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Wesley J. Smith: Case of Rom Houben Should Prompt Renewed Look at Terri Schiavo's Death
Life News ^ | 12/24/09 | Wesley J. Smith

Posted on 12/26/2009 6:22:59 PM PST by wagglebee Note: Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His most recent book is the Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World. This opinion column originally appeared in the Church Report.

Terri Schiavo continues to prick our collective conscience, our sensitivity to the way she died -- deprived of all food and water, even the balm of ice chips for nearly two weeks -- as raw today as on the day she drew her last breath five years ago next March.

Usually, the trauma remains just beneath the surface. But every once in a while events conspire to bring it all back to the fore. Take, for example, the intense international focus paid to Rom Houben. In 1983, Houben suffered catastrophic head injuries in an automobile accident. He was brought to the hospital unconscious. Doctors eventually concluded that his case was hopeless, that he was in a persistent vegetative state.

The PVS diagnosis meant that on the day Terri died, most bioethicists would have also approved Rom being dehydrated to death. He is no longer a “person,” they might have said., Why prolong a useless life?

Indeed, removing food and water from the profoundly cognitively impaired, has, over the last twenty years, been legalized in all fifty states and declared by bioethicists and judges to be fully ethical, indeed, just a matter of “death with dignity.” This, even though repeated studies have shown that about 40% of PVS diagnoses are mistaken.

One of those misdiagnoses, it turned out, was of Rom Houben.

Unlike Terri, he is alive today and—literally—telling his tale because he didn't have a spouse dedicated to making sure he died, nor a judge refusing his family’s every entreaty to try new brain tests. Indeed, his family eventually prevailed upon internationally renowned physician Dr. Steven Laureys to perform a PET scan of Rom’s brain—not available at the time of the initial diagnosis—which revealed startlingly that his brain activity was near normal.

Further studies revealed that Rom Houbens was actually fully awake and aware but unable to communicate, a condition known as the “locked-in state,”

Therapy commenced and soon Rom was communicating in a rudimentary way by answering yes or no questions with the movement of a foot. Patiently over three years, his abilities improved. Rom now communicates with the help of a speech therapist—who moves his finger over a computer keyboard, allowing him to contract his finger to type each letter.

He is now telling his story of years of terrible frustration and loneliness during the 23 years he was isolated by his inability to communicate—and then great joy of reconnecting with the world, an event he calls his “second birth.”

The news about Rom’s marked improvement has been surprisingly controversial. Some critics have groused that his interactivity is actually a “facilitated communication” scam, in which the actual communicator is the therapist rather than the patient. But that seems unlikely.

Dr. Laureys is internationally renowned, and in an interview in the New Scientist, he denied participating in such a subterfuge. A story in the Associated Press provided details casting doubt on the facilitated communication criticism:

One of the checks Laureys applied to verify Houben was really communicating was to send the speech therapist away before showing his patient different objects. When the aide came back and Houben was asked to say what he saw, that same hand held by the aide punched in the right information, he said.

Meanwhile, as people marveled at Rom’s turn in fortune, Terri Schiavo quickly became the subtext of the story. While no one contended she was also locked-in (her autopsy stated that the condition of her brain was consistent with either PVS or minimal consciousness), activists on both sides of the ethical debate over dehydrating patients weighed in about how to best care (or not care) for such patients.

Noted bioethicist, Art Caplan, who strongly backed Michael Schaivo’s quest to end his wife’s life, assured people that it is proper to remove sustenance from the profoundly impaired whether or not they are actually unconscious.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post’s resident bioethicist, Jacob Appel, argued that patients such as Rom should be considered for euthanasia: “Rather than offering a compelling reason to keep such patients alive,” Appel wrote, “the horrors of enduring such a petrified existence may offer a compelling reason to let them die.”

In contrast, the Calgary Herald spoke just as strongly when it editorialized, “The lesson from Houben's case--and reinforced, sadly, too late by Schiavo's case-- is that if doctors and courts must err, it should always be on the side of life, and on the assumption that despite all outward appearances, the "I" is "indeed there."

Others in the media also made the Schiavo connection. Time, for example, reported that Schiavo-type “legal fights are likely to become more common as classifications of brain-injury severity are revised.” ABC reported that Terri Schiavo’s family “felt heartbreak and vindication” about the story.

