Denise J. Hunnell, MD

Do no harm?: Medical journals show increasing support for euthanasia

Denise J. Hunnell, MD
By Denise Hunnell MD
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August 24, 2012 (Zenit.org) – Primum non nocere. First do no harm. This edict has been part of medical ethics since the time of the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, in the fifth century B.C. It is found in the Hippocratic Corpus, a collection of medical writing attributed to Hippocrates. The original Hippocratic oath includes:

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

For millennia the physician has been charged with being an advocate for the patient. Part of the impetus for the original Hippocratic oath was to ensure that doctors would not be paid by an enemy to give poison instead of medicine. Patients should be able to come to their doctor when they are sick and weakened, and have no fear that their vulnerability will be exploited.

Unfortunately, the sacred trust of the doctor-patient relationship is being strained by a new ethical model. Physicians are being urged to place the “greater good” above the needs of their individual patients. A disregard for the sanctity of human life as well as a utilitarian philosophy that judges the value of a patient to society is becoming more mainstream in the medical profession. This is evidenced by the increasing number of articles in respected medical journals that call for approval of assisted suicide and euthanasia, euphemistically called “assisted dying.”

The British Medical Journal (BMJ), a publication distributed to the members of the British Medical Association, devoted much of its June 14, 2012, issue to endorsing voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester, argues in this issue that respect for patient desires and autonomy renders irrelevant any opinion on the matter by the Royal College of Physicians or the British Medical Association. Therefore, all opposition to euthanasia is merely inappropriate paternalism and should be dropped.

In this same issue, Tess McPherson relates the difficult last days of her mother, Ann McPherson, and uses this painful experience as a call for legalized physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. Rather than seeking better pain control, she argues that death is the best option for those suffering at the end of their lives.

Finally, Fiona Goodlee, editor in chief of the BMJ, rounds out the arguments by declaring that legalization of assisted dying is not a medical decision, but rather a societal question. She argues that the role of the physician is compatible with providing euthanasia or assisted suicide and if society wants it, they should get it.

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Amid these scholarly endorsements of euthanasia come the claims of British physician Patrick Pullicino that the National Health Service (NHS) is effectively killing 130,000 patients every year when doctors place these patients on the Liverpool Care Protocol (LCP) and deny them nutrition and hydration. According to the Daily Mail:

Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’.

He cited ‘pressure on beds and difficulty with nursing confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients’ as factors.

Professor Pullicino revealed he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated.

The medical literature from the United States also shows an increasing acceptance of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. The July 12, 2012, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) included an article by Dr. Lisa Soleymani Lehmann and Julian Prokopetz that suggested physician opposition to assisted dying was an unreasonable barrier to patients seeking lethal medications. They recommended that all patients who met the legal criteria for assisted suicide as outlined in the state laws of Oregon, Washington, and Montana should be able to obtain the drugs necessary for suicide without a physician’s prescription or approval.

Perhaps the most chilling example is the enthusiastic endorsement in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) for the book Death, Dying, and Organ Transplantation: Reconstructing Medical Ethics at the End of Life, by Drs. Franklin Miller and Robert Truog. This book seeks to do away with two core principles of medical care. The first is that a physician cannot intentionally cause the death of his patient. The second is that donors of vital organs for transplantation must be dead before the organs are harvested.

Catholic health care ethics, in accordance with natural law, holds that when the burden of life-sustaining extraordinary care such as a ventilator is greater than the benefit it provides, such care can be withdrawn. This is not seen as causing the death of the patient, but rather allowing the patient to die from his underlying illness. Miller and Truog disagree and assert that such an act directly causes the death of the patient. They then begin their descent down the slippery slope by claiming that if causing death by withdrawing life-sustaining care is acceptable, then active voluntary euthanasia by lethal injection should also be acceptable. Further, if voluntary euthanasia by injection is acceptable, then voluntary euthanasia by removal of vital organs to be used for transplantation should be equally acceptable. This radical argument could be disregarded as fringe thinking had it not been so prominently and positively recommended in JAMA.

It is reasonable to say that the notion that physicians should not kill their patients is still widespread among medical professionals. Indeed, several of the aforementioned authors take their colleagues to task for opposing euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. The growing numbers of prestigious medical journals that are routinely publishing support for all forms of “assisted dying” are, however, a clear indication that this approach to end of life “care” is making significant inroads in mainstream medical ethics. The foundational principles of health care that date back to Hippocrates are in jeopardy.

