“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, August 6, 2012


Ron Panzer
Today, the HumanLifeMatters blog begins a multi-post series by Ron Panzer, Founder of the American organization, the Hospice Patients Alliance. [1] Ron is a good friend of HumanLifeMatters and me personally. Without further comment here is the first in the series The Stairway of Life.

Many are surprised at the reality of the dying process as their loved ones appear to be approaching death. I say "appear" to be approaching, because it's not always certain. Patients whose blood pressures are dropping steadily, who exhibit all the signs that they are "declining" and "must" be on their way, suddenly recover and turn around, living sometimes weeks, months and even years afterwards. Many experts in end-of-life care have been surprised and many of their predictions have not held to be accurate.

It's not the straight trajectory one might imagine: "you get diagnosed with some terminal disease and then you die," ... it doesn't happen like that in many cases. More often than not, it's like a spiral: sometimes the patient is improving, sometimes the patient's condition is worsening, sometimes, nothing much seems to be happening. "The patient is stable." Nobody knows what to expect at that time, except that eventually, it will get worse. How long is not known, just as determining when you or I will pass on is not known.

It is just the same with those at the beginning of life who have congenital difficulties and diseases or disabilities. Physicians will often tell the parents that their children have "little or no hope" and they should think about end-of-life preparations or care in that type of setting. When a physician gives such a message, that there is "no hope," they are encouraging actual despair in those parents, for that is what despair means, "without hope." Yet, if the parents stand firm and assure that their child gets clinically-appropriate care, the child often will make it through and sometimes live much longer than the few hours or days, or weeks, the physicians suggested was their "time left" before they would die.

I've known and cared for such patients (infants and children) who have gone on to live a year, a dozen years, or even thirty years or more longer than the pronouncements given to the parents at the beginning of life.

The only time a health professional can normally be fairly certain (not 100% certain) that a patient will die very soon is when they appear to be imminently dying right in front of us, with most of the signs of the active phase of dying. Even then, physicians who have been absolutely sure the patient was dying within hours, even minutes, have been proved wrong. In fact, physicians have been sure that certain patients were actually dead with no heart beat and no breathing at all, and the patients were dead, yet some have come back to life! Before we go telling parents there is "no hope," we need to remember such cases and humbly admit that we don't know all there is to know.

So long as the patient is alive, expert and clinically-appropriate end-of-life patient care, or beginning-of-life patient care, actually helps the patient to improve their quality of life, stabilize, live longer and be able to make the most of the time they have left with their family and friends. Though there are times when what care is provided is changed depending upon the patient's condition, we should provide care that would not cause harm to the patient. That patients live longer if expert and clinically-appropriate care is provided is well-established. But that doesn't always happen. We expect that the best care would be provided at such a crucial time in a person's life, but unfortunately, that is not always the case.

In fact, what often happens is something quite other than "expert" or "clinically-appropriate" care. Some agencies that provide end-of-life care process patients through like an industrial assembly line, with almost all patients getting exactly the same medications and dying in about the same time, even though they had very different end-stage diseases. Shocking, but true.

In some hospitals, physicians will "triage" newborn patients with disabilities or congenital diseases to settings that do not provide the care that would be provided if the physicians had decided to help that newborn child live. Parents won't always know at first that such a decision has been made by the physician, but they will know soon enough that things that would be expected to be done, aren't being done.

In end-of-life care settings, patients may not be getting the care that is expected and actions taken or interventions withheld may be done because the physician has made a decision that the patient is to die sooner rather than later. This is "intended death," imposed death.

There is a perfect storm of factors causing an alarming increased frequency of such intended and imposed deaths: the increased entry by for-profit corporations into the health care arena, especially hospice, the economic pressures on governments, both national and state, around the world to balance the budget and cut costs, often through rationing, and, the successful indoctrination of a large percentage of health care professionals into the ethics of death, i.e., the ethics that govern the "culture of death." Most people have never heard of "the ethics of death," but they are very real and they are well-recognized under other names.

There are many steps on the culture of death's "stairway to death." At each and every step along the way, the patient's life can be ended, i.e., the patient can be killed "ethically," according to the "ethics of death.".

People everywhere are becoming more aware that something has changed in the health care setting. Care is not always provided, available options are not always offered or explained, actions are taken that seem to take the decision-making away from the patient or family, and death may be imposed directly, indirectly or manipulated into happening in a wide variety of ways. If you haven't seen it, you may be skeptical, but you are probably aware that things like that are "known to happen." It's become quite widespread.

