Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"Back to Jerusalem" Along the Silk Road

I posted recently about how Spengler thinks that the Muslim word needs to keep an eye on the burgeoning Christian population of Africa. It also appears that that there is a peaceful crusade mounting up in the East.

The vision is known as the "Back to Jerusalem" movement. The leaders of this movement explain that it is not a plan by the Chinese to hold a conference here in Jerusalem, but rather a vision to take the Gospel to all the nations in the Earth, between China and Jerusalem.

The vision is one of the most ambitious goals in church history. The idea is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ back along the ancient trade routes known as the Silk Road.

These routes would take the Gospel through some of the most inhospitable regions in the world.

This region, also known as the '10/40 Window,' contains some of the people on Earth most resistant to the Gospel - the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Muslims. Despite the formidable challenge, many Chinese see an opportunity, and as Jesus said, fields white unto harvest.

This vision has been brought to the West by Chinese underground church leader Brother Yun.

According to Brother Yun, the story of the church in China today, and for the past several decades, has been like a modern-day book of Acts.

Yun said, "We just went everywhere. We found people who didn't know about Jesus. We healed the sick, we cast out demons and we led people into salvation of Jesus, and that is what we are doing today."

The history of the Chinese house church is a powerful chronicle. In 1949, Mao Tse Tung expelled the Western missionaries, and began a campaign to purge China of Christianity. During this long campaign of persecution, many in the West feared the light of the church would be extinguished. But like a stream in the desert, the church not only survived the harsh conditions, it thrived. Today, it is estimated that there are from 70 to 100 million Christians in China.

During this time, Brother Yun, like many other Christians, was imprisoned and tortured, but his faith remained strong.

"It's that God Himself, or Jesus Himself, in a special way helped me to overcome this thing," Yun said. "It was more like, in myself in my spirit and in my heart, I have to focus my eyes on Jesus. Think about His suffering for me. And so I was receiving strength from His suffering, and that made me strong enough to overcome the persecution."

Even in jail, he says the Holy Spirit moved powerfully. "And I saw a revival to break through, many multitudes of heavy criminals and gangsters came to salvation and the change in their lives was so dramatic, that even the director of the prison, he recognized and he said, This Jesus is amazing! How He can change the people! Who is He?"

Through a series of miraculous adventures described in "The Heavenly Man," Brother Yun left China in 1997. Along with Peter Xu, his pastor, they are proclaiming to the church in the West a vision that has captivated the church in China.

I've learn one way to tell if something is genuinely from God is if it is so outrageously ambitious that no human would have the chutzpah to conceive of it. Human logic would counsel the persecuted church to put their own ministry in China first. But I get something of a sense of poetic symmetry to this vision that is truly captivating, it has the cosmic scope of Kingdom work.

...[T]he church in China is uniquely prepared for this task. It is expected that as many as 100,000 missionaries will be needed. Many of these Christians have been forged in the furnace of persecution.

Hickson remarked, "This is a total life commitment. They are willing to die for this vision. And that's very humbling for people, when you are working with people who are willing to lay their lives down for a vision which is costing them their lives."

He continued, "Most of the people who are beginning to be trained in this, before they even come into the training schools, they have to be willing to say, "I'm ready to die outside of China. I'm willing to actually be buried outside of China. So that's heavy stuff."

The leaders of the Back to Jerusalem movement believe the idea could help complete The Great Commission in our generation, and help fulfill China's destiny.

As Napoleon once said, "When China is moved, it will change the face of the globe."

If you are interested in learning more about or even encouraging this Divine madness, click here.
papijoe 3:14 PM |

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Euthanasia Demeans the Disabled

Advocates for the disabled have always been far ahead of the pack in their awareness of and opposition to the right-to-die movement. Groups like Not Dead Yet were not only at the vanguard of the fight for Terri Schiavo, but were opposing euthanasia two decades ago when most of us had never heard of Baby Doe.

Disability advocate Steve Eidelman argues with flawless moral clarity from the perspective of a disabled person in this article:

Too many people with significant disabilities have been called "vegetables," and this needs to stop. It is beyond demeaning. It is dehumanizing. In fact, some of the people who use the term most freely are doctors, and what often comes next is a discussion of the death or warehousing of the individual with such a pejorative label.

For a person with serious disabilities, the debate should not be about whether or not they are going to "get better" some day. Disability is a fact of life, every day of our lives. Millions of Americans are disabled, and for millions more, it is just a matter of time. None of us is guaranteed an able body or mind for life.

People with disabilities sometimes have wonderful lives, and sometimes they have lousy lives. They are just like other Americans. Just because a person has a significant disability does not mean that he or she does not love life. It does not mean that they should be assumed to be better off dead.

Contrast this outlook with that of the Dutch doctors who have proposed their Groningen Protocols to justify the euthanasia of disabled children, of whom they have admitted to killing four themselves.

One of them was recently interviewed on an Australian radio program.

A father of three, Dr Eduard Verhagen admits that by technical definition, he has helped commit murder.

His medical team at the Groningen Hospital in the Netherlands has ended the lives of four babies with spina bifida.

EDUARD VERHAGEN: They were newborns that we could not treat. They were also in a condition of severe and endless suffering. These children, they do occur, we have about 15 of these children in the Netherlands every year.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: How do you know a child's suffering is too great, and that they should die?

EDUARD VERHAGEN: Well, it's twofold. One is there is no treatment available. Secondly, we must be sure that the suffering is endless and hopeless and cannot be alleviated.

Now, in adults, if they are in the same circumstances, they can ask for euthanasia, and they can tell you that they're suffering unbearably. Children of course cannot do that.

However, we have developed tools in neonatology to assess pain and the reaction to medication. We have gone quite far in determining the situation of a child when it concerns suffering.

I admit that when this story first came out I accepted the description of spina bifida as this horribly painful disease, but this is something of an exaggeration. The effects can vary greatly. Olympian and Boston Marathon winner Jean Driscoll has it. So does John Cougar Mellecamp. Like any spinal cord injury, it can cause complete or partial paralysis and that can be accompanied by varying degrees of discomfort and pain. But by the Protocols, should all those with spinal injuries or diseases be euthanized?. It was refreshing that in this interview, advocates for the disabled were allowed to speak out:

Pierre Mertens' daughter was a victim of spina bifida. As the President of the international federation for sufferers of the disease, he welcomes Dr Verhagen's attempts to put the issue forward for debate, even though he says there's no justification to end the life of a newborn.

PIERRE MERTENS: And in all these debate, words are always used wrongly. They call it euthanasia even when the person is not dying at all. The newborn child with spina bifida is not dying. If the newborn child with spina bifida would be dying there would be no problem.

KIRSTEN AIKEN: The Groningen protocol prompted Pierre Mertens to survey an unidentified number of spina bifida victims. He says whatever the degree of the disability, each sufferer rejected the notion that a life with spina bifida isn't worth pursuing.

PIERRE MERTENS: It is a feeling of all people with spina bifida. They say we are living now in a world where the world says the quality of life of these children, of these people, is not worth living and they are absolutely, absolutely upset by that.

And do you know it is the situation where doctors are looking at the human being only from a medical side. The quality of life is not only a medical aspect. It's about art, it's about love, it's about music. This makes quality of life, not if you are in a wheelchair or not.

Go to the site of the Spina Bifida Association of America to see photos of those who, according to the Groningen doctors, aren't fit to live.
papijoe 6:50 AM |

Friday, May 27, 2005

Spengler: The Third Church

Spengler had a very interesting response to in his letters section to a reader who proposed that the greatest threat to Islam may come from a burgeoning Christian population south of the Sahara. Spengler agreed:

Prof Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University predicts an "historical turning point" in Christianity, "one that is as epochal for the Christian world as the original Reformation". In the October 2002 edition of The Atlantic Monthly, he wrote, "In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations - currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America - now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church, a form of Christianity as distinct as Protestantism or Orthodoxy, and one that is likely to become dominant in the faith." (Click here for the article.) This may look like a "Third Church" to Catholic eyes, but what I perceive is the proliferation of Anglo-Saxon, that is, American, Christianity, albeit in the patchwork raiment of local peoples. Growth of church membership in the southern hemisphere concentrates in denominations of American or British origin. Observes Prof Jenkins, "it is Pentecostals who stand in the vanguard of the Southern Counter-Reformation. Though Pentecostalism emerged as a movement only at the start of the twentieth century, chiefly in North America, Pentecostals today are at least 400 million strong, and heavily concentrated in the global South. By 2040 or so there could be as many as a billion, at which point Pentecostal Christians alone will far outnumber the world's Buddhists and will enjoy rough numerical parity with the world's Hindus."

He concludes with this fascinating point about the "kernel" of democracy:

The secularists who dominate American foreign policy seem to think that they can export the shell of the American system, namely its constitutional forms, without its religious kernel. It seems that the peoples of the South know better. It is no stranger that America's hold over the world's imagination should find religious expression first and political expression later, than that radical Protestants should have founded America in the first place. The new Christians of the South will surprise us for ill as well as good. Such matters of the spirit lie beyond anyone's capacity to predict and well may have huge strategic impact, as you observe.

