By Steve Jalsevac
TORONTO, December 3, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At the first International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Toronto this past weekend there was a true coalition of diverse individuals with often diametrically opposed views on abortion, faith, homosexuality and other issues. However, they were all generally united in the common belief that the world has now entered a very dangerous phase of increasingly approved killing of people with disabilities, seriously ill and otherwise vulnerable persons via euthanasia or assisted suicide.
There were religious people, atheists, pro-life leaders fighting abortion and others strongly in favour of abortion, pro-family and pro-homosexual advocates. However, those issues were largely set aside for most of the two day conference as some of the very best speakers made awesome presentations on the issues they all came to discuss – euthanasia, assisted suicide and directly related other issues, such as the wide variety of definitions of brain death.
Although the above might sound rather macabre, the speakers and attendees were anything but doom and gloom types. On the contrary there was a very alive, joyful spirit and determination to fight this latest advance of the culture of death.
Three speakers gave their presentations from their wheelchairs. Their determination to resist the discrimination that often wants to end their lives as not worthy to be lived was instructive about the reality of what is now happening in our hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions.
Hospitals across North America and Europe have become battlegrounds where relatives of patients struggle against doctors, staff negligence and increasingly willfull deprivation of life sustaining treatment. After hearing the talks and from discussions in the halls with participants, one quickly realized that no relative should be left alone in any hospital or other care facility without regular visits. There should be lots of regular questions from family regarding treatment and nutrition and hydration being provided.
As for anyone who might have been in favour of euthanasia for themselves or others before arriving at the conference (as more than a few anti-abortion people are – especially the elderly) it would have been difficult to retain that mistaken view after hearing the presentations and discussions at the conference.
Bobby Schindler moved many participants to tears with the story about his sister Terri Schiavo’s forced death by removal of food and water and the terrible lack of support from many elements of the establishment, including local bishops and other clergy.
Wesley Smith gave a sweeping overview of current developments on the issues. Dr. Paul Byrne generated intense discussions for hours afterwards over his disturbing revelations about what are often fraudulent, arbitrary definitions of brain death designed to facilitate quicker removal of vital organs from living people for transplants .
Barbara Farlow related the devastating story of her tiny disabled daughter’s death from deliberate negligence by the medical staff at a prominent Toronto region children’s hospital. Physicians had decided, without the Farlows knowing, that their baby’s life was not worth living despite her family’s constant care and overflowing love for her.
There was far more of significance that occurred at this watershed event. LifeSiteNews will publish more stories about the conference in the days ahead.