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My pro life talk on euthanasia

Discussion in 'Coffee House' started by BrianK, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    Hi folks,
    I'm giving a talk on euthanasia tomorrow morning for our local county wide pro-life prayer breakfast. I don't know if anyone is interested in the subject, but here's a copy of my prepared text.
    God bless,

    Euthanasia talk - October 28 2017 CCHL Pro Life Prayer Breakfast

    I first met Fr. Gerard in 1998 while doing a house call for his mother, Dorothy. A brief initial conversation with them revealed that he was living in a small apartment only a block from my Podiatry practice, and that we shared many common traditional Catholic and pro-life interests. Dorothy later told me that after several years of marriage, she and her husband thought they could not have children, and they prayed to St. Gerard Majella for a child. After several years, Fr. Gerard was born, and was named after St. Gerard. A first class relic of St. Gerard was one of Fr. Gerard's prized possessions, and Dorothy maintained a deep devotion to St. Gerard until her death at age 101.

    Fr. Gerard soon became a close friend, and we met frequently for meals. I assisted him with various tasks around his apartment, and he called me frequently for fellowship. He got to know my wife and children well and relied on us for help, as his only sibling lived out of state. Fr. Gerard eventually developed Parkinson's disease and could no longer live alone. We offered to take him into our home, but he knew we were a homeschooling family and the chaos in our household as a result, and politely declined. He entered a local nursing home. We continued to visit him often and took him out to dine at his favorite restaurants.

    In late 2007 and early 2008, Fr. Gerard's Parkinson's progressed and his health declined rapidly. He left a voice message on my cell phone late on a Wednesday in April 2008, asking me to stop by to visit. By the time I was able to visit him two days later, he had been admitted to a local hospital for aspiration pneumonia, and had been diagnosed as "terminal" by the treating physician. He was transferred to the palliative care unit and the treating physician and Fr. Gerard's brother insisted that according to his living will, Fr. Gerard wanted no extraordinary care to prolong his life.

    I was shocked that he was receiving no water, no food, no IV hydration, only a Morphine drip. His Parkinson's was advancing and the aspiration pneumonia was a crisis, but neither were terminal. We were permitted to wet a sponge to moisten his lips, and he would try to suck all the moisture from the sponge, but we were forbidden to give him a drink of water, ostensibly because of the "risk of further aspiration pneumonia." Fr. Gerard had shared with me his opposition to passive euthanasia in the past, and he was trying to talk to me, but he had become so dehydrated that he could not form any words.

    When the attending physician made rounds, I told him my concern that Fr. Gerard was receiving no food or water. The physician asserted that their hospice rules forbid IVs as it only "prolonged the process." A Catholic father of six himself, this doctor then stated, "The public has a misconception that death by dehydration is torturous, but that's not true. Its the most humane way to do this, with the least discomfort. We'll control any discomfort with the Morphine. That's what we're going to do." And with that he looked me in the eye defiantly, turned on his heel and left.

    I was speechless. I pleaded with Fr. Gerard's brother that he would never have consented to passive euthanasia by dehydration, to no avail.

    I have always been pro-life. I had even attended pro-life conferences about euthanasia and I sat on the medical ethics committees of two hospitals in the mid 1990's. I had staff privileges at the hospital in question. But in April 2008, in Fr. Gerard's specific case, I simply did not know what to do. I called four good pro-life priests locally, begging for advice.

    They all agreed that "You have to do something, Brian!" but none could offer any specific advice, and none could personally intervene to help save their fellow priest. Another priest I consulted recommended I request a medical ethics committee consultation.

    Late on a Thursday evening, eight days after Fr. Gerard had left the voice message on my cell phone, I spoke with a physicians assistant who was on call for the ethics committee. I told her that he was a good priest and a faithful son of the Church who would never agree to being passively euthanized, and I discussed with her the relevant documents from Rome and the USCCB and Pennsylvania bishops. She asked me to enter these documents in Fr. Gerard's chart, and the medical ethics committee would be happy to review the case Friday morning on rounds.

    Relieved that there was something I could finally do for this good priest, I went to the hospital Friday morning at 7:00am, asked the unit clerk to formally enter the documents into his chart for the ethics committee consultation, and headed down the hall to visit him.

    His room was already empty. Fr. Gerard had died of dehydration several hours earlier.


