“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

Monday, November 13, 2017

INNOVATIONS IN DEMENTIA CARE

I read a news story about a little village in Holland called Hogeway. At first glance Hogeway seems like any normal small community. It has houses, a grocery store, a restaurant, a theatre, a barber shop, as so forth. People happily stroll throughout the shops, squares and courtyards or the local park. Hogeway is a clean, orderly community with 152 residents.


They all have one thing in common: Severe dementia.
You see, Hogeway is actually a nursing home but its residents don’t know that. All Hogeway’s “normality” is not real ― it is contrived ― but again the residents are unaware of that. They are happy in their fantasy world. The goal is to make living as normal and familiar as possible within the scope of each resident’s disease. It’s an interesting concept in health care.


Residents live in one of 23 houses with about six others, according
to lifestyle. Each house has one or more health care workers to oversee and assist with life.  Residents are free walk where they wish in the town because they can’t get lost. Special two-seater bikes allow residents and workers, or a family member, to ride throughout the village.  They live protected lives and they are happy.


A Hogeway employee, Yvonne van Amerongen, was quoted as saying, “We protect our residents from the unsafe world. They do not understand the world outside this because the outside world doesn’t understand them.” Hogeway is partially funded through taxes and residents contribute according to their income.


The Hogeway approach and philosophy to dementia care is so successful that it has generated interest in other countries including Canada. A Hogeway style village is located in Penetanguishene, Ontario. Families and residents are very happy with the facility.  
Julian Hughes
But as with any good idea there will always be naysayers and the Hogeway approach to dementia care is no exception.  English bioethicist and deputy chair of the London based Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Julian Hughes, is troubled about being deliberately artificial.  In 2009, the Council issued a report that stated the Hogeway approach “serves to undermine the remaining grip the person with dementia may have on the everyday world.”


O please!


I disagree with the position of the illustrious bioethicist and his Council. Hogeway is for people with severe dementia. If they are happy living in a pretend world, let them. Is the Hogeway philosophy and approach to care condescending or patronizing? I don’t care. We are talking about irreversible progressive dementia. The patient’s happiness, safety and quality of life are the important issues. Let them live in a fantasy!  Is Hughes against it because he didn’t think of it? Someone please give bioethicists something constructive to do with their time.



Goodness! We should welcome innovative ideas in nursing home care. The 
Hogeway philosophy is a breath of fresh air and a far cry to how so many of people with severe dementia are institutionalized in sterile nursing homes. These settings may be safe but they are unfamiliar to the patient. (I know of cases where dementia patients were essentially warehoused until they died.)



As the population ages, society will face increases amounts dementia. We need to welcome creative or novel approaches to their care that gives them increased quality of life.


According the Alzheimer’s society of Canada, one in twenty people over the age of 65 has dementia. The numbers steadily increase to one in four Canadians over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. I suspect the the numbers are similar in the U.S.


We need innovative ways to care for this population. I think the Hogeway approach is worth considering. It’s not for everyone but it
allows some people with severe dementia to live in healthy, happy, safe and stimulating environments that resemble normal community life. And that taps into the Common Good about which I have previously written and spoken about across Canada and the United States. 

The common good involves EVERYONE and that includes the physically, developing disabled, the aged, and those yet to be born. Communities that exclude anyone are not really communities at all because the common good is not being served. The dignity of people with severe dementia involves protection from the harshness and cruelties of the world. Not only does it involve protection but it also involves creating environments for people to thrive as individuals and groups. Reaching fulfillment means different things at different times, stages and states in people’s lives.  

Fulfilment for a person suffering from severe dementia may simply mean being happy and as free as possible from anxiety.  If we can put in place environments to help achieve that goal, let’s do it. If reality is beyond reach or too fearful, let them live in a fantasy. 


When even memories fade, all that matters is to be loved.



MDP

Sunday, November 5, 2017

CANADA: FOUR YEAR WAIT TO SEE NEUROLOGIST: NO WAIT FOR ABORTION OR LETHAL INJECTIONS

Wesley J. Smith
My long time friend Wesley J. Smith wrote an interesting blog post about a recent case in Canada. Apparently a doctor tried to refer a patient to a neurologist and was informed it will take over 4 years to get an appointment. 

