Robert R. Reilly

Queering education: it’s worse than you think

Robert R. Reilly
By Robert Reilly
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June 10, 2013 (Mercatornet.com) - The logic works like this: If homosexual acts are moral, as so many now insist, then they should be normative. If they are normative, they should be taught in our schools as a standard. If they are a standard, they should be enforced. And so it has come, and is coming, to be. Education is an essential part of the drive to universalize the rationalization for homosexual behavior; so it must become a mandatory part of the curriculum.

The infiltration of higher education by LGBT studies is well known. However, less attention seems to have been paid to the effort to spread LGBT propaganda in elementary schools and high schools. Because of the young ages of students K through 12, the introduction of pro-homosexual materials has required a special sensitivity from those who are trying to get away with it. They must avoid the explicit nature of the LGBT courses offered at the college level and disguise the effort in terms of something other than what it really is. Therefore, they use a stealth approach under the cover of issues such as school safety, diversity, and bullying.

One of the primary organizations involved in spreading the rationalization for homosexual behavior in elementary and high schools is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), begun in 1990 in Massachusetts. According to its mission statement, GLSEN “strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. We believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike”.

The statement sounds fairly anodyne, though its clear purpose is to make homosexuality acceptable, and for good reason. GLSEN’s founder, homosexual activist Kevin Jennings, spoke at a homosexual conference on March 5, 1995, titled "Winning the Culture War", in which he laid out the rhetorical strategy for success. It is worth quoting at length for what it reveals about the agenda. Jennings said:

"If the Radical Right can succeed in portraying us as preying on children, we will lose. Their language – 'promoting homosexuality' is one example – is laced with subtle and not-so-subtle innuendo that we are 'after their kids.' We must learn from the abortion struggle, where the clever claiming of the term 'pro-life' allowed those who opposed abortion on demand to frame the issue to their advantage, to make sure that we do not allow ourselves to be painted into a corner before the debate even begins. In Massachusetts the effective reframing of this issue was the key to the success of the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.

"We immediately seized upon the opponent's calling card – safety – and explained how homophobia represents a threat to students' safety by creating a climate where violence, name-calling, health problems, and suicide are common. Titling our report 'Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth,' we automatically threw our opponents onto the defensive and stole their best line of attack. This framing short-circuited their arguments and left them back-pedaling from day one. " 

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So successful was Mr Jennings in his framing operation that he was appointed in the first Obama administration to the position of Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, in the Department of Education. The irony was not lost on 52 members of Congress, who wrote to President Obama requesting that he rescind the appointment because Mr. Jennings had, as the letter stated, “for more than 20 years, almost exclusively focused on promoting the homosexual agenda”. Mr. Obama did not do so, and Mr. Jennings served in the position for two years.

GLSEN’s mission of promoting a safe and supportive environment for students of all sexual orientations means providing the approval of those orientations. In the Safe Space Kit: Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students, GSLEN provides an examination of conscience for those wanting to be allies to LGBT students. Here are some of the searching questions: “If someone were to come out to you as LGBT, what would your first thought be? Have you ever been to in LGBT social event, march or worship service? Why or why not? Have you ever laughed at or made a joke at the expense of LGBT people?” 

With an Orwellian touch, the Safe Space Kit advises that, during casual conversations and classroom time, one should “make sure the language you are using is inclusive of all people. When referring to people in general, try using words like ‘partner’ instead of ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ or ‘husband/wife’, and avoid gendered pronouns, using ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’. What’s wrong with referring to a man as “he” and to a woman as “she”? Well, the glossary helps us to understand the definition of gender as “a social construct based on a group of emotional, behavioral and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s assigned biological sex”.

The whole point of GSLEN is that, if you don’t like the “gender construct” society has assigned you, you can construct another for yourself, and have every right to expect that everyone should go along with you.

As far as students “coming out” are concerned, one should realize that “it can be a difficult and emotional process for an LGBT student to go through, which is why it is so important for a student to have support”. In other words, encourage them by providing approval and support. Whatever you do, however, don’t advise the student not to tell anyone. Why not? Because, the booklet answers, “This implies that there is something wrong and that being LGBT must be kept hidden”.