    In reality, what happened to Fr. Gerard was a clear cut case of active euthanasia, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines as “an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes the death of handicapped, sick, or dying persons—sometimes with an attempt to justify the act as a means of eliminating suffering.”

    However, Fr. Ream's death certificate would maintain that his death was due to aspiration pneumonia. In the USA, active euthanasia is still illegal. Doctors can't just march into a patients room and give them an injection clearly intended to immediately end their life. But this same outcome happens, just a bit more slowly, countless times every day by what we call "stealth euthanasia," or hidden yet active euthanasia.

    The most common causes of this stealth euthanasia are 1) withdrawal of hydration and nutrition from those not in imminent danger of death and 2) overmedication with opioids and other anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic medications which, in large doses, suppress respiration and lead to premature death. Increasingly, hospice and palliative care institutions immediately discontinue chronic medications upon admission to their care, and this type of omission can have rapidly fatal complications. Patients on tube feedings are almost always refused admission to hospice and palliative care, so they give up PEG feedings to obtain long term help or pain management, again leading to dehydration and malnutrition. A patient can survive for weeks, sometimes month, if they are not fed, but always die within 1 to 3 weeks, and usually in 7 to 10 days, when hydration is withheld.

    In northern European countries like the Holland and Belgium, they have legalized active euthanasia, with widespread abuses being reported. Originally this was promoted for those suffering with unbearable or untreatable pain, but those suffering from depression as well as the mentally and physically handicapped and those with strokes or dementia have become its primary victims, and it is now legal to euthanize children and infants in Holland.

    What is the scale of this problem?

    In the USA approximately 3.5 million people die annually of all causes. As of several years ago, 1.6 to 1.7 million people passed through hospice or palliative care systems, but several hundred thousand patients yearly are discharged alive from hospice and palliative care. We'll get to the implications of that in a moment, but about 1.5 million people die annually while under hospice or palliative care.

    We have come to recognize the widespread problems with active and “stealth” euthanasia common to both. So the question must be asked: Currently, what percentage of deaths within hospice or palliative care do we suspect involve some form of active or stealth euthanasia? Based on observation and discussions with pro life leaders in the field a number of years ago, it seemed safe to estimate that this "only" represents about 1 out of 10 of these deaths. But that's still at least 150,000 deaths annually via euthanasia per year in the USA.

    If there were "only" 150,000 abortions in America per year, that would still be 150,000 too many. But I suspect the numbers, though, are much higher, possibly a large minority fraction - or worse.

    Julia likes this.
  2. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member



    There was a time, not long ago, when the idea of designating a hospice care program as "pro-life" would have seemed absurd. Most hospice care programs in the US in the 1970s and 1980s sprang from roots in Christian ministry to the sick and dying, and the sanctity of human life was always paramount in these grassroots hospices. To understand why things have changed, we need to understand the Christian roots of hospice care philosophy and how the hospice industry has deviated from those origins.

    In the Middle Ages, many Christians made pilgrimages to the Holy Land. They frequently became sick on the long and arduous journey. Pilgrims who were unable to complete the journey home were admitted to the care of the Knights Hospitaller in their hospice in Jerusalem. Christian care was provided to fulfill the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, and hospices were subsequently founded along pilgrimage routes in other regions. In France, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul opened hospices in the 17th century, and the Irish Religious Sisters of Charity opened a hospice in Dublin in the late 19th century. Churches led the way in the care of the dying well into the 20th century, which saw the emergence of two great leaders in the hospice field.

    Most of us already know of Mother Teresa and her pioneering work among the dying in the 1950s in India's poorest regions, her establishment of the first hospices for AIDS victims in the 1980s, and her uncompromising pro-life stance. England's Dame Cicely Saunders is often credited as the founder of the modern hospice. She began her career in nursing, transitioned to social work and eventually completed medical school in order to assist in the development of modern hospice care. She also developed a lively faith as a result of joining a Christian study group founded by C.S. Lewis at Oxford University. She took a keen interest in the needs of the dying, recognizing that their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs and sufferings were simply not being met in the medical system of the first half of the twentieth century. Dame Saunders was fully committed to the sanctity of human life and strongly opposed euthanasia and assisted suicide.

    The early grassroots hospice programs that started in the late 1970s in the USA took as their foundation the Christian philosophy of the sanctity of life held so dear by Mother Teresa and Cicely Saunders. Most hospice work was volunteer-based and primarily provided as Christian works of mercy. Unfortunately, the federal government's introduction of a Medicare hospice benefit in 1986, while providing stability and a revenue steam for these struggling hospice pioneers, also introduced the profit motive.