So Terri Schiavo remains very much with us. Polls show that most people believe that her dehydration was just and proper because she was so impaired. But perhaps our inner voice, the part of us that never lies, sees it differently. Perhaps the reason Terri Schiavo comes so quickly to mind whenever we hear stories about “miraculous” awakenings, is that we remain profoundly disturbed by what we did to her, haunted it would seem, by her beautifully smiling face.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: euthanasia; moralabsolutes; prolife; romhouben; terri; terridailies; terrischiavo; whiterose
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To: reaganaut1; Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; ...
And here we have the Old Grey Whore pushing murder by sedation.

Thread by reaganaut1.

Hard Choice for a Comfortable Death: Sedation

While the national health coverage debate has been roiled by questions of whether the government should be paying for end-of-life counseling, physicians [...], in consultations with patients or their families, are routinely making tough decisions about the best way to die.

Among those choices is terminal sedation, a treatment that is already widely used, even as it vexes families and a profession whose paramount rule is to do no harm.

Doctors who perform it say it is based on carefully thought-out ethical principles in which the goal is never to end someone’s life, but only to make the patient more comfortable.

But the possibility that the process might speed death has some experts contending that the practice is, in the words of one much-debated paper, a form of “slow euthanasia,” and that doctors who say otherwise are fooling themselves and their patients.

There is little information about how many patients are terminally sedated, and under what circumstances — estimates have ranged from 2 percent of terminal patients to more than 50 percent. (Doctors are often reluctant to discuss particular cases out of fear that their intentions will be misunderstood.)

While there are universally accepted protocols for treating conditions like flu and diabetes, this is not as true for the management of people’s last weeks, days and hours. Indeed, a review of a decade of medical literature on terminal sedation and interviews with palliative care doctors suggest that there is less than unanimity on which drugs are appropriate to use or even on the precise definition of terminal sedation.

Discussions between doctors and dying patients’ families can be spare, even cryptic. In half a dozen end-of-life consultations attended by a reporter over the last year, even the most forthright doctors and nurses [only hinted at the drugs' effects]...

61 posted on 12/27/2009 1:04:36 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: All; wagglebee

So glad Palin warned us about those death panels.

We need to write short letters to editors to warn others that it is still in the Harrycare bill.

62 posted on 12/27/2009 1:13:38 PM PST by Sun (Pray that God sends us good leaders. Please say a prayer now.)
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To: wagglebee

Terminal sedation IS NOT a treatment. It’s murder by poison.

63 posted on 12/27/2009 2:30:38 PM PST by floriduh voter (Boycott Nebraska. Hit 'em in their cow parts. OMAHA STEAK 1-800-960-8400)
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To: wagglebee

Colorado has our own “bioethicist” death-peddler who has pushed
terminal sedation for years!

64 posted on 12/27/2009 3:59:52 PM PST by Lesforlife ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb . . ." Psalm 139:13)
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To: floriduh voter

Abrams writes about the “wrenching” moral dilemmas in his book:
“Doctors on the Edge”

Why is Colorado the genesis of the evil death agenda?

Thanks Dick “Duty to Die” Lamm.

65 posted on 12/27/2009 4:07:30 PM PST by Lesforlife ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb . . ." Psalm 139:13)
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To: wagglebee

Thanks for the ping!

66 posted on 12/27/2009 9:20:03 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: wagglebee

The killing of Terri was a true horror story. What is likewise shocking is how many people failed to react to what was done to her.

67 posted on 12/28/2009 2:51:07 PM PST by Dante3
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To: wagglebee
Forty years ago today, Edwarda O'Bara fell into a diabetic coma. Her mother, Kaye, took care of her until Kay died last year. Now Edwarda's sister, Colleen, takes care of her.

Edwarda doesn't have an estranged husband to kill her, so she lives. She is loved, and she is shielded from the hatred of the bloodthirsty eugenicists.

Read about Edwarda's amazing life story here.

68 posted on 01/03/2010 9:07:14 AM PST by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: BykrBayb; Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; ...
Ping to BykrBayb's post #68.

