“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

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NEWS IS SUPPOSED TO BE BALANCED (or is that a hopeless relic of the past?).

Edmonton is the provincial capital city of Alberta -- a province in Canada. A local television newscast recently aired a story that was a thinly veiled promotion of assisted suicide disguised as health news.

 A few days ago I wrote an email to the station protesting what their health reporter, Su Ling Goh, did (she was praised by her on-air colleagues).  I shared the email with a number of specialists who work in end-of-life care  across Canada.  Last evening I received an email response from one of those specialists "Jean". She is an associate professor of nursing at a major Canadian university and palliative care consultant.

Part of Jean's note is immediately below in which she suggested I post the substance of my email to the television station on this blog. I have done that with a few adaptations to make it more suitable to a blog format and you will see it beneath Jean's note.

News is supposed to be balanced and unbiased, otherwise it becomes advocacy or worse: propaganda! 

(See below)

Dear Mark,

Thank you so much for sending this piece along.  It is my hope that you sent this in its’ entirety to Global TV and cc’d Su!  In addition I hope that it’s on your Blog.  Your language skills are so amazing and everyone needs to read your work. 

May I quote some of this during my presentation to the Dementia Association?

Because of your profound disability you speak the truth with eloquence and great passion.

May God continue to bless you in speaking out against the horrors of perverse thinking in our society.

(see below)
From: Mark Pickup
Sent: Sunday, June 02, 2013 8:13 PM
Subject: Health Matters segments on assisted suicide, May 27 and 28, 2013

Reporter Su Ling Goh on set
I watched the segments about assisted suicide on “Health Matters” by reporter Su Ling Goh. She profiled the case of ALS sufferer Amy Doolittle.  Everyone was so effusive in their praise of her coverage (right down to the weather lady). The story was more a legal matter than a health matter: assisted suicide.  At the conclusion of her story about Ms. Doolittle, news anchor Gord Steinke said something to this effect Goh: “We’ll have to see if the story brings about a change.” What?  Is Goh a reporter or an advocate for a contentious and illegal cause? 

Contrary to what Gord Steinke alluded to, a reporter reports and should remain objective and neutral. Assisted suicide is illegal and other people with degenerative diseases (like me) will continue to lobby to ensure it stays that way.  Amy Doolittle had the right to the very best palliative care available – and ALS symptoms can be treated with modern specialized pain management medications and techniques – I know a number of end-of-life-care specialists who have effectively relieved ALS symptoms: Su Ling Goh did not interview any. 

Donna Wilson, University of Alberta
Goh reported that some wishful nursing professor at the University of Alberta speculated that within 10 years assisted suicide will be legal in Canada. Based on what? The federal government, and the Justice Minister have indicated no such change in law is forthcoming.

Now, some corrections to Su Ling Goh’s reporting: Sue Rodriguez was from Victoria not Toronto. Although suicide was decriminalized in 1972, that did not make it legal. Canada's Parliament recognized that imprisonment for attempting suicide was inappropriate and that suicidal people needed psychological help and counselling not jail. But that did not legalize it. Suicide is not a right. 

As late as this past October, the Canadian Parliament gave unanimous support to the idea of establishing a national suicide prevention strategy. Such a strategy should be for all Canadians not just healthy and able-bodied Canadians.

According to Su Ling Goh’s story 78% of Albertans support assisted suicide. Really? Do they support assisted suicide for everyone or just the sick, disabled and dying?  If not, is the issue really one of a "right" but culling the herd of its diseased, disabled and dying? 

Mark Davis Pickup
If the statistic Goh quoted is right, it is unsettling for a severely disabled Albertan like me to know that 8 out of 10 people I pass on the street agree with assisting my suicide should I despair of life and sink beneath the waves of my circumstances; those same people want suicide prevention for healthy and able bodied people. I had no idea my fellow-Albertans held people like me is such low regard. 

In the interests of fairness, I hope  Global Edmonton will cover the struggle of disabled people to gain life with dignity rather than so-called death with dignity, and equality before the law (and no, Su, helping us kill ourselves does not further equality rights.)

Mark Pickup

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