Boinkie's Blog

Universalis

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Those who encourage death

One of the most terrible stories in the last few days is about a young man who was suicidal, and discussed it on line. Not only did few people try to talk him out of it, some ridiculed him and goaded him on; but over 100 watched him take an overdose and die, yet did not call the police or take steps to save his life...

Some of those commenting on the story have pointed out that many thought it was fake; but others essentially said: so what? Not my business...and legally, one doubts a "crime" was committed.

But where is the discussion of the morality of those watching?

Another internet suicide story is of a young girl who committed suicide after an older lady taunted her repeatedly.
Again, the jury had few good options to punish the one who taunted the depressed girl into suicide (she was convicted on three misdemeanor charges).

But this again is a moral, not legal question.

Are we our brother's keeper?

Finally, with all the talk of "assisted suicide" as a "right", one notorious case a couple years ago in New York shows how this too can be the result of taunting.

New York writer George Delury had a disable wife, and she was in his way. So he carefully nagged her and reminded her of the "Assisted suicide" option, and carefully gave her the pills.

He became a hero to the pro death groups when he was arrested and eventually convicted of "attempted manslaughter" for giving her pills that ended her life...Delury played the "death with dignity" card to a lapdog press..."I regret that my wife's spirit has been impugned and her courage dishonored because society and the government have provided no way to deal with these situations openly with due respect for individual freedom of conscience and individual dignity," he read from a statement.

But Delury's computer diary shows a different person: Mr. Delury wrote, "You are sucking my life out of me like a vampire and nobody cares."

He claimed he was only writing a diary to show the frustrations of caring for a disabled spouse (caretaker burnout is a common problem for those caring for diabeled family members) but her family saw it otherwise: As a supreme act of selfishness.

After all, the writer was rich: Unlike the poor, he could afford in house nurses to help care for her, or even a good nursing home for his wife. Instead, he killed her.

The coercion of suicide is one of the worst forms of evil, since it combines the two hallmarks of the demonic, death and lies.

The outsider knows someone is in despair, and needs help. Often the person involved is depressed---but depression is a mental illness that can be treated, with medicines and with counselling.

One thing all three victims had in common however was the feeling that their lives were useless and meaningless. If they were merely wanting to die as a logical decision, they could have done it on their own.

Instead, all three reached out, and got the message: your life is meaningless, you are no good, and you are better off dead. No body cares for you, nobody loves you.

And the only answer for this is: God Loves you. And I love you...

And, as a doctor, I'd suggest a more involved answer: God loves you. You have biochemical depression. Let's arrange family counselling, and start medication...

But for the enablers, who didn't care, or who encouraged the person to end their life: one prays they find repentance for this horrible sin.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pray for our bishops

The daily reading in the Prayer of the Church AKA the Divine Office contain a scripture reading a short reading from the treasury of church writings.

Most of them are over my head. As a doctor, I can discuss the neurophysiology of the limbus tract,or the life cycle of Schistosomiasis, but I'm not good with theology.

But one of the treasures that I discovered Gregory the Great, Pope and Saint. His writings remind us that the present day problems of the church are not really new...

He writes:

I am forced to consider the affairs of the Church and the monasteries. I must weigh the lives and acts of individuals. I am responsible for the concerns of our citizens. I must worry about the invasions of roving bands of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock. I must become an administrator lest the religious go in want. I must put up with certain robbers without losing patience, and at times I must deal with them in all charity..

Sounds like not much has changed in the last 1500 years...and our bishops face similar problems.

Here in the Philippines, it means treading a fine line between condemning politicians accused of graft (but not proven) while not appearing to take sides in political squabbles. At the same time, it means opposing a powerful population lobby, aiming to "allow" (read "mandate") family planning in government clinics.

In the US, there is another problem. After 40 years of Catholic bishops laying low in the political fight against abortion, we see a slight of hand by the Obama supporters against the Catholic church.

