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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Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops' Conference http://chiesacattolica.it
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Church ‘discriminates’ against ‘unconventional couples’: leader of Italian Bishops’ Conference

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By Hilary White

The secretary general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference has said that “unconventional couples” suffer “discrimination” and “prejudice” from the Church.

Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in Orvieto organized by the Liturgical Renewal Centre, Bishop Nunzio Galantino gave a clear signal when he said, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

“Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice,” he said, according to the Italian bishops' newspaper, Avvenire.

Bishop Galantino stopped short of openly advocating that the prohibition be dropped, saying, “With sincerity, we should also recognize that other believers perceive the discipline of the Church as an exclusion of these brothers and sisters, and, at times, observe them with a look of injury,” an attitude he called “de facto discrimination.” Although, he added, “they cannot receive Eucharistic communion.”

LifeSiteNews contacted Bishop Galantino's office for clarification by phone and e-mail but did not hear back by press time.

A number of prominent clerics have recently placed themselves in a growing camp of supporters for the suggestion that the Church should simply drop its prohibition on distributing Communion to Catholics 'remarried' outside the Church. At February’s consistory of cardinals, German Cardinal Walter Kasper argued the Church should allow Communion for those who have undertaken a “period of penance” but who have no intention of regularizing their situations. The cardinal claims that this would have no impact on Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The Catholic Church, taking its foundation from the words of Christ in the Gospels, teaches that divorce is impossible and that a person who undertakes a civil divorce and then “remarries” is in reality committing adultery. Adultery being a grave, or “mortal” sin, those in such situations cannot receive Communion until they have been sacramentally absolved and have changed their living situations.

According to Galantino, “Eucharistic celebration should be ‘a place where everyone feels at home,’ including migrants, faithful in irregular marriage situations, the disabled, the sick, the poor, the elderly and children.” 

Paraphrasing the title of one of Pope Benedict’s encyclicals, Caritas in Veritate, Bishop Galantino said that the key was an “attitude of charity in truth.” In dealing with those in irregular marital situations, he said that in the Church “we must honestly admit that we have no longer insisted on the truth when we haven’t exercised charity.”

“I speak of that pastoral charity,” he said, “which is the primary responsibility of the pastors of the Church, but also other members and the Christian community as a whole, that pastoral charity which for people facing marriage and family difficulties means acceptance, understanding, accompanying and support.” 

He said that those who live in such “irregular” situations “live their condition with great suffering” and “perceive the discipline of the Church as very strict, not inclusive, if not punitive.” 

Zenit news service also noted that Galantino said the Christians should follow the example of Pope Francis and adopt the attitude of a Church that “goes out” and “takes the initiative” to be “friendly” and “close the gap.” He held up Cardinal Kasper and the Dominican priest Yves Congar as theological leaders, saying that in the past the Church has looked up on people who were divorced and civilly remarried as “adulterers,” but added that the world has moved on from such opinions.

Cardinal Kasper’s suggestion immediately unleashed a storm of controversy after he presented in February. His keynote address at the consistory received scorching criticism both from lay commentators and high-ranking clerics who have said that such a practice would be “impossible.” Kasper’s speech was intended as a prelude to the deliberations on the various issues surrounding the family at the upcoming Synod of Bishops, set for the Vatican in October.

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Kasper, a prominent and very public theological opponent of Pope Benedict XVI, has given interviews in the US and elsewhere promoting his idea of allowing Communion for divorced and remarried people as a matter of “compassion.” The issue has long been a “hot button” one for the Catholic Church in Germany, whose bishops have spearheaded the movement in the face of falling Church revenues.

Bishop Galantino was hand picked by Pope Francis to fill the position of secretary of the powerful Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops in a country where the Church still wields considerable influence in secular politics.

In May this year, Galantino angered pro-life advocates around the world when he told an interviewer that he does not “identify” with those Catholics who pray the Rosary outside abortion facilities.