With all the emphasis on "patient rights" and "best outcomes," it seems a contradiction that things like "intended" and imposed deaths should happen at all, but it is not a contradiction when the realities are understood. It is not a mystery why these things are happening when we understand the values held by those in charge of the health care delivery system and the funding of that system, whether they are the values held by stakeholders in the national decision-making process for Medicare, Medicaid or a government run health care system, or, by those in charge of the private health insurance plans.

There is one basic thing that has changed within the health care setting, though it is talked about in different ways: reverence for life, that was the basic foundation for health care service, has been abandoned.

The sanctity of life ethic has been discarded. The absolute standard, "do no harm," has been abandoned. Although many are not aware of this change, those working in the field are very aware that in today's health care setting, there are circumstances where actions taken will cause death either directly or indirectly. In other words, "doing harm" has become acceptable.

Some will disagree with that, but it is easily confirmed. The "modern physician's oath" states:

".... Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life." [emphasis added]
"Taking a life" has no other meaning than to intend and impose death. That is now "acceptable" and "approved" in this modern culture of death health care system. When belief in the "sanctity of life" was considered the foundation for health care, along with "doing no harm," the "taking of a life" would have been condemned by every physician's organization around. Now, few even figuratively "blink an eye."

Yes, "doing harm" has become acceptable if the conditions merit it according to the ethics of death. It becomes a question of semantics and redefining of terms. "Life" does not always mean "life," as any ordinary person means it. "Person" does not always mean "person," as any ordinary person would understand it. "Death" does not always mean "death," as anyone could see it and know it. "Killing" does not always mean "killing," as even a child could comprehend. "Helping" does not mean what most expect it to mean. "Care" does not mean what the patients desperately need and desire. "Love" is not even considered. And the "mission?" It is certainly not the same thing it was forty or fifty years ago.

When the "rules of the game," and the "cards" that are played, have been completely changed, the outcome of the game is sure to be something entirely other than it once was. In the American nation, the United States of America, "human rights" once were "self-evident." They were the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," written right into our Declaration of Independence. Whatever happened to that?

Are these universally-recognized "human rights," at least among those who are concerned about "human rights?" Not really. Some of the "human rights" that most people agree on are the right to vote in a democratically-run nation. Other human rights are debated. Rights to minimal standards of food, shelter, clothing are pretty much agreed upon, but what about that "right to life?" There has been a several decade-long campaign to establish what is called "women's reproductive rights" by those who are decidedly in favor of the continued legalization of medical killing of babies.

They say that the right to have one's own baby medically-killed is a women's right, a "human right." Yet, we know that scientifically, a new and unique human begins at the very first moment the embryonic developmental process is initiated. You began life as a unique person, a unique human being at this point. So did I and all of us. What about our "human right" to life at that very point? The new human being is not the mother, but he or she is being carried by the mother, within the mother's body.

Of course, those who consider the killing of human beings at the embryonic or fetal stage a human right don't use language that conveys what is obviously being done. They call it "abortion," as if the ending of a new human life is something that is simply "aborted" or stopped. How would you or I like to be "aborted" right now? We call it killing, imposing death. It is not just the ending of a pregnancy. It truly is the killing of a new and unique human being.

Of course, culture of death leaders say that what is being "ended" is not a "human life," but they lie. They know it's a human life, a baby. And, from time-to-time they admit it, but they can't afford to tell the truth openly or consistently if they wish to further their culture of death agenda with its anti-life, anti-religious, pro-Marxist slant. Read the writings of the leaders of the pro-"abortion" movement and you will quickly understand it is anti-life, anti-religious, pro-socialism and, anti-traditional values and anti-traditional family values.

What is desired by the culture of death is the complete re-shaping or re-ordering of society based upon non-religious values. They are not based upon "no" values, as you might imagine. When they protest traditional societal values and sometimes scream, "don't impose your morals on us," they fully intend to impose their "morals," on the rest of us, and "freedom" to disagree or disobey will not exist! What is being promoted is an actual worldview that allows no room for the faith-based view of the world which recognizes the sanctity of life and the source of that life as being God, the Creator.

[1] See Hospice Patients' Alliance's website at http://www.hospicepatients.org/

(End of Part 1)

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