Abortion was not discussed as an issue, so many Catholics did not take it into account, or saw it as a lesser issue (i.e. one that no president could change) against financial and immigration issues.

At the same time, Obama surrogates campaigned to pro life Catholics, emphasizing that the law couldn't be changed, but that by voting for their candidate, you would lower abortion via increasing social programs.

Now that the election is past, however, the "progressives" have come out in force. The bishops have been publicly mocked in articles, saying that see, your people don't listen to you so you have to change your mind (never mind that the bishops' opposition got little or no press coverage).

There is a big worry that the first thing a President Obama will do is sign the "Freedom of Choice Act" that will remove all restrictions against all abortions, an action that would mandate Catholic hospitals to cooperate with abortions.

He also could remove a recent Bush administrative decree protects pro life medical personnel against being fired for refusing to cooperate with procedures against their conscience.

A lot of people think this is about abortion, but it has more ramifications, since euthanasia is coming, and pro life pharmacists will now have to give out not only abortion pills but euthanasia pills....and states such as California that mandate doctors tell terminal patients of all choices of treatment can quickly morph into suicide counseling in the near future.

So what is a bishop to do?

If he is harsh, he is mocked, and his words are twisted. If he is quiet, he is ignored. If he rebukes in private, he is under fire by those saying "why doesn't he do something", but if he rebukes in public, his actions could result in the erring sinner becoming bitter and hardening their heart against real repentance.

Not an easy choice.

So what can we as laypeople do?

We can pray for our bishops and priests, that they are given wisdom.

God is in control.

That is why spending an hour a day in prayer for our country and for our clergy will be more valuable in the long run that writing essays or letters to the editor...

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Medical rationing and indirect euthanasia as an idea whose time has come

The NYTimes continues to not so subtly promote euthanasia in another article today:

How old is too old for lifesaving surgery? blares the headline.

Yup. Daniel Callahan is at it again with his "let's not treat grandmom and the retarded" philosophy of medical rationing.

For years, Callahan has been pushing the idea that we need to legally mandate withholding care for people (mainly the elderly but also the disabled) according to a sliding scale.

If you are a little senile, you can get your gallbladder out, but no Cardiac bypass surgery. If you are moderately senile, no gall bladder surgery, but you can get antibiotics for pneumonia. If you are Terry Schiavo, no antibiotics and no feeding tube...

IF government takes over medicine, it is only a matter of time until this type of thinking slips in. After all, in the UK, one "ethicist" named Baroness Warnock, said that the demented have a duty to die, because they are wasting the time and energy of their families who could be doing more meaningful things with their time if they weren't burdened with Grandmom, not to mention wasting the money of the National Health Services.

Ironically, the old and the handicapped don't always benefit from our high tech medical care. Some of them don't benefit from treatment, or have so many medical problems that the benefit of the treatment has to be balance by the risk of dying of complications.

For example, one of my retarded patients could not tolerate potentially lifesaving chemotherapy for her Hodgkin's disease; the chemotherapy almost killed her, so we stopped it, not because she was retarded but because her body couldn't tolerate the treatment.

Similarly, often the elderly have multiple health problems. You operate and they end up dying from a heart attack, a stroke, pneumonia or renal failure.

The Catholic church mandates all ordinary medical care, but you are allowed to refuse extraordinary care, especially if the risk is high for death, major complications, or a major financial burden to the family.

This last one is rare in the US, but here in the Philippines, it is a major problem: people die for not being able to afford simple pills for blood pressure, or from lack of prenatal care because the clinic for getting prenatal care was too far away.

Ironically, most people today in the US have either living wills or have told their families: No machines, etc.

The problem is that many minority patients just don't trust their doctors.

When I worked in the US, my Native American patients often required a lot of discussion,and even then they wouldn't sign a living will. Doctors in inner cities have noted a similar reluctance in their Black and Hispanic patients.

Paranoid? Maybe...but you never know....every once in awhile I've run into doctors who suggested this patient or that patient should have been refused treatment because they were old or retarded or had a stroke...no, racial prejudice had nothing to do with their judgement...I think...

