Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Euthanasia Hall of Shame: Hastings Center

Based on some encouraging feedback from Tim at ProLifeBlogs I'm going to continue this series, which is very heavily indebted to the oft-cited LifeTree Timeline because I think it's important to get the word out on how powerful economic, sociological and media forces are rallying to the right-to-die cause with a well thought out plan to change our society's valuation of life.

As noted in previous posts George Soros and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have been major financial backers of the multi-pronged initiative to influence our attitudes about life. According to the Timeline the Hastings Center also played a key role:

From 1996 forward, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and George Soros's Project on Death in America (PDIA) implemented end-of-life (EOL) programs that fit into a three-point strategy to change American culture. The strategy for social change had been offered by Daniel Callahan in a 1995 Hastings Center Report article. He argued that America was a death-denying society. Callahan's three points were later refined in an Institute of Medicine report, and adopted by RWJF. Each RWJF/Soros initiative advanced at least one of the following strategies...

    1)Professional Education
    2)Institutional Change
    3)Public Engagement

The Timeline goes on to describe how RWJF funded the bulk of the programs while Soros funded the leadership. The Hastings Center's role as a beneficiary was quite clearly to provide the blueprint for this ambitious program of social engineering.

[In 1969] Hastings Center is founded in New York by Daniel Callahan and psychiatrist Willard Gaylin, MD.

[1987] Guidelines on the Termination of Life-Sustaining Treatment and the Care of the Dying
a report by the Hastings Center. Briarcliff Manor, NY: The Center, copyright 1987.
xii, 159 p.; 28 cm. Bruce Jennings; Bernard Lo.

[1995] Hastings Center Report (special supplement, paid for by RWJF; Nov.–Dec. 1995.) Dying Well in the Hospital: the lessons of SUPPORT.
Daniel Callahan worries that [bellicose] America is waging a "war against death." We must accept death. Outlines strategy for campaign against death-denying society:

1) Communication;
2) Institutional change;
3) Public engagement.
Callahan's three-pronged strategy will form the basis for the first RWJF Last Acts conference in 1996

[1996] Congress of Clinical Societies: Conference on the Ethics of Managed Care (fourth in a series that began in 1987); held on October 7.
"The conference brought together leading scholars in medical ethics, health policy, law, and medicine with representatives of the managed care industry to discuss how the integrity of medical practice could be maintained and strengthened in managed care settings during a time of dramatic change in the health care delivery system." [ ]
Joseph J. Fins organized the conference; Speakers included Joanne Lynn and Daniel Callahan.
Hosted by American Geriatrics Society and Hastings Center.
Funding: RWJF grant #28153 for $49,000 to American Geriatrics Society.

[1997] Hastings Center Report publishes "Is There a Duty to Die?" by John Hardwig. (Mar-Apr;27(2):34-42.) Hardwig answers "yes," for the common good.

"Let me be clear. I certainly believe that there is a duty to refuse life-prolonging medical treatment and also a duty to complete advance directives refusing life-prolonging treatment. But a duty to die can go well beyond that. There can be a duty to die before one's illnesses would cause death, even if treated only with palliative measures. In fact, there may be a fairly common responsibility to end one's life in the absence of any terminal illness at all. Finally, there can be a duty to die when one would prefer to live. Granted, many of the conditions that can generate a duty to die also seriously undermine the quality of life. Some prefer not to live under such conditions. But even those who want to live can face a duty to die."

With that last entry in mind lets step out of the Timeline for a moment and examine how The Hastings Center describes itself:

The Hastings Center is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit bioethics research institute founded in 1969 to explore fundamental and emerging questions in health care, biotechnology, and the environment.

Hardwig's contribution to the Report is difficult to reconcile with this innocuous image of the Center, as are the undertones of Daniel Callahan's past statements. But this isn't the first time the Hastings Center has allowed a glimpse of it's more sinister side. In 1974, co-founder Dr William Gaylin published a article called Harvesting the Dead. In a previously cited article Earl Appleby of CURE unveils the strong advocacy for euthanasia in the leadership of the Hastings Center:

Over the years, physicians have practiced euthanasia," Dr. Willard Gaylin, of the infamous Hastings Center, acknowledges in Harvesting the Dead. "They have withheld antibiotics or other simple treatments when it was felt that a life did not warrant sustaining, or pulled the plug on the respirator when they were convinced that what was being sustained no longer warranted the definition of life."

The staged debate among its sundry sects notwithstanding, the real question posed by the brain-death cult is not whether its victims are dead but whether they have a right to life. We are, in Gaylin's words, "faced with the task of deciding whether that which we have kept alive is a human being, or, to put it another way, whether that human being . . . should be considered alive.'" "The problem," he concludes, "is well on its way to be resolved by what must have seemed a relatively simple and ingenious method. As it turned out, the difficult issues of euthanasia could be evaded by redefining death."

Do you think they use that kind of verbiage in their grant proposals or in their keynotes to healthcare professionals?

Meanwhile, back at the Timeline:

[2000]National Hospice Work Group, collaborating with National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) launches project: "Increasing Access to Hospice." The project is funded in part through a $125,000 grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation to the Hastings Center, awarded in 2000. The study led to the 2003 publication of "Access to Hospice Care: Expanding Boundaries, Overcoming Barriers" (588Kb PDF) as an insert in the Hastings Center Report.

Then the Center seems to be keeping a low profile for a couple of years but it has recently announced an analysis of the "End of Life reforms" of the last ten years, of course generously funded by RWJF:

...decisions concerning the use of aggressive and invasive life-extending treatments continue to be fraught with uncertainty and difficulty, particularly in those numerous cases where the patient has lost decisionmaking capacity but has not executed an advance directive. Families often experience deep conflicts. Communication with health care professionals needs to be improved. The question of withholding or withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration ("feeding tubes") remains a matter of legal and religious controversy.

Other topics under consideration include: the best use and interpretation of advance directives; the role of families in decision-making; the integration of palliative care into mainstream medicine; racial, ethnic, and cultural differences in attitudes toward death and dying; and the protection of those with severe disabilities from discrimination and neglect.

No mention of harvesting the living, but rest assured that despite what the press releases might say, the Hastings Center is working on it.
papijoe 6:41 AM