    Within two decades, big for-profit corporate hospice providers had completely displaced these grassroots non-profit community based hospices in many markets. Today, all of the large for-profit corporate hospice providers have been credibly accused of massive amounts of fraudulent hospice billing; in 2015 the largest for-profit corporate hospice provider stood accused of a billion dollars per year in fraudulent insurance billing for the previous ten years.

    Most of this fraud consists of admitting patients to hospice who aren't actually terminal, thus billing for inappropriate care, or billing for higher levels of care than patients actually need. Fraud by blatant neglect and by withdrawal of routine chronic medications is common. Also, omissions (e.g., inappropriate withdrawal of food and water or maintenance medications) or commissions (e.g., over-medication) frequently lead to premature deaths. We call these deaths "stealth euthanasia" whether they are deliberate or not.

    Sometimes, despite fraudulent admissions, overmedication, and the denial of a patients' chronic meds, these patients persevere and are eventually discharged alive, as we've seen in the statistics mentioned earlier.

    Sometimes these deaths do occur simply because of greed. For instance, hospices commit fraud by not providing services and supplies to which patients are entitled, by denying patients medications for chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, or by over-medicating patients to make them appear sicker than they are in order to bill more for higher levels of care. Sometimes, as in the case of Terri Schindler Schiavo's death at the hospice in Florida, deaths are caused deliberately.

    If a patient who does not qualify as terminal is fraudulently admitted, overmedicated so that they appear to be hospice appropriate, given morphine and denied food and water, what do you think happens to these fraud victims. Unfortunately most family and friends do not know enough about hospice to question anything; they still think "hospice" is a single, good and wholesome monolithic movement. Hospice is coasting on the moral capital developed early in its modern history.

    Again, how prevalent is this "stealth euthanasia"?

    When my wife’s mom was dying of cancer several years ago, she was receiving a combination of a Fentanyl patch and Vicodin for breakthrough metastatic bone pain. Though she had never smoked, she had lung cancer that had already spread to her back, and she experienced several pathological fractures where tumors had spread in the bones of her back and sacrum. Fortunately she underwent several kyphoplasties where they inject bone cement into a vertebra or the bones of the sacrum, which were successful in stabilizing these fractures. The cancer doctor was very good at pain control for the metastatic bone tumors, which can cause the most severe type of cancer pain. The combination of Fentanyl pain patches and Vicodin was known to be the most effective combination for her type of metastatic cancer. He also understood that dehydration was to be avoided at all costs because it would severely exacerbate the bone cancer pain.

    Once during a hospitalization for pain in her right side, which eventually proved to be metastasis to her rib bone, Kay decided on her own that she had had enough of the chemotherapies and unilaterally made the decision to go on hospice. My wife and I had left the hospital to go home for the night, thinking she was in good hands and thankful vfor a break from months of 24 hour vigilance, but when we came back in the morning she was writhing in pain at the edge of her bed, asking the Lord to "take her now."

    We were extremely upset. In her two plus years of fighting cancer we had managed to keep her very comfortable at home with the Fentanyl and Vicodin. We flew out to the nurse's station in a rage, and asked why she was experiencing severe pain. The nurse nonchalantly replied that she had to ring the nurse to ask for pain medicine, and she hadn't asked. Kay was writhing in agony, blinded by the pain, and couldn't even find the nurse's call bell. Furthermore, as soon as she was admitted to the hospice service, they had discontinued the Fentanyl and Vicodin and put her on straight Morphine.


    Because that is the protocol for ALL their hospice patients almost everywhere in the nation. According to hospice staff they NEVER prescribed Fentanyl and Vicodin. If we had not insisted on switching Kay back to Fentanyl pain patches from extended release morphine tablets and rapid onset but short acting oral liquid, I’m sure Kay would have been unable to express her concerns about the discomfort she was having from being unable to swallow enough ice chips to maintain hydration. She had serious problems with poor pain control, nausea and becoming seriously incoherent or subconscious while on the Morphine, which resolved when we switched back to Fentanyl and Vicodin.

    As we came to learn, morphine costs pennies per dose while Fentanyl costs tens to hundreds of times as much. I had to fight tooth and nail to get her proper pain management with Fentanyl and Vicodin reinstated.