69 posted on 01/03/2010 10:06:21 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: jacknhoo; Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; ...
Pelosi now thinks that she's the pope.

Thread by jacknhoo.

Nancy Pelosi: Free Will Trumps Catholic Church's Pro-Life Teachings on Abortion

Washington, DC ( -- The rift between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Catholic Church will likely grow thanks to new comments the abortion advocate made. Pelosi said in a new interview that the "free will" of women wanting abortions outweighs pro-life Catholic teachings.

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift conducted a year-end interview with Pelosi.

The conversation turned to the topic of abortion and health care and Pelosi blasted the Catholic bishops for their opposition to the pro-abortion bill.

She tells Clift it was frustrating that Catholic bishops "were not willing to accept what we know to be a fact" -- that the "public option" would supposedly not violate a ban on federally-funded abortions.

Then, as Clift asks about her "brushes" with the church, Pelosi drops a bomb.

"I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose," Pelosi responds. "I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith."

"I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she continues. "And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will."

Pelosi also told Newsweek she doesn't appreciate being lobbied on abortion but understands her local Catholic officials will try to persuade her.

"When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock," she said. "When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that's a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility."

The comments will likely throw fuel on the fire of public opinion within pro-life and Catholic circles that Pelosi is well-outside the mainstream -- but she tells the pro-abortion Newsweek reporter she doesn't care.

"I don't choose to spend my time countering perceptions and mischaracterizations that the other side puts out there. I choose to do my job. Because we are effective, I continue to be the target," Pelosi contends.

Pelosi also talked about how she discussed the abortion funding in the health care bill with a Catholic leader.

"I talked to one of the cardinals. I said to him that I believe that what we are doing honors the principles we talked about: we want to pass a health-care bill, we want it to be abortion neutral, and we want it to [have] no federal funding [for abortion], which is the law. And we believe that our language does that," she recounted. "They said, 'We believe that it does not.' I said, let's sit down at the table and our lawyers can compare language."

For Pelosi, her motive appears to be more about winning than her reputation and standing.

"I don't care how popular I am. I'm not putting myself out there to run for higher office. I just [want to] make sure that we win the election next year," she said.

The new comments follow on the heels of Pelosi thanking God that the Senate health care bill funds abortions.

70 posted on 01/03/2010 10:09:56 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
Surprise, surprise, someone recovers from a brain injury and trolls show declaring that Mikey had every right to murder Terri.

Thread by me.

Student battles back from debilitating crash

      Jodie Beckner demonstrated a move at Pilates Plus in La Jolla, where she teaches classes. Six years ago, Beckner suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury after a head-on collision on an icy Vermont road. She graduated from SDSU in December and hopes to go to nursing school. Peggie Peattie / Union-Tribune

Jodie Beckner demonstrated a move at Pilates Plus in La Jolla, where she teaches classes. Six years ago, Beckner suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury after a head-on collision on an icy Vermont road. She graduated from SDSU in December and hopes to go to nursing school. Peggie Peattie / Union-Tribune

Mike Beckner was fixing dinner when he got the phone call parents dread — the one from a doctor trying to break awful news gently.

Earlier that day, Nov. 11, 2003, his daughter, Jodie, had driven up a mountain to catch the first day of snowboarding season at a ski resort when her SUV spun out on a patch of ice and hit another vehicle.

“They were starting to tell me there was a car crash,” recalled Mike Beckner, 60, of Encinitas. “I couldn’t process it. I was in shock. I handed the phone to my wife.”

The Beckners reached the bedside of their comatose daughter the next afternoon, the beginning of a six-year rehabilitation struggle. Jodie Beckner was a top-notch college student and competitive gymnast, swimmer and diver at the time of the crash. Afterward, she fought her way back from an almost infantile state to become a woman as smart, funny and capable — though profoundly changed — as the one who drove up the mountain that day.

In December, Beckner, 24, of Ocean Beach earned her bachelor’s degree in public policy from San Diego State University. She hopes to enter an accelerated nursing program next fall and perhaps use her skills in the Peace Corps one day.

“Jodie has been knocked down so many times over the past few years, but she keeps getting back up,” said her mother, Kathy Beckner.