Spengler likes this idea so much he continues the thought in a related letter:

That America's roots are Hebrew rather than Greek is widely argued. See for example the Catholic writer Michael Novak's On Two Wings (San Francisco 2002): "The way the story of the United States has been told for the past 100 years is wrong. It has cut off one of the two wings by which the American eagle flies, her compact with the God of the Jews - the God of Israel championed by the nation's first Protestants - the God who prefers the humble and weak things of the world, the small tribe of Israel being one of them; who brings down the mighty and lifts up the poor; and who has done so all through history, and will do so till the end of time." His book contains many an interesting anecdote, although from an American vantage point, therefore, even the crack addict is important in the sight of God (although I believe a crack addict once convicted of a serious offense may lose the right to vote in American elections).
Democracy does not work unless the people truly believe that the individual is sovereign - not the people, I hasten to add. Since the odious J J Rousseau, we have had enough varieties of the "fuehrer principle" to choke on, in which an absolute leader embodies the spirit of the nation, disdaining the vulgarities of democracy in which candidates must persuade even crack addicts. One cannot be a little bit pregnant. Either the individual as a living image of God has such rights as pertain to his station, or not. If democracy comes to the peoples of the southern hemisphere it will come as a consequence of the evangelizing described above ...not as a set of transitional measures by the political scientists of the Pentagon
papijoe 7:12 AM |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mexican Church Officials Speak Out Against Proposed Euthanasia Law

from Catholic World News

Commenting on a bill sponsored by Mexico's Democratic Revolutionary Party which would legalize euthanasia in the country, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said the Church will always oppose the killing of human life.

"Homicide and suicide will always be against God's will, because we are not the absolute owners of our lives and nobody is allowed to deliberately act to the take the life of another person," the cardinal maintained.

"All human beings have the right to live from the time they are in the maternal womb until their very last days," he added. "The Church is not opposed to debate nor to opinions, but she will always make known her principles and what the will of God is regarding human life."

Amen, Cardinal Carrera. The Democratic Revolution Party as one would guess from their name are the remnants of various socialist and communist political parties. While not the majority they control the Federal district of Mexico City and many of the southern states in Mexico. I'm sure this bill will fail, but the brazeness of even proposing it in an overwhelmingly Catholic country like Mexico seems to follow the strategy of de-sensitising the public to the issue by a small but very vocal minority.
papijoe 6:18 AM |

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Euthanasia Hall of Shame: Rev. Ralph Mero

Universalist Unitarian minister Reverend Ralph Mero has made a career out of political activism. In the early '70's he pushed for the legalization of abortion with the approval of his denomination, with politically like-minded religious leaders he opposed President Bush's faith-based initiatives, but he is best know for being an executive director of the Hemlock Society and a co-founder and former director of its spinoff, Compassion in Dying.

The tale of a patient in Seattle named Louise best characterizes Rev. Mero's ministry:

An article featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in the fall of 1993 also used a case description to try to prove the value of assisted suicide to an American audience. (4) The article described the assisted suicide of Louise, a Seattle woman whose death was arranged by her doctor and the Reverend Ralph Mero, head of Compassion in Dying, a group that champions legalizing assisted suicide. Members of the group counsel the terminally ill, offer advice on lethal doses, convince cautious doctors to become involved, and are present during the death. Mero and his followers do not provide the means for suicide (the patients obtain such help from their doctors) and claim not to encourage the patients to seek suicide.

Mero arranged for a Times reporter to interview Louise in the last weeks of her life, offering Louise’s death as an illustration of the beneficial effects of the organization’s work. Yet the account serves equally to illustrate how assisted suicide made both life and death miserable for Louise.

Louise, who was referred to Mero by her doctor, had been ill with an unnamed, degenerative neurological disease. The reporter tells us that "Louise had mentioned suicide periodically during her six years of illness, but the subject came into sudden focus in May during a somber visit to her doctor’s office." As Louise recounted it, "I really wasn’t having any different symptom; I just knew something had changed. I looked the doctor right in the eye and said, ‘I’m starting to die.’ And she said, ‘I’ve had the same impression for a couple of days.’" An MRI scan confirmed that the frontal lobes of Louise’s brain had begun to deteriorate, a sign that led her doctor to warn Louise that her life would most likely be measured in months, perhaps weeks. Louise said her doctor explained that "she didn’t want to scare me… she just wanted to be honest. She told me that once the disease becomes active, it progresses very fast, that I would become mentally incapacitated and wouldn’t be myself, couldn’t care for myself anymore. She would have to look into hospice care, or the hospital, or some other facility where I would stay until I died."

In this atmosphere of anxiety and fear, her doctor confirms what Louise believes is her only other option:

We are told that Louise did not hesitate with her answer. "I can’t do that… I don’t want that." The reporter continues, "Her doctor, Louise thought, looked both sad and relieved. ‘I know, I know,’ the doctor said. ‘But it has to come from you.’" Louise makes sure that they are both talking about suicide and says, "That’s what I’d like to do, go for as long as I can and then end it."

What has happened between Louise and her doctor? The doctor’s quick affirmation that Louise is starting to die, even before the MRI scan confirms her decline, is disturbing. She prefaces a grim description of Louise’s prognosis with assurance that she does not want to scare her. The doctor’s relief when Louise indicates that she is choosing suicide gives us some feeling about her attitudes toward patients in Louise’s condition.

Enter Rev. Mero:

As the account continues, the doctor indicates that she would be willing to help, had recently helped another patient whom Louise knew, and said she would prescribe enough barbiturates to kill Louise. To avoid legal trouble, she would not be there when Louise committed suicide. They exchanged several hugs and Louise went home. The doctor called Compassion in Dying for advice. The reporter quotes the doctor as saying about contacting Mero, "I was ecstatic to find someone who’s doing what he’s doing…. I loved the fact that there were guidelines."

On the phone, Mero advises the doctor on the medication to prescribe and then visits Louise, suggesting that he is prepared to help Louise die before knowing or even meeting her or in any way determining whether she meets any guidelines. When he does meet Louise, she asks him at once if he will help her with her suicide and be there when she does it and she is almost tearfully grateful when he says yes. He repeats many times that it has to be her choice. Louise affirms that it is, saying that all she wants "these next few weeks is to live as peacefully as possible." Louise seems concerned with being close to others during her final time and with spending what is left of her life in an environment of loving leave-taking.

Note that this is before Oregon's Death with Dignity law was passed, and that the doctor alludes to guidelines long after they should have been applied. What Rev. Mero has in fact done is relieve the doctor of any consequences or accountability. And why is a minister advising a doctor on the deadly dose to prescribe? It get even more grotesque as the day draws near:

The doctor is concerned that Louise’s judgment might soon become impaired: "The question is, at what point is her will going to be affected, and, if suicide is what she wants, does she have the right to do it when she still has the will?" The doctor, like Mero, says she does not want to influence the patient, but worries that Louise might not act in time. "If she loses her mind and doesn’t do this, she’s going into the hospital. But the last thing I want to do is pressure her to do this."

Yet the closeness before dying that Louise seemed to want is lost in the flurry of activity and planning for her death as each of those involved with her dying pursues his or her own requirements. At a subsequent meeting of Mero and Louise, with Louise’s mother and her doctor also present, Mero gives Louise a checklist in which he reviews steps to be taken during the suicide from the food to be eaten to how the doctor would call the medical examiner.

The doctor indicates she will be out of town for the next week, but that she has told her partner of Louise’s plans. "You don’t have to wait for me to get back," she tells Louise, hinting, the reporter tells us, that it might be a good idea not to wait. The doctor was more direct when alone with Louise’s mother, telling her that she was afraid Louise might not be coherent enough to act if she waited past the coming weekend.

The doctor and Mero discuss how pointed they can be with Louise, wanting her to make an informed decision without frightening her into acting sooner than she was ready. They hoped, "she would read between the lines." Mero assures the reporter that he always wants to err on the side of caution. Nonetheless, a few days after the meeting, Mero called the reporter in New York, asking her to come to Seattle as soon as possible. He knew she was planning to come the following week, but he warned her not to wait that long.

The reporter leaves immediately for Seattle and finds Louise in a debilitated condition. She is in pain, getting weaker, and speaks of wanting to end her life while she can still be in control. She says she is almost ready, but not quite. She needs about a week, mainly to relax and be with her mother.

What Louise didn't count on was that once she put herself into Rev. Mero's care, the timetable was not her own. After a full court press by nearly all of the players involved, Louise finally accedes to her suicide. And in her final scene we see a glimpse of the true face of Rev Mero's ministry of death:

Over the next days she speaks with Mero by phone, but he tells the reporter he kept the conversations short because he was uncomfortable with her growing dependence on his opinion. Nevertheless, after a few such conversations, the contents of which are not revealed, Louise indicated she was ready; that evening Mero came and the assisted suicide was performed. A detailed description of the death scene provides the beginning, the end, and the drama of the published story. Louise did not die immediately but lingered for seven hours. Had she not died from the pills, Mero subsequently implied to the reporter, he would have used a plastic bag to suffocate her, although this violates the Compassion in Dying guidelines.

