Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Movie on Amish Shooting Embarrasing Authors.

From my hometown newspaper, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal:

LANCASTER, Pa. — The authors of a book about the mass shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania are distancing themselves from a movie adaptation airing on the Lifetime Movie Network.

The authors of "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy," say they declined to work with the producers of a similarly named movie out of respect for the community affected by the shooting in Nickel Mines.

Five girls died and five others were badly wounded when Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself inside the West Nickel Mines Amish School and opened fire in October 2006.

Elizabethtown College professor Donald B. Kraybill and two co-authors say their publisher, Jossey-Bass, sold the film rights to the book. They say they'll donate their proceeds to charity.

"Amish Grace" is airing Sunday.

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Family Guy and the Fifth Anniversary of Terri Schiavo's Death.

A recent episode of The Family Guy on Fox featured a musical segment based on the death of Terri Schiavo. Everybody has been weighing in on the controversy. Here are a few places where you can read more about it:

The Family Guy episode at hulu

Thaddeus Pope's Medical Futility Blog

WTSP news in Tampa Bay, Florida notes that the Schindler family is calling for Fox to drop the Family Guy program

Press Release from the Schindler family at ChristianNewsWire

And for those of you interested, Family Research Council will host a panel on Terri Schiavo on March 31, the anniversary of her death, in DC. Robert Schindler, her brother (and now the title of full-time "pro-life" and disability rights activist) and other pro life voices will be there. You can find the link for a live webcast (11 am) here.

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New York State Gets Into the Provider Refusal Act.

From Thaddeus Pope at Medical Futility Blog: two NY bills would not only allow doctors or others to deny legal and prescribed treatments to patients, but to also refuse to refer them to a place where they can get those services:

I just noticed this language in N.Y. A.B. 2935 and S.B. 4898, bills aimed at several types of conscientious objection (from abortion, to contraception, to end-of-life):

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Who Speaks for the Catholic Church?

Hugh McNichol argues that all those organizations out there tacking "Catholic" onto their name are not the true moral voice of the Catholic church. The USCCB is. He notes the CHA and other organizations who endorsed the health care bill despite USCCB and other Catholic opposition. Yet, dissent in any church is not new. Who represents the millions of Catholics in the US, some say, is the millions of Catholics in the US - who are much more liberal on issues of gay marriage, women's rights, use of contraceptives, and yes, abortion.

An excerpt from McNichol's post is below. But what his article fails to note is this: What weight should Catholic theology, whatever theology the church decides on or we as a society choose to mark as "official," have in the laws that provide health care to a pluralistic society?

And does the over-sized participation of Catholic organizations (hospitals, long term and hospice facilities, HMOs) immediately determine that they have a right to discriminate against the multi-faith society they serve?

However, during the process of due diligence the Catholic Health Association endorsed the proposed legislation despite the reservations and the lack of approval of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Additionally other groups of women religious, such as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, endorsed the legislative package and clearly endorsed its ratification.

The question needs to be asked; are these organizations accurately reflective of the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church? For the most part the use of the term, “Catholic,” in the organizations title provides a somewhat tacit seal of approval which implies adherence to authentic Catholic teachings as proclaimed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

However, such an application of the adjective, “Catholic,” does not always hold true to the organizations purposes and objectives. The Catholic Health Association for example is an organization that offers a loosely held confederation of health facilities that were formerly initiated and managed by religious communities. While the facilities operate under a general charter that embraces the “Spirit of Catholicism”, there is nothing in their charter that makes them answerable to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops as it relates to their operating policies and procedures. In effect, the CHA is actually a trade organization that represents the interests of health care organizations that were formerly run by religious communities of priests or religious.

The president of Catholic Health Association was present for the public signing of the health care legislation into law at the White House this week. Sister Carol Keehan, DC. Sister Carol Keehan is a member of the religious group, Daughters of Charity. She has indeed lobbied for many years for the passage of a universal health care package that safeguarded all American citizens, especially the rights of the poor and challenged groups in American society. Sister Keehan for years has worked in the health care field and has even been recognized for her achievements by secular organizations and even Pope Benedict XVI in bestowing the papal honor, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and Pope) Award. However, despite her personal achievements, the implied approval of the entire legislative package, now federal law placed the Catholic Health Association in direct contradiction and de facto in opposition with the American Catholic Bishops.