Today, all Jodie knows of the crash is what she has heard from others: Her car slid across the road into oncoming traffic. Her head slammed into an air bag, and the force rattled her brain, impairing her cognitive and emotional states.

She barely stirred for five days in the hospital and didn’t recognize her family for three weeks. She said her last memory from before the accident is of a camping trip she took a week or two earlier.

The first three years of recovery were filled with intensive physical and occupational therapy, including neurological treatments that ultimately helped to restore the damaged circuitry in her brain.

Mike and Kathy Beckner said their daughter was emotionless and isolationist at first. Once she started a task, such as brushing her hair or working on a word puzzle book, she would keep at it continuously unless someone told her to stop.

“She was like a zombie,” Michael Beckner said.

“You would look at her and look right through her, because there didn’t seem to be anything there.”

But Jodie Beckner soon made astonishing progress. Just six months after the crash, she took a job stocking shelves at a store. In summer 2004, she began college-level classes again.

“At the rehab center, they said she was taking quantum leaps,” Kathy Beckner said.

Jodie Beckner doesn’t remember her decision to apply to SDSU in 2004, though she told her mother about wanting to live near her older sister, Mary Beth, in San Diego. She started fall courses on the campus with a vigor that astonished her parents, who moved from New Jersey to Encinitas in 2007 to keep the family close together.

Beckner juggled a full-time job and a full class load, studying extra to make up for shortcomings in her short-term memory. An SDSU program for students with disabilities helped ensure that classrooms accommodated her needs, such as letting her sit near the front so she could hear better. The car crash had damaged her hearing.

“I’m sure I had” doubts, Jodie Beckner said. “But I’ve never said, ‘I can’t do this.’”

She claims no great spiritual rebirth from her close call, but said it has spurred her desire to help disadvantaged patients.

Kathy Beckner sees her daughter’s turnaround as a purposeful blessing.

“I’ve told her, ‘You have a mission on Earth,’ ” Kathy Beckner said.

“It’s a miracle she has come this far.”

"We will not be silent.
We are your bad conscience.
The White Rose will give you no rest."

71 posted on 01/03/2010 10:15:17 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
The death mongers are upset that Catholic hospitals will no longer be allowed to allowed to murder people.

Thread by me.

New Catholic mandate on comatose patients

The nation's Catholic hospitals, including three in the Bay Area, face a new religious mandate in the new year: to provide life-sustaining food, water and medicine to comatose patients who have no hope of recovery.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the directive Nov. 17 to the more than 1,000 church-affiliated hospitals and nursing homes in the United States and to all Catholic doctors and nurses. Invoking a 2004 speech by Pope John Paul II, the bishops said Catholics must provide nutritional assistance to patients with "presumably irreversible conditions ... who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care."

A previous directive let Catholic hospitals and doctors decide whether the burdens on the patient outweighed the benefits of prolonging life. The bishops said the new policy was guided by "Catholic teaching against euthanasia" and by John Paul's observation that providing food and water "always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act."

The directive plunges the bishops into another health care controversy, on the heels of their lobbying for tight restrictions on abortion coverage in health legislation pending in Congress.

Catholic hospital officials say the November decree isn't rigid and leaves room for accommodating patients' wishes. But the bishops' language appears to conflict with a hospital's legal duty to follow a patient's instructions to withdraw life support, as expressed in an advance written directive or by a close relative or friend who knows the patient's intentions. . .

72 posted on 01/03/2010 10:20:52 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

"I sleep with one eye open, else I get mercy killed by me son-in-law."

"Voice of progress: kill the health care hogs!"

73 posted on 01/03/2010 10:54:19 AM PST by jacknhoo (Luke 12:51. Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.)
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To: wagglebee

Thanks for the ping!

74 posted on 01/03/2010 10:26:54 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: wagglebee


75 posted on 01/05/2010 6:50:25 PM PST by Dante3
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To: Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
The Dutch have given the world a preview of what kind of destruction euthanasia brings.

Two thread by me.

Dutch Euthanasia Deaths Up Significantly to 2,500, Number Still Underreported

Amsterdam, ( -- The number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands rose significantly in 2009 compared with 2008. There were reportedly 200 more deaths under the law, but pro-life advocates say those numbers are likely lowball estimates given the underreporting in the Dutch system.