Gay-Straight Alliances

To help carry out this work there are “Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), student clubs that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. 4,000 GSAs are registered with GLSEN.” The number of GSAs should give some idea of the scope of this organization’s influence. Among the activities sponsored by GLSEN and its affiliates are: the Day of Silence, National Coming Out Day, and GSA Day. On January 24, 2012, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, gave official government approval of the first GSA Day through a GSA PSA on YouTube commemorating the event and endorsing GSA clubs in schools.  So this is an officially endorsed event.

GLSEN is also hard at work providing role models for LGBT students. NBA player Jason Collins, who plays center for the Washington Wizards basketball team, announced he was a homosexual in an article for the Sports Illustrated website on April 29, 2013. Hardly a week passed before, on May 8, 2013, GLSEN, announced it would honor Collins with the Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards in New York on Monday, May 20. "We are incredibly proud to honor Jason Collins with our Courage Award," said Dr Byard. "His decision to come out is a game-changer for sports”.

In the classroom

What does this kind of thing actually translate into in the classroom? The film, It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues In School, is the first item recommended on the Book Link page on GLSEN’s website. It’s Elementary is, according to its makers, “the groundbreaking film that addresses anti-gay prejudice by providing adults with practical lessons on how to talk with children about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people”. The filmmakers visited six elementary and middle schools to film teachers and students discussing “gay and lesbian issues” in their classrooms. The purpose was to explore "what happens when experienced teachers talk about lesbians and gay men with their students". It aired on more than 100 public television stations in 1999 and continues to be widely used.

This film is worth some detailed attention not only because of its wide circulation, but because it seems to incorporate what GLSEN advocates. In fact, GLSEN’s founder Kevin Jennings said, “It’s Elementary is the most important film dealing with LGBT issues and safe schools ever made. It took a topic that was mystifying to many people and made it real, inspiring an entire generation of educators to see how they could make a difference…. No other film has had a bigger impact on LGBT issues in the schools.” 

Through means of a transcript, let us examine what the film presents. It should be noted that the film is a documentary. Though it obviously has its own strong pro-homosexual point of view, it is simply recording what is already taking place in the schools from first to eighth grade classrooms in the way of inculcating the acceptance of homosexuality as a norm.

At a filmed meeting of the faculty at Cambridge Friends School, a Quaker school in Cambridge, MA, a teacher declares, "What we're trying to have people do is to understand that people are. And we have to respect the right of all of us to just be, and be who we are, and we do that in the classroom when we teach so that everyone can learn. ‘There isn't a right way, there isn't a wrong way, there isn't a good way, there isn't a bad way’”. So much for Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This teaching, however, comports perfectly with the Space Safe Kit’s advice to “Show students that you understand there is no one way a person ‘should’ be”.

This sophistical message obviously works. A 3rd grader summed it up by saying, “I don't get it. Who cares if you're gay? Do you care? It's like, duh, you're gay”.  Who cares? The entire homosexual lobby, which has been pushing its rationalization to reach this exact point, cares.

In another filmed venue, a first grader at Public School 87 in New York City, Emily, reads to the class from her Mother’s Day essay:

"My mothers mean so, so, so, so, so much to me. I have two mothers. Two moms is pretty nice. Well, it's more than pretty nice, it's really nice. You can't imagine. Although having two mothers is a problem to others, I respect that that's the way they think, and I can't do anything about it. I still think that those people think stupidly. This once happened with a boy in my class who couldn't come to my house because my parents were lesbians. One night I called their house and their mother told me their version of the Bible. I stood up for my mothers and knew that many kids in my class were supporting me and calling me to see how I was. I am proud of my moms and enjoy marching in the gay pride march every single year with my moms."

Teacher: "Wasn't that a nice essay? Shouldn't we give Emily a round of applause?" (Applause ) 

Evidently, no one has told poor Emily that one of her parents is a dad.

As the responses of the children throughout this film demonstrate, propaganda works. All you have to do is repeat it often enough before their minds are formed. Children can be easily exploited, as the film demonstrates.

Whose children are they?

The background song with the closing credits has these lyrics (taken from Khalil Gibran): “Your children are not your children; They come through you, but they are not from you; And though they are with you, they belong not to you; You can house their bodies but not their souls…”

Well, then, if not their parents’, whose children are they? One may be sure that wherever same-sex “marriage” has been legally enshrined, it will be taught in schools with or without the permission of parents. In this respect, the children will belong to the state and its schools. Massachusetts, which legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2003, is exhibit A.

