Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Doctors pushed paralyzed Irish man to refuse ventilator and die

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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DUBLIN, April 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a powerful op-ed in today’s Irish Times, an Irish man with degenerative motor neurone disease (MND) has revealed how he was heavily pressured by the medical community to refuse the ventilator that is keeping him alive.

After having been admitted to intensive care for pneumonia, a common complication for paralyzed patients, Simon Fitzmaurice began receiving assisted breathing and a feeding tube. Shortly after being admitted, Fitzmaurice said, a doctor came in and told him it was rare and expensive for patients to have a ventilator at home.

According to Fitzmaurice the doctor told him, with his wife and mother present,  “That it is time for me to make the hard choice. He tells me that there have only been two cases of invasive home ventilation, but in both cases the people were extremely wealthy.”

“He looks at me. ‘This is it now for you. It is time for you to make the hard choice, Simon.’ My mother and my wife are now holding each other, sobbing.”

But Fitzmaurice’s instinctive reaction was for life: “While he is looking at me, my life force, my soul, the part of me that feels like every part, is unequivocal. I want to live. It infuses my whole body to such an extent that I feel no fear in the face of this man.”

Two days after this encounter, he wrote, he and his family were informed that the home ventilator he needed was covered by Ireland’s national health insurer, the Health Services Executive (HSE), and that the home care package needed to run the machine could be covered by the HSE and his family.

Fitzmaurice recounts that was later asked by a neurologist why he wanted to live, even though he had a degenerative disease that would eventually kill him. His answer: “Love for my wife. Love for my children. My friends, my family. Love for life in general. My love is undimmed, unbowed, unbroken. I want to live. Is that wrong?”

“Motor neurone disease is a killer. But so is life,” continued Fitzmaurice. “Everybody dies. But just because you die, just because you will die at some point in the future, does that mean you should kill yourself now? For me, they were asking me to take my own life. Or to endorse euthanasia. I refused.”

Experts say that Fitzmaurice’s experience is not uncommon and that incidents like these are becoming a trend in medical practice – a trend that has become nearly universal in developed countries, especially those with nationalized, government funded health care.

“Sadly, his story is all too common,” said Alex Schadenberg, head of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Schadenberg said that philosophical trends away from traditional medical ethics, combined with massive tax-funded health care systems, have given rise to a new utilitarian-based ethical paradigm in treatment decision making.

Under this paradigm, called bioethics, Schadenberg said, “value judgments and negative attitudes toward people with degenerative conditions have led to imposing death on people who are vulnerable.”

Hospital bioethics committees now routinely decide to withdraw treatment that could save lives, based on the principle of “patient autonomy” that holds it is in the patient’s “best interests” to be “allowed to die,” often by the withholding of food and water. 

These decisions are increasingly being taken without the consent, and sometimes actively against the will, of the patient and his family. In some countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, the new ethical system has led to legalized euthanasia and widespread abuse of the legal “safeguards” surrounding it.

Recent studies out of Belgium have shown that 32 percent of all legal euthanasia deaths are committed without request or consent by patients or families and only 47.2 percent of all euthanasia deaths are reported. In the Netherlands, the number is 550 deaths without request or consent each year and at least 20 per cent of all euthanasia deaths unreported.

Schadenberg said, “Everyone needs to be aware, society is already imposing death on vulnerable people and if euthanasia or assisted suicide becomes legal then it will simply be done in a quicker and quiet manner.”

As for Fitzmaurice, he writes: “I do not speak for all people with motor neurone disease. I only speak for myself. Perhaps others would question whether or not to ventilate. But I believe in being given the choice, not encouraged to follow the status quo.”

“I am not a tragedy,” he said. “I neither want nor need pity. I am full of hope. The word hope and MND do not go together in this country. Hope is not about looking for a cure to a disease. Hope is a way of living. We often think we are entitled to a long and fruitful Coca-Cola life. But life is a privilege, not a right. I feel privileged to be alive. That’s hope.”

