The “Assisted Suicide” Debate

The following editorial is by Maureen Ferguson, Senior Policy Advisor, The Catholic Association.

Our family spent days at the bedside of my beloved mother-in-law as she lay dying at Johns Hopkins hospital. She had been diagnosed with advanced bone marrow cancer four years earlier, and now her doctors told us her death was certainly imminent. She was unconscious and on hospice care, and we were told she would slip away at any moment.

Defying those predictions, she recovered and went on to live another two years. They were two incredibly precious years, in which she took her three grandchildren to Disney World, saw her eldest son married, her youngest daughter graduate from high school, and made Christmas dinner that year in her high heels.

As the national debate over physician-assisted suicide picks up steam — currently under consideration in 24 states – we should keep such cases in mind. Proponents of these bills claim only those with less than six months to live would be allowed to avail themselves of doctor prescribed suicide, but patients frequently outlive their prognosis. Even the best doctors, like those at Hopkins, are not omniscient and cannot always accurately predict when a person will die.

Many recall the case of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given only four months to live. However, he went on to live almost two more years as an active U.S. Senator. After his death, his widow Victoria Kennedy campaigned against physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts saying this policy, “ask(s) us to endorse patient suicide — not patient care — as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life. We’re better than that.”

In advocating for physician-assisted suicide, groups like Compassion and Choices (formerly known as The Hemlock Society) espouse tragically misleading slogans like “Death with Dignity.” Treating a person with authentic dignity and compassion could never involve helping that person commit suicide. The dictionary defines suicide as the very “destruction of one’s own interests or prospects.” A group promoting physician-assisted suicide is still just promoting suicide. And suicide has always been recognized as a tragedy.

The medical profession knows this, which is why the American Medical Association strongly opposes such bills, saying, “physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

Disability rights advocates have been among the first to recognize these societal risks, calling physician-assisted suicide a “deadly form of discrimination.” This policy unjustly singles out a class of people as having lives that are less worthy and less deserving of protection. The highly respected disability advocates at The ARC have been particularly strong in fighting these bills at the state level because of the disparate impact on those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The disabled are especially vulnerable given the discrimination they already face in a medical environment increasingly squeezed by cost containment pressures.

We can look to Oregon, the first state to legalize assisted suicide, to see the results of this experiment and they are not good. In a well-documented case, a woman was notified by the state health plan that coverage of her cancer treatment was denied, but in the same letter was reminded that the suicide pills were covered. This is not an isolated incident.

The so-called “safeguards” in the Oregon law (the same as those promised in other states) have proved totally insufficient. There has been abuse of the definition of “terminal illness” because many diseases can be considered terminal if proper treatments are not given. Prescriptions for suicide have been dispensed for those suffering from depression, diabetes, and dementia. “Doctor shopping” is common because most family physicians don’t want to prescribe suicide pills. Patients are given the overdose prescription by a doctor who does not know them, and then are left to overdose alone without any further medical care. Results are shrouded in secrecy and reporting requirements minimal.

Finally, the law is an important teacher, especially for young people. What message does legalized, doctor prescribed suicide send to teenagers, who already face tragically high suicide rates? The ‘contagion effect’ of suicide is well known amongst mental health professionals. If adolescents see that our legislatures condone suicide for those facing difficult circumstances, would it be surprising to see an increase in teenage suicides?

Our laws should protect the most vulnerable among us, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the young, not assist in their destruction. People facing grave illnesses deserve to be treated with authentic dignity and truly compassionate care. Instead of legally enshrining and dispensing despair, let’s embrace life, even at the end, with all its challenges and mysteries. If life is all about love, then what better time to love than in accompanying our beloved in their final days?

Maureen Ferguson is Senior Policy Advisor to The Catholic Association.
Used with permission.

The Face of Evil

Evil-Face-in-The-Clouds

While there is only one FACE OF EVIL, it has worn many, many masks throughout the ages. For example, the past one hundred years of our nation’s history saw the faces of evil in our two world wars, the Korean and Viet-Nam wars as well as the Gulf and mid-eastern conflicts. And now we are witnessing the savagery and barbarism of ISIS. (Someone very wise once said war is the punishment of sins.)

Domestically, the Supreme Court rulings of banning prayer in schools, legalizing abortion on demand and establishing same-sex marriages are some of the faces of evil which are set out to destroy the concept of traditional families, undermining the very fabric of our society.

The seven recent undercover Planned Parenthood videos explicitly demonstrate the moral depravity and callousness of the mind set prevalent in the abortion industry. Couple this with our current President being on record of favoring that any aborted babies inadvertently being born alive should be ignored and left to die. This was his position before running for the highest office in our land and yet he won two elections.

It would seem that in a world without God anything is permissible, but the human heart is restless without a Deity. There are many ways to know that God exists. One of the ways to know that God is real is to see the mounting force of evil prevalent in our culture. If evil is real and seemingly thickening virtually each moment, then a Good God too must be real. The FACE OF EVIL is gathering his forces and the storm clouds will begin to rage.

However, our Good God is in His Heaven and all will be right in the world after the defeat of the FACE OF EVIL. Pray that this happens soon.

