Skip to comments.Experts at Euthanasia Symposium Stress Unity, Strategy, and the Triumph of Love over Suffering
Posted on 06/02/2009 1:25:38 PM PDT by wagglebee
LANSDOWNE, Virginia, June 2, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Anti-euthanasia advocates from around the globe gathered last weekend at the Second International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide to join in a rigorous discussion sketching the past and laying the groundwork for a broad-based coalition against euthanasia across the world.
The symposium took place May 29-30 at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Virginia. An audience of 120 listened to information-packed sessions describing the history of the euthanasia movement, analyses of recent success and failure, current dangers, as well as countless personal stories from around the world.
Rita Marker, the executive director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, opened the Friday sessions with a penetrating look at the history of the euthanasia movement and its roots in the Hemlock Society of a quarter century ago. Noting the overall trend of success in defeating assisted suicide laws in America, Marker criticized the notion that the euthanasia legislation passed in Oregon and Washington were "inevitable," and urged activists not to be fooled into complacency after individual bills are defeated.
"Not many - some, but not many - people on our side work until they're so dog tired they can hardly move, but they keep working more," said Marker. "But on the other side, they do, because they're truly dedicated to what they're doing. We need people who are dedicated."
Attorney Margaret Dore, who analyzed the strategy on either side of Washington State's assisted suicide initiative, pointed out that the words of the initiative include no safeguards against involuntary euthanasia - contrary to the claims of its proponents. "It's not about choice. 'Choice' is a lie," said Dore.
Renowned bioethicist Wesley Smith offered his thoughts on what he calls the "coup d'culture" that has turned society towards "an obsessive fear and ... avoidance of not only suffering, but difficulty."
"It is distorting our culture, and it is changing it, and it is mutating it, into something that is not as compassionate as we should be, that is not as caring as we should be," said Smith. "If the point of society is to make sure you don't suffer, that will often be making sure there aren't any sufferers. Which isn't only about making sure the sufferer doesn't suffer, but putting the sufferer out of our misery."
Randy Richardson, father of Laura Richardson, and Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo and founder of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, told of the fight to resist pressures to withdraw food and hydration from loved ones incorrectly diagnosed as in a "persistent vegetative state." Lionel Roosemont of Belgium also shared the story of his struggle to raise a child with severe disabilities amid the entrenched euthanasia culture in his country.
Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake of Not Dead Yet, as well as the U.K.'s Alison Davis of No Less Human, represented the concerns of an international disabled community aware of a growing assumption that individuals with disabilities are, in their words, "better off dead."
Davis, who suffers from spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and multiple other disabilities, says she is in constant need of morphine to lessen the crippling pain that in the past drove her to attempt suicide several times. However, she says, had she succeeded, she would have missed the best years of her life. Recently she has been engaging in charity work for disabled children in third-world countries.
"In my experience, when the pain is bad, what I need is not to be told I'm burdensome and it's my choice whether I want to live or die, and that perhaps I would be better off dead," said Davis. "What I need is to be surrounded by people who tell me, yes, my life does have value, and I'm not burdensome ... they can't take the pain away, but sometimes it's not the pain that hurts the most, it's the fear of being abandoned."
Davis' full-time assistant and director of the anti-euthanasia group ALERT, Colin Harte, criticized the euthanasia movement for being rooted in a deep fear of both experiencing and witnessing suffering, and said the "secret of love" is often revealed by suffering. "By walking with those of suffering, the effect on us can be profound," said Harte. "It's wrong to see suffering ... as the complete absence of joy or meaning."
Other speakers included: palliative care physician Dr. Margaret Cottle; pro-life leader and president of the Life Issues Institute Dr. Jack Willke; Dr. Mark Mostert, director of the Institute for the Study of Disability & Bioethics; Patricia O'Halloran of Washington's Coalition Against Assisted Suicide; Care NOT Killing Alliance director Dr. Peter Saunders; and Dr. William Toeffler, director of Oregon's Pysicians for Compassionate Care.
Alex Schadenburg, the executive director of Canada's Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and the host of the symposium, was upbeat about its outcome.
"[The symposium] certainly inspired people to recognize the importance of getting directly involved in the issue and how to make a difference with the issue," said Schadenburg. "The idea was to mobilize, to energize, but also to unify and create a distinct direction to what we need to do, and I definitely believe we accomplished that."
Several leaders praised the vital collaboration and networking opportunities the weekend provided.
"I think part of it is just to meet people who are involved in exactly the same debates, particularly in the U.S. and Canada, and to hear about what's worked and what hasn't worked," Dr. Peter Saunders commented to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). "None of us are wanting to reinvent the wheel, but rather to share what we have and different lessons to be learned. ... We're all fighting the same lot of battles."
Jakki Jeffs, the president of Alliance for Life Ontario, said: "It's very important that we're all here ... I think it's important to get the message out that the threat is really real in Canada, it's a living reality now with the Lalonde bill, and some of the establishments that we've been able to trust before are falling to the other side."
Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the symposium was the diversity of its audience: individuals from all sides of the abortion issue, and from varying faith or non-faith backgrounds, found themselves united against euthanasia.
Concerning the need to overcome differences in forming a broad-based coalition against euthanasia, Stephen Drake said he was "cautiously optimistic."
"We all have widely divergent points of view ... and if we can all discipline ourselves to focus on the task at hand, we can make it work," Drake told LSN. "If we bring too much of our other baggage in, we will fail. And if we don't tear ourselves apart like a pack of wolves, other people will do it for us."
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
"The Weekend Cleanup": The Gruesome Aftermath of Legalized Euthanasia in Belgium
The Newspeak will be thick and continuous here.
Read the article, this was a symposium of people OPPOSED to euthanasia.
Maybe I should.........um......read the article. huh?
I’ve done it before too.
A good strategy might be to provide a “safe place” for the very ill to be able to die naturally, away from government and “caregivers” who want to kill them.
This by itself will prompt outrage from those who want to kill. Make no mistake, they want to keep control over those they want to kill, and encourage situations of such misery that their victims beg to die. Or conversely, for the state to approve their murder, despite their wishes or those of their families.
No illusions, this is the “mercy” of Dr. Harold Shipman, who killed over 218 people before being uncovered.
Ahh, yes, all part of Obama Osama’s socialized medicine, how else will he get the costs down.