Care without adding the Hyde Amendment, and mandates providing information about physician-assisted suicide in certain states. (Logo: Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement concerning the new proposal: "Speaker Pelosi might as well rename her bill the 'Government Funded Abortions for America Act.' This almost 2,000 page bill, which will cost more than one trillion dollars, guts the Hyde Amendment abortion funding ban by explicitly authorizing federal funding for elective abortion funding in the government option. The bill also subsidizes health plans that cover all elective abortions. "Speaker Pelosi's commitment to federally funded abortion is, apparently, absolute. She is ignoring the roughly 70 percent of the American people who, polls show, consistently oppose federal funding of elective abortion, which indisputably is what this new health bill does. "In another gift to the abortion industry, she added the Indian Health provision to the bill without a permanent abortion funding ban. Such a provision passed in the Senate in the last Congress, but Speaker Pelosi is so desperate to avoid adding the Hyde Amendment to the overall health care bill that she avoided adding this provision to permanently exclude paying for abortion in this new section on Indian Health Care. "Even more blatantly, Speaker Pelosi took out a key provision that would ensure that when patients are given information on end-of-life options it would not include physician-assisted suicide. Instead, she offered the new bill that includes end-of-life 'counseling' without ensuring that such 'counseling' will not encourage physician-assisted suicide as already occurs in Oregon and Washington. "From womb to tomb, this legislation would use funds garnered from taxpayers to fund abortions and encourage seniors to end their lives early in states such as Oregon and Washington. Consequently, it is paramount that Members of both parties support amendments to prevent a massive new wave of federal funding for abortion, to permanently prevent abortion funding in Indian Health and to re-insert the language preventing physician assisted suicide 'counseling'." SOURCE Family Research Council

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Conservative Opposition To Catholic-Encouraged Amendments to Health Care Reform.

At least one Catholic thinks the USCCB's efforts to motivate Catholics to change/amend the health care reform bill is - and this is kind of funny - "a co-coordinated effort between the congressional leaders and the USCCB."

Pewsitter is calling his post "The Boomerang Effect" and in some strange twist of logic, seems to think that Bishops are working for Democrats or Obama in order to bring health care reform about:

In their fantastic thinking, the bishops believe that Congress can move the entire country to a national health bureaucracy, and it will expand the medical services to people and not uniformly contract them. This utopian pie-in-the-sky error is standard reasoning from their quarter. .

There are endless ways that Congress can seemingly capitulate to the Bishops’ demands, thus giving them a green light to do what they would very much love to do, support the bill wholeheartedly.Regardless of the U.S. Bishops’ healthcare formations, there is no real way to produce this government takeover and not have more abortions, rationing, euthanasia, and coercion. It is intrinsic to the machine being set into motion. The details are incidental. Any possible protections would be temporary at best, and the bishops, poised and hoping for success of the plan, are vulnerable to a Democrat feint.

Even if the Bishops were able to force the adoption of pro-life amendments that have been introduced by Republicans and blue dog Democrats, the courts would still be free to change these provisions and unleash the pro-death lobby against the elderly, sick and unborn. The court majorities exist and most of the insidious amoral laws we suffer with today have relied upon key court interventions around the country.

We are in great danger that the bishops will turn around and bolt in the wrong direction based on some weak or deceptive accommodation- - and that much of the best part of the Catholic population--mass-going, sensible, elderly, impressed by their bishop’s pastoral attention and Washington’s new listening ears, will shift their opinions from where they are today and seal their own fates.

It’s amazing to me that a group of leaders who give so much time on behalf of the unborn, the sick, and the poor would ever support a national health scheme in the first place. Has the Conference solicited the advice of one medical professional, perhaps even the Catholic Medical Association?

Chalk one up for conspiracy-minded crazy when it comes to health care reform, a democratic government, and a black president.

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Reasons for "Canada's Resurgence of Interest in Euthanasia"

EthicsForum lists reasons why euthanasia (aid in dying, death with dignity, assisted suicide) is being debated now in Canada's parliament:

So, why now are we considering legalizing euthanasia (a term I use here to include assisted suicide) when we have prohibited it for millennia? Not one of the bottom-line conditions usually linked with calls for legalizing euthanasia – that a person is terminally ill, wants to die and we can kill them – is new. These factors have been part of the human condition for as long as humans have existed. And our capacity to relieve pain and suffering has improved remarkably. So, is some other cause the main one? I suggest it’s profound changes in our post-modern, secular, Western, democratic societies, and their interactive and cumulative effects. To make wise decisions about whether or not to legalize euthanasia, we need to identify and understand these changes in relation to euthanasia.