Understandably no legislation is perfect and there are many imperfections in the Obama Health Care package. The fact remains there can only be one unified voice that represents the United States Catholic Church and that responsibility resides with the American Catholic Bishops. While the American Bishops have worked consistently towards the goal of a universal health plan for all Americans with concessions made for Catholic beliefs, their voice was in fact not loud or strong enough to curtail other groups such as the Catholic Health Association or The Leadership Conference of Women Religious from usurping the mantle that rightly belongs to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.

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Britain's Pharmacists and the Conscience Clause.

From the BBC, Britain has decided to keep the same provider refusal laws that exist in the US. Pharmacists who morally object to contraception will be able to legally refuse those services. But discussion in Britain is now taking place that will require refusing pharmacists refer patients to other pharmacies or facilities where they can get the prescription their doctor has given them.

Here in the US, the same question looms over pharmacists. Obama rescinded the 11th hour conscience clause made law by Bush in his last month of the presidency. Obama has yet to take up the issue again, despite strong calls for it's inclusion in the health care bill. Here in the US, the argument continues to be framed as one of provider conscience; the rights of patients seldom make it into the discussion, unfortunately. I hope this conversation does take place in the US; patients' rights need to be considered, explained, and debated on a national scale.

From the article:

A revised code of conduct from the new industry regulator will allow staff to opt out of providing items such as the morning-after pill and contraception.

But they may in future have to give customers details of alternative shops.

The National Secular Society wanted the General Pharmaceutical Council to scrap the so-called conscience clause.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is to take over the regulation of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and the registration of pharmacy premises from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society later this year.

Under its new code, pharmacists with strong religious principles will still be able to continue to refuse to sell or prescribe products if they feel that doing so would contradict their beliefs.

But the GPhC says pharmacists who refuse services could be obliged to tell patients where they can access them and it plans to consult more widely on the issue.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said he was disappointed by the code.

"This was a perfect opportunity to severely restrict the exercise of this supposed conscience clause which has caused a great deal of embarrassment and inconvenience to people recently.

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In Support of Suffering.

Canada will discuss C-384, a bill to legalize assisted suicide there, in May. In today's Hamilton Spectator, Paul Kokolksi writes against the bill, citing the same arguments that we hear here in the US. My least favorite argument is that which endorses end of life suffering - in line with the theological concept of redemptive suffering espoused by the Catholic church, that the more pain we feel, the closer we are to God.

For all of the talk about a "slippery slope" with our "culture of death," I find there too is a slippery slope to the acceptance of suffering. We have the ability to relieve suffering for the dying but suffering brings us closer to God. We have the ability to relieve poverty, inequality, racism, hunger, abuse, injustice...but suffering brings us closer to God? If the concept of redemptive suffering prevents us from relieving suffering for the sake of converting those in pain, we have reduced our moral imperative as humans to a mission for the church. I can't think of a less humane premise than this.

Here's a clip:

Our present culture tends to consider suffering the epitome of evil. In such a culture there is a great temptation to resolve the problem of suffering by eliminating it at the root, by hastening death so that it occurs at the moment considered most suitable. True compassion leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear.

The pleas of the gravely ill who sometimes request death should not be understood as implying a true desire for euthanasia; in fact, it is almost always a case of an anguished plea for help and love. Intentionally causing one's own death, or suicide, is a rejection of God's sovereignty and loving plan. It is a refusal of love for self, the denial of a natural instinct to live, a flight from the duties of justice and charity owed to one's neighbour and to society.

No one should be allowed to permit in any way the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law.

In the Netherlands, a policy originally encompassing only persistent requests for death from hopelessly suffering and dying patients has steadily expanded so that physicians have been allowed to kill patients who were physically healthy and handicapped children who never asked for death.

The Netherlands stands as a stark reminder of the slippery slope leading from supposedly limited killing to a broader culture of death.

There exists in contemporary culture a certain Promethean attitude which leads people to think that they can control life and death by taking the decisions about them into their own hands. What really happens in this case is that the individual is overcome and crushed by a death deprived of any prospect of meaning or hope. What any sick person needs, besides medical care, is love -- the human and supernatural warmth provided by those close to him such as family, nurses and doctors.

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