So what do you do?

I usually recommend a Health care Proxy. They can judge if a treatment is needed and what the risks versus benefits are. A lot of time, it's not black and white, since often there is a middle way to treat people (patient spoon feeding of thickened liquids instead of a feeding tube...angioplasty for angina or medical treatment instead of cardiac bypass...home health care visits by nurses and respite care so people can be cared for at home instead of nursing homes.

Actually, I shouldn't bash the NYTimes, who is running a good series on the problems of growing old LINK LINK LINK.

In the past the elderly were cared for by a daughter, either married or who stayed single, or sometimes by the daughter in law, who stayed home to do the caretaking. I am not romanticizing this: my aunt lost the chance for children because she was the daughter who cared for her aging mother (and back then, "aging" was 60 years).

But now women work, and old is not what it used to be.

There are many private, church run or public organizations that help friends and family to keep the elderly comfortable at home, but still it means sacrifice by one's family.

Government programs can help by tax breaks, paying for home health care, or even granting stipends to family members who give up their income and time to help their elderly.

The bad news is that as boomers age, there are many without children, and many who were brought up with the idea that they should never be a burden. There is a worrisome under reported phenomenon of people, mainly the affluent, just deciding to kill themselves rather than "be a burden". No, I haven't seen it, mainly because I worked with the poor (who commit suicide for other reasons).

But it only a matter of time for the propaganda machine to roll up to persuade people that suicide is a justifiable and moral solution to being a burden on others.

Ah, but we've been here before: we now have a society where women/girls assume abortion is the answer to an inconvenient pregnancy (and all too often the pregnancy was inconvenient to the boyfriends or parents, who urged them to abort, so the claim it was "the woman's choice" ignores reality).

Similarly, we will slowly see euthanasia sold to the public as a "compassionate choice"...

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Irony of Obama and the demise of human rights

Overseas, the chorus promoting Senator Obama for US President had been non stop since last April, so now our local Manila paper is happy and writing all sorts of editorials praising his election.

For non Europeans, the fact that a black man can be elected president is a happy occasion, showing that the US continues to be faithful to it's promise of freedom and equal rights for all.

A century and a half after blacks were given their full rights as human beings, a black man has been elected to the highest office in the land.

But the irony is that if Obama implements the policies of his campaign, these very policies could very well result in a subtle and slow destruction of rights in the name of tolorance and freedom and "rights".



Senator Obama has promised his supporters to sign the "Freedom of Choice Act" as soon has he becomes president. So all we have to do is wait until the end of January to see if the new president, whose own teenaged mother with the help of her parents and husband, chose to give him life, will go along with his promises to deny other children the right to be born.

When Senator Obama was elected, the leader of the "catholic" outreach, a professor named Doublas Kmeic, happily announced that now it was time for Obama to work with Catholics, and that Catholics should now ask Obama to limit his abortion advocacy while promoting social programs to help such mothers.

And indeed, in the name of "inclusion", a President Obama could easily decline to promote the "Freedom of Choice" act.

But no one really thinks he will actually reach out to his Catholic supporters.

Indeed, now I am reading editorials in the press warning us that if the bishops oppose abortion too vigorously, that such actions will "alienate the Catholic bishops from the Democratic party".

Huh?

One would think that the Democratic party would worry about alienating practicing Catholics instead. After all, even if the Democrats got 54% of the "Catholic vote", (counting non practicing Catholics), this is a lot lower than the 70-80% of the Catholic vote which they used to get...and much of these loses are because of pro life issues.


So watch your paper, and check the many stories and editorials are being written to smear the bishops who have courageously supported the right to life.

Lie number one: Catholics should forget abortion and support peace/social welfare/reject racism.

Ah, but questions of war may be argued, questions on how best to help the vulnerable (strengthen families versus strengthen government welfare) can be argued, and even immigration is a bipartisan issue: producing policies that encourage mothers to kill their own children is not.