Canadians can quickly get abortions or lethal injections -- all paid with tax dollars -- but real medical appointments can take years. See Wesley's blog post here.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/453430/canada-4-year-wait-neurologist


MDP

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A KEYNOTE ADDRESS IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL: EUTHANASIA AND THE TRUE SOURCE OF HUMAN DIGNITY

Below is a keynote  address I delivered at Saint Matthew the Apostle Cathedral in Washington D.C., Rally and Mass for Life, 2016 U.S. National March for Life in the nation's capital. 

For booking to speak about Life issues, disability or a Christian perspective on suffering contact me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca 


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

SEMINAR: CATHOLIC RESPONSES TO EUTHANASIA, SUFFERING AND DISABILITY

Recently I conducted 3-part seminar workshops for a Catholic Women's League sponsored event.  The first workshop dealt with Catholic responses to Canadian or American states' legalizing euthanasia law or medical assisted suicide. 


The second workshop dealt with a Catholic perspective to incurable
illness, degenerative disability and suffering. The third and final workshop highlighted contributions of people with disabilities to society and the world. A Q&A followed.




The seminar concluded with a stunning audio-visual presentation of Beethoven's fourth movement of his 9th symphony. It was  performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks), conducted by Mariss Jansons and recorded for  Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday at the Vatican.  

A seminar on a Catholic response to euthanasia, suffering and disability. To book me to present to your community, church group, pro-Life event or conference contact HumanLifeMatter@shaw.ca

Mark

Monday, October 30, 2017

THE KING OF CIVIL RIGHTS

My son Dean is a successful graphic artist who works primarily in the publishing industry. He designs books and owns Canada Book Design. Dean is also a first class artist in a traditional sense.  Prints of his portraits are in constant demand. At the bottom of this post, is his latest offering of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Dean commented of this new portrait he calls "The King of Civil Rights": "My latest portrait of Martin Luther King. I have worked in part of his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, along with many of his other famous quotes."

In my view abortion is the greatest civil rights issue of the 21 century. Martin Luther King was pro-Life and saw abortion as a threat to his Dream of human equality and dignity.  Order a print of the wonderful portrait of the great man below:  $40 plus shipping. It would make a wonderful Christmas present. Order soon!  Contact
Dean Pickup directly by email at Dean@dict.ca or on Facebook at Dean Pickup Art where you can see view his other portraits. 



DOES ALBERTA REALLY VALUE DIVERSITY? DO CATHOLICS REALLY TEACH SPOUSAL RAPE?

Mollie Hemmingway is senior editor of the Federalist, an American online magazine covering culture, politics and religion. She writes on her Twitter profile "I don't share your groupthink and it's unlikely I will be bullied into sharing it. Have a good day." That's my kinda person! We need some Mollie Hemmingways north of the 49th.

In Canada, liberal groupthink reigns supreme. In my province of Alberta, those who do not align themselves with groupthink -- or dare to publicly state opposing views -- are quickly shouted down or bullied until they embrace it (or at least shut up). If they do neither, they may be punished, depending of the wind direction of groupthink. If the violation of groupthink is too egregious for progressives' sensibilities, offenders may even be hauled before a human rights tribunal and/or vilified by the media. Offenders will be shunned. (I've been disabled and pro-Life for most of my adult life; I'm not sure I would notice.) 

Canadian liberal elites in power, or authority, or quasi-academe, and their liberal media lapdogs, maintain that they prize diversity. They do not. They value homogeneity of views in line with their groupthink. Liberal elites within groupthink will trample established human rights to get that uniformity of views. The liberal social order must be adjusted to fit liberal groupthink. Long-established human rights be damned! 