The Fetal Tissue Issue

The following editorial is by Maureen Ferguson, Senior Policy Advisor, The Catholic Association.

In the wake of a third undercover video revealing the details of Planned Parenthood’s collection of fetal parts, it’s revealing to consider the reactions of Washington’s top three Democrats.

President Obama has not even commented. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) read hesitatingly from a carefully prepared written statement. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the other hand, rushed to give a rather puzzling defense of the controversy, asserting, “the controversy doesn’t exist.” It seems Planned Parenthood disagrees, as they raced to hire both PR and communication crisis firms to handle damage control in the face of multiple congressional investigations.

It’s just, “about women’s health,” according to Pelosi. Bingo. She’s correct; it’s precisely about the endangerment of women’s health on the part of Planned Parenthood, whose doctors admit they deliberately maneuver the fetus into a breech position to have better access to remove intact organs. Changing the abortion method (to the “less crunchy technique”) violates ethical standards precisely because it does not put the health of the woman first, but rather prioritizes the collection of fetal parts. Intact eyes, livers, and hearts are in demand, though, so ethical standards become optional for Planned Parenthood.

This alteration of the abortion technique without a woman’s consent not only violates medical ethics; it also violates the law. Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Gatter dismisses this concern over illegality as a “specious little argument… I don’t think the patients would care one iota so I’m not making a fuss about that.” A bit cavalier of Dr. Gatter to decide what patients will care about, no? It appears the Obama Justice Department won’t make a fuss over the law either. In fact, in quite a parody of justice, DOJ has announced an investigation of the whistleblowers instead.

Pelosi then rested her case by saying “Planned Parenthood has said they have done nothing illegal.” Hmmm. This response calls to mind the scene in Shawshank Redemption when the main character is asked what crime landed him in prison. He also says he has done nothing illegal; he was framed. Morgan Freeman’s character responds, “You’re gonna fit right in! Everybody in here is innocent.”

Perhaps most striking about Pelosi’s response, though, is the tone-deaf lack of compassion. Just weeks ago, Pelosi sang a very different tune in praise of Pope Francis and his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, as have Obama and Reid. They appear to have overlooked the encyclical’s many sections on human ecology, in which Francis repeatedly addresses just the kind of commodification of human beings we see on grisly display in these videos.

Pope Francis writes, “Concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings… if we fail to protect a human embryo?”

In other words, if we are to protect sea turtle eggs, shouldn’t we also protect a human fetus from being carved up? Damaging a turtle egg in Florida is a third degree felony punishable by a $5000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. Yet Planned Parenthood, which aborts over 300,000 developing humans every year, receives about $500 million in our tax dollars annually.

Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical says it is troubling, “when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life….”

This failure is on full display in the newly released third video, featuring the work of Planned Parenthood’s partner in collection of fetal parts, StemExpress. The founder, Cait Dyer, defends her company’s work in the New York Times, “We’re collecting biohazardous waste, discarded waste.”

Waste? Have we become so divorced from reality, so schizophrenic as a society that we joyfully tweet ultrasound images of our unborn child to announce a pregnancy, and yet we literally “crush” others?

In Planned Parenthood’s ethical matrix, women’s health can be compromised and the price of fetal organs can be haggled over (so long as the “tone” of the negotiation is more sensitive). An organization with this kind of ethical compass does not deserve half a billion dollars in taxpayer funds every year. They don’t deserve a dime.

Maureen Ferguson is Senior Policy Advisor to The Catholic Association.
Used with permission.

Defending the Indefensible

The following editorial is by Maureen Ferguson, Senior Policy Advisor, The Catholic Association.

Any mother remembers that moment in the delivery room (or during the sneak peak at the 20-week ultrasound) when her doctor announces after months of suspense, “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” This is one of the most joyful moments of a mother’s life.

How heartbreaking, then, to think of the mothers who have been clients at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, site of the fourth undercover video exposing Planned Parenthood’s callous operations.

“Another boy!” wryly announces a Planned Parenthood official, while literally standing over a petri dish dissecting the little boy, separating out his aborted body parts, in this case the trademark parts that identify this little one as male.

Our abortion culture has led us to a place that is beyond heartbreaking. Heartbreaking that so many little lives, with amazing potential, have been snuffed out. Heartbreaking that so many women have been so deeply wounded by a culture that offers abortion as a solution to the challenges of a crisis pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards has penned a defense of its practices in the Washington Post, referring to her operation as a “trusted” provider of “high-quality, nonjudgmental, compassionate care” for women.

Compassionate? Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Savita Ginde asks in a decidedly non-compassionate manner during the dissection, “Do people do stuff with eyeballs?” When they have trouble locating brain tissue in the petri dish, Dr. Ginde remarks casually, “Usually you can see the whole brain usually come out.”

As a solution she suggests perhaps she can train her providers to abort “a bit more gentle.” That way, Dr. Ginde says, looking at the mess in the petri dish, “I don’t think it would be as war-torn.” In her own words, this little boy’s body is war-torn.