Rev Mero shows himself to be a skilled orchestrator of the simple and true goal of physician-assisted suicide: a corpse to be delivered to the medical examiner. In the end all the talk of a better end of life that the right-to-die movement touts as its mission gives way to a merciless timetable that is more rigorous than the disease itself. The tragic part is that Louise was never offered the kind of quality end-of-life care that would have addressed her fears and given her the time she so desperately needed. The poignancy of how Rev. Mero's agenda failed to address that is seen in Louise last attempt to express her longing for love and comfort:

The reporter blurted out, "Your doctor feels that if you don’t act by this weekend you may not be able to." Her words are met with a "wrenching silence" and Louise, looking sharply at her mother, indicates that she hadn’t been told that. Her mother says gently that is what the doctor had told her. Louise looks terrified and her mother tells her its OK to be afraid. "I’m not afraid. I just feel as if everyone is ganging up on me, pressuring me," Louise said, "I just want some time."

Louise’s mother was growing less certain that Louise would actually take her own life. When she tried to ask her directly, Louise replied, "I feel like it’s all we ever talk about."
papijoe 6:22 AM |

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Euthanasia Is Not the Last Word in End of Life Debate

In response to the excesses and abuses of the euthanasia experiment in the Netherlands and legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon principled doctors who oppose this agenda have been demonstrating an alternative care model.

An examination of the history of the Oregon experiment shows that the depressed and lonely, the elderly and the disabled are particularly vulnerable when PAS becomes an option. In a prescient article from 1997 in the Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr Thomas Gates outlines the problems of PAS and Euthanasia for a principled physician.

I have argued that the principles of autonomy and beneficence by themselves are not sufficient to justify euthanasia and assisted suicide, primarily because I fear that once we accept the priority of these claims, there would be no logical basis on which to deny a sincere request for euthanasia from any suffering patient.32 Furthermore, even if assisted death seems reasonable in exceptional individual circumstances,33 the public policy implications of legalization are potentially very troubling, especially for the most vulnerable in our society. Finally, considerations of professional integrity remind us that our role as physicians involves more than simply acceding to patient requests.

But it would be a mistake to simply dismiss the concerns of the "death with dignity" movement. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that a large majority of the American public favors legalized euthanasia.6 Perhaps we should consider this public support as symptomatic of a wider disorder: millions of Americans are apparently so fearful of what the miracles of modern medicine may have in store for them at the end of their lives that they would prefer suicide. The debate on euthanasia can be seen as symptomatic of both the medical profession's failure to seriously address this concern, and also of society's failure to face the reality of human mortality and the ultimate impossibility of "controlling" death.

In one sense, the medical profession has brought this controversy on itself. Thirty years after Kubler-Ross, the philosophy of the hospice movement remains minimally evident within mainstream medicine. So often we persist in an exclusively curative mode far too long, while virtually ignoring the physical, psychologic and spiritual needs of dying patients and their families. Perhaps physicians on both sides of the euthanasia debate can at least agree on one thing: the medical profession, having contributed so much to our society's dysfunctional approach to death and dying, can now lead the way toward a more balanced perspective.

Family physicians in particular are in a position to demonstrate that the caring and holistic hospice paradigm can be incorporated into the care of every patient, not just those with less than a few days or few weeks to live. Regardless of their position on euthanasia, all family physicians should be expert in the control of pain and other symptoms in terminally ill patients. In addition, family physicians should facilitate discussions of end-of-life choices and advance directives with their patients and should be knowledgeable about the optimal utilization of local hospice resources.

The current debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide has the potential to polarize our society, but it can also have a positive effect if it helps us focus on the need to rehumanize medicine and the care of the dying. The danger and the temptation are that we will once again choose to ignore the real problem and instead substitute a pill--this time a suicide pill--that simply serves to conceal the symptoms of our disease. What is needed is not new laws to sanction assisted suicide, but rather a more fundamental and positive change in the way we meet the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of the dying patient.

There have been a number of physicians that have taken up the challenge to properly use palliative treatment for pain and quality end-of-life care to counteract the fear and despair that seems to be fueling the right-to-die movement.

[A] growing number of medical professionals who work with dying patients are speaking out to dispute this perception. Consider the following statements:

If we treat their depression and we treat their pain, I've never had a patient who wanted to die.

William Wood, M.D., clinical director of the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University in Atlanta, as published in Time, April 15, 1996, p. 82.

I simply have never seen a case nor heard of a colleague's case where it (physician-assisted suicide) was necessary. If there is such a request, it is always dropped when quality care is rendered.

Linda Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the American Medical Association's Institute on Ethics, as published in "The New Pro-Lifers," The New York Times Magazine, July 21, 1996.

In my clinical practice, I have been asked by suffering patients to aid them in death because of severe pain. I have had the opportunity to see these requests for aid in death fade with adequate pain control, psychological support, provision of family support, and with the promise that their symptoms would be controlled throughout the dying process.

Kathleen Foley, M.D., chief of pain service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, as part of her testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Washington D.C., April, 1996.

The appeal of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is a reaction to fear and despair. Through the influence of the Baby Boomers and their media monopoly this has permeated our culture to the point of death being a central subliminal theme of advertising. I don't know if there is still time to get the word out that there is a better way. But before the rest of the country goes the way of Oregon and Holland, physicians of principle and supporters of the culture of life are duty-bound to try.
papijoe 6:24 AM |

Monday, May 23, 2005

Better Definition of Palliative Care as Alternative to Euthanasia

While the right-to-die movement has focused on palliative care as a screen for their more aggressive agenda, one researcher is trying to define it as an alternative to euthanasia:

A Queensland researcher believes terminally ill patients would not want to opt for euthanasia if palliative care was about more than pain management with drugs.

Queensland University of Technology PhD researcher Monika Wilson is examining patients and carers in 30 palliative care facilities in the south-east of the state and on the Darling Downs.

She says palliative care is no longer about helping people come to terms with their impending death.

"That's what palliative care is supposed to be there for - to help guide people," she said.

"To be there as a pastoral care workers or spiritual care workers ... to help them talk it out and make meaning of what it means now to be a person who is dying."

Ms Wilson says her work so far shows patients want more than pain management with drugs.

"Often people want euthanasia and want to have a way out because they haven't had the opportunities to be able to socialise and work out who they are now that they're dying and and work out what life and death is all about," she said.

I think Dr Wilson is on the right track, as long as the concept of palliative care doesn't get completely co-opted by the right to die movement. I haven't really addressed this yet, but one of the most important things that need to be addressed for the dying is a process of soul searching at the end of life. This topic has been cheapened by the Kübler-Rossian gobbledegook of the right-to-die movement, but it's the great need of every mortal person to have a period of setting their affairs in order both spiritually and practically if God allows.
papijoe 8:20 AM |

Friday, May 20, 2005

Islamic Society of Boston Not Included in Menino's PR Campaign

From the Boston Herald

While Mayor Thomas M. Menino's name graces dozens of community and construction projects citywide, there is no Menino-approved sign marking a new Roxbury mosque - despite the city's help on the controversial project.

The Islamic Society of Boston is building the $22 million mosque on land sold to the group by the Boston Redevelopment Authority for less than half market value.

The mosque, which will be tax-exempt, has come under scrutiny because of some past group members' controversial beliefs and teachings.

City Councilor Jerry McDermott said last night that hearings are going to be held into the Islamic Society's below-market purchase of the land from the BRA, as well as into the group's background.

BRA spokeswoman Meredith Baumann said no green ``Getting the Job Done'' sign bearing Menino's name is on the mosque because no tax dollars are being spent on the project
papijoe 5:48 PM |

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pundit Review Replaces Newsweek on the Air

Great news from Kevin and Gregg at PunditReview

Pundit Review Radio is back on the air! In a delicious irony, Boston's talk leader, WRKO, has decided to flush Newsweak International down the toilet and replace it with a show that promotes bloggers.

Each Sunday evening at 9PM EST, we will examine traditional talk radio topics (politics, media, culture) by highlighting the work of the best, most insightful thought leaders in the new media.

You can listen to the show live at WRKO and you can reach us toll free at 877-469-4322.

Pundit Review Radio Guest Line-Up

May 22: James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's

New York Magazine on Taranto,

That Taranto is a felicitous writer and thinker, there can be no doubt. His gift
for elegant logical constructions and an ability to see patterns and
similarities where they might not be obvious are what actually make him a
frequently enjoyable read, whatever your political persuasion.

May 29: Don Luskin of National Review, Smart Money and

June 5: TBA

June 12: Hugh Hewitt

Kevin and Gregg are breaking new ground, bringing blogs to the talk radio masses and taking the fight right to the MSM's lair. Please mark your calender for this Sunday at 9AM. Listen in on line if you're lucky enough not to live in the Greater Boston Area, and flood WRKO with rave reviews on Monday!
papijoe 4:30 PM |

Euthanasia Hall of Shame: Robert Latimer

The case of the murder of Tracy Latimer is almost unknown in the US, even among pro-life advocates. But in Canada it was and continues to be a rallying point for both sides of the euthanasia debate.

Robert Latimer, a farmer working a spread in Saskatchewan northwest of Saskatoon, killed his 12-year-old daughter Tracy on October 24, 1993. There has never been any doubt about this.

Latimer told police he did it. He said he loved his daughter and could not bear to watch her suffer from a severe form of cerebral palsy. So he placed her in the cab of his Chevy pickup, ran a hose from the exhaust to the cab, climbed into the box of the truck, sat on a tire and watched her die.

Latimer's "compassion" defense was based on Tracy's condition:

Tracy was a 40-pound quadriplegic, a 12-year-old who functioned at the level of a three-month-old. She had been repeatedly operated on and at the time of her murder was due for more surgery, this time to remove a thigh bone. She could not walk, talk or feed herself, though she responded to affection and occasionally smiled. Tracy was in constant, excruciating pain yet, for reasons not entirely clear, could not be treated with a pain-killer stronger than Tylenol.

