Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thanks Compassion & Choices for Profiling Me!

I'm flattered and humbled this Sunday morning by receipt of the latest Compassion & Choices newsletter which has, among other fantastic news items, a profile of little old me! You can read the profile here.

And you can find great information about end of life care and C&C at their homepage.

Here's a clip from the article by Blaine Palmer:

Compassion & Choices’ President Barbara Coombs Lee first wrote in November about the directive from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to Catholic health care facilities regarding feeding tubes. Compassion & Choices is concerned whenever patients’ choices for end-of-life treatment are blocked, whether it is by the government, by providers and certainly by a religious institution with control of nearly a quarter of American health care facilities.

Traditional media showed little initial interest in the change to Ethical and Religious Directive 58, and we feared we would be a voice crying alone in the wilderness. But the alternative journalists on blogs have been much better at reporting the story. One of the first, and most consistent is author and hospice volunteer Ann Neumann who, as she puts it, writes “primarily about the nexus of death and religion.” Her December blog at otherspoon explained the Bishops action:

The new guideline, instituted last month, determines that artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH, delivery of food and water via surgically applied feeding tubes) is "obligatory" care.

The USCCB has reached into an area of settled law in the US - it is now legal for patients or their proxies to deny ANH in all 50 states) - and created a scenario where patients lose autonomy over their own care.

Governments, churches and the medical profession, Ann says, have all worked to limit choices in end-of-life care because choice is a threat to their power. She cites a 2005 Garret Keizer article in Harpers to explain why these authorities are invested in protecting their control over pain:

. . . the belief that pain is fundamental to justice, which makes perfect sense if justice is conceived as nothing more than a system of punishments and rewards. The essence of punishment is pain. Whoever owns pain owns power.

“I would like to encourage various rights groups to work together to push a patient bill of rights. Many of the opponents pushing against end-of-life care rights are also opposed to women’s reproductive rights as well,” Ann said in a recent interview. “They are powerful and well-organized. The only way to counter that force would be for all groups working for patients’ rights to come together.” Her blog in January,What the Aid in Dying Movement Must Learn from Abortion Advocates, explains why.

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