    At a later point back home Kay could no longer swallow. We were fighting for her to receive and briefly maintain IV fluid for comfort (besides alleviating metastatic bone pain, Kay’s primary concern was how dry her mouth was)and we asked for an IV. The doctor ordered it, but the home hospice nurse said they NEVER gave IVs to patients, and said she was only allowed to try three times. When this nurse, who had zero experience starting IVs failed, she apologized and left.
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  3. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member


    Heartbroken, we thought that was her only chance until a kind and conscientious home health aide asked us if everything was OK three days later. When she learned that there was an open but unfilled order for an IV, she asked why no other nurse had tried. We thought after three tries it was over, but she said that was only three tries per shift, and contacted the hospice administrator on our behalf. Within an hour, the hospice administrator and chief of nursing personally came and started the IV.

    When Kay finally asked to be admitted to the inpatient hospice unit, two days before she passed away, the staff at the hospice said her heart was strong and she was not going to die for several weeks. I'm convinced that was because they were not used to seeing a properly hydrated cancer patient whose death was imminent.

    They gave my wife a printout that included information about the so-called “benefits” of dehydration. They implied that we were causing Kay unnecessary discomfort and distress by insisting on IV hydration. They blamed her congestion and secretions in her throat in the last several days on the IV hydration. We asked a hospital based respiratory therapist who treated her if this was possible and she just rolled her eyes and silently shook her head "No." She was dying of lung cancer! Of course she would have congestion and secretions.

    Some of the statements on this handout were certainly true. There are instances at the very end of life, the last hour or at most day or two, where the statements about hydration itself are true. However, this document could obviously be used to promote euthanasia by dehydration even in patients who are far from “terminal.” In our circumstances, the staff had no scruples about trying to manipulate us and make us feel guilty for insisting on hydration. One staff member, when Sue asked her how often she dealt with IVs at the hospice unit, rolled her eyes and said, “We NEVER give IVs.”

    Here is the text of their handout regarding hydration:

    The body is responding to the disease process and is trying to shut down normal function.
    Usually, dying people do not feel hungry or thirsty.
    They are not starving; nature is at work assisting them to die in a more comfortable way.
    Dehydration is nature at work and can bring relief from distressing symptoms such as

    Abdominal bloating
    Vomiting from increased stomach secretions
    Pressure from the tumor causing pain
    Shortness of breath
    Lung congestion
    Rattling secretions
    Impaired consciousness

    What is the number 1 cause of admissions to the hospital during flu season? Dehydration! What are the symptoms that drive patients with dehydration to the hospital?



    Body and muscle aches


    Severe fatigue

    Dry mouth

    Dry skin


    How can anyone claim with a straight face that death by dehydration is not a torturous process? If they persist in this myth, ask them if they can be locked up for 4 or 5 days with no hydration or liquid, and how euphoric they would feel.

    Our experience with my wife's mom occurred at a local hospice founded by a devout Christian physician in the early 1980s, who had traveled to England to personally meet Dame Cecily Saunders (founder of the modern hospice movement), and built his hospice on her Christian principles.

    I'm convinced that what happened to Fr. Gerard and what they tried to do with my wife's mother is the rule, a near universal protocol, not the exception. If morphine and anti-anxiety and antipsychotic medications are prescribed for all patients, if withdrawing chronic meds, refusal to accept patients with feeding tubes, refusal to provide proper hydration and nutrition etc is the protocol at our "best" local hospice unit and palliative care units, let alone at most national corporate for profit hospices, and these for profit hospices now make up the majority of hospices nationwide, it's possible that half or more of hospice and palliative care patients' lives are or will be ended prematurely by stealth euthanasia.

    That would represent more than 500,000 deaths per year already. And that number will only increase, until the total number of euthanasia deaths exceeds the number of selective abortions every year. I fully expect that to be the case within the next 5 to 10 years.

    What about feeding tubes and IV nutrition and hydration?

    Artificial nutrition and hydration is the delivery of nutrition and/or hydration to a person via an assisted means of delivery such as via a person’s veins, often called TPN (total peripheral nutrition) or via a tube that goes into a person’s stomach, called a PEG tube (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube).

    The teachings of the Catholic Church support the use of ANH except in those rare cases when death is imminent or when ANH may do more harm than good. For example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) cited Pope John Paul II’s address (March 20, 2004) regarding people in the so-called “vegetative state,” noting: “1) Patients who are in a ‘vegetative state’ are still living human beings with inherent dignity, deserving the same basic care as other patients; 2) nutrition and hydration, even when provided with artificial assistance, are generally part of that normal care owed to patients in this state, along with other basic necessities such as the provision of warmth and cleanliness.”