Charged with first-degree murder and convicted a year later of second-degree (despite the fact that it was obviously premeditated) murder. Seven years later an attempt to overturn the conviction went to the Canadian Supreme Court, where the conviction was upheld.

Despite the fact that this taking of innocent life was not condoned by any legislation, regulated by any guidelines, or assisted by any doctors, Canadian right-to-die advocates, the press and the judge whose ruling nearly set him free all came to Latimer's defense and sought to portray Tracy's killing as an act of kindness. Here was Justice Ted Noble's portrayal in his decision:

New legal ground was broken in December, 1997, when Justice Ted Noble – trying to distinguish between mercy killing and cold-blooded murder – granted Latimer a constitutional exemption from the minimum sentence for second-degree murder. He explained that, for Latimer, the minimum sentence would constitute "cruel and unusual punishment."

Noble carefully detailed the reasons for his decision, anticipating the controversy it would provoke – and the likelihood it would be appealed. He said the law "recognizes that the moral culpability or the moral blameworthiness of murder can vary from one convicted offender to another." He called Tracy Latimer's murder a "rare act of homicide that was committed for caring and altruistic reasons. That is why for want of a better term this is called compassionate homicide."

As in Terri Schiavo's case, there is the curious tendency of devotees of moral relativism to ascribe the most honorable motives to those who seek the death of the disabled in their care. But they ignore the innocence and helplessness of the victims and discount the value of the lives of the disabled. The prosecution in the case was successful in making this very point.

The Crown argued that Tracy was a relatively cheerful child, and her rights were violated by being killed by her father. According to the Crown brief presented at Latimer's second trial:

"Tracy enjoyed outings, one of which was to the circus, where she smiled when the horses went by. She also responded to visits by her family, smiling and looking happy to see them.

"There is no dispute that through her life, Tracy at times suffered considerable pain. As well, the quality of her life was limited by her severe disability. But the pain she suffered was not unremitting, and her life had value and quality."

To this day Robert Latimer is unrepentant and says he still believes he did the right thing.

I'll give Judith Snow of the Ontario Advocacy Coalition the last word on this case:

As I approach my fiftieth year I chalk up a long list of infirmities that I live with in an uneasy harmony or have actually overcome through ingenuity and considerable help. On my list are quadriplegia, 25% breathing capacity, inoperable fibroids, chronic kidney stones, hepatitis C, post-traumatic shock, osteoporosis, diabetes and a variety of food and drug allergies. At various times, sometimes for years at a stretch, I have lived with relentless pain, itch and/or depression. I have stared my own death in the eyes not less than six times in 49 years.

I know many other people, personally, who like Tracy Latimer do not share in words their appreciation for life or their own perceptions of the beauty and complexity of our world. Not speaking, but certainly not silent either, these people, fellow travelers of life have known the heights and depths of joy and suffering too


The very worst thing about being a Canadian with disabilities is the death sentence in our culture's eyes, the death sentence that stops every person without the courage from looking past the surface or thinking past the hype. People easily decide that I want to be, soon will be, should be, already am dead. Robert Latimer and his wife were handed an excuse by society that has already decided--helped in large part by the media that feed on the sensational and sentimental. The same media and society write the lines for Svend Robinson and Sue Rodriguez to faithfully parrot on the way to her grave--and beyond into prime time TV.

Save me from one thing and one thing alone. Save me from all those who would have me dead for my own good!
papijoe 6:31 AM |

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Gallup Poll Claims Three Out of Four Americans Support "Euthanasia"

Actually, what the respondents to this Gallup poll agreed to was this statement:
"When a person has a disease that cannot be cured, do you think doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient's life by some painless means if the patient and his family request it?"

The Gallup poll clearly equated this scenario with euthanasia, when in fact what they are refering to is physician assisted suicide.

It gets worse.

Even evangelical Christians said they backed euthanasia, at 61%, as did 71% of rural residents.

There is a bit of a gender gap, with 84% of males supporting euthanasia and 66% of females. Weekly churchgoers also support the concept (51%). So do self-described conservatives (63%), though that trails liberals (82%).

It's always tempting to dismiss polls one doesn't like and certainly recent history has shown that polls can misrepresent actual public opinion. But Gallup is one of the better polls in methodology and of all of them least likely to be influenced by a liberal media bias. There are obviously flaws in this poll, and background on the polling hasn't been disclosed. But even if the results were off by 10% this would still be a shocking poll.

The results from "evangelical Christians" are particularly disappointing. But we probably shouldn't be surprised. According to the Barna Group only about half of Protestant ministers profess a belief in absolute moral true. Lately I've been blaming our culture and political system for Terri Schiavo's death, but perhaps it's time for Christians to look at the beam in our own eye.

This poll explains why most politicians didn't have the political will to save Terri Schiavo, and why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is keeping an "open mind" on California's assisted suicide bill. It show that the millions of dollars that George Soros and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation invested in changing public opinion and policy has paid off in spades. And unless an aggressive campaign to inform the public about the abuses of the European euthanasia experiment is launched quickly, legal euthanasia will be coming soon to a hospital near you.
papijoe 7:47 AM |

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Drug Cocktail May Have Helped Firefighter Wake Up

Originally from CNN, via Lyana at Discarded Lies

The AP story is so poorly written that it is hard to pull out a few cogent quotes, but an innovative doctor using a combination of drugs credits both the medication and faith in God with the amazing recovery of former fire-fighter Donald Herbert.

We'll never know if similar treatment might have helped Terri Schiavo, but it proves that where there is life, there is hope.
papijoe 7:31 AM |

UK Health Care Fights to Deny Food & Water to Disabled

From The Telegraph thanks to NY Nana.

A terminally ill man who fears he will be condemned to die of thirst - fully conscious but unable to swallow - heard doctors' leaders argue in court yesterday that allowing patients to decide on their own treatment was not in their best interests.

Leslie Burke, 45, from Lancaster, was in the Court of Appeal to hear the General Medical Council challenge a ground-breaking ruling in his favour last July.

Leslie Burke outside the Court of Appeal in London yesterday
The case raises profound questions about the right to life and the dividing line between personal autonomy and the duty of doctors to act in what they regard as their patients' best interests.

Mr Burke has cerebellar ataxia, a degenerative condition that follows a similar course to multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed in 1982.

Eventually, he will lose the ability to swallow and will survive only if he is fed through a tube. He fears that doctors will decide at some point that his life is no longer worth living and withdraw life-prolonging treatment.

Since the disease does not affect his cognitive facilities or sensations, he says he would suffer "pain and extreme distress" in the two or three weeks it would take him to die from malnutrition.

Under guidance issued by the GMC in 2002, doctors may stop feeding and hydrating a patient by artificial means if they judge that the "patient's condition is so severe, or the prognosis so poor, that providing artificial nutrition or hydration may cause suffering, or be too burdensome in relation to the possible benefits".

The overlords of Britain's "free" health care system are trying to play God and if they succeed in court none of the disabled or elderly in their care will be safe.
papijoe 6:31 AM |

Latinos Misrepresented by PAS Bill Supporters

California's Compassionate Choice Act is discriminatory, warns a Latino advocacy group. The group also complains non-Latinos are misrepresenting the Latino community by claiming Latinos widely support euthanasia.

"Doctor-assisted suicide is incompatible with basic human rights and Latino values. The average, hardworking Latino in California believes life is precious and we are obligated to do all we can to prevent a person committing suicide" said Angel Luevano, the State Director of California LULAC.

LULAC is the largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization in the United States.

"To suggest otherwise is simply ludicrous and negates all morality or understanding of Latino culture," Luevano said.

Luevano claims people from outside the Latino community in California are trying to speak for Latinos on the issue of doctor-assisted suicide, and in particular bill AB654. If passed that bill would make California the second state to allow doctor-assisted suicides, the first being Oregon. The bill must still be approved by the state's congress before reaching Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - who has said he's "open-minded" to the issue.

Opposition to right-to-die legislation is significantly higher in the Latino and African American communities. Large sums of grant money are being spent to "educate" these populations and make the right-to-die agenda more appealing to minorities. Fortunately many community leaders are well aware of the facts behind the spin. Spanish doctor said, that once the Pandora Box is opened, there is no control on what doctors do. Those opposing euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicides, often cite statistics from the 1990 Remmelink Report, an official government study on the practice of Dutch euthanasia. Among other figures, that report found that Dutch physicians deliberately and intentionally ended the lives of 11,840 people by lethal overdoses or injections--a figure which accounts for 9.1% of the annual overall death rate of 130,000 per year. Doctors also admitted, in the report, to having killed 8,100 patients from overdoses of pain medication, not for the primary purpose of controlling pain, but to hasten the patient's death - and with 61 percent having failed to give their consent.

"LULAC will not stand on the sidelines while assisted suicide advocates misrepresent the opinions and moral views of the Latino community for their own political goals. Simply stated, we have the conviction that assisted suicide is morally wrong and urge defeat of this bill," LULAC said in a statement.

Luevano´s LULAC said California legislators are receiving over 20,000 postcards, letters and phone calls from individual Latinos across California.