As for racism: this works both ways. Calling every critic of Senator Obama a racist is dishonest, especially if the critic is a Native American Indian like Archbishop Chaput.

Lie number two: Catholic support abortion.

All this takes is a slight of hand with statistics. You count Catholics who haven't been to church for years as Catholic, and you phrase the question to make it sound like support: Do you support abortion for a raped 12 year old who is having a deformed baby and might die during the pregnancy? You have two seconds to answer. Yes? Ah, so you are pro abortion...

Then we have lie number three:

That Catholic bishops are out of touch with their members.

The Washington Post article on this even quotes a "Catholics for Choice" leader ridiculing the bishops.

Again, this is misreporting. Catholic bishops are not politicians who are supposed to represent their members by taking polls: They are pastors who are supposed to teach those under their care about how to follow Jesus.

But then we come to lie number four: That Catholic bishops are interfering with politics.

This is serious, and could lose the church and it's institutions their tax exemptions.

Never mind that most of the warnings by bishops prior to the election were in response to Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden misrepresenting Catholic teachings in interviews.

Or that other bishops objected when political activists actively claiming to represent Catholics dismissed the right to life as an important election issue.


But what is more interesting is not the lies, but the omissions:

There has been little or no public discussion of how the "Freedom of Choice Act" would affect Catholic medical personnel or institutions, or why the Catholic bishops' meeting proposed a statement opposing President elect Obama's plan to implement this law.

This law that would stop any and all laws that discourage abortion, including laws that teenagers need to notify parents, laws stopping partial birth abortion of babies who would live otherwise.

But a new President Obama won't stop with his promotion of abortion "rights" in the United States. He also plans to immediately remove restrictions on using US taxpayer money for pro abortion organizations overseas.

This would mean funding forced abortions in China(by funding the Planned Parenthood organization there). It also would fund organizations (politically active NGO's and UN Conferences) seeking to force Catholic and Islamic countries to legalize abortion as "a human right".

President Obama also said he would quickly remove restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

One also suspects that the new president will remove the Bush administration regulations that allows medical personnel and hospitals/health care centers freedom of conscience, so that they can refuse to cooperate with procedures against their consciences or religious beliefs.

But the Freedom of Choice bill is what is worrying the Catholic bishops.

We already have state laws that mandate Catholic hospitals to give out abortion pills; a federal law removing all restriction on abortions could easily be interpreted as mandating abortions in Catholic institutions, or could nullify agreements between Catholic hospitals that have merged with secular hospitals with the understanding that the joint institutions wouldn't permit procedures that go against Catholic morals.

But the right to life is not only been taken from the unborn: Oregon and now Washington state now allows "assisted suicide", and a California law mandating doctors tell all terminal patients about all of their choices for terminal care could easily be interpreted by courts as mandating doctors to inform patients that they had the choice to kill themselves.

Indeed, the New York Times now has an article quoting a medical ethicist (who is at the forefront of promoting euthanasia in the medical literature) saying that assisted suicide with guidelines is now an accepted procedure,( never mind that this is not actually the opinion of most physicians).

The irony is that such policies, that destroy the right to life for the unborn, the handicapped, and those with terminal illnesses, will be promoted in the name of human rights...by a president who presents himself as the hope for all people who lack rights.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

veterans day

the internet has been out for three days;

ignore below: it is a first draft

Today is Veterans' Day.

So congratulations to all Veterans, including my husband Lolo (World War II) and my son in law John (Iraq) and my cousin Billy (Viet Nam).

We're old fashioned enough to know that America gave us opportunities not available in "the old country", and we're literate enough to know that there is another side to the "evil America promoting wars of aggression" meme that is in vogue in both academia and the papers and in much of the European elites.

Veteran's day started out as "Armestice Day" to celebrate the end of the "war to end all wars", AKA "The Great War", AKA "World War I".

