Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Dehydrate dementia patients to death to save money: British Medical Journal editorial

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

July 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The courts should not interfere with doctors who want to dehydrate to death incapacitated patients who are a drain on scarce financial resources, according to an editorial in this week’s edition of the prestigious British Medical Journal.

Raanan Gillon, emeritus professor of medical ethics and former chairman of the Institute of Medical Ethics governing body, wrote that a ruling last year by the High Court against dehydrating an incapacitated patient to death was “profoundly disturbing” because it took the life and death decision-making power out of the hands of doctors and required that the principle of the “sanctity of life” take precedence over other considerations.

The judgment, he said, “threaten[s] to skew the delivery of severely resource-limited healthcare services towards providing non-beneficial or minimally beneficial life prolonging treatments including artificial nutrition and hydration to thousands of severely demented patients whose families and friends believe they would not have wanted such treatment”.

He complained that the ruling required that, under the “stringent” Mental Capacity Act, in order to remove “life prolonging treatment” like a feeding and hydration tube, the patient himself must have left a legally binding “advance decision” in writing, and that previous casual or unrecorded statements to relatives were not sufficient grounds. 

The editorial, titled, “Sanctity of life law has gone too far,” said that unless it is overturned, the court ruling “will gradually and detrimentally distort healthcare provision, healthcare values, and common sense.”

Its logical implication, Gillon wrote, is that “doctors should no longer decide, in consultation with those who know their incapacitated patients, whether life prolonging treatment including artificial nutrition and hydration will be in their patients’ best interests.”

Furthermore, he said, the ruling logically means that those patients in “a higher than minimal state of consciousness must be similarly protected”.

The court ruling in question was that in the M Case, in which the family of a 52-year-old woman who was found to be in a “minimally conscious state” and who was “otherwise clinically stable,” were petitioning the court to have her feeding and hydration tube removed. The Court of Protection ruled that all patients in such a state must be referred individually to the Court of Protection if “life prolonging treatment” by artificial nutrition and hydration is to be withheld or withdrawn.

Mr. Justice Baker said in the September 2011 decision, “The factor which does carry substantial weight, in my judgment, is the preservation of life. Although not an absolute rule, the law regards the preservation of life as a fundamental principle.”

Justice Baker wrote that the courts should not “attach significant weight” to the patient’s previous statements unless they had been expressed in a way that could stand up to legal scrutiny. As in the case of Terri Schiavo in the U.S., M’s family had argued that her alleged previous statements indicated that she would not want to be dependent on such care.

Baker responded to this by ruling, “[Given] the importance of the sanctity of life, and the fatal consequences of withdrawing treatment, and the absence of an advance decision that complied with the requirements previously specified by the common law and now under statute, it would in my judgment be wrong to attach significant weight to those statements made prior to her collapse.”

Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said that the ideology being espoused by Gillon and the British Medical Journal is indistinguishable from the materialist utilitarian ethic that led to the elimination of the “unfit” by eugenicists in the early 20th century, including in pre-World War II Germany. 

“What is particularly disturbing about Professor Gillon’s opinions is that he is judging certain disabled people as having lives unworthy of life, balancing those lives against the needs of other patients and seeking to justify killing the disabled on the grounds of rationing,” Ozimic told LifeSiteNews.com.

“Such a utilitarian calculus is in substance no difference to the calculus made during World War II by the German authorities: that the disabled should die so that wounded soldiers could live. In any case, assisted food and fluids are basic nursing care, not futile medical treatments.”

As shocking as such pronouncements are to the general public, the idea that disabled patients should be euthanized, either directly or by the removal of food and hydration, is actually a mainstream of thought among many of the western world’s medical ethicists. Gillon himself is a major voice in the field as a former editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics and the author of the 1985 book “Philosophical Medical Ethics”.

Classical medical ethics, that held as paramount the principle “Do no harm,” has in large part been set aside in favor of the new utilitarian-based Bioethics, a formal or “normative” branch of ethical philosophy that seeks “the greatest good for the greatest number” according to the “principles” of “justice, beneficence and autonomy”.


What is the difference between classical Medical Ethics and modern utilitarian Bioethics?

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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