In 2005, kindergartners in Lexington, Massachusetts, were given a "Diversity Book Bag" to take home, which is what the 5-year-old son of David and Tonia Parker did. To the parents’ shock, it contained a picture book, titled Who’s in a Family? In it, are approvingly displayed same-sex “parents” such as: "Robin's family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad's partner, Henry, and Robin's cat, Sassy”. The author Who’s in a Family?, Robert Skutch, explained in a National Public Radio interview, "Here and Now", May 3, 2005, “The whole purpose of the book was to get the subject [of same-sex parent households] out into the minds and the awareness of children before they are old enough to have been convinced that there's another way of looking at life”.

The Parkers wrote a letter to the principal stating, “There is a book included entitled, Who's in a Family (with pictures) that include lesbian and homosexual couples with children – implicitly equating this family structure as a morally equal alternative to other family constructs. We stand firmly against this book or any other subject matter pertaining to homosexuality ever being indoctrinated to our child, discussed in school, or sent home. We don't believe gay parents constitute a spiritually healthy family and should not be celebrated”. The Parkers requested advance notification of any such material in the future and indicated that they wished to opt out their son from any future exposure “to any sexual orientation/homosexual material/same sex unions between parents”.

The principal responded: “I have confirmed with our Assistant Superintendent and our Director of Health Education that discussion of differing families, including gay-headed families, is not included in the parental notification policy”. On April 27, David Parker, went to the school for a scheduled meeting and insisted that he would not leave until the issue was resolved. As a consequence he was arrested by the Lexington police and charged with "trespassing". He spent the night in jail.

The next year, at the same school, a second grade teacher read the book, King & King, to the students as part of an educational unit on weddings. In the book, the Queen is frustrated that she cannot interest her son in any of the princesses she presents to him as prospective brides. Then, one day he sees the brother of one of the princesses. “At last, the prince felt a stir in his heart... It was love at first sight”, the book exclaims. The pictorial depiction of the subsequent wedding shows the two “Kings” holding hands. The last picture is of the two of them kissing.

Parents Robb and Robin Wirthlin complained that they had not been notified about the reading or its contents, to which they objected. Robin Wirthlin appeared on CNN, saying, “We felt like seven years old is not appropriate to introduce homosexual themes… My problem is that this issue of romantic attraction between two men is being presented to my seven-year-old as wonderful, and good and the way things should be… Let us know and let us excuse our child from the discussion”.  They were told that the school was under no obligation to notify them or to allow their child to opt out.

In 2006, the Wirthlins and the Parkers filed a federal lawsuit against the school district of Estabrook Elementary School, claiming that the school was engaging in sex education without parental notification, in violation of their civil rights and state law. Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf, of the U.S. District Court dismissed the lawsuit, saying “Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation… [The Department of Education] also encourages instruction concerning different types of families… Some families are headed by same-sex couples”.

The ramifications of his judgment became abundantly clear in 2008, when Dr. Paul B. Ash, the superintendent of Lexington Public Schools, announced the “new, formalized diversity curriculum in preparation for the next year, when we plan to pilot 4 to 5 short units in each elementary grade. Some units will focus on families, including families with single parents, foster parents, and gay and lesbian parents”.  A parent, Shawn Landon, protested, demanding “prior notification to any discussion, education, training, reading or anything at all related (even remotely) to homosexuality”.

Here is part of Dr Ash’s response to the father:

“… perhaps you are not aware of the lawsuit decided by the United States Court of Appeals (Parker vs. Hurley). This case established Lexington's right to teach diversity units, including stories that show same gender parents. The court decided we are not required to inform parents in advance of teaching units that include same gender parents or required to release students when such topics are discussed. The Appeals Court dismissed the claim that parents have a right to require the school provide advance notice or the right to remove their children. In addition, the School Committee has decided that teachers must be able to teach topics they feel are appropriate without the requirement parents be notified in advance”.

Recall Jean Jacques Rousseau’s prescription for the replacement of the family by the state: “The public authority, in assuming the place of father and charging itself with this important function (should) acquire his (the father’s) rights in the discharge of his duties”. This prescription was filled in Massachusetts. One can expect its spread wherever same-sex “marriage” is mandated by the state.