    Pope Saint John Paul II himself, during the last several months of his life, received artificial nutrition and hydration via a nasogastric tube due to his advanced Parkinsons which, like Fr. Gerard, had affected his ability to swallow.

    What about Physician Assisted Suicide?

    Physician Assisted Suicide is currently legal in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Vermont and Washington DC. In 2017, Compassion and Choices, the largest pro euthanasia group in America, managed to get pro euthanasia legislation advanced in 27 states. Fortunately this legislation has either failed to emerge from committees or was defeated in the legislatures everywhere it has been advanced this year, and the mood of the country seems to be turning against physician assisted suicide, for now.

    According to an article in the Washington Post this week,

    A top concern about legalizing assisted suicide is that it could put financial pressure on patients to choose that option instead of treatment, if their insurer covers life-ending medication but not life-extending therapies. Another is that it could be chosen by patients just as they’re most susceptible to depression while they’re fighting aggressive illnesses.

    Finally, what about the special case of organ donation?

    Traditional medical ethics defined death as the cessation of heart beat, breathing and the fact that a corpse had become "cold blue and stiff."

    However, as the technology necessary to advance organ donation advanced, it was quickly discovered that many organs harvested from a patient whose heart and breathing had stopped were no longer viable for transplant. Therefore in the late 1960s a Harvard committee established new brain death criteria whereby a person could be pronounced dead because of a "irreversible coma" despite the fact that his heart and lungs were still fully functioning.

    This has lead directly to many in the pro life movement to question whether an institution has a vested financial interest in declaring someone "brain dead" whose heart and lungs are fully functional so that their organs can be harvested, a very profitable multibillion dollar industry.

    A good friend is a nurse anesthetist whose husband is an anesthesiologist. He used to work with an organ procurement team that flew around the country at a moment's notice to help harvest organs from donors. He quit because too many of the supposedly brain dead patients were waking up during the organ harvesting procedures.

    Make up your own mind...but I am NOT an organ donor.

    What can we do?

    The Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance is a program of Human Life Alliance. It was started in 2012 to address these concerns among the sick, handicapped and elderly. Their publication called "Informed: A guide for critical medical conditions" is a good concise summary of these issues and copies are available here this morning.

    They are in the process or developing a hotline and a network of patients advocates, legal teams and pro life healthcare providers and institutions so that anyone facing any of these challenges can be directed to someone willing to assist. Their website is www.prolifehealthcare.org

    The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is a Canadian based international organization specifically addressing legalization of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Their website is www.epcc.ca

    Both of these organizations are more than worthy of our support.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  4. CathyG

    CathyG Principalities

    Brian, as my father lay dying -- also from lung cancer -- 8 years ago, we were also told by the hospice nurse not to give him water. He was at home and was also greatly disabled by a stroke 4 years earlier which left him unable to speak. When I was alone with him, I gave him water to sip because he indicated he wanted it. But I also felt I was doing something wrong since I was told it would make things worse for him. I'm grateful to know that maybe I was actually doing something right.

    Your talk is eye-opening. I'm impressed.
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  5. djmoforegon

    djmoforegon Archangels

    This is powerful, Brian.

    I remember 15 years ago at a Right-to-Life conference when it was revealed that many in the Scandinavian countries were hiring an "advocate" to protect their lives when they were too weak to do so themselves. I was shocked. Now it seems that the U.S. has devalued life to the same degree but an "advocate" would have to be a practicing attorney and the patient a millionaire.
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  6. Katfalls

    Katfalls Archangels

    My mother died from similar situations that I will not go into, but I will share that five years ago I was on a jury for a man who was a drug addict, hired by hospice and never vetted, and was stealing the dying man's morphine for himself. Evil knows no limits. God help us.
  7. Carol55

    Carol55 Powers

    Brian, This is very well written. My thoughts and prayers will be with you tomorrow.
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  8. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    Thank you.

    In years past when I posted anything critical of hospice, someone here who was a hospice nurse constantly took me to task for my posts and implied I wasn't qualified to comment. Whether that's the case is up to the reader but I'd like to think I have the background to at least comment.
  9. Julia

    Julia Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

    Brian, your talk is long overdue. With regard to the elderly, I can tell you this sort of treatment or lack of the basics for human survival ie water and some form of nutrition has been used on a regular basis in Ireland and England for a number of years.

