Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

British Medical Journal campaigns for legalized euthanasia

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, June 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the top peer review journals in the medical field has formally adopted a stand in favor of legalized euthanasia, telling British doctors’ associations that they must adopt a “neutral” stand and never oppose efforts to liberalize the law.

In its latest edition three articles, including one formal editorial and two op-eds, lash out against the opposition to euthanasia or assisted suicide among medical professional bodies, saying it is a matter to be decided by the public.

Two of the leading figures in the campaign to legalize euthanasia were given space for emotional appeals. In one article Tess McPherson, a consultant dermatologist at Churchill Hospital, describes at length her mother’s death by cancer. “It is simple,” she concludes, “the law needs to change to allow terminally ill but mentally competent people the right to a more dignified death than my mum was allowed.”

In his article, Dr. Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester and chairman of the Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD), argues that all principled opposition to “assisted dying” by medical professional groups like the Royal College of Physicians must stop.

“At the heart of the case for neutrality is that the decriminalisation of assisted dying should be a matter for society as a whole to decide, and no particular group should have disproportionate influence on this decision,” Tallis wrote. Without the formal opposition of the medical profession, Tallis believes, the law could be changed on the basis of public opinion which, he says, is strongly in favor.

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“Our professional organisations, committed to shaking off the paternalism of the past, should not use their influence to impose the beliefs of some of their members on patients.”

Tallis accused “religious institutions” of organizing groups of doctors to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide to create the impression that all doctors are opposed. While the BMA and Royal Collage of Physicians and the Medical Association are officially opposed to liberalizing the law, Tallis cites a study showing that 30 to 40 per cent of doctors favor decriminalization. HPAD’s 520 members represents about 0.25 per cent of the estimated 200,000 doctors in Britain.

Currently, the act of assisting a suicide remains on the criminal code books, with a potential 14-year prison sentence, but the Director of Public Prosecutions has changed the rules so that prosecutions are close to impossible.

Retaining official opposition to “assisted dying,” Tallis said, is a form of “monstrous cruelty” in which doctors are “walking away” from patients who are “suffering unbearably.”

“International experience has shown that placing assisted dying within the framework of the law would increase, not threaten, patient safety and have an entirely beneficial effect on trust in doctors,” Tallis added.

The third article was an editorial by BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee who said the journal formally ‘supports’ HPAD’s call. This is not the first time the BMJ has shown its editorial bias in favor of legalized euthanasia; deputy editor Tony Delamothe has previously written in favor, and is a public HPAD supporter.

The BMJ articles are part of a larger campaign being orchestrated by HPAD, with the support of Britain’s leading pro-euthanasia pressure group Dignity in Dying, that has included pushing the issue at an upcoming meeting of the British Medical Association, the doctors’ trade union. Euthanasia lobbyists are attempting to use the June 27th meeting to put forward 14 separate motions asking the BMA to adopt official “neutrality” on both issues.

Nine motions asking for the BMA to adopt a “neutral” position were brought forward at last year’s meeting, and the effort has borne fruit; this year, item number 332 of the meeting’s agenda will be to discuss whether the BMA should drop its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The HPAD’s work within the medical community is part of the larger work by Dignity in Dying, with the group planning a mass lobbying effort in Parliament in July to attempt to force the removal of assisted suicide from the criminal code.

Dr. Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship blasted the Journal’s support for euthanasia.  “Godlee and Delamothe are of course entitled to their individual opinions,” he said, “provided of course that they remain transparent about their ideological vested interests.

“But we do expect Britain’s highest circulation medical journal, which many regard as the mouthpiece of the medical profession in Britain, to deal with controversial subjects in an even-handed and evidence-based way.”

Although the BMJ is officially independent of the British Medical Association, it is distributed free to all members and is informally regarded as the voice of the profession.

Saunders noted that Tallis was chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) when that organization briefly adopted a neutral position on euthanasia in 2005. Immediately after he vacated that position, the RCP reverted to opposing changing the law, and Tallis became an “ardent advocate” for assisted suicide.

“These doctors make up a tiny minority of Britain’s doctors,” Saunders said, “but they are determined, articulate and well-organised. They have rejected the principle, enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath, Declaration of Geneva and International Code of Medical Ethics, that doctors should not kill their patients.”

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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