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

French preemie dies naturally after parents’ demand doctors allow him to die

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

A premature baby born at the end of August died Friday after having been at the center of media controversy over his parents’ request that he should receive be allowed to die because they feared raising a handicapped child. Titouan, a little boy, was born at 22 weeks gestation, in the “danger zone” where survival is possible but frequently associated with handicaps and brain damage related to the child’s insufficient development at birth.

As medical science and practice progress, premature babies are increasingly being saved from the certain death that awaited them not so long ago, but this has brought with it new problems and ethical questions: how far should medical teams go when there is no hope at all for anything but a heavily handicapped existence, when death would almost certainly ensue if no invasive means were used?

In most cases – and they are not infrequent in French hospitals where neonatal teams usually do the utmost to save a premature baby at birth – the child’s family and the medical team will find an answer together: either to go on with the resuscitating techniques, or to abstain from these therapeutic acts.

In the case of Titouan, the parents, Mélanie and Aurélien, both in their thirties, went public about their opposition to the doctors’ decision to “save” their little boy despite the fact that they had clearly stated that they did not want a handicapped child. “Who wants their son to live the life of a handicapped person? Perhaps some families want this, but we don’t,” they said during emotional interviews that were given wide coverage.

They also pleaded for the doctors to “put an end to his suffering,” claiming that their baby was experiencing pain and discomfort because of the treatment he was receiving in the neonatal intensive care unit. “They couldn’t care less about his pain,” said Melanie, tearfully.

The press was quick to link the story to the ongoing euthanasia debate in France, which is expected to come to a head before the end of the year when the socialist government will present a new “End of Life Act.”

At the Poitiers University hospital where Titouan was born, the medical team refused to “unplug” him as long as there was no certainty about the way he was responding to treatment. He was not under “invasive” treatment, they said: the little boy was being “accompanied.” Having consulted together and with an outside expert as the law requires, they underscored that there was no reason to make a hasty decision. A neonatologist from Bordeaux, Dr Christophe Elleau, went so far as to say: “Sometimes it is urgent to do nothing. It is never urgent to kill, especially since it’s irreversible.”

This comment added substance to the idea that the only options in Titouan’s case were to keep him alive using exaggerated means or actively to make him die. So is that what doctors are doing every time they do not use every possible technique to keep a premature baby alive, at any cost?

When the little boy’s parents went to the media about their son’s case, a week before his death, Titouan had experienced brain hemorrhage which might leave him partially paralyzed, according to the parents who accused the medical team of “lying” about the gravity of his potential handicaps in order to force them into accepting that he should live.

Thursday evening, a week later, in the face of his actual condition, which had “worsened” considerably in a few hours, the medical team at Poitiers decided that continuing treatment would now constitute “unreasonable obstinacy” as the law puts it, and in accordance with Titouan’s parents, they were prepared to “accompany” his end of life.

While no details were given about the way things went, this would probably mean stopping artificial ventilation at a point where most probably the boy would not start breathing on his own, while giving him palliative care to avoid suffering.

This is not euthanasia: there is no question of positively provoking the death of the little patient, but of letting nature take its course. Should he have lived despite the medical abstention, his life could have been respected and he would have received treatment.

Dr. Alain de Broca, a pediatric neurologist and a specialist in medical ethics and palliative care at the University Hospital of Amiens, told LifeSiteNews that in cases like Titouan’s, it is important to stress that “it is not the doctors who put an end to life, it is the condition or the illness” itself. The question is not, for instance, of withholding food and fluids in order to obtain death.

“Very premature babies’ brains are like parchment,” he said. “As they mature, the very process provokes hemorrhages that can be of varying degrees of gravity. In many cases they will be resorbed and the baby will recover to become a healthy, normal, mischievous child. In others, the brain will suffer severe or very severe damage. Then extreme techniques will bring no benefit. It is not so much a question of stopping treatments that arises, as that of taking the decision not to put them in place. In fact, in these situations, it is every day, as they evolve, that doctors will decide in accordance with the parents to ‘reiterate’ a resuscitation treatment or no. We must come to terms with the fact that we do not have therapeutic omnipotence.”