This has serious implications for patients. No longer can a patient assume that his physician has his best medical interests at heart. Now physicians are being urged to consider the cost to society of a patient’s care and judge whether a patient is worthy of such expense. Instead of seeking to provide comfort and authentic compassion at the end of life, there is increased support for hastening death as an expedient solution to suffering.

It is now incumbent upon every patient to explore the ethical principles of his doctor. Does he uphold the sanctity of life from conception to natural death? Does he understand that treatments can be deemed burdensome, but human life is never burdensome? Does he view nutrition and hydration as ordinary care as long as a patient can derive a benefit from it? Does he reject all justifications for intentionally causing the death of his patients?

If your physician does not answer unequivocally “yes” to each of these questions, can you really trust him with your life?

Denise Hunnell, MD, is a Fellow of HLI America, an initiative of Human Life International. She writes for HLI’s Truth and Charity Forum. This article appeared on Zenit.org and is reprinted with permission.

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Dynel Lane stands accused of numerous crimes, but murdering a baby is not one of them.
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Colorado Democrats vote to allow more deaths like baby cut from her mother’s womb

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By Ben Johnson

DENVER, CO, May 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Constituents and readers around the world were horrified when police reported that Dynel Lane cut a baby out of a pregnant woman's womb, nearly killing the mother and causing the baby to die. But Colorado Democrats voted down a bill that would have classified the crime as a homicide for fear the law could someday be used to challenge abortion-on-demand.

The state House's State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted down the Offenses Against Unborn Children Act (SB 268) by a party line vote of 6-5 on Monday.

The proposal would have allowed prosecutors to charge anyone who kills an unborn child with murder but, like bills in 38 other states, it specifically exempts abortion.

“It is a travesty that not a single Democrat voted in favor of this legislation, which would bring justice for babies like Aurora who die in violent homicides,” Colorado Citizens for Life said in a public statement. “At the very least, Colorado Citizens for Life would hope that lawmakers could put aside their partisan differences to pass this common sense piece of legislation.”

State legislators felt a need to plug legal loopholes after Lane allegedly lured Michelle Wilkins to her Longmont home with a phony Craigslist ad for baby clothes on March 18. Police say that Lane spoke with Wilkins for an hour before attacking her in the basement, smothering her with a pillow until she passed out, then using a knife to surgically remove the unborn child.

Lane, who had previous medical training, left Wilkins to bleed on a basement bed, officials say.

Wilkins revived and called 911, and emergency personnel rushed her to a local hospital.

Her unborn child, who was 34 weeks along and who had already been given the name Aurora, did not survive. Lane's husband said he saw the child “gasp” before dying.

Yet cautious prosecutors did not charge Lane with murder, because they feared they could not prove the girl had been “born alive.”

S.B. 268, introduced by Polly Lawrence of Littleton, would have made such a crime a homicide.

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Democrats rejected the bill, saying it could be used to prosecute abortionists.

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado said that “the bill did not explicitly protect access to abortion, putting Colorado physicians in danger of prosecution if they provide care to pregnant women facing complications in their pregnancy or for providing safe abortion services.” The abortion lobbying group also claimed the bill may have “opened the door to prosecutions of women whose pregnancies face complications and tragically end in miscarriage.”

The bill states, “For purposes of a prosecution of a homicide or assault offense, the bill does not apply to an act committed by the mother of her unborn child,” or to “a medical procedure performed by...[any] licensed medical professional at the request of a mother.” It also refuses to prosecute anyone who prescribes or administers any “medication,” such as RU-486 or the morning after pill.

“This has nothing to do with abortion,” Lawrence said, according to local media. “This is about justice for two victims of violent crimes.”

For now, Colorado remains an outlier in the national abortion debate. But Aurora Wilkins' story – and Dynel Lane's alleged ghastly crime – have inspired people across the country to speak out.

"Imagine the love and the bond that Michelle Wilkins had for young Aurora after seven months together, the handful of sonograms that showed the young life, the heartbeats that reinforced those images and the kicking that showed someone raring to come out,” wrote Bob Confer, vice president of a New York plastics business, in the Niagara Falls Gazette. “Aurora was just as real in the womb and her family’s hearts as she would be if she were resting in a bassinet.”