“I do not identify with the expressionless faces of those who recite the Rosary outside the clinics who practice interruption of pregnancy,  [‘l’interruzione della gravidanza’] but with those young people who are opposed to this practice and strive for the quality of life of the people, for their right to health, to work,” he said.

He added, “In the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia. It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing.”

His comments were strongly criticized by Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life in the US, and by John Smeaton, the head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Fr. Pavone responded, “When somebody says that the Church has ‘concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia,’ I take it as a compliment for the success of ministries like Priests for Life, which have called and will call upon the clergy, and indeed the entire Church, to sound the alarm about these atrocities more loudly and clearly than ever. Nor will we stop calling for that until the killing stops.”

John Smeaton, in an open letter addressed to Galantino, said, “I thought I would let you know that I do identify with the person outside the abortion clinic praying their rosary, whether or not the person is expressionless.”

“It’s probably fair to say that tens of thousands of unborn children, each one made in the image and likeness of God, are killed every day throughout the world. For example, there are 500 killed daily in Britain, thousands in the US, thousands upon thousands in China, to name just three of the world’s 193 countries.”

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Julie Ralph

My 7-year-old son found porn on his iPod, even with a filter

Julie Ralph
By Julie Ralph

A few weeks ago an article went viral on my Facebook feed entitled “The Day My 10-Year-Old Discovered Hardcore Porn on his iPhone.”  As one Mom after another shared and commented about how frightening and horrible it was and wondered what do we do to prevent it, I commented on several of those shares (perhaps a little smugly and proudly) that WE had installed an excellent filtering program on all of our devices that even filters YouTube.  I most likely left the impression that WE have no worries in this house, that our kids can watch their iPods and kindles, even those annoying Minecraft how to videos on YouTube, and WE don’t have to worry about them seeing filth. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.

I could have entitled this blog post “The Day My 7-Year-Old Discovered Porn on His iPod” but it might look like I’m trying to one-up that other Mom.  Which I’m not.  Because, trust me, this is one Mom competition I’d rather lose. 

This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.

So YES we have this supposedly great and awesome filter on all of our devices and we pay about $70 a year for it.   Look, I’ve been on my computer trying to shop for a swimsuit at Lands End and the filter blocked me.  Annoying, yes.  But assuring.  I remember thinking wow….if I can’t even get on here and see the tummy-sucking-miracle-fat-hiding-mawmaw-swimsuits, my boys will NEVER be able to discover Victoria or her Secret.   And I’ve been on YouTube trying to see how to quickly defrost CHICKEN breasts, and it blocked several videos AND ads that probably had nothing to do with fowl or a thawing method.  Again I remember thinking, good.  This is really good.  Nothing to worry about.

Then last night happened.

My youngest son was visibly shaken as he was getting ready for bed.  I knew something was wrong when I saw he was wearing his flannel pajamas with the mountain bears printed all over them on one of the hottest August nights this month.   He seemed almost disoriented and I asked him if he was sick as he was trying to quickly crawl into bed and pull the covers over his head.   He then reached over to the bedside table, grabbed his little iPod, and tossed it to me saying he doesn’t deserve it anymore because he is bad.  “I’m bad, so bad….I saw bad things.”  My heart started racing and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  Because I knew where this was going.  Very calmly and quietly I assured him he was not bad and there was nothing in the world he could ever tell me that would make me think he was bad.  “What did you see, sweetheart?” I asked.  After about ten minutes of me coaxing it out of him, with a wobbly still-tiny-smidge-of-baby-left voice he told me he was searching for a word he had heard and he spelled it for me.  T-t-i-s.  (I quickly unscrambled and knew what he meant).  He went on to tell me he searched for this on YouTube (the app is not even on his iPod….he must go through the “filter” app to access it!).   He told me he saw pictures and videos.