He added that it is important for parents to be closely associated with the decisions that are made, and that they should be helped to understand that at a certain stage heavy treatment would only artificially prolong life. In other cases the same treatment sustains life. But in all cases decisions cannot be made “without the parents” who must realize that the child is in no sense being put to death. De Broca made clear that abstention from “obstinate means” in the case of very premature babies is in no way comparable to neonatal euthanasia as exists in the Netherlands, either by direct killing or withdrawal of food and fluids.

The debate is in fact not about euthanasia but about overaggressive medical treatment, which is not required when a patient is in very bad shape and would die because of his condition if sophisticated techniques were not used, as in the case of a cancer patient who can legitimately refuse heavy chemotherapy that would make him suffer with little hope of betterment. Not, however, before the disproportion of the treatment is clearly evidenced.

Unfortunately this is not the way the debate has been presented in the French media.

Alain de Broca made clear that respect for a premature or very ill baby’s life, until the very end, is very important for all those who are affected by the tragedy of his short existence. He stressed that the decision to deliberately shorten such a life has dire consequences for the baby’s near ones. “A few extra days of life can mean a lot, allowing parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents to come and see the child, fondle it, let it find its place in the family history,” he said. That will make healthy mourning possible: it is easier to come to terms with bereavement when a dying child has been surrounded, accompanied and cared for. “It is not possible to say goodbye properly to a child who has not been properly welcomed,” de Broca said. “When that is not the case, mourning will most often be pathological.”

“Each day of the child’s life is important,” he concluded. “I have accompanied many cases: very often, the child dies in the parents’ arms. And that helps them come to terms with the folly of its death.”

All this does leave a paradox unexplained: while in France, neonatologists will frequently use extraordinary means to try to save the lives of the tiniest of babies – Titouan weighed under two pounds – “medical abortion” is permitted and performed up to the very end of pregnancy for much lighter handicaps than those premature babies are exposed to.

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Gabriele Kuby

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Genderism – a new ideology destroying the family

Gabriele Kuby
By Gabriele Kuby

Editor’s Note: The following address by German author and social commentator Gabriele Kuby was delivered earlier this month in Moscow at the International Forum on Large Families and the Future of Humanity.

We are witnessing an astonishing historical shift.

More than a hundred years ago, Marxism declared the relationship of man and woman in monogamous marriage as “the first class antagonism” in history. This “class-conflict” had to be overcome by destroying marriage and the family. So in 1917, Alexandra Kollontai, the first woman commissar of the Bolshevik Central Committee, set out to put this into practise through the exercise of revolutionary power:

  1. A law for the dissolution of marriage
  2. Legalization of abortion
  3. Sexual freedom for youth
  4. Legalization of homosexuality
  5. Integration of women into the production process, and
  6. Bringing up children in collective state institutions.

But even Lenin soon realized that this was creating social chaos. And he repealed some of these revolutionary measures.

Yet the same agenda eventually migrated to the West. It had its breakthrough with the student rebellion of the 1960s, which swept through European countries with slogans like these:

Battle the bourgeois nuclear family!

If you sleep with the same one twice, you’re a slave of bourgeois vice!

Make love not war!

This movement was fuelled by Marxist philosophers, particularly of the Frankfurt School in Germany. In their view, sexuality was to be liberated from restrictive morality – even from the taboo of incest. Sex between children, as well as sex with children, was to be allowed in order to create a “society without oppression”.

During the 1970s, marriage laws and sexual criminal laws were revised in Western countries. Pornography, abortion, and homosexuality – in this sequence – were legalized, and obligatory sexual education was introduced in schools. And during the last decade, the collectivization of bringing up small children – formerly seen as a communist aberration – has been imposed on families by EU measures. This destroys the very source of human love, which is the relationship between mother and child.

Ironically, the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were, so to speak, “protected” by communist dictatorship from the implementation of these ideas, which had originated in Marxist ideology.

Today things have shifted even further: The radical feminist movement and the homosexual movement merged and gave birth to the gender ideology. One of its trailblazers is the philosopher Judith Butler, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a proclaimed lesbian, who in 1990 published the book, Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Gender theory proclaims that our “social gender” is independent of our biological sex, so that we can “choose” whether we want to be a man or a woman.