It's good to see that among Latinos this propaganda has so far been ineffective. I hope the Latino community turns out in force against AB 654.
papijoe 6:07 AM |

Monday, May 16, 2005

Marlowe Joins the Pajama Party

If the blogosphere is to challenge the Mainstream Media for the mind-share of the American public, I believe it needs to have it's own revenue engine and give that of the MSM a run for it's money. If nothing else, this will allow talented part-time bloggers the opportunity to go pro, and for the rest of us, give us a little revenue to afford some of the cool blog toys the the big dogs have...

That's why I signed on with Pajamas Media. Since not even the companies that I have worked for in the past have been foolish enough to allow me to be spokesperson, I'll spare PM and let co-founder Roger Simon explain:

Charles Johnson, Marc Danziger and I have been sneaking around over the last few months, trying to turn blogs into a business. We have enlisted some others with names familiar to you with the intention of working in two areas - aggregating blogs to increase corporate advertising and creating our own professional news service.

With respect to advertising, we do not wish to go into competition with Henry Copeland's BlogAds, which we fully support. (Some of us even have them!) We are working on another model that will sell ads en masse, not blog-by-blog. We expect this model to go live within a few weeks.

As for the Blog News Service, a lot of work needs to be done and a lot of questions answered. An editorial board consisting of Glenn Reynolds, PowerLine, Lawrence Kudlow, Hugh Hewitt, Marc Cooper, Wretchard of the Belmont Club and Tim Blair, as well as the founders, is already in place with other bloggers in many countries having signed on as contributors.

This is no way meant to be exclusive. We invite you all to join us. On the advertising end, any blogger -- whether political or not -- is welcome. We would be delighted to place ads on your blog and pay you for them. You may find out more and, we hope, join by simply emailing us at

If you are an advertiser, you may contact us at

I encourage other blogger to check it out. The folks at Pajamas Media were responsive and courteous in responding to my questions and concerns, despite the fact that I'm a little pisher.

There is very little if anything to lose, and if Charles, Marc and Roger have their way, it could be the death-knell for the MSM.
papijoe 3:44 PM |

Spengler on Pope Benedict and the Jews

My Google Alert for Spengler never seems to work, and now I'm months behind on his columns. But happily this one made it's way to me, and it's really good.

For a Catholic theologian, dependence on biblical exegesis rather than church tradition amounts to a revolutionary innovation. Benedict XVI broke with hoary church tradition when he argued (for example) that in the Epistles of Paul "the covenant with the Patriarchs is regarded as eternally in force" [6]. Scripture is not quite enough, however. American evangelicals of the past generation look not only to the promises of scripture, but also to the fact of Jewish continuity over more than three millennia. As the Reverend Pat Robertson observes, this makes credible God's promise to Abraham in the Hebrew scriptures. If God kept his promise to Abraham's seed, the argument continues, so well he may to Christians who enter into God's covenant through the crucifixion. If the Jewish people were to disappear, the Christian promise of salvation would die with it.


A crucial difference of opinion between Benedict XVI and the American evangelicals lies in the question of when Jews shall recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Although Benedict believes that Christians should not "force their faith" upon Jews and should live with them in mutual respect, he would prefer that they do so immediately. Although the evangelicals proselytize Jews to the endless annoyance of Jewish religious authorities, they believe that Jews will recognize Jesus only at the end of time. Liberal Jews object that the evangelicals wish for a new Battle of Armageddon in the Middle East, which is a silly complaint; on the contrary, the evangelicals mean that they would prefer that Jews remain Jews until Jesus extends an invitation in person.

American Protestantism, to be sure, was tinged with a Judaizing heresy from the outset (What makes the US a Christian nation, November 28, 2004). Founded by Protestant separatists who wished to bring a new chosen people to a new promised land, America may be the only country in the world in which Christians openly might adopt Rosenzweig's perspective.

For Benedict XVI to identify the scriptural promise to Abraham with Abraham's descendents, for example, the present state of Israel, would present formidable problems. Today's Europeans, in their desire to appease the burgeoning Muslim population within their borders, consider Israel a greater danger to world peace than the states that Washington deems terrorist. Slightly over half of Germans, according to a recent poll, believe that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is no better than the Nazis' treatment of the Jews, a response suggesting the projection of Germany's own war guilt. The great majority of the Italian Curia favors the Palestinian rather than the Israeli side, and the Vatican still objects to the Israeli claim of Jerusalem as it capital, demanding instead that Jerusalem become an international city.

In a Europe that hates the Jews that no longer are there, Benedict XVI will find exegesis of the Hebrew Bible less challenging than dealing with a people that actually speaks biblical Hebrew. His effort to re-evangelize Europe with Abraham's scriptural promise will crash against Europe's hatred for Abraham's actual descendants.

His follow up column is even more fascinating but I'm reluctant to comment on it due to deficiencies in my musical knowledge. But I've requested help on this and if it arrives in time, I'll revisit this subject.
papijoe 11:14 AM |

It's Happening Again in Florida

From Worldnet Daily, hat tip: NY Nana

In a case that echoes Terri Schiavo's, a brain-injured Florida man, who is reportedly responsive, could soon be transferred to a hospice and starved to death if his wife succeeds in her petition to the court.

Jacksonville's Scott Thomas suffered a brain injury in September 2004 at home that incapacitated him and left him in need of constant care, including the use of a feeding tube. According to the Empire Journal, Thomas's wife, Eliza, is seeking to have him moved to the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida Inc. as soon as his mother's temporary guardianship of the 34-year-old man ends.

Apparently this may not have been an accident:

Scott's mother reports her son communicating to her that his injury – a blow so hard it knocked his brain to one side – was intentionally inflicted by his wife. "The doctors say that his injuries are not consistent with such a fall and believe the severe head trauma was caused by a blow to the head," Patton told Empire Journal.

Of course we knew Terri's case wouldn't be the last
papijoe 8:00 AM |

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Dutch Docs Give Kids Another Shove Down the Slippery Slope

From Forbes

A child is suffering terribly from incurable cancer, and both he and his parents request a lethal injection of drugs to put an end to his pain.

According to a new survey, up to 60 percent of Dutch pediatricians say they would honor that request, were such a step legal.

In fact, a smaller but significant number of pediatricians -- up to 28 percent -- said they would be willing to resort to lethal injection in such cases even when parents did not agree with their child's wish to die.

The downward trajectory of the medical profession seems to be endless in this ethically hollow land.
papijoe 8:00 AM |

Friday, May 13, 2005

Another Severely Brain-Damaged Patient Speaks

From Sherri

A Kansas woman severely brain-injured after an accident in 2002 has begun speaking – to the amazement of her doctor.

On Sept. 3, 2002, Tracy Gaskill suffered critical internal and head injuries when her pickup overturned. Doctors told her relatives that night that she probably would die by noon the next day, her grandfather, Don Gaskill, told the Ark City Traveler.

"That accident scared us to death," Gaskill said. Both Gaskill and his granddaughter hail from rural Winfield, Kan.

According to the report, the Gaskill family and many others in the Cowley County community prayed for Tracy regularly since the accident, and she had daily visits.

Not only did Tracy live beyond the day after the accident, she gradually began to improve.

Then, about three weeks ago, she spoke for the first time since the accident, about the same time she began to swallow on her own.

Previous to that she was fed via a feeding tube, similar to Floridian Terri Schiavo, who died in March of starvation and dehydration after the court-ordered removal of her nourishment.

"It's amazing, isn't it?" Dr. David Schmeidler told the local paper. "I have never seen this happen in my career. I've read about it happening, the severely brain damaged recovering suddenly, but never seen it – until now."

Continued Schmeidler: "She is actually able to speak and to speak coherently. In light of all this stuff on Terri Schiavo ... it makes you pause and think. For three years or so, (Tracy) was fed through a tube, then she swallowed a little bit and now she speaks."

Yes, it does make you pause and think.
papijoe 5:00 PM |

Muntasser is Arrested

Emadeddin Muntasser who as I reported earlier this year was being investigated for ties to jihadi charities, has been arrested.

A Libyan national and a Lebanese national were arrested today on federal charges arising from their involvement with Care International, Inc. ("Care"), a purported charitable organization based in Boston.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Kenneth W. Kaiser, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New England; Joseph A. Galasso, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and Robin M. Avers, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced that a six-count Indictment was unsealed today charging EMADEDDIN MUNTASSER, age 40, of Braintree, Massachusetts, and MUHAMED MUBAYYID, age 40, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, each with one count of Engaging in a Scheme to Conceal Material Facts from the United States and one count of Conspiring to Defraud the United States. MUNTASSER is also charged in one count with Making False Statements; and MUBAYYID is charged in three separate counts with Making and Filing False Tax Returns.

"Organizations that conceal their true activities to abuse our tax laws, and in this case fund their support of the mujahideen and jihad, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," stated U.S. Attorney Sullivan. "Making false statements and representations to government officials as is alleged in this case will not be tolerated. Our government requires truthful and complete information to uphold our nation's laws."