Gender-bending

Back to the classroom, we have another GLSEN publication, Elementary School Toolkit, subtitled Ready, Set, Respect!, to assist the state in its usurpation of parental duties. This booklet advises on how to deal with certain children being perceived as “not behaving ‘enough’ like a boy or ‘enough’ like a girl”. It states: “As educators we have the opportunity to create environments that not only support students as they develop an awareness of gender but that also challenge the stereotypes that may impair healthy development”.

As if on cue, in May 2013, the Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities, a Milwaukee elementary school, sponsored a “Gender Bender Day” for which the students were asked to dress as a member of the opposite sex. “I think it’s just teaching them the wrong lesson about gender”, one parent told local Fox affiliate WITI. “If you’re a boy, stay a boy. You shouldn’t have something like that at school”. Another parent said she was ‘speechless’ about the school’s decision day. She, like some other parents, ended up keeping her son home from school that day. A school-board member dismissed parents’ concerns, saying they were ‘using the kids for political purposes.’ In an effort to appease upset parents, the school changed the name to ‘Switch It Up Day.’ In fact, WITI couldn’t find many students participating in the themed day when it finally came last Friday; it appears to be mostly teachers and other staffers”.  On Fox-6 News TV, one mother protested: “I don’t want to send my son to school dressed as girl. He’s only 7 years old.”

However, this is clearly the age at which some homosexual ideologues and their allies would like to reach children with their propaganda. The extent to which this can go becomes, on occasion, unintentionally hilarious. In the Ready, Set, Respect! booklet, for instance, teachers are advised to “write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender-expressions”. For example, “Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta. If each costs $.75, how much will all three boxes cost?” This reads as if some now unemployed Soviet or Sandinista propagandist wrote it. If it were written during the Cold War, they would be buying Kalashnikovs, not pasta but, of course, then there would have been only one dad, not two.

What happened to innocence?

It is a measure of the depravity of the homosexual movement that it will not spare the innocence of children in the spread of its rationalization, which must embrace everyone at every age, regardless of price. Innocence cannot be left to stand in its way. As shocking as some of the classroom and reading material may be, it is all part of the inexorable logic of the situation playing itself out.

Classroom presentations by homosexuals or on the subject of homosexuality are invitations to obscenity and inevitably lead to the question asked by one boy during It’s Elementary: “How do you guys do it?” The response was, “We are not allowed to talk about our personal sex lives – we can't do that”. Nevertheless, with the question implanted, curious young minds will ineluctably be drawn to the subject of sodomy. “So that’s what those nice guys who talked with us do? There must not be anything wrong with it”. Mission accomplished – to make the abnormative normative before the children have developed their critical faculties of thought.

Everyone who has an affliction deserves respect and consideration. But respect does not require calling the affliction something other than what it is – much less its opposite. One cannot teach about sickness and at the same time call it health. It is much worse to promote moral sickness as moral well-being – especially to children.

To teach children that one’s orientation, sexual or otherwise, gives one license to perform acts that are inherently immoral is an evil teaching. It scandalizes the children. It also degrades the dignity of human free will and responsibility to teach that these acts are inevitable outcomes of “who we are”, rather than as freely chosen deeds with consequences in terms of both moral and physical health.

Robert R. Reilly is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He is currently completing a book on the natural law argument against homosexual marriage for Ignatius Press. This article reprinted from Mercatornet.com under a Creative Commons License. 

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Kermit Gosnell considers himself a ‘martyr’: Gosnell filmmakers

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By Ben Johnson

HUNGTINGDON, PA, May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Spending life in prison without parole for murdering several newborn babies, Kermit Gosnell spends his days listening to music and thinking of himself as a “martyr,” according to the makers of the forthcoming Kermit Gosnell film.

Producers Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, and Magdalena Segeida interviewed Gosnell for hours at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania – and they came away saying the doctor is remorseless, self-pitying, and enjoying far more liberty than they thought would be granted to a mass murderer.

The producers visited the central Pennsylvania penitentiary and spoke to the the late-term abortionist up-close – a little too close, they say. McElhinney said Gosnell sat uncomfortably close to her throughout the multihour session.