“So many people are afraid to admit what those with respect for life know to be true: It doesn’t matter if someone is seven months or seven weeks pregnant, there is a life in there," he said.

"Life is important no matter the stage. It’s time we treated it like that and punished those who take it,” Confer added.

“Why should we be robbed of the Aurora Wilkinses of the world while those who take them from us can roam free?"

The vote roll call was:

No:
Rep. Su Ryden (D) 303-866-2942 [email protected]
Rep. Joe Salazar (D) 303-866-2918, [email protected]
Rep. Mike Foote (D) 303-866-2920, [email protected]
Rep. Susan Lontine (D) 303-866-2966, [email protected]
Rep. Dianne Primavera (D) 303-866-4667, [email protected]
Rep. Max Tyler (D) 303-866-2951, [email protected]

Yes:
Rep. Steve Humphrey (R) 303-866-2943, [email protected]
Rep. Patrick Neville (R) 303-866-2948, [email protected]
Rep. Jack Tate (R) 303-866-5510, [email protected]
Rep. Dan Thurlow (R) 303-866-3068, [email protected]
Rep. Yeulin Willett (R) 303-866-2583, [email protected]

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UK Green Party is ‘open’ to legalizing polygamy

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

May 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The leader of the UK Green Party, Natalie Bennett, said she is “open” to considering legalizing "marriages" between three or more people.

She made the comment in response to a question posed by a reader of the homosexualist news service Pink News, who asked, "As someone living with his two boyfriends in a stable long-term relationship, I would like to know what your stance is on polyamory rights. Is there room for Green support on group civil partnerships or marriages?"

The radically pro-homosexualist Green leader replied that while her party had no specific policy on the subject, she was "open to further conversation and consultation" about polygamy.

"At present, we do not have a policy on civil partnerships involving more than two people," she said.

"We are, uniquely in this country, a party whose policies are developed and voted for by our members. We have led the way on many issues related to the liberalization of legal status in adult consenting relationships, and we are open to further conversation and consultation."

Speaking later at the launch of the Green Party's "LGBTIQ manifesto" in London's Soho district, Bennett said, “What I said was, we’d listen to the evidence on any issue, we believe in evidence-based policy-making. I have no personal view on this at all. This is the first time the question has been put to me so what I’m prepared to do is always listen to evidence.”

Bennett added, “LGBTIQ rights have come a long way since the millennium but there’s still an awful long way to go, as our manifesto sets out. Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are still too common and too many people fear their impact in the workplace, in their schools and on the streets.”

Critics of “marriage equality” for homosexuals have long warned that the redefinition of marriage to include couples of the same sex will eventually extend that redefinition to polygamous relationships.

Michael Cook, editor of MercatorNet, said that while "activists for same-sex marriage have always insisted, that it will not lead to polygamy or polyamory, 'never, ever, ever,'" their denials are a crucial aspect of the homosexualist agenda because "if they were to concede that same-sex marriage would ultimately lead to polygamy and more imaginative forms of marriage, they would prove that there is a slippery slope. So they are forced into vehement denials."

“It’s like this,” explained Stanley Kurtz in a 2006 National Review article. “The way to abolish marriage, without seeming to abolish it, is to redefine the institution out of existence. If everything can be marriage, pretty soon nothing will be marriage. Legalize gay marriage, followed by multi-partner marriage, and pretty soon the whole idea of marriage will be meaningless.”

In Canada, defense lawyers in the 2010 trial of Winston Blackmore and James Oler of Bountiful, British Columbia, in fact used the country’s same-sex “marriage” law as justification for polygamy.

Blackmore was charged with marrying 20 women, though he openly claimed to have had 26 wives and more than 108 children. Oler was charged with marrying two women.

Blackmore's lawyer Blair Suffredine said his client had "a very strong case" in light of Canada’s legalization of homosexual "marriage."

"If [homosexuals] can marry, what is the reason that public policy says one person can’t marry more than one person?" Suffredine said at the time.

The charges in that trial were stayed when the BC Supreme Court was asked to examine the constitutionality of polygamy.