A lot of todays' headlines stem from those days, from Iraq ("invented" at Versaille when the Ottoman Empire fell apart) to Senator Obama's triumph over "Bush unilateralism" is the result of that war, since Bush, seeing that the "international law" was importen, and that the UN opposition was based on bribery and illusions, went ahead with removing a dictator who had killed his own people and a million in nearby Iran.

The veterans of Viet Nam to this day are bitter against those who ridiculed them while ignoring the atrocities of the communists; and despite a President Obama who will undoubtably make patriotism again in fashion, one suspects that the returning veterans will similarly be ignored, treated as dupes, and their acts of heroism ignored by a Hollywood who only loves painting the US as the bad guys.

Yet this might not be so. Presumably, the Asians who live free today in Korea, or who were part of the millions who fled the religious, ideological and ethnic pogroms by the "victorious liberators" of Viet Nam and Cambodia might write their version of history.Yet this might not be so. Presumably, the Asians who live free today in Korea, or who were part of the millions who fled the religious, ideological and ethnic pogroms by the "victorious liberators" of Viet Nam and Cambodia might write their version of history.

But societies have more than one way to remember the lessons of the past: Religious feasts, fiestas, holidays, and customs are also the keepers of memory. For example, we say "bless you" when someone sneezes, we remember the plague; our children sing "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" in memory of Bloody Mary. The Jews celebrate the rebellion of the Maccabees, that fought for freedom to worship as they wished, every December; and Catholics remember the Battle of Lepanto with a feast day to the Virgin Mary, to thank her from saving Europe from the Ottoman Empire's Armies....and a thousand years from now, one wonders if the only rememberance of the Viet Nam war will be in the yearly celebration of Saint van Thaun, remembering a holy bishop who spent six years in a concentration camp there for his religion...

But societies have more than one way to remember the lessons of the past: Religious feasts, fiestas, holidays, and customs are also the keepers of memory. For example, we say "bless you" when someone sneezes, we remember the plague; our children sing "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" in memory of Bloody Mary. The Jews celebrate the rebellion of the Maccabees, that fought for freedom to worship as they wished, every December; and Catholics remember the Battle of Lepanto with a feast day to the Virgin Mary, to thank her from saving Europe from the Ottoman Empire's Armies....and a thousand years from now, one wonders if the only rememberance of the Viet Nam war will be in the yearly celebration of Saint van Thaun, remembering a holy bishop who spent six years in a concentration camp there for his religion...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Soundbite theology

I was bemused that the Office readings for Monday and Tuesday included short passages from the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, the Church in the Modern World.

Monday's reading discussed the need to educate children in the ways of peace: "Those engaged in education...and those who influence public opinion should consider it a very serious responsibility to work for the reeducation of mankind to a new attitude toward peace. We must all undergo a change of heart..."

It then goes on to say: " unless antagonism and hatred are abandoned, unless binding and honest agreements are concluded, mankind...may well face ...that day of disaster when it knows no other peace than the awful peace of death"

The conclusion says "There must be constant encouragement for the creation of organizations designed to promote peace".

Tuesday's reading continues the theme, implying that rich people and nations should share their wealth, and goes into specifics: "Without being uniform or inflexible, a method of collecting and distributing contributions should be established in each diocese and nation and on a world wide level..."

And then it goes on to stress the need to build and cooperate with the "international community".

There is much truth in the readings. But like all truths, when taken out of context and exaggerated, it distorts the original meaning.

The first problem is that it's analysis of world poverty is that it is bad economics. Charity, alas, too often ends up in the pockets of rich politicians, and even when given in dire need can make those receiving aid dependent on gifts.

In contrast, Europe (thanks to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe's factories), and Asia (The "Asian Tiger" community who embraced capitalism) have managed to eliminate a lot (but not all) of the poverty in these areas. John Paul II's encyclical Centessimus Annus recognizes how capitalism (with ethical limitations), has proved itself a valid means of lifting people out of poverty.