Here's a current example:

Alberta's anti-Christian minister of education, David Eggen, is
Minister of Education and
indoctrination, David Eggen
(anti-Catholic contempt
almost palpable)
trying to force Catholic schools -- and other Christian schools -- to include lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer (LGBTQ) sex education in their health programs. Homosexuality is against centuries of Catholic teaching. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. ... They are contrary to natural law. ... Under no circumstances can they be approved."
[1]  But it doesn't stop there, it continues in a compassionate pastoral context:

We are all broken
but can be united
In Christ 
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."[2]

This may be offensive to modern sensibilities, but it is Catholic teaching -- and Catholic education is constitutionally guaranteed. Not only is Catholic education constitutionally guaranteed dating
back to the inception of the province, it is guaranteed dating back to the inception of the nation![3] If diversity was really valued and respected -- as the government of Alberta continually claims -- they would have to accept Catholic education based on Catholic teaching and morals regardless of how distasteful it may be to the government and their progressives. The test of diversity is allowing and encouraging diverse views and beliefs, even those of which one disagrees.  After all, the word diversity comes from the word diverse.

diverse adj. Unlike in nature or qualities (Oxford Canadian Dictionary)

But diversity is not what the socialist government of Alberta has in mind. They say diversity but they mean homogeneity. All opposing views must be suppressed. By imposing his anti-Catholic agenda on the Catholic school system, education minister David Eggen and his ideologues at the department of education, also violate the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It guarantees "Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and religion, the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression ...." You will find this in Section 2 under the title FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS.

As long as I'm citing human rights, let me also state that what education minister David Eggen is doing contradicts the spirit and letter of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It declares "Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that will be given to their children."[5] Canada signed that Declaration. Notice that the United Nations recognized that parents even had this human right prior to the Declaration. It was, and remains, an original right (but not if the social government of Alberta has its way!) 

The secular press have begun their assault on the Catholic school system and its opposition to the new health curriculum. The
Catholic school trustees in Alberta presented an alternative health curriculum. The main newspaper in the Alberta's capital city of Edmonton is the Edmonton Journal. Recently, a story appeared under the title of "Catholic school districts want their own sex-education curriculum".[4] Well, Duh! Reporter Janet French wrote:

"Promotion of “homosexual relationships and/or lifestyles,” masturbation, anal and oral sex, or teaching ” ‘gender identity’ as disassociated from ‘biological sex’ ” would all be problematic for Catholic schools if required by Alberta’s forthcoming K-12 health and wellness curriculum. That’s according to a document submitted to Alberta Education by the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta, and obtained by a freedom of information request."

It would be "problematic" is putting it mildly. It is a direct attack on Catholic teaching. Think about it. Alberta's new sex education curriculum includes the underlined sentences above and below) for K-12 students. (What does the K mean?)

The article further stated:

"The superintendents’ association lists possible contrary curricular outcomes, including requirements to discuss consent, reproductive aid technologies for other “family types,” contraception, same-sex relationships, anal and oral sex, masturbation, “modern gender theory,” pornography and “sexualization of girls (and boys).”

They are not possible contrary curriculum outcomes, they are contrary to Catholic teaching. What is being consented to and what is being encompassed? For example, it is legal in Canada for 16 year olds to consent to sex, and its legal for 14-15 years to consent as long as their sexual partner is less than 5 years older than them. It's even legal for 12-13 year olds to consent to sex as long as its among themselves or the partner is less than two years older than them.[6] Is that the sort of consent the new curriculum teaches? Catholic education would have a huge problem teaching that sort of consent. Because something is legal does not make it right and children having sex with children is wrong regardless of what is legal. Catholic education would not teach it. Does reproductive aid technologies include abortion as a positive reproductive aid? Abortion has been forbidden by the Catholic church dating back to the 1st century. If it is presented it must be utterly condemned. 

The newspaper article continued:

"It [the Catholic superintendents document] says schools are "unable to teach any outcome requiring promotion of homosexual relationships," and would promote a life of chastity and virtues as a "positive choice" for people who experience same-sex attraction."

The words of the Superintendents are consistent with Catholic education and values (remember those pesky constitution guarantees). Quasi-Academe was aghast! University of Alberta
Christina Stasia
professor of gender studies Christina Stacia was "intellectually horrified". She said that 'their' perspective "glamorizes marriage." 
(I presume she meant Catholic school superintendents or Catholicism itself) No, Christina. Catholic teaching is not the least bit concerned about glamour in marriage. We are concerned about the sanctity of marriage. Marriage is one of seven solemn sacraments in Catholicism. It is a holy union between a man and woman. The EJ article quotes University of Calgary professor of masculinity studies, Michael Kehler, as saying the superintendents' document is naive, marginalizing and antithetical to how public education should be. He went on to proclaim that it establishes a dichotomy between the "right" choices and "bad" ones. Well, first of all Michael, we are talking about Catholic education system not the public education system. Secondly Michael -- now prepare for a shock -- Catholic teaching does teach there are right decisions and bad decisions not only physically, but emotional and spiritually. They have for centuries! That's why the Catholic church is here. To point people in the right direction. We believe there are right decisions and choices and wrong decisions and choices.  