According to the Indictment, in the 1990's MUNTASSER was involved in operating the Boston branch office of the Al-Kifah Refugee Center ("Al- Kifah"), a supporter of "mujahideen," or Muslim holy warriors, engaged in "jihad," or religiously-based military conflict overseas. Al-Kifah Boston published a pro-jihad newsletter called "Al-Hussam," meaning "The Sword" in Arabic. According to the Indictment, following media reports in 1993 linking Al-Kifah to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, MUNTASSER founded Massachusetts Care International, Inc. ("Care"), a purported charitable organization. The Indictment alleges despite MUNTASSER's representations on Care's Articles of Incorporation that the organization was exclusively involved in "charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes," Care was in fact engaged in the solicitation and expenditure of funds to support the mujahideen and promote jihad, was located at Al-Kifah Boston's office and assumed publication of Al-Kiffah's pro-jihad newsletter, Al-Hussam.

Count One of the Indictment alleges that between April 1993 and April 2003 MUNTASSER, as Care's president, and MUBAYYID, as Care's Treasurer, engaged in a scheme to conceal material facts from the IRS, FBI and the former INS related to Care. The Indictment specifically alleges that MUNTASSER and MUBAYYID concealed the fact that Care was an outgrowth of, and successor to, Al-Kifah Boston and was engaged in non-charitable activities.

"Those who defraud the Government to obtain tax exempt status for charities will be held accountable," stated ICE Special Agent in Charge Avers. "Today's arrests are the result of a collaborative law enforcement investigation and demonstrate our joint commitment to enforcing these violations."

Count Two of the Indictment alleges that MUNTASSER and MUBAYYID conspired together and with others to defraud the United States in connection with Care's qualifying with the IRS for tax exempt status. According to the Indictment, shortly after Care was incorporated in 1993, MUNTASSER sought, and was granted, a tax exempt status for Care from the IRS under Section 501(c)(3) on the basis that Care was a charitable organization. An organization granted such tax exempt status renders tax deductible any donations the organization receives. According to the Indictment, from 1993 to 2003, Care collected approximately $1.7 million in tax deductible donations. The Indictment specifically alleges that from 1993 to 2003, MUNTASSER and MUBAYYID and others conspired to deceive the IRS concerning Care's designation as a Section 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 1993 and that it should continue to be accorded that status thereafter. According to the Indictment, in addition to publishing the pro-jihad newsletter, Al-Hussam, Care published articles about military operations and activities of the mujahideen on its website from approximately 1998 to 2001, and printed and distributed solicitations for tax deductible donations to support the mujahideen from approximately 1994 to 2001, as well as published and distributed an English translation of "Join the Caravan", a pro-jihad book.

Nice to see that US Atty Sullivan understands the real meaning of jihad.
papijoe 9:19 AM |

Why Assisted Suicide Laws Lead to Involuntary Euthanasia: Part 2

In Part 1 of this post yesterday, I pointed out how guidelines failed in the Dutch physician-assisted suicide laws, and inevitably a slippery slope toward involuntary euthanasia resulted. This post will concern itself with Oregon Death with Dignity and similar laws that were based on the Dutch experiment.

Previous to the passage of this Law in 1997, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo set up a task force to study this issue and recommend policy for his state. There findings are unambiguous:

In this report, we unanimously recommend that New York laws prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be changed. In essence, we propose a clear line for public policies and medical practice between forgoing medical interventions and assistance to commit suicide or euthanasia. Decisions to forgo treatment are an integral part of medical practice; the use of many treatments would be inconceivable without the ability to withhold or to stop the treatments in appropriate cases. We have identified the wishes and interests of patients as the primary guideposts for those decisions.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia would carry us into new terrain American society has never sanctioned assisted suicide or mercy killing. We believe that the practices would be profoundly dangerous for large segments of the population, especially in light of the widespread failure of American medicine to treat pain adequately or to diagnose and treat depression in many cases. The risks would extend to all individuals who are ill. They would be most severe for those whose autonomy and well-being are already compromised by poverty, lack of access to good medical care, or membership in a stigmatized social group. The risks of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia for these individuals, in a health care system and society that cannot effectively protect against the impact of inadequate resources and ingrained social disadvantage, are likely to be extraordinary.

The report often references the Netherlands experiment, and had taken the lessons of how the program has obliterated its own guidelines to heart. This report is a good example of how due diligence in this debate will clearly reveal the best course for avoiding abuses

Oregon took the opposite course and based its law on the Dutch experiment despite the New York task force decision and even became an embarassment to right-to-die proponent Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center.

The bioethicist Daniel Callahan and attorney-ethicist Margot White reviewed bills introduced in 12 states (U.S.A.) that would permit assisted suicide; in 6 states the bills were modeled after the Oregon law. They found that with regards to safeguards concerning informed consent, mental competence, voluntariness, and restriction of eligibility to the terminally ill, all 12 bills had the same failings as the Oregon law (or were even worse). Callahan and White concluded that the bills appeared to be primarily written for the protection of doctors not patients.(Callahan and White 'the legalization of physician assisted suicide: creating a regulatory potemkin village' University of Richmond law review, 1996,30:1-83

The problems were the same as those which plagued the PAS/euthanasia program in Holland:

The provisions of the Oregon suicide law enacted in an Autumn 1997 voter referendum (rejecting efforts to undo a previous statute) make it an inviting target for anyone concerned with protecting human life. For example, the Oregon law authorizes doctors to assist a patient with suicide if the patient is expected to die in six months (Or. Rev. Stat. 127.800, 127.805) and is not suffering from ``a psychiatric or psychological disorder, or depression causing impaired judgment.'' (Or. Rev. Stat. 127.825) Yet clinical experience and medical literature all point to the general unreliability of such judgments. And does impaired judgment mean the inability to remember the name of a casual acquaintance you met a year ago?

Moreover, the chief author of the Oregon "Death with Dignity" law has stated that "depression in itself does not rule out the physician's assistance'' under the Act. (Cheryl K. Smith, "Safeguards for Physician_assisted Suicide: The Oregon Death with Dignity Act,'' in S. McLean (ed.), Death, Dying and the Law (Dartmouth Publishing 1996), 69_93 at 75.)

Even these loose legal guidelines are covered by a generous "good faith" standard which protects doctors from civil, professional and criminal liability so long as they believe "in good faith" that they have complied with the guidelines. (Or. Rev. Stat. 127.885) And the law's confidentiality provisions (Or. Rev. Stat. 127.865) and the section barring notification of family members without a suicide patient's express consent (who is presumed to be incompetent anyway) would insure that no oversight of "abuses" would occur. (Or. Rev. Stat. 127.835) Assassins must envy the protections given doctors who are called to assist an Oregon suicide.

It is already obvious that "abuses" have crept into the Oregon scheme of self-deliverance, which have produced inaction by state officials toward those who perpetrating the abuses, and hostility toward those disclosing them.

For example, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber told a Congressional Committee that as far as he knows there are no penalties for violating the State assisted suicide guidelines. (Lethal Drug Abuse Prevention Act: Hearing on H.R. 4006 Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Committee on the Judiciary , 105th Cong. July 14, 1998) Further publicity attending the involuntary active euthanasia of an Oregon patient in violation of Oregon’s homicide law found officials declaring the doctor "unprosecutable" because of the climate created by Oregon’s assisted suicide law. (See "Doctor Won't Be Prosecuted," The Bulletin, Bend, Oregon, Dec. 11, 1997)

Then when Oregon public health workers released a report concerning assisted suicide, the Oregon Health Division issued a memo to state employees stating that state employees who reveal that a physician_assisted death has occurred in his or her county "will immediately be terminated." (Death with Dignity Memorandum from Sharon Rice, Manager Registration Unit, Center for Health Statistics of the Oregon Health Division, to County Vital Records Registrars and Deputies, Dec. 12, 1997, reprinted in Confidentiality of Death Certificates, 14 Issues in Law & Med. 333, 334 - 1998)

The lack of accountability and enforcement of guidelines was reminiscent of the Dutch model. And there was the same misdirection and secrecy in the state's reporting when the inevitable abuses came to light:

Champions of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act point out that the state's recent report on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) reported that "only" fifteen people took advantage of the new law the first year it was in effect. However, critics say the report raises more questions than it answers.


Robert DuPriest, the regional director of Physicians for Compassionate Care (PCC) in Eugene, Oregon, notes that Oregon's suicide rate is already 42% higher than the nation's, with people over 75 being 63% more likely to commit suicide than people of the same age in other states. In this light, "adding 15 more cases by physician-assisted suicide is a tragedy for Oregon, not a 'great value.' "

Dr. Bill Toffler, an Oregon physician and member of (PCC), is troubled by the report. "We have no idea how many people actually committed suicide," he says, because there is no punishment specified for doctors who fail to report an assisted suicide. "We know that 59% of the doctors in the Netherlands never report the times when they help their patients to end their lives. It's very specious to suppose that legalizing assisted suicide will 'get it out in the open.'"

Even the report itself admitted that, "A 1995 anonymous survey of Oregon physicians found that 7% of surveyed physicians had provided prescriptions for lethal medications to patients prior to legalization. We do not know if covert physician-assisted suicide continued to be practiced in Oregon in 1998."

The reports that doctors are asked to file only ask for basic information such as the patient's name, age, diagnosis, and prognosis, and no specific details of the case are required. Doctors were free to anonymously give the Oregon Health Association only those details which they wanted to report, which opens a wide door to abuses.

Dr. Toffler points out that the Oregon Medical Association actively opposed the Death with Dignity Act before it passed, calling it "seriously flawed," partly because of this lack of accountability.