The Dutch News indicates approximately 2,500 people died via euthanasia in 2009, but the actual number is unknown because the government estimates about 20 percent of cases are not reported.

The new government figures also include six registered cases of euthanasia on elderly patients with senile dementia, all of whom were supposedly in the early stages and able to make their wishes to die known.

In Holland, patients wanting to be killed must be in unbearable pain, the physician must sign off on the patient making an informed choice, and a second physician must certify the doctor's findings.

Alex Schadenberg of the Canada-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, discussed the new numbers.

He says the number of people dying in the Netherlands is higher because assisted suicide figures are not included. If they are included, another 500 people should be added to the 2,500 who were killed last year via euthanasia.

He also says deaths without explicit consent are not included and pointed to the most recent government report from 2005 showing 550 deaths are directly and intentionally caused by the physician but not reported as euthanasia because they lacked consent.

Schadenberg also notes that, as of 2007, approximately 10% of all deaths in the Netherlands were connected to the practice of terminal sedation.

"Many of those deaths were caused by dehydration, due to the physician sedating the patient and then withholding hydration until death occurs, which usually takes 10 - 14 days," he said.

Meanwhile, the Dutch News report "acknowledged that people with dementia are dying by euthanasia in the Netherlands, but the article didn't mention how many infants died by euthanasia in 2009," he pointed out.

"The Groningen Protocol allows infants who are born with disabilities to die by euthanasia based on the request of the parents and the agreement of the physician," he said.

Schadenberg said he is "concerned that since the Netherlands does not collect information concerning the euthanasia of people with disabilities, we therefore ask the question, how many people with disabilities are coerced into death by euthanasia based on a false concept that living with a disability is a life of suffering."

American bioethicist Wesley J. Smith also commented on the new numbers.

He says he has seen studies showing as many as 50 percent of all euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands going unreported -- meaning the lowball figures Schadenberg says are higher could be higher still.

Smith says he finds it "amazing" that the "number of euthanasia deaths are under-reported because non voluntary and involuntary euthanasia don't count as euthanasia because the patient didn't consent."

"And that isn't all. As Alex notes, these statistics don't include the unduly high numbers of terminal sedation deaths–palliative sedation used not as a legitimate pain control technique but as back door euthanasia," Smith continued.

"I would also point out that Dutch doctors refer patients they don't want to euthanize with how-to-commit-suicide information," Smith added.

For Smith, "Here’s the bottom line: The Dutch prove that once euthanasia consciousness is accepted, there is ultimately no real control."


Dr. Mark Mostert: Gotta Love the Dutch, Those Merciful Killers!

Let’s open the New Year as we left the old year, shall we?

You know - that part about how we are now becoming quite accustomed to killing people because somebody has decided they are not worth keeping alive.

All in the decedents’ best interests, of course.

Media in the Netherlands reports that there was an increase in the number of people euthanized in 2009 – including people in the early stages of dementia. No surprise there, but I think it’s instructive to look at what is reported, and the subtle subtexts that are nevertheless coercive in slanting a favorable impression of medicalized killing.

Sidebar: I’m not suggesting that the reporter deliberately thought this through, but I think it’s obvious that things in the Netherlands are so pro-euthanasia that the article’s bias is assumed to be “balanced coverage,” which it’s not.

From a piece DutchNews entitled More Cases of Euthanasia in 2009.

First, the obvious is reported, that there were more 200 more cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands last year than 2008, where the killing total was 2,500.


It is not known how many cases of mercy killing there actually are in the Netherlands, but in 2007 experts said around 80% of instances are registered with the monitoring body.

Well, mercy for whom, exactly? What exactly is the nature of this “mercy?” How can we be assured that the “mercy’ is not for those left behind who found the patient too much of a burden? What about the survivors benefitting from such “mercy” as they inherit goodies from the person they coaxed to assume a duty to die? No way to tell, of course.

“Merciful” because people are in unbearable pain and suffering? Not exactly, because many people who are euthanized are not in pain, and because, in the Netherlands, you can request euthanasia for just about any reason at all, pain or no pain.