Predictably, minister David Eggen called the document  "unacceptable." To hell with constitutional guarantees of Alberta, Canada and the United Nations! Eggen responded:

“I’m deeply concerned to see it suggested that providing Alberta students with accurate information on these important topics is ‘problematic,’ or that there’s something wrong with being gay.  I can assure Albertans that, under our government, any curriculum changes will be inclusive of all students — no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” 

For the sake of being inclusive for a small minority of people, the tyrant is willing to alienate hundreds of thousands of Alberta Catholics (24.3%) of its population.[7] That is not valuing diversity. It is a very selective way of being inclusive.
Paula Simons

A local columnist wrote a column under the title "Paula Simons: Catholic sex-education proposal puts church, NDP on collision course: Two ethical codes, two world views in a head-on collision that may lead to a constitutional crisis." I hope she's right and it leads to a constitutional crisis. Catholics need to know whether or if they fit into 21st century Alberta. I need to know if historic constitutional guarantees are still honoured. I need to know Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives the protections and rights it claims to give Canadians, or if it is a sham.

Someone may respond by saying the constitutional guarantees for Catholic education are old and outdated going back 150 years. Granted, but they still must be honoured just like treaty rights for Canada's indigenous peoples must still be honoured. 

Within Alberta's cultural, religious and secular mosaic, there must be room for everyone. Are there good education options for LGBTQ students? Absolutely! The public school system. Is there a good school system for Catholics? Absolutely! The Catholic School system. Other Christian school options are also available. Muslims have educational options such as the the Muslim Association of Canada's Islamic School, the Edmonton Islamic Academy, and the Calgary Islamic School come readily to mind. It provides parental choice. They must not be forced to compromise their faith and traditions.

There is room for everyone without forcing them to change. People have a right of educational choice; but choice means options from which to choose. 

But that's not what David Eggen and his minions at the department of education want. Diversity and inclusion are simply words used as euphemisms for something else: They demand homogeneity. Sameness. Alignment to certain ideologies that match their thinking and world-view. 

You see, for the new Alberta NDP socialist government's new rights and agendas are more important than legally guaranteed constitutional rights, dating back to the beginning of the province and nation. Their diversity is a selective diversity and does not include respecting Catholic education.

Yes, I hope this clash between the Catholic church and the NDP does lead to a constitutional crisis. We need to know if historic laws, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and educational rights of the UN Declaration of Human Rights are respected in Alberta. I need to know how anti-Catholic my provincial government and whether they will persecute us. It does not look promising. In a frenzy of hateful anti-Catholic hysteria, Alberta's Premier Rachel Notley actually referenced to a hateful lie that Catholics teach spousal rape.[8] 

She picked the word consent from the superintendents document and came to the wild conclusion Catholic educations supports spouse rape. They did nothing of the sort and I want the premier to show Albertans any place in the document when she found such a preposterous statement. Search high and low for it Rachel, you won't find it. It's not there. If anything, Catholic education teaches the exact opposite.  

Premier Rachel Notley owes Alberta's Catholic schools and Catholic Albertans a sincere and deep apology. We won't get it. I don't think she does apologies (and definitely not to Catholics).

Welcome to Alberta, Canada, under socialist rule, a land of anti-Catholic bigotry and hateful tyranny.

MDP 
__________________
[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357.
[2] CCC, 2358.
[3] Alberta Act (1905) Article 17(1 & 2) http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/English/aa_1905.html; also see The Constitution Act, 1867, (s-93) http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/English/ca_1867.html
[4] Janet French, "Catholic Schools want their own sex-ed curriculum", 23 October, 2017, http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/catholic-school-districts-want-their-own-sex-education-curriculum
[5] The United Nation's Declaration of Universal Human Rights, Article 26 (3). (http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ )
[6] See "Age of consent to sexual activity", Department of Justice, Government of Canada, http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/clp/faq.html
[7] Demographics of Alberta, Expedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Alberta#Religion
[8] See editorial "Ron Bell: Catholics don't teach spousal rape. Get it", 27 October 2017, Edmonton Sun  http://edmontonsun.com/opinion/columnists/catholics-dont-teach-spousal-rape-get-it/wcm/e3e5895d-af62-4db4-bc5c-a93a391b994c

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

ONE WOMAN'S STORY OF HER FREEDOM OF CHOICE. (SOME FREEDOM. SOME CHOICE.)