    There was a big who wha here in UK a few years ago about the 'Liverpool pathway plan' or something and that was basically death by dehydration when it came down to it. When people were made aware what it meant, they had to change the name of the death sentence. I don't know what it is being called now. And I believe it is a torturous way to die. For one thing patients mouths must be burning up with thirst. The mind simply boggles.

    I worked with terminal care patients for a number of years, this deliberate neglect was not the norm in my experience; but it seems to have taken root in the last twenty or twenty five years. I had wondered about talking to our parish Priest about this; but would it be any use.

    It is certainly shocking to hear hospice care is used and abused by those who are in it for profit. I remember being told hospice was where patients could be cared for in pain controlled environment, so they ended their days with dignity. Now this seems to have been corrupted by greed for profit. How appalling.

    Well done on your talk. It is full of clear points in case, and very well presented. Thank you and God bless and direct you in making this a nation wide if not global wake up call to doctors, nurses, families and pastors. High time we get on board with what is going on.
    ps I have liked your posts because what you have written needs to be said, and you have said it all so well.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  10. Booklady

    Booklady Archangels

    Excellent and very informative report, Brian. I was not aware of much of what you've written about hospices.
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  11. Carol55

    Carol55 Powers

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  12. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    Unfortunately, you can't even trust institutions that call themselves Catholic. Anywhere. Trust, but verify.


    Catholic Hospital Group Grants Euthanasia to Mentally Ill, Defying Vatican
    Francis X. Rocca
    6-7 minutes
    VATICAN CITY—A chain of Catholic psychiatric hospitals in Belgium is granting euthanasia to non-terminal patients, defying the Vatican and deepening a challenge to the church’s commitment to a constant moral code.

    The board of the Brothers of Charity, Belgium’s largest single provider of psychiatric care, said the decision no longer belongs to Rome. Truly Christian values, the board argued in September, should privilege a “person’s choice of conscience” over a “strict ethic of rules.”

    The policy change is highly symbolic, said Didier Pollefeyt, a theologian and vice rector of the Catholic University of Leuven.

    “The Brothers of Charity have been seen as a beacon of hope and resistance” to euthanasia, he said. “Now that the most Catholic institution gives up resistance, it looks like the most normal thing in the world.”

    Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, the first country with a majority Catholic population to do so. Belgian bishops opposed the legislation, in line with the church’s catechism, which states that causing the death of the handicapped, sick or dying to eliminate their suffering is murder.

    But many Catholic health-care institutions soon gave way. Within two years, more than 80% of the Catholic hospitals and nursing homes in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region permitted euthanasia, and more than 40% permitted it for non-terminal patients, according to a study by the Catholic University of Leuven.

    Vatican statements on the matter were “no longer generally accepted” by Catholic institutions as the basis for ethics policies, the study noted.

    Marc Desmet, a palliative care specialist who is also a Catholic priest, frequently counsels patients who are considering euthanasia. “I do not say what they have to decide,” he said.

    Dr. Desmet often attends euthanizations where he works, at Jessa Hospital in Hasselt, Belgium. They occur there about once a month in an institution with about 1,000 beds, he said.

    Another Belgian priest, the Rev. Gabriel Ringlet, is author of a popular book on “spiritual accompaniment to euthanasia,” and has encouraged people to develop their own unofficial rituals for the practice.

    In this context, Belgium’s branch of the Brothers of Charity, an international congregation, was one of the last Catholic holdouts. The organization, which was founded in Belgium in 1807, now runs 15 psychiatric hospitals there, with around 5,000 beds.

    In 2002, a majority of the hospital chain’s board of directors were also consecrated brothers who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. After legalization, if patients at a Brothers of Charity hospital demanded euthanasia, official policy was to transfer them to other institutions.

    By this year there were only three consecrated brothers on the 15-member board, and in March it voted to grant euthanasia to patients, issuing an ethical rationale and a procedure for evaluating euthanasia requests. The board declined to comment about the decision for this article.

    Belgium’s euthanasia rate has risen steeply to 2022 cases in 2015 from 235 cases in 2003, according to official statistics. The majority of the cases in 2015, about 67%, were patients with terminal cancer, but about 15% of cases were patients with non-terminal illnesses, including ocular and digestive ailments. Psychiatric patients accounted for about 3% of the cases in 2015, though a few of those had terminal illnesses.