The second problem is one best elucidated by the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, in his essay "Children of Light, Children of Darkness": That children of light tend to underestimate the "selfishness" of the children of darkness, and because of this they fail over and over again to confront evil.

Any good Protestant could note what is missing in this part of the document: That change of heart does not come from "education" but from Jesus' grace; and that heaven on earth is impossible because of man's tendency to sin and corruption.

Ironically, these readings from Gaudium et Spes come with a contrasting Biblical reading: the story of the Maccabees.

In the days of the Maccabees, the Hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great had split into three, and the Jews were ruled by one of these kings. Antiochus.

It was a time of peace and prosperity.

But then, Antiochus "wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs".

Most Jews, seeing the peace and prosperity in the Hellenistic world, agreed. No big deal. We kill a pig, eat some meat, and we show we are good Hellenes. Afterward, we go home and follow our own customs to show we are good Jews. Even the ban on circumcision was seen as good: why mutilate our sons to obey some old fashioned book when god made man's body perfect?

But with time, the sacrifices were made mandatory, and those doing circumcision are executed for the crime of "mutilation".

Mattathias, a leader of the small city of Modien, was flattered and told to sacrifice: "You are a leader, and honorable and great man in the city...Come now, be the first to obey the king's command, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King's Friends, and shall be enriched with silver and gold..."

Mattathias however refuses, and when a Jew comes up voluntarily and starts to sacrifice, Mattathias loses his temper and hits (and kills him).

This resulted in a major revolt, one of the first wars of the common people against great empires fought for freedom of religion.

Since that time, hundreds of thousands have died in wars of religion, giving religion a bad name.

But perhaps the reason that the story of the Maccabees was included in the Catholic Bible is because the choice of the Maccabees was echoed by Jesus, when Satan offered him all the kingdoms of the world. What a choice! Imagine Jesus running the world...and all the good he could do...And the only thing that stood in the way of this dream of peace and prosperity was a small thing: That he kneel down and worship Satan... that he agree to a small evil in order to do a great good.

The choice is given to people over and over again:

Join with us, and burn incense to the Emperor, and you can live freely in our great Roman Empire.

The Third Reich has united the German people, and given us prosperity....it's only those communist troublemakers who are spreading rumors of concentration camps and ovens...so don't complain when we take your Jewish neighbors to resettle them "in the East"...

Yes, we have killed 100 000 Greek Orthodox clergymen, the Kulak farmers, party members who undermined the revolution, and the Ukrainian farmers who fought our policies, but join us, and we will build a world of peace and universal equality...

Yes, we supports abortion on demand up to when a child is half born, but we promise change, a new world with prosperity, unification of our people, income distribution and elimination of poverty....

But the paradox is that we are not called to build a world of peace and freedom: We are called to be Christians and witnesses.

So today, when we see "Christians" taking soundbites from these Vatican II documents, and claim that we need to do is ignore that child being destroyed in the womb so that we can join with other men of good will to make a utopia of peace, perhaps we should remind them of the second reading:

that even if all in the kingdom obey the king in this, I and my sons will not forsake the law of God...

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Monday, November 03, 2008

The Life issues that have been ignored in the election

This year, the press has decided to ignore the life issues in the elections.

Oh, they are there, but they are being ignored: A fact that says more about the press' bias and eagerness to elect Obama than it does about American concern about the issue.

Most of the articles we see tell us how Obama is "reaching out" to people of faith, yet polls suggest his percentage of the faith vote is no different than Kerry's.

What is not covered is that dissident Catholic groups, funded by foundations and individuals who openly aim to change church teachings, have been going around confusing Catholics on life issues in the election. We have had Senators Biden and Pelosi insisting that the church wasn't always against abortion; we see political groups associated with the Democratic party that insist the socialist agenda will lower the rate of abortion more than laws disapproving of the issue, so it is more "catholic" to support the socialist candidate.

The argument against this is very subtle: that a government that takes over all "needs" allows and encourages people to be irresponsible and ignore their relatives or lovers in financial need since the government will do the job--and by doing so, destroys the family in oh so many ways.