See the link below for a 7 minute video of Yvonne Freeman's story of Freedom of Choice. Planned Parenthood and other pied pipers of death take the money and leave women to wrestle with the aftermath of their "freedom of choice". Some Freedom. Some choice.


GIVE PEOPLE OVER 70 POISON PILLS?

Wesley J. Smith is one of America's top bioethical thinkers. He has written article for The National Review  entitled "Let's give suicidal people in 70s poison pills" (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/453034/lets-give-suicidal-people-70s-poison-pills


Dr. Philip Nitschke
Austrailian assisted suicide
Advocate
This is the suggestion of Australian assisted suicide proponent Dr. Philip Nitschke. In Canada, we fatally inject most suicidal sick and disabled people, regardless of age. Less that 1% of Canadian assisted suicides are self-administered as Nitschke proposes. 

Fatal injection is the Canadian way.  We may be known as polite people. We are also efficient killers with the utmost civility. 



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE ON EUTHANASIA

For people in the Edmonton area: See below for my next presentation. If you would like to arrange for me to speak at your parish Life issues event, Catholic conference or pro-life event in Canada or the United States, contact me at HumanLifeMatters@shaw.ca 
Mark 
(Venues must be wheelchair accessible.)


Monday, October 16, 2017

WHO IS THE MOST PRO-LIFE PRESIDENT?

By Brad Mattes
President
Life Issues Institute
Cincinnati, OH




Ronald Reagan is often touted as America’s pro-life president. The man and his legacy are revered by many in the nation. Pro-life candidates have often compared their political philosophy to that of the “Great Communicator.”
Ronald Reagan
As beloved as President Reagan is, his legacy regarding unborn babies has been In spite of the great enthusiasm many of us have for the “Gipper,” another president has exceeded Reagan’s presidential accomplishments for America’s unborn babies.Those who know me well are aware of my passion for all things Reagan. I have over 50 books on him, his family and his administration. My wife and I have made several “pilgrimages” to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. I even have a bust of Ronald Reagan in my office, having gotten the idea from then-Congressman Mike Pence who I interviewed for our TV program, Facing Life Head-On called Pro-Life Superstars. He had one in his office that was strategically placed between us during the interview.
.
President Donald Trump has already done more to protect preborn children during his approximate eight months in office than President Reagan did in eight years.
Ronald Reagan is credited with elevating the credibility and legitimacy of the pro-life movement during the 1980s, which was instrumental to our successes today.
He was the first sitting president to write a book while in office, and the title was Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation. He was also the first president to address, by phone, the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.
Sadly, it was President Reagan who nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court in the face of evidence that she was pro-abortion. Justice O’Connor proved true to her reputation while serving on the Court.
Just three days after taking office, the President didn’t merely reinstate the Mexico City Policy, he widely expanded it. This new policy ensures that our tax dollars are protected from funding the abortion industry overseas across all global health spending, not just family planning. The Bush-era Mexico City Policy protected roughly $500 million in spending. The new Trump policy prevents over $8.8 billion overseas aide from funding abortion.In the relatively short time that Mr. Trump has been in office, he has not only honored his commitments to America’s unborn babies — he has exceeded them!
The President fulfilled another campaign pledge by defunding the United Nations Population Fund, which has long been complicit in China’s brutal population control activities, including limiting births and forced abortions. President Trump’s State Department prevented about $33 million per year from going to the UNFPA.
The President signed a law permitting states to defund Planned Parenthood of Title X funding. It reverses an Obama-era rule that disbarred states from doing so. Because this was passed using the Congressional Review Act, future administrations cannot enact a similar rule to Obama’s.
The departments of HHS, Treasury and Labor issued two interim final rules, which means they took effect immediately, that provide permanent, enforceable relief from the previous HHS mandate for both religious objectors, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, and moral objectors, such as Life Issues Institute. The new rule also exempts private employers and educational institutions that have sincerely held religious beliefs or moral objections against providing abortifacient drugs.President Trump has honored his campaign pledge to appoint pro-life, constitutional judges. 
While US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has yet to prove his muster, all indications are that he is a younger version of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In addition, four Trump judicial nominees have been confirmed to the US Court of Appeals and two have been confirmed to the district court. There are 50 more nominees (13 for Appeals, 37 for District) that are moving through the Senate.
Candidate Donald Trump may not have been your first choice in the presidential primary, and as president, his bombastic approach at times may be an affront to your sensibilities, but he has done an outstanding job advocating for our most vulnerable citizens — unborn babies.
A few short years ago, few among us imagined that Donald Trump would be the avenue for such positive and dramatic change for our nation. But regardless of our personal feelings about the man, he has stepped up to the plate and hit these balls out of the park.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