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My stomach turned.  I ran through all the “How To” files I’d stored away in my mind.  You know those files….situations you’ve thought about as a Mom and how you’d handle…you file them away for another day.  Usually one you hope will never come.   Turns out I didn’t have a file for this.  Because I honestly thought we had done everything on the front end to keep it from happening. 

I ran my fingers through his hair and pulled him close and started talking to him from my broken heart.  I asked him if he knew what that word meant before he searched for it.  He said no.  I told him it is a very crude and ugly word for something that is not crude and ugly.  I told him what the proper word is and I asked him if he knew why God made them like that on women?  He said no.  I told him it was the miraculous and wonderful way that God made women able to feed their babies.  I told him how every woman who has those is made to feed a baby, and those women in those pictures and videos are either already someone’s Mommy or they will be one day.  And what God meant for a beautiful purpose is twisted and made into something very wrong and ugly by those pictures and videos.

Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.

We continued to talk and then we prayed together and I left him to sleep as I walked back to my room for a sleepless night.  I cried for the ugly, messed up, twisted, and sick world out there that I can’t protect my children from.  I cried for what he had seen that I couldn’t un-see for him.  I cried because I had abdicated MY parenting duties to some stupid computer software that I thought would protect my children.  I cried because I can never get back that bit of innocence he lost way, way too early.  I cried as I went onto YouTube, put in that same search and saw just the thumbnails of what he had to have seen.  I just can’t bring myself to actually click on the videos.  I cried because, when I went in to check on him later, he was curled up with Big Bear in one arm and his little blue and white checked blanket in the other.  He’s still a baby. 

I’m mad now.  And I really hope my anger continues to burn because I need it to fuel my diligence.   I need my guard to be up and to stay up.  This is no longer a battle friends, it’s an all-out war.  It’s a war we’re fighting for the minds and futures of our children.  I know there are those who would say I’m being overly dramatic, that I can’t put my children in a bubble, blah blah blah.  I don’t care.  I will do whatever it takes to protect my children until their minds, bodies and emotions are better prepared to grasp, filter, and sort through the warped and ugly parts of our world that are pulling on them.  I will continue to pull back and hold on for dear life.   Don’t do as I did, friends.  Don’t trust some computer geek working for a software company to care a flip for or protect your kids.  Do as I am doing now.  Uninstall any and all browsers or video apps on your kids’ personal devices and set the restrictions where they can’t install apps anymore without asking you first.   Have one central computer in a public area of your home that they may use, with permission, and still with filter software installed.  But remember that’s not the first line of defense in this war.

You are.

Julie Ralph blogs at Mommy, Esquire, where this piece was originally published.

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Sen. Ted Cruz's wife douses him with water as part of the Ice Bucket challenge for ALS research. Youtube
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Sen. Ted Cruz: Do the ALS challenge, donate to pro-life institute

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By Dustin Siggins

One of the nation's most prominent senators is doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge -- but encouraging donations to a pro-life ALS research institute.

In the last month, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, sponsored by the ALS Association, has raised tens of millions of dollars for research for the disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. However, in mid-August pro-life leaders raised awareness that the Association supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Embryonic stem-cell research includes the destruction of a human embryo, and is thus condemned by pro-life advocates as an abortion. The Association has said it currently has one project that uses embryonic stem cells, funded by an outside donor.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Cruz -- who took the challenge last week -- said that he and his wife "are proud to personally support the John Paul II Medical Research Institute the Home of Give Cures (http://jp2mri.org), which conducts groundbreaking research into curing this terrible disease, without using embryonic stem cells."

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"The JPII Institute respects human life, and is working to improve the lives of all of us," said Cruz. 

The ALS Association has said donors may specify their dollars not be used to fund embryonic stem-cell research. However, critics note that donated funds are fungible, meaning they potentially free up funds the Association can then direct to illicit research.

At least two Catholic dioceses have encouraged Ice Bucket Challenge participants to donate to the JPII Medical Institute.

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