Of course, Obama will change the laws. Already the
"Freedom of Choice" act is in Congress...a law that would outlaw any restrictions against abortion. No partial birth abortion ban, no "parental consent" laws, no waiting periods. A President Obama is unlikely to veto such a bill.

But things would go further than that.

Waiting in the wings is euthanasia.
And it won't be legalized simply in a few states: Like abortion, all it takes is one court case and voila, all laws can be changed by judicial fiat.

All it will take is one or two more activist judges on the Supreme Court, and euthanasia will be the next human right entrenched in our constitution.

Like abortion, these judges will have a lot of pro euthanasia academic articles to quote to support their opinions.

The pro death "ethicists" are now widely respected in academia.

Peter Singer,
who thinks retarded children aren't human but that apes are, is now mainstream: and he is not alone: Some European countries are discussing giving human rights to apes.

As for euthanasia of the less than perfect, Wesley Smith's article in Medscape notes that he is not alone.

Daniel Callahan of the Hasting Center has long supported mandating level of care according to one's ability. So Trig Palin could get antibiotics, but not surgery...and Terry Schiavo would get no treatment at all (not even food or water by spoon).

Hardwig
has written in the Hasting Center journal about a case where a daughter gives up her job to care for a mother who is sick. Hardwig suggests that morally this means the daughter is losing the ability to save for her own old age, and argues that the mother morally should kill herself to benefit her daughter's life.

Already, the New York Times is writing about the financial problems of caretakers, and the problem of singles who get older but lack children. Right now, the hint is that we need "government" subsidies, but it doesn't take much to recognize that a major recession will result in such substandard subsidies that soon "elimination" of the demented (who don't know they exist anyway) will be the next step.

Others want to move the definition of death to include "permanent unconsciousness", or to define "personhood" as a certain IQ. This argument goes back to Joseph Fletcher in the 1970's, but has become more common in recent years: One of my colleagues who taught in Harvard said that he was shunned and ridiculed for not going along with the pro euthanasia agenda there, and that was in the early 1990's....

Twenty two years ago, when I first read this type of argument in the (pro euthanasia) New England Journal of Medicine, I wrote to a reviewer of the books making this type of argument, asking if these arguments of "personhood" meant that these people could lose their civil rights, and be used for organ donations, killed, experimented on, or left to die, according to the doctor's or family's whims? If so, who decides who has rights?

The chilling answer was yes, they would lose all civil rights, and as to who decides who has rights, according to the latest trends in philosophy, it is difficult to define why anyone at all has rights.

So why do we have rights at all? Are they defined by a man made criteria that eliminates substandard humans, or are they given to us "by the Creator"?

How far does all of this go?

Well, in England, Lady Warnock has written an article in a church (!) newspaper noting that treating demented people wastes taxpayers money (England has nationalized health care), not to mention the time and energy of the caretakers.

And two years ago, one British society representing Obstetrics/Gynecology doctors said that euthanasia should be an option for families who deliver retarded or badly deformed children.

Such deaths are legal in the Netherlands already, of course, and the press which for years ignored the unrequested euthanasia cases there will continue to laud and applaud the "assisted suicide" types as compassionate people to be emulated rather than serial killers to be punished.

Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with the next election, since one doubts either president will push such unpopular laws, even with a press to promote the culture of death as the latest civil right.

But one doubts a President Obama will veto the "Freedom of choice" act, and as for suicide and killing of the elderly: Such issues will be settled via a judicial system imposing these things as rights rather than crimes.

What will happen to Church hospitals is the next question: already some states have insisted that Catholic hospitals give out the abortion pill, and the courts have upheld these laws. And if a government takeover of health care occurs, Catholic hospitals may be required by law to obey.

Not a cheerful prediction, and I know, all of this sounds paranoid indeed.

