Marlowe's Shade

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Are Hospices Enabling Euthanasia?: Part 3

In the past two posts I've addressed some of the philosphical and even spiritual justifications for the right-to-die movement, and I think I've demonstrated that ideologically it represents euthanasia with some good marketing. In this post I'd like to explore how this is being applied in hospices. I have heard of and personally experienced many positive end of life situations in hospices, and do not intend to tar all of them with the same brush. But as we recently saw with Suncoast Florida were Terri Schiavo was illegally held, when the governance of the hospice is guided by any of the principles outlined in the last two posts, abuses can and will occur.

The Hospice Patient Alliance is a consumer advocacy group for patients of hospices and their families. They have been documenting reports of patients who have been euthanized in hospices and have posted over a dozen on their site. They are all heart-wrenching but this one was particularly poignant:


I want to tell a story of a Holocaust survivor who I watched and begged for help even to the police I went. His name is Heini Sobel, born in Vienna, Austria, in 1919, June 10. He suffered thru the Holocaust and in the end murdered by a local Lawyer, who refused to let him have his blood transfusion which Heini's best friend who is from *********, Calif. and his name is Dr. ** Rosen*********, had requested be given to him. Between the two of us we tried our best to get help but this Lawyer and Hospice overruled us. Heini, begged his self to please let him have the blood. In the process I was forced to watch him be drugged and continuously be given shots which he did not want and every time they shot him he would say it hurt him. He even said they are "murdering me"!!!!!!

Not to mention the starving and no water. I my self am from a Holocaust family from Vienna, Austria. I became so sick not one human cared and this is legal. The Angel of Death is living in America, this Death Angel left the Nazi Camps and moved to America. I find this so unbelievable that a man who suffered all his life was given to legal murders in America. In the end the Nazis got him after all.

What can be done can I speak out what?? Please let me know!!


I previously posted some of these stories of the injured and disabled being targeted for euthanasia in other medical settings.

One pattern that emerges from the stories above is the god-like power the medical staff can wield and the lack of accountability especially to the families of patients. We only need to look again at the full-blown euthanasia model in The Netherlands;

Before 1991 it was difficult to obtain facts about the incidence of euthanasia in Holland, because the KNMG had chosen a very narrow definition of the word. The Dutch officially define euthanasia as the ending of the life of one person by another at the first person's request. If life is ended without request, as it often is, it is not considered to be euthanasia and therefore official statistics have always been lower than actual numbers. For example, Dutch doctors, for obvious reasons, prefer not to use the term "involuntary euthanasia" but call it the more sanitized "termination of the patient without explicit request". Dr. John Keown, an English legal scholar, has commented on this redefinition, "By narrowly defining euthanasia as referring only to "active voluntary euthanasia" rather than to all cases in which death is brought about on purpose as part of the medical care given to the patient, the Dutch minimize the frequency with which death is "intentionally accelerated by a doctor."

The Remmelink Report of 1991 found that about 38% of deaths in Holland were due to a "medical decision at end of life" but only a fraction of these were reported as euthanasia, despite the fact that the doctors and not the patients are heavily protected under Dutch law. What this tells us is that much of the euthanasia occurs in an unregulated fashion by doctors making medical decisions without accountability. This reflects the situations in the US hospices cited above.

Euphemism, secrecy, and a lack of accountability seem to be inherent in the practice of euthanasia. For this reason alone it should be opposed. We clearly have a choice between the cold utilitarianism of the Nazi euthanasia programs, echoed by right-to-die pundits, or we have the committment to face these end of life challenges in a way that values life and and has true respect for human dignity.
papijoe 9:26 AM