“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Saturday, February 25, 2012

CHRISTIAN PERINATAL HOSPICE

I do not know what it’s like to lose a child and I hope and pray I never do. All my children, and now grandchildren, are healthy and strong. My family is truly blessed and I try not to forget that fact.

There are expectant parents who face the terrible reality that their baby will be born with a terminal condition. They are usually told after a prenatal test and are given the choice of continuing the pregnancy or aborting their baby.  Parents are often pressured to make their decision quickly, particularly later in pregnancy, given the complications that can arise. The problem is that they are overwhelmed by the devastating news; they are hardly in a position to make such a heavy decision.

According to Bill Saunders of Americans United for Life, only twenty percent of couples will bring their pregnancy to term.[1] Saunders also reveals that parents who chose abortion have deep regrets. Perinatal hospice can provide options that comfort, nurture and support for parents and also honours the humanity of their babies.

Perinatal hospice provides a continuum of medical, emotional and spiritual support and nurture for the family and their terminally ill baby. Working in concert with the obstetrical team, the perinatal hospice team provides support to the family -- in as much as they choose.  It is important that perinatal hospice be Christian to help ensure the sanctity of all lives are upheld. (A secular perinatal hospice can't be trusted to understand the innate value and sanctity of the terminally ill unborn child.)[2] 

This may involve helping prepare for the baby’s arrival and death, answering questions and concerns, or helping to create memories that will last and comfort the family in their loss.  Perhaps it might include ultrasound images during the pregnancy, video recordings, making cast impressions of the baby’s hands and feet or taking snippets of hair for a memory box or scrapbook, and involving siblings and grandparents. Perinatal hospice can empower grieving parents to prepare for their baby’s birth and death. They may have months or only days to prepare. The goal is to support the parents to make the time they have uniquely theirs’.

 When the baby arrives perinatal hospice ensures he/she is treated with love and respect by health care professionals the parents have come to know and trust. Perhaps a professional photographer of parents’ choice will be present to capture images and memories to be treasured. A priest may be on hand to give last rites. Perinatal hospice helps ensure Interdisciplinary plans are in place to ensure support for the family.

Time between the family and baby is respected. Even when the baby dies nurture for the parents does not stop because the family has had the support to say goodbyes to their baby. Any fears of abandonment are removed even after baby passes by perinatal care that encourages healing.

This is a dramatic contrast to the sudden separation that occurs when the pregnancy is terminated by abortion.   In areas where perinatal hospice programs are available, up to eighty percent of parents facing a fatal anomaly of their unborn child will choose the perinatal option.[3]

Christian perinatal hospice options should be available in communities. Wouldn't it be a wonderful witness of Christ’s love for hurting parents?  The following link is to a beautiful and sensitive video highlighting perinatal hospice. Is it an idea that's appropriate for your community?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY7mq1g9pGk

MDP
NOTES
[1] See "Give Parents Perinatal Hospice Option Instead of Abortion" by Bill Saunders | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 1/4/11. http://www.lifenews.com/2011/01/04/give-parents-perinatal-hospice-option-instead-of-abortion/

[2] Regarding secular hospice, Founder and President of the Hospice Patients Alliance, Ron Panzer, voiced similar concerns about secular perinatal hospice. He observed "Giving birth to the baby and seeing how the baby does while giving all needed treatments and nourishment would be the expected choice for those who value the life of the baby. However, if one gives birth to the baby and then withholds food and fluids, and most likely terminally-sedate the baby, one is imposing death, just the same as is done with some elderly and severely disabled in hospice."

Panzer continued, "I am certain that the ability to use hospice for the newborn will be misused to end the lives of some babies who are not truly "terminal," but have congenital defects or chromosomal abnormalities/differences in the manner of pure eugenics. What is to stop "perinatal hospice" from being used to end the lives of say, Downs syndrome babies? The public (the parents) may "feel better" because they get to hold their baby for a while and love it, while its life is being ended "peacefully" as it sleeps to death. What's to stop terminal sedation from being applied here again? I have grave reservations about this because I know the hospice industry and how they think. " This is why perinatal hospice in the hands of secular bioethicists would prove disastrous. What's to stop the sorts of practices outlined by Mr. Panzer is to have an orthodox Christian foundation that is loyal to historic Church teaching and morality.  