Also, after all the fanfare in the Netherlands about making euthanasia legal so that it could be officially controlled, what do we find? Well, it’s not controllable.

Remember, too, that the registering “monitoring body” (sounds so nice, certain, and transparent) is a review panel that examines the circumstances of the killing AFTER it has occurred.

Now, here's the next snippet that contradicts the whole pain-and-suffering angle.

There were also six registered cases of euthanasia on elderly patients with senile dementia, all of whom were in the early stages and able to make their wishes known.

Ah, I see. Where to begin? Dementia, though tragic and unfortunate, is not physically painful (originally, at the top of the slippery slope, euthanasia was ONLY for untreatable physical pain among the terminally ill). Psychologically painful? Clearly, for persons who are aware that their faculties are diminishing, but how do other people make this determination? (Those with dementia don’t euthanize themselves, after all). Where is the bright clear line between someone with early dementia who requests euthanasia (in their right mind, so to speak) and someone who’s condition is more far advanced and is judged not competent to request euthanasia?

Don’t worry, the Dutch doctors have a solution for this latter group – they kill them too. The explanation? Had these people been in their right mind, they would have requested euthanasia anyway.

On we go:

The law states a number of criteria, which must be met before euthanasia can be administered. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required.

More shooting fish in barrels here: Where’s the “unbearable pain” in dementia? How can a doctor ever possibly be sure that, knowing a diagnosis of dementia has already been made, calibrate that the dementia is not affecting the request for euthanasia?

Short answer, I’m afraid: All the contortions of logic and single-mindedness betray, with increasing smugness, that in many places we have decided who should live and who should die.

First those who are terminally ill and in untreatable pain. Then people who are not terminally ill but who might have physical or psychological pain. Then people who are judged to never be able to have a better quality of life. First adults. Then children.

Who’s next?

76 posted on 01/09/2010 12:04:24 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Balt; Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
FReeper Balt has written a fantastic piece on the evils of euthanasia and the evil that was inflicted upon Terri Schiavo.

The "right to die"—and the best grounds for an annulment ever.

It’s been a number of years now since Pope John Paul II issued his important clarification regarding the so-called Persistent Vegetative State, to wit, that food and water are always to be cosidered Ordinary Means regardless of how they are administered, and may not be withheld from any patient, even if requested by the family or indicated in a “living will.” His statement, which was issued, in his words, “with the full weight of my authority” (the "full weight" of the Pope's authority being infallibility), didn’t make much news at the time, since the Terri Schiavo case had already passed out of the news cycle.

This story is old (from November 23rd, 2009), but is important for obvious reasons. It’s authored by Allen Hall, and was posted on the web site of The UK Daily Mail. It speaks for itself.

A car crash victim diagnosed as being in a coma for the past 23 years has been conscious the whole time. Rom Houben was paralysed but had no way of letting doctors know that he could hear every word they were saying. "I dreamed myself away," said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state. He added: "I screamed, but there was nothing to hear."

Rom Houben was trapped in a coma for 23 years and had no way of letting anyone know he could hear what they were saying (picture posed by model). Doctors used a range of coma tests before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was "extinct". But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally. Mr Houben described the moment as "my second birth". Therapy has since allowed him to tap out messages on a computer screen. Mr Houben said: "All that time I just literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt."

His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who "saved" him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys. "Medical advances caught up with him," said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world. The disclosure will also renew the right-to-die debate over whether people in comas are truly unconscious. Mr Houben, a former martial arts enthusiast, was paralysed in 1983.

Doctors in Zolder, Belgium, used the internationally accepted Glasgow Coma Scale to assess his eye, verbal and motor responses. But each time he was graded incorrectly. Only a re-evaluation of his case at the University of Liege discovered that he had lost control of his body but was still fully aware of what was happening. He is never likely to leave hospital, but as well as his computer he now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down. Mr Houben said: "I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me—it was my second birth.... I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead."

Dr Laureys's new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed. "Anyone who bears the stamp of 'unconscious' just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again," he said. The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital, found Mr Houben's brain was still working by using state-of-the-art imaging. He plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world. Dr Laureys said: "In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury. About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health. But an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year remain trapped in an intermediate stage—they go on living without ever coming back again."