The report states that four of the fifteen patients had been given psychiatric evaluations by their physicians and all 15 were deemed mentally competent to decide to end their lives. "Not all Oregon physicians were willing to participate in physician-assisted suicide in 1998. Six patients who chose assisted suicide had requested lethal medications from one or more providers before finding a physician who would begin the prescription process." In more than a few cases, the patients' long-term physicians refused to assist in the suicides. According to the report, the physicians who gave the lethal prescriptions knew their patients for an average of 69 days.

Dr. DuPriest notes that "nothing useful" was said about the mental health of any of the 15 people who committed suicide. Since many of the victims had to change doctors to get a prescription, "the report doesn't reveal the opinion of the patients long-term physician, or that of the second or third physician. Nor does it address why these physicians chose not to give lethal drugs. Only the doctor who participated in the suicide filled out the questionnaire. Thus the Health Divisions report, and the actual implementation of the law, ignores the opinions of certain treating Oregon physicians."

Despite serious concerns being raised from both sides of the right-to-die debates, similar laws such as AB 654 in California are being introduced. For all and any of the reasons cited above, these should be vigorously opposed. And if the testimony of this survivor of an attempted physician-assisted suicide in Oregon is to be believed, these laws have an evem more powerful Opponent:

Oregon's first-in-the-nation assisted suicide law is coming under fire after a cancer patient woke up following his taking the lethal dose of drugs necessary to end his life.

In late January, lung cancer patient David Prueitt took a fatal dose of drugs, prescribed by a doctor under the assisted suicide law, to take his own life. Three days later he woke up and wondered why he wasn't dead.


Prueitt received a doctor's prescription for 100 capsules of the barbiturate Seconal. On January 30, he swallowed the drug overdose, which was mixed with applesauce and water.

Two days after Prueitt woke up, he told his wife he had been in the presence of God. He said God had rejected his death by suicide and sent him back to die naturally.

Prueitt died of natural causes two weeks later.
papijoe 7:16 AM |

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Euthanasia Hall of Shame: Salvador Allende?

from The Telegraph.

Until recently, I might have been surprised to hear that one of the leading martyrs in the leftist canon was a supporter of mandatory sterilization programs and an anti-semite:

Salvador Allende, the socialist president of Chile who was killed during a CIA-backed coup in 1973, was an anti-Semite who held fascist ideas in his youth about race and crime, it is claimed in a book which has split Chile.

Salvador Allende [right] with General Augusto Pinochet
The book, Salvador Allende: Antisemitism and Euthanasia, will shock many who still revere him as a martyr who was deposed by the right-wing Gen Augusto Pinochet, with the backing of Washington and big business.

The disclosures come from Allende's 1933 doctoral dissertation which has been kept secret until now. In it he asserted that Jews had a disposition to crime and called for compulsory sterilisation of the mentally ill and alcoholics.

Despite the title, it seems Allende was discussing eugenics and not true euthanasia, at least based on the information in the article. Google didn't turn up much on this, but since author Victor Farias wrote extensively on euthanasia in a book on Martin Heidegger and the Nazis, I assume he should know the difference. I guess we'll have to wait for the book...
papijoe 9:24 AM |

Why Assisted Suicide Laws Lead to Involuntary Euthanasia: Part 1

Yesterday I took a brief look at California bill AB 654 which is modeled on Oregon's infamous Death with Dignity law. The purpose is to make physician assisted suicide legal.

It would be useful as an object lesson to examine the history of physician assisted suicide in the Netherlands, where it has been practiced the longest. In the course of two decades, Dutch physicians have gone from assisted suicide to the euthanasia of the elderly and disabled children. During that time 2 reports were released that concluded that the guidelines that were established were working and the program remained true to it's original intent. But in this article the investigating physicians demonstrate that the data from the reports suggests the opposite:

From our point of view there has been an erosion of medical standards in the care of terminally ill patients in the Netherlands. The 1990 and 1995 studies document that 59% of Dutch physicians do not report their cases of assisted suicide and euthanasia, more than 50% feel free to suggest euthanasia to their patients, and about 25% admit to ending patients’ lives without their consent. How is it that the Dutch researchers are so sanguine about their data?

Political considerations have admittedly influenced the studies and their conclusions. Why were physicians not challenged when they offered implausible explanations for ending fully competent patients’ lives without consulting them? The investigators have explained that securing and retaining the cooperation of the Royal Dutch Medical Association and the participating physicians demanded that the physicians and policies not be challenged (8[p77-78]). In addition, the researchers draw conclusions that exceed their evidence. The 1990 and 1995 studies accepted physicians’ assertions that their patients had received the best possible care and that there was no alternative to euthanasia. These statements are not supported by any objective data. Indeed, studies have demonstrated the inadequacy of training of physicians in palliative care in the Netherlands (18,19). Since the statements of the responding physicians were accepted by the investigators without challenge, there was no exploration of possible alternatives to euthanasia (20).

Both the 1990 and 1995 studies are flawed for all of the above reasons. When cases are classified and counted so as to minimize disturbing findings, when implausible explanations are accepted without challenge, and when conclusions that might offend are not stated, there is need for more objective and inclusive exploration and analysis. That exploration and analysis will have to include a realization that notification by physicians of all euthanasia cases would not by itself diminish euthanasia abuse in the Netherlands. Nor could better counting and classifying cases do the job without exploring the interactive decision-making process that is at the heart of euthanasia and is not addressed in the Dutch research.

Dutch efforts at regulating assisted suicide and euthanasia have served as a model for proposed statutes in the United States and other countries (21). Yet, the Dutch experience indicates that these practices defy adequate regulation. Given legal sanction, euthanasia, intended originally for the exceptional case, has become an accepted way of dealing with serious or terminal illness in the Netherlands. In the process, palliative care is one of the casualties, while hospice care lags behind that of other countries (18,19,22). For the Dutch, accepting the option of euthanasia seems to be costing them the opportunity to take advantage of the developments in palliative care of the past decade. For other countries, knowledge of these developments still remains to be disseminated and implemented. We should accept that challenge and avoid making the Dutch mistake.

The impact of these errors can be seen in this sad tale from the Netherlands:

[Henk Reitsema’s] grandfather had contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which would have naturally taken his life within a few years. He also had developed a painful thrombosis in his leg, so he asked the nursing-home physician for help with the pain.

Instead, the doctor quietly ordered nurses to administer overdoses of morphine and withhold food and water. Rather than providing healing or comfort, and without consulting Grandfather Reitsema or his loved ones, this doctor aimed to kill.

Henk’s soft-spoken wife, Riana, had been regularly visiting Grandfather Reitsema. She relates that one of Henk’s aunts stumbled upon the plan—but too late. The day before he died, she tried to give him water, but the nurse didn’t allow it.

Horrified, the family realized the nursing home was euthanizing Grandfather Reitsema. Henk explains, “My family tried to reverse it, but he died from pneumonia”—a common result of heavy morphine dosing.

This family learned the hard way what can happen when the right-to-die agenda is given free rein:

One day outside the nursing home, Henk’s aunt waited for the physician who had killed her brother. When she confronted him, Henk recalls, “[The doctor’s] response was, ‘But he was sick! Don’t you understand? I was just helping him out.’”

Henk points to that conversation as an illustration of the philosophical chasm between the Christian view of the intrinsic, sacred value of human life and the utilitarian secular view.

“The framework is radically different,” Henk explains. “The whole connectedness with other people was totally absent from his mind. The doctor thinks, ‘This guy’s standard of life isn’t worth living, so let’s just save them all the effort.’”

The family considered legal action against the doctor.

“But it proved to be a no-win situation,” Henk explains. “Only the most extremely harsh cases ever come to court, and even then, the court always favors the doctors.”

What was intended in Holland as a voluntary choice in exceptional cases has become a policy reminiscent of the Nazi euthanasia programs:

Not long after the incident with Henk’s grandfather, Dutch media began to uncover the tragedy at the nursing home.

Henk recalls, “The newspaper reported that they practiced ‘bed-rooming’—making space in the beds from time to time—by putting in what the Dutch call versterving. It’s a sort of humanistic Dutch word for letting somebody starve. It’s an official term that makes active killing of people sound like a treatment.

“When they needed beds for new patients, they would ‘clean out’ some beds. Make a checklist, and in a week, ten people would die. The records showed that this kind of administrative pressure had started to play a role in the diagnosis of the doctors. They become little lords over life and death.”

It's little wonder that the elderly in the Netherlands reportedly avoid going to hospitals for care, out of fear that they will become victims of these policies.

Right-to-die advocates consistently scoff at their opponent's "slippery slope" arguments against physician assisted suicide legislation, and confidently claim that the sage architects of these laws have built in guidelines that will prevent abuses. But the Dutch experiment illustrates how useless these self-imposed guidelines can be. And this is not merely a case of the guidelines not being properly implemented. Rather it reveals this fundamental flaw of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia legislation. Because it seeks to shield doctors from the traditional consequences or assisting suicide in the form of judicial penalties, it also renders the guidelines impossible to enforce. This, combined with the intrinsic secrecy and deceptiveness of these programs, make the slippery slope an undeniable feature of the ethical terrain in this debate.

In the next post we'll look at how these same issues plague the Oregon Death with Dignity law and similar legislation.
papijoe 6:06 AM |

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lawmaker Speaks Out Against Euthanasia

Deborah Grilli has launched an interesting pro-life blog called, appropriately, Choose Life.