[3] M. D’Almeida et al., Perinatal Hospice: Family-Centered Care of the Fetus with a Lethal Condition, J. AMER. PHYSICIANS & SURGEONS 11:52 (2006); B.C. Calhoun & N. Hoeldtke, The Perinatal Hospice: Ploughing the Field of Natal Sorrow (2005).




Friday, February 24, 2012

ORGAN PHARMING IN MARYLAND?

Top American bioethical thinker, writer and speaker, Wesley J. Smith, wrote a disturbing piece on his blog Secondhand Smoke published by First Things. He has given HumanLifeMatters permission to re-publish. See below. It is a frightening harbinger of the 21st Century world in which we live. Keep reading.

____________________________________________
Good grief! A Maryland state legislator has filed a bill that would allow surrogate decision makers to “donate” kidneys and liver lobes. From HB 449:
THIS SUBSECTION APPLIES ONLY TO A PATIENT WHO HAS BEEN CERTIFIED UNDER § 5–606(B) OF THIS SUBTITLE TO BE IN A PERSISTENT 8 VEGETATIVE STATE.
(3) A PERSON AUTHORIZED TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR ANOTHER UNDER THIS SECTION MAY AUTHORIZE THE DONATION OF A NONVITAL ORGAN IF THE DONATION IS BASED ON:
(I) THE WISHES OF THE PATIENT AS PREVIOUSLY EXPRESSED BY THE PATIENT; OR
(II) A DETERMINATION BY THE SURROGATE THAT THE DONATION IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PATIENT’S RELEVANT RELIGIOUS AND MORAL BELIEFS AND PERSONAL VALUES.
Unconscious patients would hardly seem to be in a state of health to permit such surgeries. But surely when people can’t make their own decisions, surrogates–as fiduciaries–must work solely for the medical benefit of the incompetent person.

I know people will say, “What if it is the patient’s child” or some such. But we can’t do it! We can’t treat incompetent patients as objects for the benefit of others. This proposal is merely the latest attempt to permit unconscious patients to be used as so many organ farms. And if the surgery kills the patient, why then other organs might be available. I repeat: Good grief.

HLM

(Wesley J. Smith's original blog of February 23rd 2012, can be accessed under the title "Bill To Allow Organ Farming From Unconscious Patients!" at http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

BLOG EXCEEDS 50,000

The HumanLifeMatters blog has surpassed 50,000 hits! If these were all new visits it could be attributed to individuals drifting through the Internet but that is not the case. Many of these hits are return visits. The HumanLifeMatters blog has developed a considerable readership. In descending order visitors to this blog come from: The United States, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, China, the United Kingdom, Iran, Latvia, Bulgaria, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico, and Brazil.

Although the blog has a technical snag that does not allow comments to be publicly displayed, I do see and read them. A sample of comments include:

"Hi, my name is yogesh kumar. I like this blog website. I say thanks to that person who made this."

An adoption agency wrote and said, "Interesting thoughts and ideas. This theme might be similar to other blogs but I think you have a unique design as well as unique content. Thanks for sharing."
A reader in London England said, "You guys have amazing thoughts...Keep it up, and thanks for sharing this great post with us."
A French reader commented: "It is my great pleasure to visit your website and to enjoy your excellent posts here. I like that very much. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful. Thanks so much for sharing."

Another reader wrote in response to the blog Abortion and euthanasia acceptance are historical aberrations " I am glad I found your blog. I hope you won't mind my posting this on my fb page. Our legislators (Philippines) are currently debating on the reproductive health bill. People should read your blog. It sheds light on something that we should all be giving importance to--life."
Please encourage more people to visit the HumanLifeMatters blog regularly for information on critical Life issues of our time.
Mark Davis Pickup
HumanLifeMatters
(Guests columns are welcome. Send submissions to me at MPickup@shaw.ca for consideration. Type in the subject line "HLM Column".)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DR. DIANNE IRVING ON HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION

Dr. Dianne Irving
My good friend Dr. Dianne Irving of Bethesda Maryland responded to the last post, "Remembering Irena Sendler" and provided an article she wrote and published with LifeIssues.net, a number of years ago. I think it is worth revisiting. With Dr. Irving's permission, here is her paper about Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele's inhuman experiments on twins.       MDP


As a biochemistry major at the end of my Junior year, I had already had some of my research published earlier, so my department head suggested that I could do something “different” for my senior thesis if I wanted – like medical ethics (bioethics didn’t exist yet!).  I thought about it, and remembered being touched by a small book we had read in a Junior year Chemistry Conference Course – courses each student was required to take in their major for their last two years in order to integrate their own special fields or “concentrations” with the other areas of knowledge.  Junior year’s course usually took the students through their academic field’s long historical development, and in chemistry we had read a small book by J. Bronowski, a philosopher/scientist/journalist who wrote during and after World War II, especially about the Nazi medical experiments used to achieve eugenics which soon became the focus of the Nuremberg Trials.

Bronowski recalls the time when the bombs had just been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He found himself on a small ferry filled with military personnel who were assigned to observe, study and report the immediate consequences of these bombings as the ferry drifted closely along the Japanese shoreline.  He tries to describe the devastation but has profound difficulty finding words that could describe the horrific scene drifting surreally before them.  He recalls the strange, piercing, and awkward silence on the ferry stuffed with so many “observers” – all but one sound.  From the metal megaphones fixed in the ceilings of the ferry drifted the haunting music of one of the popular tunes of the day, and he was struck by how it captured so perfectly what he was finding so difficult to articulate.  The name of the song was, “Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby?”, and as a philosopher of science it had haunted him ever since.  The devastation that lay before them had a signature.
Nazi doctors & human experiments
And his words had made me stop and ponder about any moral obligations and moral accountability I might have as a brand new research scientist myself.  What exactly had taken place in those Nazi medical experiments with human subjects?  How could such brilliant scientists and physicians have conceived and carried out such abominable crimes against humanity in the name of “science” and “the greater good”?  “Well, they were just ‘untermenchen’ and going to die anyway;  might as well get some good out of them”!  And given that the first moral obligation of a researcher is that the science being performed on human subjects is as accurate as possible, and performed only by those academically credentialed and qualified [Nuremberg Code], just how did the Nazi human medical experiments measure up to even that initial but critical international moral standard?  I would do my senior thesis on the Nazi medical war crimes – even though the war seemed so long ago (!) (This was 1963).
It was difficult for me to narrow my topic for my thesis, and my department head kept forcing me to get more and more selective.  For a year and a half I haunted the halls of the Library of Congress, my desk constantly piled high with books, manuscripts, films, etc.  Indeed, they were still finding such documents and items almost on a weekly basis, and often the clerk would simply bring me a wicker basket stuffed with the latest items.  For months at a time I even watched the hundreds of raw film footage of the Nazi concentration camps that was pouring into the Archives – although I always had to stop at times, because I simply couldn’t take it any more.  At such times I would just shut down my desk, grab my coat, and get out of there – arriving back at school with one huge Excedrin headache.
Dr.Josef Mengele
One of those items they brought me in a wicker basket one day was the actual lab book that belonged to Dr. Mengele, along with piles of random photographs taken in his lab of his “patients” during his experiments.  [[For some odd reason it is claimed today that no such lab book exists;  but it did, as I held it in my hands several times.]] One set of twin experiments attracted my attention – those performed on about three-year old blonde hair, blue eyed Eastern European Gypsy twins.  One twin would be held as the “control” of the experiment;  the other twin was subjected to serial experiments, designed to mimic wounds of Nazi soldiers in the battle fields.
The twins were kept in cages right in Mengele’s laboratory, just off his office.  The cages measured 1 ½ by 1 ½ by 1 ½ meters.  During the mornings Mengele would come into the lab to visit with his “girls”; such times he was always dressed impeccably in his suit.  He would take the girls out of their cages and bounce them on his knees, asking them to call him “Papa”.  But in the afternoons he would come back to the lab wearing his starched white lab coat, and the girls knew then that it was time for more experimenting.  He would take one of the twins into a small narrow closet-like space, where he would take a knife and remove more and more of her femur bone in one leg – and then observe.  No anesthetic, no pain killers, no antibiotics, no ice, no bandages, no nothing – thus resembling the conditions of the battle field.  After he finished cutting the twin’s leg bone, he would simply carry her over to a “stretcher” and let her remain there until she was ready to be placed back into her cage with her sister.  The photos of the tiny suffering little girl in that dense and dark “recovery” room, so butchered, and bloody and pathetic, would be etched into my memory for a long long time – a memory that I would carry with me into the rest of my work to come.