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that people who have lain in persistent vegetative states for years should be given the opportunity to have crucial medical support withdrawn because of the "indignity" of their condition. But there have been several cases in which people judged to be in vegetative states or deep comas have recovered. Twenty years ago, Carrie Coons, an 86-year-old from New York, regained consciousness after a year, took small amounts of food by mouth and engaged in conversation. Only days before her recovery, a judge had granted her family's request for the removal of the feeding tube which had been keeping her alive. In the UK in 1993, doctors switched off the life support system keeping alive Tony Bland, a 22-year-old who had been in a coma for three years following the Hillsborough disaster.

Dr Laureys was not available for comment yesterday and it is not clear why he thought Mr Houben should have the hi-tech screening when so many years had passed.

I thought the last line of Mr. Hall's article was interesting: he seems to be somewhat indignant that Dr. Laureys would interfere in this way. As for the assisted suicide crowd, I would suggest that the "indignity" of someone's supposed "vegetative state" doesn’t compare to the indignity of death. Just ask Mr. Houben. He seems expressive enough now to comment on the situation. Perhaps that’s why this story was so long in making it onto the page of any newspaper.

So, what's your guess? Is this new, expensive high-tech screening—available three years ago but only now being revealed to the public—going to be available in the Obama plan? One thing Dr. Laureys said sticks in my mind: "Anyone who bears the stamp of 'unconscious' just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again." Is this the road we are now traveling? that being uncoscious is now a stigma—like being black in Alabama in 1930—that can get you killed if you're not lucky?

But there's something else that this story brought to mind: a question that's been bothering your PP for some time now. Back when Terri Schiavo's life was being debated (and she was not unconscious, by the way), her husband, who had been in court trying to kill her, was already "keeping house" with a girlfriend whom he married in the Catholic Church within weeks of his wife's death. Yet, the Code of Canon Law clearly states:

Can. 1090 §1 One who, with a view to entering marriage with a particular person, has killed that person's spouse, or his or her own spouse, invalidly attempts this marriage.

§2 They also invalidly attempt marriage with each other who, by mutual physical or moral action, brought about the death of either's spouse.

The bishop of Palm Springs said a lot of stupid things leading up to Mrs. Schiavo's murder, then bolted to Sri Lanka during Holy Week, probably at the demand of the Holy See before he got anyone else killed. But I'm surprised he let this marriage take place. Oh well.... Should the marriage not work out, Mr. Schiavo and his new bride will have ample grounds for that annulment.

"We will not be silent.
We are your bad conscience.
The White Rose will give you no rest."

77 posted on 01/09/2010 12:10:37 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: NYer; Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
Abortionists are concerned that young doctors are increasingly reluctant to become baby butchers.

Thread by NYer.

If Only Abortionists Could Marry

Experts have noticed the problem. There's a shortage of people willing to step up and do the job. And because of that, the limited number of those who have joined are stretched thinner and have to work harder. Experts have noticed that their average age is climbing rapidly. And they've noticed that many of our best and brightest young people aren't interested in joining.

While I could be talking about priests, actually liberals are worried about the graying of abortionists. Poor things.

All I can think is that if only they let abortionists marry, none of this would happen.

Amanda Marcotte writes that pro-aborts must:

Address the shortage of abortion providers. We all know the drill: the average age of an abortion provider in this country is soaring upwards, and many doctors who deserve to retire and spend their days playing golf stay in the business because there's so many women who need abortions and so few people to provide them. Few counties have abortion providers, and many women have to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to get one. And it's because younger doctors don't want to perform abortions. They don't have any memories of the horrors of septic abortions (unlike many older doctors), and the harassment they face if they join up seems like too much trouble.

The problem is complex, but not unfixable. We should lobby for stronger protections for abortion clinic workers, so that fear doesn't drive would-be providers away. More importantly, we need to find a way to get people with the right attitudes and the right skills into the business. Programs encouraging bright, young pro-choice people into medical school to train as ob-gyns who perform abortions is a good start. Pushing medical schools not only to teach the procedures for abortion, but also to highlight the dangers of self-abortion would also help. Perhaps a scholarship program for medical students who train to be abortion providers, or a debt forgiveness program for those doctors that provide abortion? There are endless possibilities, and we should undertake them.
Can you imagine that there are people out there who believe there aren't enough abortions taking place? Yeah, that's the problem in America.

