Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ron Panzer vs. Right to Die Nurse

From RenewAmerica

Ron Panzer of the Hospice Patients Alliance is one of the heroes of the anti-euthanasia movement. In this exchange with hospice nurse and assisted suicide advocate Douglas Aberg, the crux of the whole debate is captured.

From Douglas Aberg, hospice nurse and founder of Hospice for Choices (edited):

"I am the founder of Hospice for Choices, which Ron Panzer tries to slander in your article 'Hospice nurse: I don't kill!" Hospice for Choices is a group of hospice professionals (nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and certified home health aides) who believe that hospice patients with full decision-making capacity have the right to choose a hastened death and to have their hospice team continue to love and support them in the process. Hospice for Choices does not advocate murder or involuntary euthanasia in any way.

"I am a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse and a strong right to die advocate. With your consent, I would like to respond in writing to Mr. Panzer's assertion that Hospice for Choices 'specifically entered into the end-of-life arena working hard to influence hospice as an industry to make it the place to commit euthanasia (imposing death) or 'assisting' patients to death.'

"As a hospice nurse for 11 years, I have experienced the care for the suffering. Although the hospice community does not like to admit it, we can not eliminate the sufferings of all hospice patients. In fact, studies show, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has agreed, that we (the medical community) can control pain greater than 95 percent of the time. While we in hospice think this is a wonderful accomplishment (and it is), there are still a few percent of the dying who suffering severe pain despite our greatest efforts.

"My concern has always been: What about them? Who will support and advocate for those few percent who die in severe pain? If we can not control their pain and sufferings, will we support the dying if they wish to end their suffering? Should we love and support them if their pain can not be eliminated?

"In hospice, we love and support our patients using a team approach. We have nurses who manage the physician sufferings, social workers/volunteers to manage the psychosocial sufferings and spiritual counselors who manage the spiritual sufferings. We, the hospice team, visit and love our patients and help them live until they die. Sounds amazing — and it is. I love my work and wish to state that I am a supporter of hospice care and believe in my heart that hospices nationwide do their very best to ensure that patients die peacefully; and that the patient's family receive the very best support and bereavement possible.

"However, if and when we have a patient who verbalizes his or her desire to hasten his or her death because we can not minimize their suffering (those patients in the few percent discussed earlier), we abandon them. We call 911, we report them to the authorities, we discharge them, we minimize their sufferings, etc. There are few hospice nurses out there who will openly and publicly stand up and say, 'No matter what, I will be with you to love you no matter what.'

"The right to die is here to stay. Whether or not we choose to acknowledge this, there are hospices and hospice professionals out in the field who are supporting these few percent (which are in the thousands when calculated) and loving them even though they choose to hasten their death. When we as hospice professionals make a commitment to love and support the dying, this support and love should not stop because a person who is dying and is suffering with uncontrolled pain (physical/emotional/psychosocial/spiritual) chose to end their suffering via a hastened death.

"Suffering need not be an option for those who do not choose to suffer."

Ron Panzer, president of Hospice Patients Alliance, responds to Aberg as follows (edited):

"Mr. Aberg likes to throw terms around like 'slander' and then cleverly disguise the reality of what he and others like are doing when they pervert the original hospice mission to suit their deadly philosophy. He states that 'hospice patients with full decision-making capacity have the right to choose a hastened death, and to have their hospice team continue to love and support them in the process. Hospice for Choices does not advocate murder or involuntary euthanasia in any way.'

"Well, who says they have a 'right' to choose a hastened death? Mr. Aberg needs to be reminded that assisted suicide is illegal in every state except Oregon, yet he practices in California. His admission that he and others in his group 'love and support' patients by helping them kill themselves ('end their lives') is evidence that he and they are committing the crime of assisting suicide in California. Love and support is not assisting patients to death. What Mr. Aberg does not say is that he or Hospice for Choices is against voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide. Why? Because they clearly support assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia; that's what he calls 'supporting' patients.

"The world would be better off without that kind of 'love' because ending the life of the patient, even voluntarily, is a violation of everything health care has stood for for thousands of years; it is a violation of the physicians' Hippocratic Oath, which states that the physician pledges never to give any lethal medication or to do any harm intentionally to a patient.