After finally graduating, I worked at the bench at NIH (NCI), doing research in radiation biology and in viral oncology, and eventually given a career appointment as a research biochemist/biologist.  But I left NIH after 7 years to study the brand new field of “bioethics” --  mostly because of the many ethical issues I “experienced” at NIH as a bench researcher, especially seeing the patients there to whom our research was being applied – sometimes ethically, sometimes not so ethically.  So I became a member of the First Generationers – the first graduate class to go through the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University.  This was 1979, one year after the publication of The Belmont Report of the National Commission – fulfilling their Congressional mandate to “identify the ethical principles that the United States government should use in dealing with issues concerning the use of human subjects in experimental and therapeutic research” (National Research Act 1974)!  This was the formal “birth of bioethics”, and the “new ethics” would be grounded in the new Belmont bioethics principles of autonomy, justice and beneficence (all quite oddly defined). We First Generationers had no clue.
I won’t go into how utterly un-Catholic, much less unscholarly, we all found this new “bioethics” to be;  long, brutal, ugly battles, dirty tricks, and deceptions.  All of us graduate students knew that there was something VERY wrong with that "bioethics" picture.  But I finally got to the point where I was required to submit my proposal for my doctoral dissertation to the Graduate Dean.  At first I was going to do it on the use of human subjects in research;  too broad.  Since the real uncharted territory was the use of “Group Two’s” in research – i.e., human subjects who were particularly vulnerable and thus needed stricter legal and ethical governmental protections – I finally narrowed it down to the MOST vulnerable research subjects, i.e., the use of living human fetuses in experimental research (an on-going scandal in the research community at the time).  I ordered and studied all of the current international guidelines on fetal research;  too broad.  How could I get this topic narrow enough for the Graduate Dean?
Perhaps I should do it on human embryo research -- a then-uncontroversial issue that was just beginning to get noticed in Australia.  I started compiling the bioethics literature on human embryo research that had already started moving into our U.S. bioethics literature.  Still worried that this too was too broad a topic, I immersed myself into these articles to identify an even narrower issue.  It was about three o’clock in the morning; I was blurry-eyed, when I finally came to the journal writer’s conclusion after a very long, contorted and flimsy argument as to why “surplus” IVF human embryos could be “ethically” used in destructive experimental research – for “the advancement of science” and for “the greater good”.  His final statement nearly made me leap out of the couch – “Well, they are going to die anyway, so we might as well get some good out of them”!  Good God!  Where had I heard THAT before!?  Years earlier.  No, I just couldn’t bear to go there again, too complicated; somebody else would have to do it.  NOT ME!  I slammed the journal closed and shot up to bed to get a few hours of sleep before I had to catch a plane the next day for Minnesota.

