Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Are Hospices Enabling Euthanasia?: Part 2

In the last post I examined the role of the New Age movement as an enabler of the right-to-die movement and it's links to hospice care in this country.

Based at least on media exposure, secular euthanasia advocates and bioethicists are an even greater influence.

Convicted murder Jack Kevorkian recently gave his first interview in six years on "Good Morning America".

He told the program that he was "dismayed" by the Schiavo case and opposed efforts by lawmakers to get involved.

"What bothers me is the bit of hypocrisy in all of this," said Kevorkian. "When the president and the Congress get involved because life is sacred and must be preserved at all costs, they don't say anything about the men on death row, and their lives are just as precious

Presumably prison has only enhanced his sense of the preciousness of the lives of convicted killers.

It's kind of a smarmy aside, but I can't let this go without sharing:

Michigan authors and Kevorkian friends Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie say they have been helping Kevorkian to prepare a 300-page manuscript, tentatively titled "The Life of Dr. Death." Kevorkian has been shopping it around to publishers.

Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple and producer Steve Jones plan to begin filming a movie version in Michigan later this year.

Jones says Oscar winner Ben Kingsley would head the short list of people he would like to play the imprisoned coroner. Kingsley is a three time Oscar nominee who won the award for best actor in 1982 for his role in the film Gandhi.

Does the media love this guy, or what?

In case you think that Dr Kevorkian is an anomaly in the medical field, consider the strange career of Dr. Philip Nitschke, an Australia "euthanasia activist".

Few advocates of euthanasia were willing to publicly support the Dutch proposal as it related to children. A notable exception, however, was Dr. Philip Nitschke, an Australian euthanasia campaigner and activist. Known as the Australian "Dr. Death," Nitschke legally practiced euthanasia in Australia during the few months in which the now defunct "Rights of the Terminally Ill Act" of the Northern Territory was in effect. He now conducts "how to commit suicide" programs in Australia and New Zealand and is often a featured speaker at right-to-die conferences in the United States.

Nitschke said he believed that Australia should move down a track similar to that of the Netherlands since he couldn't see any principled reason to preclude young children from receiving assisted suicide or euthanasia. According to Nitschke, a child has the maturity to make such a life and death decision.

This statement is rather ironic in light of Nitschke's own youth:

According to news accounts, Nitschke had a somewhat troubled childhood. As a young teen, he was deeply unhappy and, at the age of 15, he took out his frustrations by killing a neighbor's dog. He devised a plan in which he faked going to church on Sunday, then doubled back to the neighbor's house to strangle the dog. When the dog didn't die, he slit its throat with a knife.

The story has caused embarrassment to Nitschke over the years. But he has explained it by chalking it up to his immaturity. "I was very young; I just didn’t have the world experience to be able to make good judgments," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was the ill-considered action of a child, " he says now.

Thus, according to Nitschke's logic, a 15-year-old who kills a neighbor's dog is exhibiting the actions of a child who is too immature to make good judgments. But a child who decides to kill himself is sufficiently mature to do so.

Bioethicists like Arthur Caplan and Dr Timothy Quill had come out in favor of euthanizing Terri Schiavo. The fact that both are firmly in the right-to-die camp has generated no discussion in the Mainstream Media. Even PETA favorite, Peter Singer, who believes that animals should be considered ethically on par with human and infants may be considered "non-persons" up until the age of two, is barely seen as on the fringe. In his recent article in NRO Wesley Smith names at least six prominent bioethicists who condon at the very least Terri Schiavo's judical homocide, and in some cases, even organ harvesting.

And according to the Times Online, the situation is the same in the UK:

BRITAIN'S leading medical ethics expert has suggested that the frail and elderly should consider suicide to stop them becoming a financial burden on their families and society.
Baroness Warnock spoke on the eve of a Commons debate on the Mental Capacity Bill, which critics claim will allow "euthanasia by the back door".

In an interview with The Sunday Times, she said: "I know I'm not really allowed to say it, but one of the things that would motivate me [to die] is I couldn't bear hanging on and being such a burden on people.

"In other contexts, sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good. I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance.

"If I went into a nursing home it would be a terrible waste of money that my family could use far better."

Warnock, 80, a Lords' cross-bencher who helped frame Britain's legalisation on embryo research, also suggests that parents of premature babies should be charged to keep them on life support machines if doctors write off their chances of leading a healthy life.

Lest we think this is solely an academic discussion, euthanasia is being practiced in The Netherlands and for a short time in Australia as mentioned above. And according to the linked article on Dutch euthanasia, the practice is unoffically widespread throughout Europe.

In France, 73 percent of doctors in one study reported using drugs to end a newborn's life, but those cases aren't reported to authorities. Meanwhile, 43 percent of Dutch doctors surveyed and between 2 percent and 4 percent of doctors in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany and Sweden reported doing so.

And of course euthanasia is now legal in Oregon, although apparently they are still working out the kinks.

Next we'll see how this burgeoning tolerance of euthanasia in the guise of the right-to-die movement has impacted the hospice industry.
papijoe 9:34 AM