BRINGING HOPE THROUGH MUSIC

"I'm a firm believer of the impact of beauty on culture. You give a culture beauty and people look at life through the eyes of hope and goodness." -- Eric Genuis

The last post featured Eric Genuis. Here's more about his vital music ministry.


ERIC GENUIS: SERVANT OF GOD AND PEOPLE, THROUGH MUSIC

I would like to introduce you to my friend Eric Genuis: musician, pianist, composer and inspirational speaker. He combines his music and heart to serve God and humanity. He knows pain and joy. Through the universal language of music and the magic of his words, Eric touches audiences and bears witness to power of love and the redemptive qualities of hope, grace and forgiveness -- for others and ourselves. I highly recommend the genius of Eric Genuis for any forum. His wisdom and music are bound to bless. Click the video below to see Eric's TED Talk at a prison. 

[Contact Eric Genuis for your next community, church or concert event https://www.ericgenuis.com/contact]

"I was in prison and you came to visited me." -- Jesus 
(Matthew 25.36)




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

CANADA'S EUTHANASIA SAVES MILLIONS (DOLLARS NOT PEOPLE)

Kevin Dunn, documentary film maker
 on location
Prolific Canadian documentary film maker Keven Dunn has embarked upon his latest production FATAL FLAWS.  In conjunction with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Mr. Dunn explores, amongst other things, the short step from physician assisted suicide to euthanasia.[1] This is exactly what is happening in Canada in the 14 months since physician assisted suicide became legal. 

Jocelyn Downie
professor of law and
medicine, Dalhousie
University
What is the difference between physician assisted suicide and euthanasia? A vociferous advocate for legalizing physician assisted suicide was Jocelyn Downie, professor of law and medicine at Canada's Dalhousie University.  I will use the explanation of the difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia given by the Dalhousie's Health Law Institute, of which Downie is a member:

"Assisted suicide and euthanasia are different.  Assisted suicide is providing another with the knowledge or means to intentionally end his or her own life; euthanasia is deliberate action undertaken by one person with the intention of ending the life of another person to relieve that person’s suffering where that act is the cause of death.  An example of assisted suicide is a physician who prescribes barbiturates to a patient with advanced ALS who uses the drugs to kill herself.  An example of euthanasia is a physician who administers a combination of a sedative, a barbiturate, and a neuromuscular block to a man suffering from advanced spinal muscular atrophy with the intention of ending his life in order to relieve the pain and suffering caused by his condition where the barbiturates cause death."[2]

More than 2,000 Canadians have died with medical assistance since 2015 (including Quebec).[3] Cancer represented 64% of assisted suicides, followed by circulatory/respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS).[4]

How did the numbers break down? From June 17 - December 31, 2016, 507 people received medical assisted death, of which 503 were administered by doctors or nurse practitioners. Only 4 were self-administered suicides.  From January 1st - June 30th 2017 there were 875 medically assisted deaths of which 874 were administered by a physician or nurse. One was self administered suicideOf the 1,482 assisted death for the year, only 5 were self-administered suicides (0.0033%). In practice (according to the Dalhousie university's definition), what Canada legalized in 2016 was not assisted suicide, it legalized euthanasia by another name. 