"When patients fear that their caregiver may be in favor of assisted suicide, they never know whether they will be sedated unnecessarily or not and not be allowed to regain consciousness. While Aberg may say he is against involuntary euthanasia, wherever so-called 'voluntary' euthanasia has been legalized or practiced (the Netherlands, Belgium) there are widespread reports of violations of the 'safeguards' in the law resulting in the involuntary deaths (yes, killings) of patients who not only never gave permission to have their lives ended, they never even were informed they were going to be 'loved' and 'supported' by having their lives ended.

"Mr. Aberg denies that his organization (along with others) 'specifically entered into the end-of-life arena working hard to influence hospice as an industry to make it the place to commit euthanasia (imposing death) or 'assisting' patients to death.' Yet, in his own writing he admits that the support and love he offers is to hasten the death of the willing patient. What is that except 'assisting patients to death,' or assisted suicide?

"Hospice has for decades educated the public about all the important work that is done emotionally, psychologically and spiritually as the dying process unfolds. They talk about the unfinished business that may occur at any moment, up to and including the very moment of death. When a patient chooses to die sooner, eliminating suffering by eliminating the life given to him, there is no opportunity for the 'work' and growth emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually that hospice has supported for decades. If Mr. Aberg gets his way, then why not fire all the thousands of hospice social workers, spiritual counselors and any other counselors they have working to help patients and their families with this work?

"Mr. Aberg's final solution is to allow any patient to choose an assisted suicide at any time if they enter hospice, whether they are actually dying at that time or not. He fails to recognize the emotional, psychological and spiritual benefit to the patient and family as the unfinished business is accomplished through the dying process. He elevates suffering itself to the status of a supreme 'evil' in his philosophical universe, yet glibly fails to recognize that ending the life of a person is itself an evil, a destruction of the life given a person, a denial of any sanctity of life, and a transgression of the original hospice mission which has always been: to relieve suffering to the best of our ability, to support the patient and family and allow a death to occur in its own natural timing, without hastening death. That has been the repeated mission stated by hospices all across the land for decades....

"Real hospice is about relieving suffering as best we can, being with thepatient, supporting them through the process, and working with the patient and family till the end comes naturally. I have witnessed patients who had spiritual visions in their last dying moments. Many hospice nurses have also seen these things. Of course, the materialists would label all such experiences as 'hallucinations,' but for those of us who believe in God, death is not the end; there is more to life than just this life, and there is a blessing to be had even though there may be suffering.

In concluding Ron Panzer discerns clearly the essence of he right-to-die fallacy:

"Most hospice physicians and palliative care and pain management specialists agree that every patient can have their pain relieved to a very great degree, and if not completely eliminated, made bearable. Those who request the 'assisted' death and 'love' of Mr. Aberg (or those like him) do so not because of pain management issues. And the research consistently bears that out over and over!

"Mr. Aberg is quite deceptive when he brings the pain management argument forward. Most requests for assisted dying are because the patient does not wish to go through the dying process itself, does not wish to be humbled by the loss of bodily control at the end and does not wish to be helpless in any way.

"Those who choose a hastened death (which Aberg will readily help make a reality) almost universally want to remain in control, and that is the real issue. It is not about pain control and Aberg knows it. It's about patient 'choice,' control and an unwillingness to be in a vulnerable position through the dying process. There is a complete lack of humility in the approach Mr. Aberg promotes. There is a complete denial of the sanctity of life, even the patient's own life.

"Similar to the argument for abortion, Aberg asserts that patients should have the right to choose to kill their own life. They refuse to call abortion 'killing' the baby, yet if the baby were wanted, and unintentionally killed, it would be a 'killing.' When the baby is killed at the insistence of the mother, then it is not 'killing.' How does this make sense?

"Aberg and his ilk refuse to acknowledge hastened death as a killing. They routinely misuse, twist, distort, and pervert basic language in order to deceive and mislead others who don't understand what the agenda really is. Patients who don't want to submit to death can 'control' death and embrace it at the time of their own choosing, rather than God's....

"Mr. Aberg confirms in just about every sentence he writes exactly what I wrote earlier: There are many currently working in hospice who zealously support the right to kill patients who choose that death voluntarily (assisted suicide). Though he asserts his opposition to involuntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia will result should Aberg's dark agenda be implemented. Other groups support euthanasia, and yet others support involuntary euthanasia of those deemed unworthy of life, or not 'really' living. Aberg presents one flavor of poison: Do you want arsenic, strychnine or rat poison? If you want death, he will give you 'approved' medications to end your life, and that is 'killing,' however he wishes to redefine it away."
papijoe 7:49 AM