    Legal changes elsewhere have left the church struggling to reconcile its moral teachings with the need to minister to Catholics who embrace contrary practices.

    “It is a new problem,” said Msgr. Renzo Pegoraro, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, which champions the church’s bioethical teachings, including opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

    For clerics weighing whether to deny the sacraments, “There are two extremes, on one hand approval, on the other a rigid position with no support for people,” he said. “We have to understand what we may do while avoiding the two extremes.”

    In the U.S., few bishops in jurisdictions that permit assisted suicide have issued guidelines. One exception is the bishops of Colorado, who said priests must deny the sacraments and church funerals in cases of physician-assisted suicide.

    In Canada, which legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016, Catholic bishops have issued divergent guidelines, with some leaving decisions to the discretion of priests.

    The Vatican responded to the decision by the Brothers of Charity with a public statement that Pope Francis wanted the hospital chain to reverse policy, and letters from the offices for doctrine and religious orders.

    Pope Francis has been clear in his opposition to euthanasia. In July, after a British court sided with doctors who argued that life support should be withdrawn from a gravely ill infant, Charlie Gard, so that he could die with dignity, the pope publicly supported the baby’s parents as they sought further treatment.

    Brother René Stockman, world-wide head of the Rome-based Brothers of Charity and a prominent campaigner against euthanasia, warned the Belgian hospital chain in July that it would lose the right to claim a Catholic identity if it didn’t abandon its euthanasia policy.

    That could mean losing buildings that belong to the religious order, he told the Journal. He said the Vatican has invited board members to Rome to explain their decision, but has offered no compromise on euthanasia.

    The hospital chain in Belgium appears unmoved by Rome’s entreaties. One prominent board member, former Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, tweeted in August: “The time of ‘Rome has spoken, the case is closed’ is long past.”

    Write to Francis X. Rocca at francis.rocca@wsj.com
  13. Pray4peace

    Pray4peace Ave Maria

    Very enlightening Brian, thank you. I had no idea about hospice.

    About 20 years ago when my grandfather was dying of cancer in a hospital, I remember him receiving a lot of morphine. Someone told me at the time that eventually the cancer patients receive so much morphine that they OD and die. I was given this information very matter of factly like it was a normal occurance. At the time, I was too ignorant to realize that there may be alternatives.

    I guess that standard advanced directives don't extend to hospice, right? So would you recommend having a lawyer draw up paperwork that specifically says that you don't want nutrition/hydration withheld for yourself or loved one in the case of hospice? What should one do in advance to prevent this type of thing from happening?
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  14. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    They may or may not, but Do not use a living will!!

    Living wills were written and promoted by the pro euthanasia lobby as a way to spread the euthanasia mentality into the mainstream consciousness without raising alarm.

    Instead, choose someone you trust and knows and shares your Christian and pro life convictions, and appoint them as a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. Explain to them your preferences.

    Versions of pro life durable power of attorney for health care decisions documents can be found online and a lawyer will help you complete it.
    gracia likes this.
  15. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    I've added this, just before the end:

    Why euthanasia now?

    As the momentum for legalized euthanasia builds, and de facto legalized stealth euthanasia becomes more and more commonplace, the question must be asked: Why euthanasia now?

    The answer seems simple enough. The solvency of Social Security, Medicare, Welfare and Medicaid is based on younger workers paying into the system to support the outlay of benefits. In 1940, there were 159 workers paying into the Social Security Trust Fund for every Social Security beneficiary. In 2010 there were 2.9. This is due to increased life expectancy as well as decreased birth rates.

    The Baby Boomer generation, born from 1946-1965, filled the coffers and kept the welfare benefits flowing well into the 80s and 90s. But the Boomers did not reproduce at the rate of their parents. By 1970, the ratio of workers paying into the Social Security Trust Fund for every Social Security beneficiary had already dropped to 3.7. Therefore this collapse in the ratio cannot be laid at the feet of Roe v. Wade and legalized abortion.

    The historical and universal Christian prohibition on contraception, which dates back to the e Apostles, was first shaken by the Anglican Church's 1930 Lambeth Conference, the first Christian body ever to condone contraception. Although the Anglicans limited contraception to what they termed "exceptional cases," they cracked open a door that had previously been tightly shut. Within three decades, most Christian denominations had abandoned the universal historical Christian prohibition against contraception and, by the early 1970s, much of Eastern Orthodoxy had dropped its prohibition on barrier methods.