I had earlier received a call from bioethics guru Art Caplan.  He was organizing the first-ever conference on Bioethics and the Holocaust, in Minnesota.  He had remembered that I had told him one time about my earlier thesis on the Nazi medical war crimes and especially that I had bought films about the Holocaust from the National Archives – could he borrow them for the conference, etc.?  If I could help him with this, he would be sure to get me into the by-invitation-only (and heavily guarded) conference.  [[You can hear the various presentations at this conference, available from http://www.chgs.umn.edu/educational/confAudio.html]].
Bergen Belsen prisoner
So there I was in Minnesota, sitting in the audience after already three of five days of this amazingly tense conference.  Oddly enough, the Holocaust – like abortion -- was one issue that we bioethics students were not allowed to talk about in class, nor was it ever addressed in the rapidly bulging bioethics literature, so I was eager to attend this conference dedicated to such a “verboten” issue in bioethics.  The fellow on my left turned out to be a German Lutheran pastor.  While a young boy he remembered how his house’s back yard backed up to the woods near Bergen Belsen, and he recounted to me so sadly how often they would see sick, tortured, bone-bare starved, often naked escaped prisoners wandering fearfully, desperately and aimlessly through those tangled woods.  Sometimes the local people would sneak them food and water, but they too were terrified to be caught giving aid.  Those memories of his boyhood were also etched into his memory as well – so much so that it was the major reason why he became a pastor, and why he had traveled all the way from Germany to attend this unique conference in Minnesota.
The very tense program had consisted of researchers, bioethicists, and Holocaust victims taking turns presenting their arguments as to why the data which resulted from those horrific experiments should or should not be used now to help others.  Of course, the Holocaust victims who presented their arguments were in total agreement that such blood-tainted data should not be used.  They were getting older and grayer now, sometimes barely able to hobble to and from the microphone, but powerfully persuasive speakers.  One researcher, who for two days argued vehemently that the data should be used, walked up to the microphone again this day and began his same drill yet again.  So we were totally astonished when, right in the middle of his paper, he stopped, became very silent, put his head down, shook with grief, took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeve, and laid bare the various tattoos from Dauchau on his arms!  No, he recanted, he was so sorry, he just couldn’t do it, he must change his argument and agree with the other Holocaust victims that such data should not be used!
As he pathetically apologized and slumped off of the stage, the next Holocaust victim slowly limped with great effort to the microphone to present her own arguments.  I noticed at once that she was so young – how could she have been a Holocaust victim and yet be so young?  She didn’t even look Jewish.  The blonde, blue-eyed victim began her speech.  At the very young age of about 3, she and her sister had been used by Mengele in his infamous twin experiments.  Her sister was the “control”;  she was the “patient”.  Mengele kept them in cages right in his laboratory, just off his offices.  The cages measured 1 ½ by 1 ½ by 1 ½ meters. 

During the mornings Mengele would come into the lab to visit with his “girls”;  such times he was always dressed impeccably in his suit.  He would take the girls out of their cages and bounce them on his knees, asking them to call him “Papa”.  But in the afternoons he was come back to the lab wearing his lab coat, and the girls knew then that it was time for more experimenting!
I really thought I was hallucinating!  I literally felt my body sinking right straight through the seat of my chair, even down through the hard wooden floor itself, and below.  I grabbed the leg of the poor German pastor on my left to keep me from free-falling through to the basement – it was HER!  This was the pathetic little girl I had done my biochemistry thesis on, whose photo of her tortured pain-wracked tiny body had been etched on my brain since those days long ago in the Library of Congress!  It just couldn’t possibly BE!  But it was.  I listened to her entire presentation, almost mouthing the words before she could even say them.  The kind pastor understood;  I had told him my story the afternoon he had told me his.  “Go meet her”, he insisted, “You must”!  So trembling, and somehow deeply embarrassed and oddly mortified, I waited for her on the steps of the building as she came out.  As soon as I (rather awkwardly) explained things to her she completely lost her composure, and the two of us just sank down onto the steps together and talked and cried for quite a while.  My little Gypsy girl now has a name – Susan Seiler Vigorito.  The final title of my doctoral dissertation at Georgetown was, A Philosophical and Scientific Analysis of the Nature of the Early Human Embryo (finally defended university-wide in 1991).


I realize now that the war has never really ended;  nor has the quest for “eugenics”.  What could not be accomplished on the battle field is now being accomplished behind locked doors in laboratories around the world. And I ask myself on a daily basis now Bronowski’s  piercing question, “Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby?”
Dianne Irving

Saturday, February 18, 2012

REMEMBERING IRENA SENDLER

Irena Sendler
A few days ago I received an email from Donald Taylor of Mount Dora, Florida. The subject of the email was Irena Sendler (1910-2008). The text of Mr. Taylor's message is below. FYI.


"During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Warsaw ghetto entrrance

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.



During her time doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 kids/infants. Ultimately she was caught, however, and the Nazi's broke both her legs and arms and beat her severely.


Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to unite the families. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted. [Picture left is of Irena prior to her death in 2008]

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. Later another politician, Barack Hussein Obama, won for his work as a community organizer for ACORN.

In MEMORIAM - 72 YEARS LATER... It is now more than 70 years since the Second World War in Europe ended."

Mr Taylor concluded his email by saying that he was writing and sending his email "as a memorial in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated! Now, more than ever, with Iran, and others, claiming the HOLOCAUST to be 'a myth'. It is imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again." 

Well, Mr. Taylor, there have now been 50,000 hits on the HumanLifeMatters blog. Hopefully this posting will help that end. Thank you for your reminder.

A movie was made about her called "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sedler." I recommend you see it.

MDP

Saturday, February 4, 2012

DYING TIME CAN BE GOOD TIME


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is an advisory body to the European Union.  Based in Strasbourg, France, PACE has more than three hundred delegates. Their pronouncements of human rights issues are highly influential within the E.U..


 At the end of January 2012, PACE passed a resolution (No. 1859) that made a strong statement against euthanasia. The resolution was issued under the title “Protecting human rights and dignity by taking into account previously expressed wishes of patients.” Although PACE has no legislative authority, the resolution may prove to be a strong tool for Europe’s pro-Life advocates to resist further euthanasia acceptance such as Holland and Belgium have done.

 The PACE resolution states, in part: “Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his alleged benefit, must always be prohibited.”  Later in the document they stated that “surrogate decisions that rely on general value judgements present in society should not be admissible and, in case of doubt, the decision must always be pro-life and the prolongation of life.” [My emphasis added.]

Wow! I hope European Union member countries heed this document and enact its principles into law or use it to strengthen existing social policy and legislation against euthanasia. 

 We must not forget Europe’s sad experience with euthanasia dating back seventy years. The Nazi’s euthanasia programme killed thousands of mentally and physically handicapped Germans. It paved the way for the final solution. There are still people alive who remember those dark and terrible years. Was it perhaps a collective cultural memory that inadvertently helped fuel the PACE resolution? After all, it would be a terrible thing to discover that people learned nothing from history! Whatever the underlying motivation, Europe’s disabled and incurably ill citizens should be grateful for this timely document from such a prestigious Assembly.

If society does not protect and cherish every life then ultimately no life will be guaranteed protection.  Look what happened with widespread abortion acceptance over the past forty years. It resulted in a holocaust of unprecedented proportions!

In the midst of shifting social values that blow to and fro with every breeze of fashionable thinking, the Catholic Church has stood resolute and firm in defence of all human life from conception to natural death.  There have been times when it seemed that the Catholic Church stood alone for the value of human life.

 
Catholic teaching is unequivocal in its opposition to euthanasia. About direct euthanasia the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists of putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.”    (No. 2277.) 
It is not necessary to kill a person to eliminate suffering. Modern pain medications and techniques can control virtually all pain.  In fact, Ottawa end of life specialist Dr. John Scott has stated that complete pain relief can be achieved with careful attention and proper use of multiple drugs and therapies. It is important that treating physicians be educated in the latest pain control techniques and be supported by trained health care professionals. Dr. Scott noted that unrelieved pain can be traced back to problems with education or lack of resources.

 

This is important to understand when considering end of life issues.  The best way to counter demands for euthanasia is to ensure up-to-date palliative care and supports are available to people when required. Incurably ill or dying people need to know that their symptoms will be well controlled, that their emotional and spiritual pain will be addressed ― not only for themselves but also their families.

In a previous blog I said that Divine love overcomes fear. People with incurable or terminal illnesses need God’s love. Their fear of being a burden or being abandoned will subside in the knowledge of God’s sustaining love.
It is so important for Christians to be reflectors of God’s love, in a spirit of service. When we befriend and journey with those who suffer, it is possible that they may see their dying as the last phase of living. Dying time can be good time. Bonds with loved-ones can be strengthened or renewed. A person’s final days can be a time for reconciliation with God and others. Euthanasia robs people of that natural conclusion to life when a person can discover that love really can overcome fear.

MDP