In 2011 the Court ruled that the law against polygamy was constitutional, which allowed a newly appointed BC Special Prosecutor, Peter Wilson, to continue to investigate potential criminal activity of Bountiful residents.

Gwen Landolt of Real Women of Canada, commenting on the federal government's 2014 Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Practices bill, which would strengthen the Criminal Code provisions against polygamy, told LifeSiteNews that “polygamy is harmful to women because it allows them to be abused, treating them as chattels at the discretion of a few men. They are not treated as equals and their children do not get proper parenting.”

While Green’s Natalie Bennett is "open" to considering polygamy, with its inherent possibility of a huge number of children begotten by just a few people, a longstanding member of the Green Party and one of the British government’s past advisors on environmental policies is on record for saying that if Britain is to be made "sustainable," its 60 million-plus population must be cut in half, by instituting China's model of population control.

Jonathon Porritt, a patron of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), said that in order to reduce "pressure" on the world’s ecosystems, Britain must halve its population to 30 million inhabitants.

"Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact," Porritt told the 2009 OPT annual conference.

However, a number of media wags responded to the suggestion of mass population reduction, blithely saying that if Porritt was so enthusiastic, he was welcome to be the first volunteer.

Don Surber, a columnist for the Charleston Daily Mail, wrote, "He can go first." "This Jonathan Porritt is stuck in 19th century thinking. He said the Britons are worse on the world than people in developing countries. It is a combination of Malthusian logic and white man’s burden that I find amusing," Surber said.

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Nigerian bishop: Hillary must think she’s a ‘god’ if she wants us to abandon our pro-life values

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

May 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- An African Catholic bishop has said he thinks Hillary Clinton believes she is a god, someone who doesn’t value others’ morals, and he hopes Americans will wake up to what sort of people are running to be their president.

“I believe there are three groups of people in this world,” said Bishop Emmanuel Badejo. “Those who believe in God, those who do not believe in God, and those who think they are gods.”

“Hillary Clinton I think is one of those who thinks she is a god,” he said. “And I’m not obliged to believe that.”

In an April 29 interview with the Catholic website Aleteia, the Nigerian bishop was asked about Clinton’s recent statements at the Women in the World Summit, where she said, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” to give women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth.”

In addition to Clinton’s disregard for other people’s principles, Bishop Badejo remarked that she was pandering.

“My personal opinion of Hillary Clinton is: She is seeking election in America so you can expect that, like most politicians, she will say just about anything to pander to the thoughts of whatever audience she is speaking to,” he said. “So I really think that Hillary Clinton is just speaking for votes, rather than speaking for reason.”

Clinton can’t be bothered with God, he said.

“From the way she spoke, people like herself very clearly don’t want to hear anything about God,” the bishop said. “Even if they say they believe in God, they really don’t.”

Her language makes her approach evident, said Bishop Badejo, and he thinks she’s become too wrapped up in technology, losing sight of the fact that people have their own values, including African people. 

“We talk about the dignity of life, the sanctity of life, etc. Is she saying they ought to be changed?” he asked. “Well, I don’t know what she is talking about. What are human beings going to change to?”

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Bishop Badejo has in the past criticized the cultural imperialism exhibited by some groups by way of foisting population control efforts and the homosexual agenda on African nations, and said that life is sacred for the African people.

In his most recent Aleteia interview he said God created the people of Africa this way in his infinite wisdom, “which I think might be a little bit more than Hillary Clinton’s.”

God did this to add to the beauty of his creation, he said, and those who push for such things to be imposed across the board don’t know the meaning of beauty, “which is found in variety, in color,” he said.

Those who don’t get this shouldn’t get to make the rules for others, the bishop said.

“If these values are not precious to Hillary Clinton,” said Bishop Badejo, “I think she has no right at all to call for a change in religious values and religious beliefs.”

He remarked how Clinton’s agenda of not respecting people’s values was evident despite her choice of language. 

“She also called them ‘structural biases.’ Again, that is a misuse of language,” he said. “‘Biases,’ to many people, are the things that make them who they are.” 

“So that’s as much importance as I attach to Hillary Clinton’s statement about cultural beliefs,” Bishop Badejo concluded. “It is my desire that the American people open their ears and their eyes and know exactly what kind of people are running to be the next President of the United States.”

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