“We have just come back from Pennsylvania where we were the first journalists to sit down in prison to interview Gosnell,” the producers said in a mass e-mail to their supporters. “The two hours we spent interviewing the former abortion doctor were two of the most disturbing hours of our journalistic careers.”

“The interview was one of the creepiest we have ever conducted,” the mass e-mail continued.

Gosnell, they recounted, “is thought to have murdered hundreds if not thousands of babies in a 30 year killing spree.” Yet he has access to music, a subject he discussed at length. At one point, McElhinney said, Gosnell burst out into song.

Ann McElhinney told The Daily Signal, “I’m amazed at how pleasant his life is, the freedoms he has.”

Far from having repented of his crimes, Gosnell continues to justify his actions, they said.

“In his own version of the story, he’s a martyr – he’s part of a hounded class,” McElhinney said.

That assessment corroborates the views of others who interviewed the onetime proprietor of the “house of horrors,” where newborn babies had their spines severed, untrained staff administered fatal doses of drugs to poor women, and aborted fetal remains were found stuffed into every available crevice.

In September 2013, Steve Volk interviewed Gosnell for Philadelphia Magazine. Gosnell, he wrote, “sees himself as having performed a noble function in society.”

"It's not as if he feels guilty about what he did,” Volk said. "He believes he was a soldier at war with poverty.”

By plying his trade in poverty-stricken West Philadelphia, in a majority minority neighborhood, Gosnell believed he helped reduce the city's low income population.

“In this larger spiritual sense, he believes he was performing a service for people,” Volk said.

After his conviction, Gosnell sought to work with Hillary Clinton's embattled charity, the Clinton Global Initiative or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on issues of "prison and justice reform.”

"He believes that he gained insight into what it's like to be pushed into the system, without the capacity to explain himself," Volk said.

Gosnell's self-confidence has seldom been questioned, from the dismissive way he treated police who searched his home – playing Chopin on the piano as they searched his flea-ridden basement – to the way he carried himself in court. Defense attorney Jack McMahon had also told reporters after the guilty verdict that the mass murderer “truly believes in himself.”

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The filmmakers, who have produced several right-of-center documentaries, plan to make a big budget, big screen film about Gosnell's life. They continue to raise funds for their efforts at GosnellMovie.com.

But they may need a breather after encountering Gosnell himself.

“I’m still recovering, actually,” McElhinney told the Signal.

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Josh Duggar apologizes, admits ‘wrongdoing’ as young teen amid molestation accusations; resigns from FRC

By John-Henry Westen

Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In response to allegations in the media that he molested minor girls when he was in his early teens, Josh Duggar has admitted in a public statement that he acted "inexcusably" at the time, and has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council.

A 2006 police report leaked to the media states that Josh was investigated for sex offenses, including "forcible fondling" against five minors.

According to the report, the first allegations surfaced in March 2002, the same month he turned 14. At the time the family dealt with the allegations internally. A year later, however, when further allegations were made, the family sent Josh to work with a family friend for three months, after which his father took Josh to see a state trooper.

According to the report, the trooper gave Josh a "stern talk" about what would happen if he "continued such behavior," but no formal action was taken at the time.

The issue emerged again in 2006, after a family friend had written details about the allegations in letter and placed it in a book, which was subsequently loaned out. This resulted in a call being placed to a child abuse hotline, which in turn led to a formal investigation being opened. By this point, however, the statute of limitations had expired, and as there had been no new allegations or evidence that the abuse was ongoing, the case was dropped.

Although Josh was never charged, his now-wife, Anna, says that he confessed his actions to her and her parents two years before he asked her to marry him.

"I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions," he said in a statement today. "In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption."

Anna said she was "surprised" when Josh had voluntarily admitted what he had done to her and her parents two years before proposing to her. "I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it," she wrote today. "For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes."

"I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis," she added. "If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right."

LifeSiteNews is continuing to investigate this developing story. Following are the Duggar family’s statements responding to media reports about the incidents.

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.

Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday.

It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. 

We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.

I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married - it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him.

When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn't know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was -- even every difficult past mistakes.

At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him... I was able to say, "Yes" knowing who Josh really is - someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.