    The connection between the acceptance of contraception, beginning only in 1930, and the legalization of abortion, just four decades later, cannot be overstated. The apocryphal "right to privacy," upon which the horrid 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion-on-demand was based, was first invented by five justices on the US Supreme Court in the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut. The Court decided in Griswold that married couples had a "privacy" right to purchase contraceptives. To this day, Constitutional scholars openly concede there was simply no foundation or precedent for such a ruling, but there was also no means to stop the Justices from imposing their opinions on the nation. The Griswold ruling struck down the only remaining "Comstock Laws," laws written by Protestant legislators in the 1800's to make it illegal to sell or distribute all forms of contraception.

    Over time, birth control became accepted in our culture because Christian groups abandoned traditional Christian teaching regarding sexual morality.

    In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the landmark encyclical letter reaffirming the Christian prohibition of contraception passed down from age to age. A large number of Catholics rejected Humanae Vitae, so that, in the early stages of the Pro-life Movement, contraception was never really examined or debated. This is regrettable since contraception is a fundamental consideration in the fight against both abortion and euthanasia. Pope Paul VI warned that legalized contraception would result in disregard for life and morality leading to widespread divorce, abortion and euthanasia. Of course, in retrospect, it is obvious that he was correct.

    The fabricated legal foundations for the "right" to birth control progressed naturally to the philosophical foundations of a "right" to abortion. The US Supreme Court, in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, said:

    In some critical respects, abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception... for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.

    This brutal honesty on the part of the US Supreme Court should have been cause for the pro-life community to reevaluate the role of secular and Christian acceptance of the contraceptive mentality in fomenting the legalization of abortion.

    No society has both a shrinking population and a growing economy. As the federal government projects the costs of pensions and medical care promised to retirees will soon outstrip the ability of our population base to provide support, pressure is mounting to control costs by rationing care. Demographic changes have created the economic incentive to euthanize the Baby Boomer generation.

    Frankly, killing the elderly is the final solution for a culture that has contracepted and aborted out of existence the generations that would otherwise have supported and cared for them. That is the ultimate end product of the cultural embrace of the contraceptive mentality.

    Why euthanasia now? Because demographics is destiny.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  16. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    This is an eye opener. It's difficult to trust any institution now. We don't have euthanasia here in Ireland but it's knocking at the door same as abortion. I've had a problem with organ donation for a while because of the issues you mention. Good luck with your presentation.
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  17. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Amen! My training as a hospital chaplain has involved in the last 10 days a promotion of hospice and next week a promotion of organ transplant. Lord have mercy!

    Safe in the Father's Arms!
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  18. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    Read up. This is a good place to start, especially the second entry:

    gracia likes this.
  19. Julia

    Julia Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

    Maryrose, my mother died in a hospital in Ireland in 1997. I can tell you she was effectively put on a death path. True, her veins kept collapsing. But the intravenous drip was removed, once they decided she was not responding to medication. I was not aware until I read Brians talk, the implications when the intravenous liquids were removed. She had the needle in the belly with a constant supply of what I assume was morphine or heroin or whatever they use to dim peoples minds. And she would have fallen into the category...."Don't give her fluids, because she could choke."

    The only way to help her would have been for me to leave my family in England, and I had two young dependant children so had to return to England and leave her at the mercy of whatever procedure was used at the time. Oh, and it took two weeks to snuff her out. I was not aware the killing machine was what I was seeing in operation, it was new to me at that time. But I assure you that was what it was. My mother was not in pain. She had developed a chest infection which the hospital tried to arrest without success, and this led to other organ failure. A process which I consider normal in such circumstances. But drugging a patient into stupidity is not the way to nurse the terminally ill, no matter what anyone would like to think.

    My mother was not the only person I saw treated in this way. But I share this with you so you know this end of life crafty euthanasia is definitely practiced in Ireland.
  20. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Sad. I admire you for doing these talks, Brian. Any time I have gotten up to talk I get hit with stage fright. I read of a case recently in Holland. A grandmother had signed a form asking that she be given Euthanasia if her life was no longer worth living. Her family then decided she had to go. When the Doctor came to kill her the lady struggled wanting to live, quite plainly and her family held the poor woman down while the Doctor killed her.


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