Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Religious Left Supports Baxter v. Montana Decision.

Mariya Starchevsky writes about the recent Baxter decision and with (almost too much) surprise notes the religious supporters of the decision to allow aid in dying in Montana.

It's easy to forget that we live in a country of diverse religious practice because typically the loudest and most organized of the crowd are Protestant or Catholic Right. They're the ones with influence, resources, and the power to shape our health care delivery. Their objective is to turn the country and its laws over to God, to delivery social services and health care according to doctrine - and they've been surprisingly successful the past 40 years. But as Starchevsky points out, there are other religious voices out there:

The dispassionate tone of the opinion sweeps under the rug the fiery arguments of amicus curiae.

On the “Pro-Life” side, the International Task Force on Euthanasia argued that allowing physician-assisted suicide would lead to abuse, and intentional killing of the elderly and the incompetent by self-interested relatives and insurance companies. Margaret Dore, Esq., a lawyer from Washington wrote in as well, echoing the Task Force’s sentiment, and claiming that the trial court’s findings were “clearly erroneous because Oregon’s law [on euthanasia] allows involuntary killing.” Page 5.

They are both fantastic reads. I highly recommend them.

But most interesting was the amicus brief filed by religious groups and representatives -
on Mr. Baxter’s behalf!

These were not out-of-state weirdos, or special interest fanatics, but persons of religious authority, and most from Bob Baxter’s home town of Billings, Montana. Making their plead for a right to die from a religious point of view were Rev. Canon Gary Waddingham (Episcopal Priest) Rev. Steve Oreskovich (Episcopal Priest), Rev. Meg Hatch (M. Div, UCC) Chuck Heath (M. Div. LCPC, Chaplain), Reverend John C. Board (Episcopal Deacon) Rev. Jean Collins, (Episcopal Priest), Rev. John R. Payne, Journey BE (Disciples of Christ) and Dr. L.A. Kemmerer (Professor). These authorities then list approximately 70 other religious figures from the United Church of Christ, the Church of England, the Unitarian Universalists Association of Congregations, the Methodist Church, etc., all who support euthanasia when concerning competent, terminally ill adults.
Page 6, footnote 3.

I know what you’re thinking: no Catholics? Well, in the word of Moishe, nobody’s perfect.

Christians believe life is a gift from God. Further, Christians believe that death is not the ultimate enemy nor is the human soul ended by death. The Old and New Testaments teach free will, love, and compassion. God granted humans the ability to choose between good and evil. Page 2.

These religious amici stress that end-of-life decisions are deeply personal.

“Those who do not share in the religious beliefs and doctrines of groups opposed to aid in dying see this as an unwanted intrusion into what should be a private decision making process between patient and physician." - Deric Weiss, M.D.,Billings, Montana.

By the way, I've said some bad things about the Examiner lately. I still stand by them. But nice to see this piece, however irreverent and flippant the tone!

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