What makes things worse is that pressures are starting to mount on sick and disabled people -- or their families -- to sign DNR orders or agree to euthanasia, and ideally organ donation.[5] Why might that be? There a number of reasons:
  • There is a shortage of organs for transplantation.
  • Up-to-date palliative care is an area of specialty in which many family doctors are not particularly skilled. 
  • The last six months of life can be very expensive whereas euthanasia is cheap. 
  •  Some people with disabilities can be difficult, peevish and bothersome patients. They may require frequent and expensive hospitalization. Many do not get better.
  • Hospitals and nursing homes are overcrowded and care for the sick is so expensive.
Could it be mere coincidence that 6 months after medical assisted
Drs Manns & Trachtenburg
death was legalized in Canada a study came out of the University of Calgary and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal heralding the cost savings of killing dying patients? Drs Aaron Trachtenburg and Braden Manns proclaimed it could save up to $139-million annually! Of course, they took pains to state they were not suggesting people be euthanized to save money. The illustrious doctors noted that "as death approaches, health care costs increase dramatically in the final months. Patients who choose medical assistance in dying may forego this resource-intensive period."
[6] (How considerate of patients.) 

American journalist, cynic and cultural critic H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) once said, "When somebody says it's not about the money, it's about the money." Why would anybody conduct, write and publish such a study if it was not about the money? 

The medical killing net is sure to be cast ever wider to be more "inclusive" (as progressives will be sure to champion). Anybody with an incurable, degenerative disease or disability has every right to fear hospitals or nursing homes -- and even their own future (or lack of one). It's hard to get any rest with a parking meter ticking so loudly at the end of the bed. 

My point is this: People like me cost too much and benevolence can quickly turn to malevolence. We need care and do not contribute to the nation's GDP. I fear that eventually we will be considered what was once referred to as useless eaters or lebensunwertes leben (Life unworthy of life). Eventually some doctor, health care budget administrator
or government policy will surely decide we've over-stayed our welcome and our organs will be worth more than we are worth.

MDP

___________________________
Notes
[1]  https://fatalflawsfilm.com/
[2] End-of-Life Law and Policy in Canada, Health Law Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. http://eol.law.dal.ca/?page_id=238
[3] Kathleen Harris, "More than 2,000 Canadians with medical assistance since legalization: Cancer neurodegenerative disorders and circulatory or respiratory failures drive most requests." CBC News online http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/medical-assistance-death-figures-1.4344267
[4] 2nd Interim Report on MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DYING IN CANADA, Department of Health, Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/health-system-services/medical-assistance-dying-interim-report-sep-2017.html
[5] Sharon Kirkey, "Doctors harvesting organs from Canadian patients who underwent medical assisted death, National Post, 20 March 2017. (http://nationalpost.com/health/doctors-harvesting-organs-from-canadian-patients-who-underwent-medically-assisted-death)
[6]Sharon Kirkey, "Doctor-assisted suicide could save Canada up to $139 million each year, Alberta study suggests", National Post, 23 January 2017. http://nationalpost.com/news/0124-na-assisted-dying

Monday, October 9, 2017

CRUELTIES AND DISABILITY

For most of my adult life I've been scaring friendship away with incurable sickness and disability of aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS). In my early days with MS, old friends stayed away in droves. 
Charlie Chaplin

I was a young man being forced to use a cane and it was hard. It seemed out of place to me and to others. Canes were for old people with
bad hips or a silly little man with a moustache and black bowler hat in the era of silent movies. He may have been funny but the reality was that people laughed, from comfortable seats in theatres, at the comedic misfit. The difference between Charlie Chaplin and me was that he twirled his cane and I hobbled on mine.

As my disease progressed, I had to resort to two canes. My body contorted with spasticity and it frightened people. The sight of a young man on two canes seemed to remind them that they too were mortals. Children stared from behind clothes racks at shopping malls. Their parents scolded them not stare at "that man" -- then discreetly stared themselves from the end of the aisle.

Later, with metal crutches, the sight of me took on a sideshow quality. People stared out of pity. They were friendly enough but passed by quickly.

During remissions when physical function returned, I was invited into new friendships until the next attack. My social calendar became blank again. Don't get me wrong, new friends were not unkind, just hard to find.

