Wesley J. Smith

Children’s Hospital Oakland’s PR disaster in handling Jahi McMath ‘brain death’ case

Wesley J. Smith
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Children’s Hospital Oakland has a very good reputation where I live in the Bay Area. But its public communication around the tragedy of Jahi McMath’s ”brain death” has been astoundingly insensitive, bordering on arrogant.

The hospital’s statements quoted in today’s San Francisco Chronicle continues the maladroit insensitivity. The hospital states it will remove the ventilator the moment that can be done legally. From the story:

Children’s Hospital Oakland officials confirmed Sunday they will turn off the machines sustaining Jahi McMath’s body as soon as a legal injunction expires at 5 p.m. Monday unless otherwise ordered by a court. “Barring any other court-order legal action by the family, the ventilator will be shut off at 5 p.m. tomorrow,” said hospital spokesman Sam Singer. “It’s tremendously sad, but that’s what’s going to occur.”

Not five minutes after five. Not sometime after five. Not one second after five. At five! I can picture a doctor looking at his watch counting down the seconds, “three, two, one…”.

Then there’s this:

“Children’s Hospital Oakland continues to support the family of Jahi McMath in this time of grief and loss over her death,” the hospital said in a statement Sunday. “We continue to do so despite their lawyer’s criticizing the very hospital that all along has been working hard to be accommodating to this grieving family.”

Gee, that’s big of you. Why have hospital spokespersons acted throughout this sad saga as if the institution is the victim?

I gave another example here the other day, noting that I heard a hospital spokesman on the radio claiming he was “gratified” that the court agreed that Jahi was dead. Gratified?! They should have expresses sorrow that the hospital’s doctors were right. I mean, the “victory” isn’t akin to a judge deciding that their version of a disputed contract clause was correct! 

There have been other examples of awful care and handling of the grieving family–such as one doctor “compassionately” telling the family during a meeting that Jahi was, “dead, dead, dead, dead.” From the 12/21/13 Chronicle story:

The ruling comes a day after the girl’s relatives met with hospital officials and said the meeting did not go well. They said a doctor had told them that Jahi is “dead, dead, dead, dead” and that further medical care was no longer needed.

Gee, maybe the doctor could try and understand that a family seeing their beloved girl warm and breathing with a machine, might have a difficult time grasping that clinical determination. Sensitivity, please!

I have covered this story extensively here because of its importance on several levels:

  • First and foremost is the terrible personal tragedy of a 13-year-old girl going in for minor surgery and dying–illustrating that most medical treatments have potential risks.
  • On the macro level, there is issue of “brain death” being dead, rather than as some misuse the word, unconscious.
  • There is the issue of the distinction between stopping care for a dead patient and forcing the withdrawal of wanted treatment maintaining the life of a living patient because it is supposedly “futile.” (With Obamacare, expect more coercion forcing the sickest patients off of life-extending treatment–not because it isn’t working but because the patient’s life is being maintained when death is what the technocrats want.) 
  • There is the exacerbating the distrust minorities have for institutions–and their differing views from the technocracy and general community on fighting death to the bitter end.
  • The way in which hospital spokespersons discussed Jahi’s tragedy publicly also illuminates the arrogance among the technocratic class, who too often lose the forest for the trees when considering how public health policies they advocate impact real families.

So sad. So many lessons to be learned.

Reprinted with permission from Human Exceptionalism. 

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Active euthanasia comes to North America

Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith
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The poison has jumped across the Atlantic from Netherlands and Belgium: Quebec has legalized active euthanasia.

I have discussed the contents of new law at length previously and I don’t want to repeat myself.  However, the bill did undergo some changes since I wrote about it, and there are certain sections of the new law that need to be emphasized, so here goes:

The euphemism for homicide in the law is “aid in dying,” which in turn, is defined as part of “end of life care.

Receiving “end of life care”–including euthanasia–is now a positive right. From the law (my emphasis):

RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO END-OF-LIFE CARE: 4. Every person whose condition requires it has the right to receive end-of-life care subject to the specific requirements established by this Act.

Such care is provided to the person in a facility maintained by an institution, in a palliative care hospice or at home.

This isn’t just the right to ask and receive suicide assistance from a willing doctor, with no guarantee you will get it–as in Oregon. It is the positive right to be subjected to lethal-injection euthanasia or terminal sedation at the hand of the doctor you asked or someone his supervisor finds to kill you. 