Trusted high-quality care? Ms. Richards bewails that her organization has been secretly taped without consent. It is highly ironic that the tapes reveal top Planned Parenthood doctor’s willingness to change the method of abortion, without a woman’s consent, to better access fetal organs with the “less crunchy” technique. This lack of consent is unethical, against the law, and couldn’t be called high-quality trustworthy care for women.

The abortion lobby and Ms. Richards response to these grisly videos is to chalk it up to the unpleasantness of details of any surgical procedure, “medical and scientific conversations can be upsetting to hear.” Only the willfully ignorant will fall for that defense. While there is certainly a yuck-factor in hearing the medical details of an appendectomy, it is not comparable to the deep sadness and moral revulsion engendered by the blatant disregard for the humanity of the little boy in this video, and the deep disrespect for the dignity of his mother. Ditto for all the other women who find themselves in a Planned Parenthood clinic, but deserve so much better.

Maureen Ferguson is Senior Policy Advisor to The Catholic Association.
Used with permission.

Planned Parenthood Investigation Reportedly Shows Doctors Discussing How to Maximize Revenue from Sale of Fetal Tissue

In a new video just released by the Center for Medical Progress, a former clinical worker at StemExpress described her job of identifying pregnant women “who met criteria for fetal tissue orders and to harvest fetal body parts after their abortions.”

Holly O’Donnell, a licensed phlebotomist, said she “unsuspectingly took a job as a ‘procurement technician’” at the fetal tissue company StemExpress, which was allegedly the primary buyer of fetal body parts from Planned Parenthood.

She said she fainted on her first day on the job when she was asked to dissect a “freshly aborted” baby.

Read the rest at Breitbart.com.

Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices

A second video allegedly showing a senior Planned Parenthood official negotiating for fetal tissue and fetal parts for profit has been released.

In the video, released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Dr. Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s for-profit Medical Directors’ Council, is seen haggling over prices of fetal parts.

Read the rest at Life Site News.

Undercover Video Shows Planned Parenthood Official Discussing Fetal Organs Used for Research

An antiabortion group on Tuesday released an undercover video of an official at Planned Parenthood discussing in graphic detail how to abort a fetus to preserve its organs for medical research — as well as the costs associated with sharing that tissue with scientists.

Over lunch at a Los Angeles restaurant, two antiabortion activists posing as employees from a biotech firm met with Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research. Armed with cameras, the activists recorded Nucatola talking about Planned Parenthood’s work donating fetal tissue to researchers and pressed her on whether the clinics were charging for the organs.

Read the complete article at The Washington Post.

Bye, Bye America!

liberty
The historic 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court which ruled that same-sex couples have a nationwide constitutional right to marry is another sign of America’s moral decay. This trend is leading to the eventual decline and fall of our once great nation. A court ruling sanctioning that same-sex couples have a right to marry does not make it a moral right to do so.

The landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1973, Roe vs. Wade determined abortion is a fundamental right under the Constitution. As a result of this decision women were eventually allowed to abort their unborn without any restrictions. As a result the lives of over 55 million unborn have been extinguished in the name of “a woman’s right to choose.” This so-called constitutional right does not make it a moral right to do so.

The Dredd Scott Supreme Court of 1857 ruled that African-Americans whether enslaved or free could not be American citizens and as a consequence had no rights. This decision is thought to have been the worst Supreme Court decision in history and contributed in some measure to the horrendous American Civil War. This Court ruling was superseded by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution which gave African-Americans full citizenship.

These three Supreme Court decisions are but the cultural mileposts or signs of a troubled nation. As a result we seem to be travelling on a road which may lead us to further decline which will destroy America. How did we get to this point in our history and how may we take the steps necessary to avoid the demise of our once great nation?

The major cause of our problem is that we have lost our way in believing in the reality that humans are made in the image of God. We are spiritual beings made by God for eternal union with Him. As a nation we have lost this essential perspective. God is the Creator of human rights and it is Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross which gives mankind its dignity. Marriage serves to produce children and bring them to maturity (and not snuffing out their lives in utero).

Outside of marriage, sex fails to bring true union and the shared life of a man and a woman. Sex used in any way counter to its nature leads to destruction. So in this sense, same-sex marriages will only result in suffering for those individuals involved as well as causing the consequential breakdown of the institution of marriage.

The health of marriage requires a positive attitude toward sex. It is God’s plan for the continuance of the human race. It demands total self–giving of the spouses. Selfless love is not that common and it takes much effort to make a marriage work. In the end, the family and society will rise or fall based on the state of traditional marriages. The family is the building block of our nation. We all need to be a part of a family and a society.

The challenge to our survival is to break away from the error of thinking that we are nothing special in this universe and that our need for God has been eliminated. Our secular society has created a concept of a universe without meaning. This dehumanization allows the State to assert itself in every aspect of life. Thus, we are where we are, as exemplified by the Supreme Court decisions, etc.

We must again come to realization that we are dependent upon God alone, His creation and in His Son, Christ. Without Him we are a doomed race and then it will be, BYE, BYE AMERICA! Our hope then is that we can do all things through God who strengthens us.