At the policy level, this ideology becomes “Gender Mainstreaming,” which promotes:

  • Subversion of the identity of man and woman by destroying “gender-stereotypes” – beginning in kindergarten; and
  • Deregulation of normative standards of sexuality: Any kind of sexual practice – be it lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) – has to be accepted by society as equivalent to heterosexuality. And this must be taught to children in school.

It has taken only 20 years for gender theory to become the ruling ideology of the West. At most universities, the new field of “gender studies” has been firmly established. In my native Germany, we have almost 200 women professors in that new field of so-called “science” – which really is nothing more than the ideological agenda of radical feminism and the homosexual movement combined. And students now must adhere to this ideology – just as their predecessors had to adhere to Marxist ideology under communism.

What Alexandra Kollontai could not achieve under a communist dictatorship has now become the global policy of the United Nations and the European Union. But the underlying agenda is disguised with words that abuse the great values of Christian culture: freedom, justice, tolerance, and human rights.

Central and Eastern European nations have now begun to realize that membership in the European Union has its costs. It not only brings them new economic possibilities but also the enforced destruction of their own value system – which, for many centuries, has served as the foundation of marriage and family.

In pursuit of their agenda, the UN and the EU work with an international network of political stakeholders, billionaire foundations, the mainstream media, and global NGOs like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and ILGA, the homosexual umbrella organization. They seek to impose the feminist and homosexual agenda on every nation around the world through the policy of gender mainstreaming and LGBT-rights.

Dear friends, we are indeed facing a global ‘anthropological revolution’, as Pope Benedict XVI termed it – one which attacks the very roots of human existence. This revolution has five political cornerstones:

  1. Elimination of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Deprivation of the material basis of the family
  3. Legalization of abortion
  4. Homosexual “marriage,” including adoption and artificial child production
  5. Sexualization of children through obligatory comprehensive sexual education.

All this requires a response. In fact, faced with the demographic crisis in the West, and the moral and social breakdown of the family, we need a global movement that creates conditions under which the deepest longings of the human heart can be fulfilled. Such a movement should include:

  1. Re-awakening to the sanctity of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Provision of the material basis of the family
  3. Protection of life – from conception to natural death
  4. Legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman
  5. Education of children and youth for marriage and family

As far as I can see, Russia is today the only country where there may be the possibility for church and state to rebuild the foundations of the family.

This International Forum could have a significant role in the global battle for a culture of life and the defence of marriage and family. May our political leaders be guided by wisdom and a commitment to the common good of humanity in the present political situation.

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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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New Zealand’s pro-euthanasia MP fails to re-enter Parliament

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Staunch euthanasia and assisted suicide advocate, Maryan Street, has failed to make it back into Parliament after New Zealand’s general election on Saturday.

Street, a Labour candidate who has been an MP since 2005, had placed the End of Life Choice Bill into the Member’s Ballot in July 2012. 

Late last year, Street came under pressure from her party to remove the Bill as it was deemed too controversial a subject to be debating in an election year.

Street withdrew the Bill from the Ballot, vowing to reintroduce it after the election.  However, once again she failed to win the electorate seat of Nelson.  Her position on Labour’s List should have seen her re-enter Parliament for another term, but their support has deteriorated to its lowest since 1922 and they did not gain enough seats for Street to be selected.

Considered by many to be filled with loopholes, the End of Life Choice Bill, if passed, would have legalized physician assisted suicide for those who were suffering from an “irreversible physical or mental medical condition” who were experiencing “unbearable” pain. 

Doctors who object to euthanasia and assisted suicide would have been obliged to refer patients to other practitioners who could carry out their wishes.

Most concerning to those against the Bill was the clause granting immunity from civil and criminal liability for any person acting in good faith who failed through act or omission to follow the law.

There are still 300,000 special votes to be counted which could potentially change the situation. However, it is unlikely that Labour will gain another seat, bringing Street back into Parliament.

The possibility that another MP will take up the cause cannot be ruled out either. 

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