This past Sunday she posted an address to the California legislature by California Assemblyman Ray Haynes in opposition to AB 654, a bill modeled on Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law.

Everywhere it has been authorized this form of “voluntary euthanasia” has turned houses of healing into killing fields. In the Netherlands, many of the aged and/or infirm will not go into a hospital out of fear that the doctors in those hospitals will order their deaths. In Oregon, in the two short years that their “compassionate” statute has been in effect, there have been five documented cases of people who died under suspicious circumstances using this statute.

About 30 years ago, a court held, in the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, that medical care could be withheld from a comatose patient. Twenty years ago, a court held that food and water are medical treatment, and a person can refuse that treatment if he or she is mentally competent. Today, we have hospitals and hospices essentially requiring people to terminate food and water “treatments” on the grounds that helping some people would just be futile (read “too expensive” in the era of managed care). What was once an “individual choice” has turned into a medical mandate requiring the old and the infirm to forego treatment that can alleviate or cure the symptoms of a disease.

In 1933, Joseph Goebbels produced a movie in Nazi Germany extolling the virtues of “death with dignity.” Six years later, in the midst of the war, to “save money” the German government built a number of gas chambers which were then used to euthanize the physically and mentally disabled. Three years after that, those same gas chambers were used to solve the “Jewish” problem in Germany. Our country has rejected euthanasia and “death with dignity” for the last 70 years for a reason. History has taught us that these concepts have been used by governments throughout this world to justify the most horrible injustices that people have ever visited upon their fellow human beings. It is always sold as an instrument of freedom, and it always ends of as a tool of terror.

Assemblyman Haynes "gets it", and it is encouraging to hear at least one lawmaker who has a strong grasp of the issues. A few more like him in the Florida legislature and Terri Schiavo might be alive today.

More emphasis should be given to cases like this that occurred under the Oregon Death with Dignity law:

October 16, 1999: Oregon's "safeguards" against abuse may have failed after a recent assisted suicide case where an 85-year-old woman with cancer and early-stage dementia was given a lethal overdose. The woman's daughter shopped around for physicians until she found one that would conclude her mother was competent to choose death.

Tomorrow if time permits we'll take a look at some of the other problems with Death with Dignity and similar laws.
papijoe 6:32 AM |

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Final Holiday

In my understanding of the euthanasia movement, I owe a huge debt to the work of Earl Appleby. Earl has a fantastic blog called Life Matters!

Ron Panzer from the Hospice Patient Alliance, Cheryl Ford and Fr Rob Johansen post there as well.

On Sunday Earl posted a report from the London Telegraph on a British group that has been arranging what can only be described as an airlift of death for British patients to a Swiss suicide clinic:

A secret organisation headed by a retired family doctor is illegally providing terminally ill British people with thousands of pounds to enable them to travel to a Swiss suicide clinic, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Last Choice - or TLC - was set up two months ago by Dr Michael Irwin, a former chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES), to operate as an underground benevolence network for British people seeking to kill themselves.

Or perhaps they can bill it as "The Last Package Tour".

TLC has been covertly channelling funds to them to finance trips to the clinic in Zurich, run by the controversial Swiss charity, Dignitas, which provides people with "doctor-assisted suicides".

Payments of up to £2,000 per person are allocated to cover flights, hotels, cremation and doctors' fees, "according to need".

However members of the TLC refer to the trip as "the Dignitas solution". Also on his CV is Dr Irwin's tenure at the United Nations, but you may not find some of his other credentials listed:

Despite his eminent past as a physician, including his spell at the UN and his position as the chairman of Doctors for Assisted Dying and president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, Dr Irwin, 73, from Cranleigh, Surrey, is not a stranger to the attentions of the police. Eighteen months ago, he resigned as chairman of the VES after admitting conspiring to help to end the life of a man in the Isle of Man. Dr Irwin, who was arrested but not charged over the incident, had travelled to Patrick Kneen's home at his request, armed with a lethal dose of sleeping tablets, but had found Mr Kneen too ill to ingest them.

It would be interesting to find out who is funding these death-junkets. Follow the money, as they say.
papijoe 5:53 AM |

Monday, May 09, 2005

How the RWJF Came to Bankroll the Right-to-Die Movement: Part 3

In the last post I examined how RWJF as a vanguard of the right-to-die movement had positioned itself as speaking for the Baby Boom generation on end of life issues. This kind of group-think is typical of the Boomers (a la reporter Pauline Kael, who didn't know anyone who voted for Nixon in his landslide election of 1972) who assume whatever is impacting them locally is effecting everyone globally. I find this particularly unsettling in light of persistent reports that RWJF's end of life initiatives were sparked by personal issues within the governing members of the foundation. In this RWJF report by Joanne Lynn she refers to this:

The early 1980s were marked by concerns over the cost of health care, culminating in such reforms as the use of diagnostic-related groups in the Medicare program and by highly visible controversies over patients' rights, especially at the end of life.1 Fueled by a series of personal experiences that affected the leadership of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a concern arose at the Foundation that elderly, fatally ill persons were likely to be vigorously treated in intensive care units, at great financial cost and suffering, even if their families objected. In 1985, the Foundation convened a meeting to consider these issues. After that meeting, the Foundation staff invited a few researchers, including William Knaus and me, to write a letter about what could be done to understand and improve care of critically ill persons in hospitals. This initiated three years of correspondence, meetings, and piloting that gradually shaped what became the SUPPORT project.

The report that characterized RWJF's end of life campaign from yesterday focused on compassion for patients whereas this earlier report seems to be all about the benjamins. So much so that a cynic may wonder if the "personal experiences" of the RWJF leadership didn't also involve a heavy financial burden.

Ms Lynn's frustration that the RWJF's social engineering wasn't immediately embraced is palpable:

The intervention that SUPPORT started was vigorously applied and widely desired. Patients and families certainly appreciated the time with the SUPPORT nurse. Physicians were generally accepting and encouraging. But old habits turned out to be not really that uncomfortable, and new patterns were not really that much desired. Most people in such hospital settings, involved with critically ill patients, are not convinced that they are doing anything wrong. They are coping with bad situations in time-honored ways. They are comfortable with the inadequacies of present practices, even when those inadequacies are acknowledged, and they are unsettled at the prospects of new and untested patterns.

Lynn admits later that it is difficult to determine the outcome of aggressive treatment and that in hindsight failures are seen as a waste of money. In addition to the problem of the uncertainty of outcome in treatment, there efforts were also stymied by the unpreparedness to make end of life decisions on the part of patients and their families. Here we see Ms. Lynn's outreach efforts nearly spilling over into contempt:

I appeared on a number of call-in radio shows, and someone would invariably call in to say that she had these problems all solved for herself because she had a living will. I would ask what it said, and the response would be that "treatment should stop when it becomes clear that I will die." When the caller was asked to clarify her wishes about treatment, she replied that treatment would stop when the situation was "hopeless." When I asked how hopeless the situation would have to be, or how close death had to be, the caller would predictably become testy--saying that this would be obvious.

I don't think there is a real solution to this issue, as no one can predict the outcome of therapeutic care and few of us will ever be prepared for these end of life issues either personally or in regard to family members. Instead RWJF has introduced a cheat by training doctors to instill these "non-tradition" values in medical school, and convincing people to abdicate control through living wills, advanced directives, etc. One thing worthy of note is that the words "futile" and "hopeless" recur in these reports as well as other studies they have sponsored like the oft cited SUPPORT study of 1995 (which oddly enough isn't available on the RWJF's website) as does the RWJF talking points of traditional approaches to death resulting in dying alone, in pain and hooked up to a machine. I sense this same undercurrent of hopelessness and isolation in Bill Moyer's introduction to his own RWJF-funded documentary On Our Own Terms as proudly sited in Bronner's RWJF report:

Like you, I don’t want to think about death, especially my own. But I’ve realized that death is pushing through the door we try to keep so firmly shut. Parents age before our eyes. AIDS and cancer take friends and loved ones. And baby boomers, that most powerful generation in our culture, face their own mortality even as they care for their aging parents. So, like it or not, we can’t push death back through the door. That’s one reason we did this series. The other is that there is a movement afoot driven by our hope for a better death.

Tucked away in the corner of the website for Moyer's documentary is an article on the short story by Count Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych. The story conveys perfectly the isolation pain and hopelessness of one who embraced life but gave no thought to death. Once it is obvious that he is dying Ivan Ilych is abandon by all but his servant Gerasim. The point of the article seems to be that the right-to-die movement would play the role of Gerasim for a lonely frightened generation facing the ultimate uncertainty. But the secular education of the authors of the article doesn't provide the proper understanding of Tolstoy's beliefs or the cultural context of the peasant Gerasim. This servant is an Old Believer, one who seeks to provide for his family through a life of sacrifice and hard work and who typically would retire to a monastery in his final years. Gerasim's service and humility is a stark contrast to the self-seeking and pride of Ivan Ilych's world. The hope that Gerasim transmits to Ivan Ilych is very different than the one that the right-die-movement offers. The Boomers, who as Moyers points out in his quote above are already a legend in their own minds, have through the agency of the right-to-die movement developed a solution based on their understanding and a plan based on their typical response to the challenges of life. Having had a predilection for medicating themselves, they have a great fear of pain. Having torn free from the generational ties that bind, they fear dying alone. And having given up hope for eternal life, they can only hope for a better death.
papijoe 8:04 AM |