I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren't for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Dutch court acquits man who euthanized his mother after doctor refused

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

May 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A Dutch appeals court acquitted a 74 year-old man earlier this month of the murder of his mother in 2008, because he acted in an “emergency situation”: the woman wanted euthanasia and had not obtained it from her family doctor.

The decision is a surprising one, even in the Netherlands, and will probably be followed by an appeal from the public prosecutor, who has already published a communiqué reminding the public that euthanasia and assisted suicide “are and remain, in the eyes of the prosecutor, exclusively to be performed by a doctor.” But as it stands, it marks a new step down the slippery slope of euthanasia in that it justifies an act of euthanasia contrary to the letter of the law on the grounds that the accused, Albert Heringa, was careful to act in compliance with the law’s provisions, the court ruled.

Albert Heringa acted in accordance with his conscience of his own duty and he was right to do so, ruled the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court, because his sense of duty “justly” carried more weight than the legal prohibition of the act, which in theory can only be decriminalized when performed by a medical doctor under strict conditions.

The accused said he was “very happy” about the decision. The Netherlands Right to Die Society (NVVE) hailed it as “a step in the direction we want to follow.” “Many people who consider their life complete wish to be helped by loved ones,” said its spokeswoman, Fiona Zonneveld.

The judges did not take into account the fact that Albert Heringa’s mother, “Moek,” was deemed ineligible for euthanasia by her doctor.

In 2008, Moek was 99. She had no grave illness; she was just old and blind and did not feel like living any longer, calling her suffering “unbearable” and “without hope of improvement.” When her doctor refused euthanasia on those grounds, she turned to her son who decided to help his mother die. He was later to explain that his mother started hoarding her medication in order to kill herself through an overdose. The pills she was taking would not have been able to bring about her death, he argued, but would have made her health much worse. This was confirmed during the subsequent judicial enquiry.

Heringa decided to go to work “transparently,” filming his every gesture in view of the killing of his mother. He used an overdose of his own malaria pills together with sleeping pills and anti-emetics to poison her. The films were later used to illustrate a documentary on “Moek’s last wish,” which was aired in 2010 on Dutch TV. The appeals court judges took this “transparency” into account in their decision to acquit him.

The public prosecution was not so lax. Despite the “rectitude” of Heringa’s intention, it accused the man of not having acted in compliance with the law. In 2013, he was judged guilty but exempted from punishment. The prosecution appealed that decision, demanding a three months suspended prison sentence in order to underscore the illegality of his actions. But the Arnhem-Leeuwarden appeals court went even further than the first judges in exonerating him completely.

They invoked the euthanasia law, which decriminalizes euthanasia when no other “reasonable solution” is available to alleviate a patient’s suffering and thus avoid euthanasia, but in this case they equated the potential “reasonable solution” with the ability to find a doctor who would be willing to perform the act, as if euthanasia were a patient right. Heringa could not find one, therefore he was justified in taking the law in his own hands, the judgment says in substance.

This marks a double revolution. Firstly, the court overlooked the legal requirement that a doctor should perform euthanasia, and no one else. Secondly, it justified euthanasia on a woman who was simply “tired of living,” a situation for which the euthanasia law definitely does not provide.

But this is just another element of the Pandora’s box that was opened when the Netherlands legalized euthanasia in 2002. Increasingly, regional control commissions, which verify all declared acts of euthanasia retrospectively, have cleared “mercy-killings” of elderly people who had multiple complaints but no single life-threatening disease. “Intolerable suffering” is being interpreted more and more widely. In Heringa’s case, it is simply his mother’s plea for euthanasia that justified the act in the eyes of the court.

The court even went so far as to say that Heringa would have had to live with a “sense of guilt until the end of his life” had he not taken measures to end his mother’s life.

In 2011, the Dutch medical association KNMG changed its position on “intolerable suffering,” declaring that “unbearable and hopeless” suffering can result from other causes than physical illness. Also, the End of Life Clinic founded in 2012 caters to euthanasia requests that have been refused by patients’ family doctors on conscientious or medical grounds. Would Heringa have found a doctor willing to perform euthanasia on his mother in this new situation?

Whatever the answer to that question – and no one will ever know – the fact of his acquittal is a definite sign that euthanasia is being treated more and more as a right and an acceptable option in the Netherlands. It is also good news for unscrupulous family members who might find it expedient to push their relatives towards the grave.

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