Read the full article here. Definitely worth reading! Margaret Somerville lists and elaborates these changes:

Intense individualism
Mass media
Denial and control of death, and “death talk"
Materialism and consumerism
What it means to be human
Impact of Scientific advances
Competing world views

Nembutal Pill For Sale Next Year.

From Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, comes news that Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder of Australia-based Exit International and known as "Dr. Death," has developed a Nembutal pill for use in assisted suicide:

The pill that is made from a stable inert form of the barbiturate Nembutal has been developed for long term storage and transport. To use the pill to achieve a peaceful death, the pill is altered into the soluble active drug and reconstituted as a small drink.

Speaking from Darwin, Australia, Exit Director Dr Philip Nitschke said that this development offered the possibility of storage of the best end of life drug for several decades, with reliable reconstitution possible at anytime.

“Previously, people could only obtain the drug in liquid form from overseas and this presented difficulties in transportation and storage. The developed “pill” is much smaller, weighs only 10gm and is easy to safely store and transport. Exit believes that ALL seniors of sound mind should have the option of a peaceful death at the time of THEIR choosing should this be their wish – this Exit Pill will go some way to ensuring this”

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Pro-Life/Catholic Groups Argue For Suffering, Against Continuous Deep Sedation.

As I wrote last week, the increasing successes of the aid in dying movement and the U.S.' recent attempts to reform health care have caused "pro-life" and Catholic groups to retool their machine, focusing on the end of life (or the "euthanasia") issue on their platform (which includes the money-maker, cultural-divider abortion; stem cell research; cloning; and the sadly forgotten "unjust war" and capital punishment.)

Euthanasia will never surpass abortion in its ability to raise money or rally activists behind the "pro-life" cause, but efforts to focus "pro-life" resources on the issue have hit their stride. Where these efforts deviate from established "pro-life" talking points (conception to natural death) is most telling.

A recent study, reported by TimesOnline, concludes that CDS is commonly used to ease suffering patients to their death. "Pro-life" organizations are up in arms, willfully conflating pain alleviation with euthanasia, despite the fact that CDS is most likely used by medical staff in Catholic hospitals and hospices in Britain and the US.

Continuous Deep Sedation (CDS) is what "pro-life" and Catholic organizations are most focused on at the moment regarding end of life issues, thanks to the above study. And yet, it muddies their argument for "natural death" because CDS is basically the most simple and widely used manner of keeping a patient in pain comfortable in their last days.

While these groups are accustomed to arguing for or supporting pain and suffering, at least in the abstract, regarding abortion (witness their disregard for a woman in crisis or a dying mother or a woman's right to autonomous decision-making), elders are seen as victims of disease and death. Women, it seems, are inherently evil and in need of paternal guidance from men and the church.

"Pro-life" and Catholic opponents to CDS are left to face the realities of physical suffering. Their arguments in support of painful death are blatant and revealing.

The practice of sedating a patient to alleviate pain in the end stages of dying is legal in the U.S. because doctors are protected by what is called the double effect: because their intention is to relieve pain and not hasten death, they are permitted to employ heavy sedatives. This stage of death often marks the end of feeding and hydration, hence the accusation that patients are being "killed" by dehydration. (Members of the Catholic clergy have recently called for a clarification of the Church's Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (ANH) policies.)

In addition to "pro-life" and Catholic efforts to maintain jurisdiction over suffering (which is considered redemptive, Christ-like, and necessary), two other factors play into this discussion:

- the medical profession has failed to make serious advancements in palliative care (an area of medicine that focuses on pain and symptom management)

- and our society fails to prepare families and patients for the death of a loved one, thus allowing, even demanding, that doctors "exhaust all options" with aggressive treatment, even when those treatments may prolong death and suffering for the family and the patient.

The medical industry has failed to put resources into end of life and pain management research because, well, they have had few financial or other incentives to do so. Sending a patient to hospice in the last months or weeks of their life deprives the hospital of end of life revenue (famously the most costly period for American seniors and the terminally ill), it requires that doctor's admit they can no longer save a patient, and it demands that family members accept the impending loss of their loved one.

Opponents of CDS (and, in a horrifying leap of misunderstanding and conflation, of assisted suicide and euthanasia) have argued in favor of family participation in such end of life decisions and against it (fearing coercion); opponents have argued for the sanctity of the "doctor-patient relationship" and against it. Their messy siding with different participants in the end of life decision-making process, depending on which serves their purposes, paternally shy away from patient planning and advanced directives (God alone can make such decisions, they claim).

And so, rational, consistent arguments have failed to come out of Catholic and "pro-life" organizations. Their only consistent allies remain God and suffering. It is a more raw and alarming argument for suffering than we witnessed in the debates over abortion; and it is vastly more unpopular with the public.

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