Hope dims for pro-life Polish Catholic now dying of hunger, thirst in English hospital
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WEST MIDLANDS, England, January 16, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Time is running out for a comatose Polish Catholic in England whose birth family has failed to convince the European Court of Human Rights to save his life. The judge who dismissed the case was a former member of George Soros’s pro-euthanasia Open Society.
The Polish patient, known to the English-speaking public only as “RS” or “P,” thanks to a court order protecting his identity, was disconnected from hydration and nutrition on Thursday, January 14, 2021 after a temporary stay on the December 15, 2020 decision to remove all life-support from the disabled man expired. This followed the ECHR’s second rejection of an application by his birth family to protect his right to life.
Yesterday Polish individuals and members of the Polish media, including Solidarity Weekly’s tysol.pl and Polonia Christiana’s online newspaper PCh24.pl, chose to publish details that could identify RS, including video footage of him lying in hospital. Members of RS’s birth family took video footage of RS on Christmas Day, so as to get an opinion of his condition from their own chosen neurologist. LifeSiteNews cannot publish the material without its Britain-based reporter being charged with contempt of court.
Meanwhile, LifeSiteNews has received word that protests outside the hospital are being planned.
RS is receiving palliative care including pain relief and sedatives.
According to the Christian Legal Centre’s Dr Roger Kiska, the first case put before the ECHR was rejected by a single Bulgarian judge, Yonko Grosev, 55, because RS’s family members, represented by RS’s niece, were not deemed to be closely enough related to the sick man. Kiska told LifeSiteNews that he second case was dismissed by a registrar, who deemed it “manifestly ill-founded.”
Kiska also told LifeSiteNews that the Christian Legal Centre is trying to get a new ECHR judge to consider the case.
“We have made an urgent application with the European Court for the judge who made the decision, Judge Grozev, to be recused and for another judge to be assigned to the application,” he said via email on Saturday afternoon.
“Prior to becoming a judge, Mr Grozev was a long-time member of the George Soros funded Open Society Foundation which advocates for the type of euthanasia being utilised in the R.S. case,” Kiska continued.
“We are hoping that some media attention to the request can keep the case alive and that the ECHR may reconsider its earlier decision.”
The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the birth family, indicated in its latest press release that the “family's hope now is for a strong intervention from the Polish government and the wider international community.”
The Polish government has taken an interest in the case, and a representative from the Polish Embassy to the United Kingdom has been present at recent hearings. RS’s fate has caught the public interest in Poland and in England’s large Polish community.
Today Catholic newspaper Polonia Christiana published a timeline of all the actions Poland’s government has done on behalf of RS and his birth family. These included contacting the British Foreign Office and petitioning the ECHR. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs also petitioned Mr Justice Cohen to allow RS to be airlifted to Poland. Cohen refused, and his refusal was upheld by Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Jackson of the Court of Appeal.
Polonia Christiana also published a statement from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicating that they are “monitoring” the situation.
“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs wishes to underscore that in the matter of the Polish citizen in a hospital in Great Britain, within our ability and mandate, we have taken all possible measures at the political, legal and consular levels,” it said.
“The present case is being monitored by the authorities of the Polish Republic, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Embassy of the Polish Republic in London. We express our understand and solidarity with the family of the Polish citizen, which is going through a difficult time right now.”
A leading Catholic bioethicist objects to RS’s court-ordered fate
Dr. David Jones of England’s Anscombe Bioethics Centre has also released a statement on the case because it is a matter of public record that RS is a devout, pro-life Catholic.
“What is unusual in this case, and is the reason for this comment, is that RS is described as a committed practising Catholic who had 'expressed his disagreement with a widely reported case in England where the decision was to terminate medical treatment for a very small child born with serious abnormalities. He was religiously conservative, opposed to abortion, even for an unborn child likely to be medically compromised, and was opposed to euthanasia,’” Jones wrote.
“Despite these well-attested views, which were accepted as accurate, the Court declared food and fluids not to be in the best interests of RS because he had previously stated that ‘he never wanted to be a burden if he was seriously ill’ and, in view of his wife, ‘he would not want his children to see him in his current condition’,” Jones continued.
“She also bore witness that he had said that ‘every life is precious and that you must hold onto life, and also that if anything happened to him, he would want all steps to be taken to save him but that if he was beyond saving he did not want to be kept alive’.”
Jones objects to “undue” weight given by the Court to such statements as not wanting to be a burden because, although few would want to be a burden, this does not indicate someone, let alone a devout Roman Catholic, would want to “discontinue all treatment and even basic care.”
“These statements therefore should not be taken to license the deprivation of food and water from someone in a coma or a minimally conscious state," Jones continued.
“In particular, someone who is strongly committed to the teaching of the Catholic Church may make these or similar statements and yet regard food and water, however provided, as part of basic care rather than a medical treatment.”
Jones also pointed out how ordering someone to die of hunger or thirst is particularly objectionable to Catholics.
“From a Catholic perspective, to provide food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty is a corporal work of mercy," he observed.
“Patients should not be abandoned to die from lack of nutrition or hydration, however that is best provided,” he continued.
“There may be extreme cases where neither oral nor clinically assisted nutrition or hydration is effective in addressing patient needs or where they are no longer needed, as the patient is very close to natural death. However, if the means of addressing the need for nutrition and hydration are effective and well tolerated and if the person is expected to live ‘for five years or longer’ then to deprive the person of food and water is unethical. It is no more or less than to starve or dehydrate the person to death.”
Jones stated that it was “regrettable” that the Court of Appeal didn’t think the view of the Catholic Church was “appropriate” in RS’s case. He also pointed out the dangers inherent in the British courts taking statements about not wishing to be “a burden […] as a valid reason to deprive the person of life-sustaining treatment or care.”
RS’s wife has sided with her husband’s doctors in seeking to stop his “medical treatment.” She has gone to some lengths to present her Mass-going husband as someone who might dissent from Catholic doctrine. Notably she sent Mr Justice Cohen a private letter detailing her premarital relationship with RS, who married her although her previous marriage had not been annulled by the Church. Although RS could not receive the sacraments, he continued to go to Mass. One of RS’s sisters told LifeSiteNews that her brother thought there were grounds for the annulment of his wife’s first marriage.
RS’s birth family has consistently resisted the withdrawal of RS’s hydration and nutrition, challenging the December 15 decision on at least three occasions. Whereas RS’s wife has stated that her husband would not want to be a “burden” on his family, his birth family have underscored that RS is a devout Catholic, opposed to both abortion and euthanasia. One of RS’s sisters told LifeSiteNews via email that her brother was “outraged” by the Alfie Evans case.
“He did not agree that the courts and doctors could decide to pull the plug on someone. He criticized the judges who sentenced Alfie to death,” she said.
RS’s birth family also covertly took video footage of RS on Christmas Day and showed it to two neurologists who believe that RS was moving into a minimally conscious state. However, the Court of Appeal, which echoed Mr Justice Cohen’s disapproval for the first neurologist, would not allow an appeal that the second be allowed to do a full examination of RS.
Contact information for respectful communication:
British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
+1 (202) 588-6500
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
British High Commission
+1 (613) 237-1530
80 Elgin Street Ottawa Ontario K1P 5K7
Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary
House of Commons
020 7219 7069