This means every institution that cares for the seriously ill, elderly, and injured must offer euthanasia:

7. Every institution must offer end-of-life care and ensure that it is provided to the persons requiring it in continuity and complementarity with any other care that is or has been provided to them.

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Those eligible for euthanasia must:

(2) be of full age and capable of giving consent to care;
(3) be at the end of life;
(4) suffer from a serious and incurable illness;
(5) be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and (6) experience constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering which cannot be relieved in a manner the patient deems tolerable.

Loose terms that will easily be subject to interpretation. I don’t believe for a second that these “limitations” mean anything much at all, except perhaps at first. So, within a few years, expect Quebec horrors similar to those I have repeatedly discussed from the Netherlands and Belgium.

Doctors and nurses must be complicit. That is they must inform their supervisors if they refuse to provide aid in dying. That supervisor or executive must then find a doctor willing to kill. I suspect many Hippocratic believing doctors will soon hear the words, “You’re fired!” or have some other limitations imposed on his or her practice.

And get this! Doctors, nurses, and pharmacist organizations are required to establish how-to-kill-your patients classes!

33. The council of physicians, dentists and pharmacists established for an institution must, in collaboration with the council of nurses of the institution, adopt clinical protocols for continuous palliative sedation and medical aid in dying. The protocols must comply with the clinical standards developed by the professional orders concerned.

Imagine you are a doctor, nurse, dentist (?!), pharmacist–even a hospice or nursing home administrator: You went into medicine to be a healer. You are now told that also have to be part of a bureaucratic killing system. And if you object? Prepare for professional ostracism, possible loss of position and/or license, and you can kiss any promotion goodbye.

Quebec’s reverse two-and-a-half somersaults, tuck dive into the doctor-administered death abyss is a glaring symptom of a deadly parasitic social affliction that is sucking the true meaning of compassion, professionalism, and righteousness clean out of our culture.

Reprinted with permission from National Review Online

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Assisted suicides in Washington state jump 43% in one year

Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith
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Assisted suicide is on the rise in Washington.  From the Seattle Times story:

More than 100 people died in Washington last year after requesting and taking a lethal prescription through Washington’s Death with Dignity law, the state’s Department of Health reported Wednesday.

Officials said that 173 people requested and received lethal doses of medication in 2013, a 43 percent increase from the year before.

And in every one of these deaths, the doctors were legally required to lie on the death certificates that the deaths were from natural causes. That’s downright corrupting of the medical system.

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Assisted suicide is sold with vivid tales of unbearable pain that can’t be controlled. But, as in Oregon, that is proved a typical assisted suicide lie:

Most of the people who asked their doctors for a lethal prescription told them they were concerned about losing autonomy, dignity or the ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable. 

They key here is for doctors to declare their offices “assisted suicide free zones.” I think plaques to that effect should be made to be hung on office walls.

I would also like to see physicians attend demonstrations and publicly take the Hippocratic Oath. Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right.

Reprinted with permission from National Review Online

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If we approve ‘3-parent children’ we’d be permitting blatant human experimentation on kids

Wesley J. Smith
Wesley J. Smith
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If the “we never say no” Human Embryo Authority in the UK approves the creation of 3-parent embryos, it would be permitting blatant human experimentation on children.

Indeed, I don’t see any other way to look at it. Note the quote below. From the Associated Press story:

Britain’s fertility regulator says controversial techniques to create embryos from the DNA of three people “do not appear to be unsafe” even though no one has ever received the treatment, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The report based its conclusion largely on lab tests and some animal experiments and called for further experiments before patients are treated. “Until a healthy baby is born, we cannot say 100 percent that these techniques are safe,” said Dr. Andy Greenfield, who chaired the expert panel behind the report.

So, to prevent a child being born with a genetic condition we will endanger that child for a potential lifetime of consequences. Or to put it another way, these children will be life-long experiments, even if they are born safely–a big if.

This is not going to be a matter of a once off and then all is okay. You are using, in essence, a twice broken egg.  Moreover, there have been health issues with animal models made in this way, not to mention cloned animals which similarly require the use of broken eggs–and this after many years of refining the cloning technique.

But let’s get to the heart of this controversy. In the end, the drive to manufacture three parent children isn’t really about allowing women with particular heritable genetic conditions to have biologically related children who won’t pass on the disease. That’s the pretext.

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I believe that all of this effort is about continuing to pry open the door to anything goes in the reproductive sphere–for various cultural and political purposes, including making it easier to obtain future license for human genetic engineering.

Reprinted with permission from National Review Online

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