But when I used to write about these things in the 1990's, I worried that I was becoming paranoid. But then, I read John Paul II's encyclical on the Gospel of Life, and found he was more worried about these trends than I was...perhaps because in a Post Christian Europe, these trends are much more advanced than in the US...

Indeed, one wonders how much of the rabid dislike of President Bush, Mrs. McCain, or Sarah Palin is due not because of their conservative views per se, but because of their open defense of life: Bush, by his appointment of pro life ethicists to the President's Council of Bioethics, and his restraint on stem cell research, Mrs. McCain for adopting a sick orphan, and Sarah Palin for daring to give life to her latest child.

Yet to mention Obama's view that having a teenager give birth to a child is a "punishment" and that an aborted child doesn't warrant medical care, well, such things are left to pass as if they were normal ideas that are less important than....well, whatever ideas are being spun under the vague slogans of hope and change.

Ah, hope for whom and change for what?

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Telling the bishops to shut up

One of the undercovered stories of the election is that over sixty Catholic bishops felt compelled to speak out against Democratic politicians who claimed to be Catholic yet denied having a problem with supporting laws that allow and even fund ending the life of the unborn.

The Catholic bishops have also openly corrected and tried to stop political groups using the name "catholic" from saying that abortion is no longer an important matter in this election. One bishop, Martino of Scranton, even raided one meeting held in a Catholic parish to correct the speakers who were distorting catholic teaching. This earned him a distorted story ridiculing his actions in the Huffpost.

What? You don't know about it?

Maybe because the press either is ignoring the story or is making a "fair and balanced" story that gives most of the quotes to the dissident theologians and professors, not church teaching. Funny, I thought bishops were in charge of the Catholic church, but never mind.

What started the bishops to speak out was when both Senator Biden and Pelosi have contradicted church teaching in public, leading to confusion.

But the real story is that of the Obama campaign is using their friends in the media to tell the bishops to shut up because when they speak out they are going against the first amendment. Nearly every story that discusses the Catholic vote has a dissident Catholic quote to contradict the bishops, and often quotes "experts" that condemn the bishops from going over the line by "endorsing candidates" or saying that God supports a single party.


The Washington Post "religion" forum has a dozen similar viewpoints, maybe because believers of any traditional religion are poorly represented on their site. I mean, why have an unknown "singer" represent Catholics when Bishop Chaput would gladly correct them in their theology? Singers are not official Catholic leaders, nor are dissident Jesuits or PC nuns from orders that are dying because they drove out all the women who had true vocations.

The phrase "separation of church and state" has been used to shut up those who insist that life is precious. We now consider "death" as a choice, and when California orders all doctors to inform their patients of "all" choices for end of life care, one can see that the life issues don't just mean ending an inconvenient pregancy.

The Democrats rightly point out that giving money to social programs will allow the poor to chose life, but ignore that their singleminded support of abortion has essentially cut off the ability of pro life Democrats to influence the party.

Instead of allowing pro life Democrats such as Robert Casey Jr. to ask for moderation of their pro abortion agenda, we are seeing Democratic party sponsored groups trying to influence Catholic dogma.


Yet at the same time, groups using the name "Catholic" are "educating" Catholic Democrats that the bishops say it is okay to support their candidate.

Essentially, Obama's backers are trying to change the beliefs of Catholics, using the liberal dissadent Catholics to do so.

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League of Civil Rights has pointed out that organizations funded by George Soros both back Obama's campaign and his Open Society program support groups like the "Catholics in Alliance", and "Catholics for a Free Choice".

His "project on Death" program is promoting assisted suicide as an acceptable alternative to hospice, or as a "choice" that can be given to patients using hospice services.

Donohue also points out that the Soros funded Organization Center for America Progress, is essentially a pro Obama organization and closely works with Catholic in Alliance and Catholics United.


If there is "separation of church and state", it is one sided. The phrase is used to stop pastors from injecting moral decisions into law, but it is not used to stop politicians and their party from interfering into church matters, including church dogma.

Yup...change we can believe in....

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