To me, it says something positive about America that the number of abortionists is dwindling. I think it has something to do with technological advancements that allow us all to see what's inside the womb. The ol' "blob of tissue" argument doesn't really work anymore.

But if this graying of abortionists continues watch for some government intervention to entice young doctors into becoming abortionists. Because what good is federal funding of abortion without abortionists?

And we must always remember. Babies are the enemy.

78 posted on 01/09/2010 12:13:59 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Ohioan from Florida; Goodgirlinred; Miss Behave; cyn; AlwaysFree; amdgmary; angelwings49; ...
Wesley J. Smith has correctly determined that Terri's murder was the most important bioethics story of the past decade.

Thread by me.

Top Bioethics Stories of the Decade Yield Hope, Concern on Abortion, Euthanasia

The first ten years of the 2000s (please, no arguments over whether the first decade really ends this year) brought bioethics front and center into national and international prominence as never before.

Since this is the time for creating “top ten lists,” I pondered the matter over my eggnog over the holidays and compiled for NRO, the ten most important stories in bioethics of the last decade (in descending order), with commentary. From my piece, “Technological Morality:”

10: The ascendance of an anti-human environmentalism...Radical environmentalism appears to have morphed into anti-humanism, the result of which could be a new impetus for eugenics and radical population control.

9. The growth of biological colonialism. Desperate and destitute people are increasingly being exploited for their body parts and functions…

8. The increase in American pro-life attitudes. In the last decade, polling showed a dramatic increase in the number of people who identify themselves as pro-life…If this trend continues, it could eventually shake the Roe regimen off its foundation.

7. The struggle over Obamacare. The political brouhaha over Obamacare was the bioethics story of 2009, not only in the U.S. but throughout much of the developed world…The debate will not end with the passage or failure of a bill, and health-care reform will likely be one of the most important stories of the coming decade.

6. Legalization of assisted suicide in Washington...[T]he Washington victory boosted the morale of assisted-suicide activists, who promise to wage an energetic legalization campaign in the coming decade.

5: The success of adult-stem-cell research...For example, in early human trials, adult stem cells have helped diabetics get off insulin, restored sensation to paralyzed people with spinal-cord injuries, helped heal unhealthy hearts, and provided hope to patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. These and other amazing advances in adult-stem-cell research provided one of the few pieces of truly good news in a sour decade.

4. “Suicide tourism” in Switzerland. Over the last decade, Switzerland became Jack Kevorkian as a country, its suicide clinics catering to an increasingly international clientele…Alas, as was the case with Kevorkian in the 1990s, audacity was rewarded. In the face of a wave of high-profile suicide-tourism stories, England’s head prosecutor published guidelines that, in essence, decriminalized family and friends’ assisting the suicides of the dying, disabled, and infirm…

3. IVF anarchy... IVF has led to childbirth as manufacture, with our progeny chosen for their genetic makeup. It is likely that babies will soon be created with three parents. What comes next is anybody’s guess.

2. The Bush embryonic-stem-cell funding policy. When Pres. George W. Bush signed an executive order restricting federal funding of embryonic-stem-cell research to lines already in existence on Aug. 9, 2001, he set off a nearly decade-long firestorm…But the real poke in the eye for the Science Establishment and liberal media was that Bush’s policy sent a clarion message that embryos — which are, after all, nascent human life — matter, thrusting his policy into a buzz saw involving our most touchy cultural issues, particularly abortion.

1. The dehydration of Terri Schiavo. The emotionally wrenching tug of war over the life of Terri Schiavo, covered sensationally by the international media and culminating in her slow death, was — hands down — the decade’s most important story in bioethics (as well of one of the most important stories of the early 2000s). Who hasn't heard her name? Who doesn't have an opinion about what happened?

There is much more to say about all of these stories than I could in the abridged version presented here or in the entire article. But I think it is very clear now: bioethics is important. Soon, I'll write up what I consider to be the ten biggest stories in bioethics of the coming decade.

79 posted on 01/09/2010 12:19:03 PM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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