When I started using a mobility scooter, people began taking liberties with jokes about my disability to ease their own discomfort. 

"Got a licence to drive that thing?"  
"Don't get any speeding tickets."
"Hey look! Here comes speedy Gonzales"

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard those rib-ticklers! The jokes may have eased other peoples' unease with my disability but they made my heart ache. The problem was that it was my legs that did not work right. It was a source of pain and grief to me. Strangers and acquaintances should not have thought they could make jokes at something that was breaking my heart. I did not find jokes amusing about my disability or the tools I was forced to use. I still don't. It was as inappropriate as if they were to joke about somebody's poor vision by saying, "Hey, have you tried to start any fires with those coke-bottle glasses?"

There are people who can take liberties with my disability but they are not strangers on the street or acquaintances in cafes, stores or church foyers. People who could take such liberties are a few loved-ones who have been with me throughout my suffering; if anyone has earned the right to make smart-cracks about my disability, it is them. Yet, they do not. They witnessed the anguish and the tears throughout the years that took me through each loss of function.

Now, in advanced disability, the jokes have diminished along with meaningful human contact. I have learnt to turn isolation into solitude. There is one constant that has remained with me throughout every phase of disease and disability and the smarting of ill-placed jokes and sparks of loneliness: God has been with me. 

After the last page of each book closes and the music dies away and the snickers all cease, it is Christ who comforts and consoles me. He will do the same for you if you allow Him when your heart is breaking. So let me end this post with words and music that start Charlie Chaplin's song:  Smile, though your heart is aching.

[click below]





Thursday, October 5, 2017

CHOOSE LOVE


I came across an entry in a diary I wrote many years ago when I was threatened with quadriplegia from multiple sclerosis. It was a time of I radical and risky therapy at the University of Alberta Hospital (Canada), to try and stem where the disease seemed to be going. I spent much time in my room contemplating my situation and what really matters. It was a frightening time but Christ was with me.  That entry is below. 
_________________

I knew a woman who was afraid to leave her house. Her name was Valerie.
She was consumed by all sorts of anxieties about what might happen if she stepped outside her door. A truck or bus might run her down if she tried to cross a street.  She might be accosted by a stranger. Yes, Valerie was so paralyzed with a fear of dying that she stopped living -- choosing to be a prisoner in her own home.  


I know a man who is afraid to fall in love for fear of what it might require of him. His name is John. He grew up in a home bereft of affection and coldly predictable. In a heartless sort of way, John was safe.  Now in adulthood, John keeps up a facade of superficial but aloof cordiality to scare away all possibilities of romance or commitments of love. John has sexual desires but lust is not love.  Lust consumes while love embraces. John's fears what love might be required of him and so he keeps his heart in check. He is emotionally paralyzed. 

Paralysis takes many forms. Mine is physical. It creeps slowly,
taking away physical function, bit by bit. Despite a life of slowly advancing physical disability, an electric wheelchair, and the deteriorating physical health, I consider my paralysis much less of a handicap than the emotional and spiritual paralysis Valerie and John suffer from. They are more handicapped than me.  One is afraid to live while the other is afraid to love. I am afraid of neither: Life and love both involve an element of risk but also holds a promise of great rewards. Being engaged with the living experience and being committed to love (human and divine) are indispensable to human growth. They are at the center of human growth! Love makes our time on earth worth while. Neither life nor love require legs that work.

There is so little in my world I can control. I can, however, decide to live my life in whatever state I find myself following a road of love.  I choose to love. The option is to live a compromised life or an existence without love. No! I choose to live and to live my life to the fullest; that is only possible immersed in love. I choose to go outside my house and enjoy the fresh air and the warm sun. I choose to love. Whether love is returned, in any human context, is beyond my control. I am loved by God and He is the author of life and love.

In his Messianic prophecy Isaiah wrote:

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
He send me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favour from the Lord 
and a day of vindication by our God,
to comfort all who mourn." (Isaiah 61.1-2)

Christ read this passage and claimed it to himself (Luke 4.17-21). He came to set captives free. Christ is Truth (John 14.6) and the Truth sets humanity free (John 8.32). Valerie did not need to live in fear and nor does John. Abundant life is available to all in Christ.

MDP