Category : Life Ethics

(LA Times) California attorney general appeals judge’s decision to overturn physician-assisted suicide law

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Monday filed an appeal against a judge’s recent ruling overturning the state’s physician-assisted suicide law.

The controversial law, which allows terminally ill patients to request lethal medications from their doctors, has been the subject of litigation since it was enacted two years ago.

Last week, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ruled that the law’s passage was unconstitutional and the law should be overturned.

Becerra’s action Monday moves the case to an appeals court, which will decide the future of the law. He also asked that the law stay in place while the matter is further litigated, a request that will most likely be granted, said Kathryn Tucker, an attorney who heads the End of Life Liberty Project at UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, State Government, Theology

(Guardian) ‘Our most profound moral issue’: Guernsey’s vote on assisted suicide

Opposition to the proposal has been led by churches, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Guernsey Disabilities Alliance. A key government committee has refused to back the proposal, saying it is not a priority and investigations would be a drain on resources.

In March, the Catholic bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, sent an emotive letter to be read out in the island’s RC churches. “Let there be no death clinics in Guernsey,” it said. “I appeal to Catholics to mobilise. Speak out against this proposal. It is never permissible to do good by an evil means.”

An open letter from 53 Christian ministers and officials in Guernsey also opposed the proposal, saying it was “seen as a threat by people living with various disabilities, vulnerable people and ultimately, perhaps, by all of us, as we approach the end of our lives. Every life is a gift that is precious and worthy of defence. Living life in all its fullness will include darker times, pain and sorrow. This is part of the rich diversity and tapestry of life that also provides opportunities for care, generosity, kindness and selfless love.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

A [London] times article on the forthcoming vote in Guernsey’s parliament on whether to legalise assisted suicide

Quirks such as the £1 note are a reminder that life on the quaint British dependency of Guernsey is like it is on the mainland — but not in every way. The law governing how islanders die could soon make the difference starker.

In 10 days’ time, Guernsey will vote on whether to become the first place in the British Isles to legalise assisted dying, reigniting a national debate and raising fears of Swiss-style “death clinics” in the Channel.

The bill needs the support of 21 local politicians to pass: a simple majority of the 40 who sit in the island’s parliament. None belongs to any party or bloc, so the outcome is hard to predict.

Those who have drafted the law say it is strictly designed for terminally ill residents — but opponents believe the island, used by global elites as a tax haven, could become a magnet for death tourism.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Statement from the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, on the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment in Ireland

Unquestionably, the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment raises a number of complex questions: should abortion be dealt with in the Constitution or by way of government legislation; should the fact that hundreds of Irish women already leave the state every year to procure abortions influence our response; does the fact that many terminations are already taking place in Ireland (using unregulated pills) mean abortion should be made legal; and how should Ireland’s record of failure in the care of women and children – for example in the mother and baby homes – affect the way we vote?

Often, in the past, the protection of vulnerable women and children in Ireland left a lot to be desired, but legislating now to allow the lives of the most defenceless among us to be terminated is not the answer.

Past wrongs would be better addressed by providing better pastoral care in future for women, their partners and their families; by improving support services; and by investing more in medical and mental health services. We must be compassionate in responding to those for whom pregnancy is unwelcome or traumatic, and must seek to offer a positive alternative to abortion.

The Archbishops of the Church of Ireland have stated that “unrestricted access to abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept.” Nevertheless, our tradition is concerned to ensure provision for terminations in – hopefully – rare circumstances and in a safe medical setting.

People differ on where the line should be drawn….

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Alfie Evans Case (III)–Dominic Lawson: Parents can love, but not protect: ask Alfie Evans’s mum

This is emphatically not an argument for parents to impose quacks on seriously ill children. But the NHS has an institutional antipathy to experimental forms of cancer treatment, even in cases where it knows its own methods hold no prospect of a lasting cure. I can’t help thinking a system in which patients and their parents are not themselves paying (except compulsorily as taxpayers) encourages the attitude that they should keep quiet and be grateful for what they get.

Still, the vituperation directed at the staff of Alder Hey is unconscionable. They looked after Alfie to the very best of their ability, and must also have felt distress as his condition — the result of an inexplicable degenerative disorder that attacked the brain of an apparently healthy newborn — worsened. But for him to have ended up as, in effect, a prisoner until death of the state that had earlier removed his ventilation against his parents’ wishes is no advertisement for the English medico-legal system. It’s one thing to give up the medical fight for the child’s life; quite another to say to the parents, “But, all the same, you can’t take him away from us, either back home to die or to a foreign hospital prepared to treat him at its own expense.”

Even if such treatments are pointless — our courts had decided there was no further point in the existence of Alfie Evans — it offends against our entire idea of family to treat the feelings and wishes of loving parents as irrelevant. This love is not just the indispensable basis of a good society. Maternal love is the most powerful force in the known universe. It demands more respect than this.

That truth is about to be put before the courts in another case, in which my wife is involved. With two other mothers whose adult children, like our younger daughter, have what nowadays is called “learning difficulties”, she is bringing a test case before the Court of Protection. As the law stands, the parents of such adults, whether in residential care or not, have no right to a decisive role in how their children are treated. The carers would be obliged to give the parents such a right if the mother or father were appointed by the courts to be their adult child’s welfare deputy. But the current code stipulates that this can be agreed by courts only “in the most difficult cases”.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Alfie Evans Case (II)-Ross Douthat: Alfie Evans and the Experts

[The New Yorker’s Rachel] Aviv focuses on the Kafkaesque odyssey of Julie Belshe, a mother of three who spent years extracting her parents from the talons of a woman, April Parks, who was later indicted on charges of perjury and theft. But Parks flourished in a larger system designed around the assumption that old people are basically better off without their kids, because offspring are probably motivated either by raw emotionalism or by gimme-gimme avarice, as opposed to the cool wisdom of expert doctors, professional guardians, and wise judges.

Such a system is custom-built for the coming world of post-familialism, the world bequeathed to us by sexual individualism and thinning family trees. Just as more and more children are growing up without the active fathers who fought for Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans or the extended kinship network that saved Jahi McMath, more and more people will face old age without sons and daughters to care for them or to challenge the medical-judicial complex’s will.

It is the tragedy of our future that for many people there will be no exit from that complex, no alternative means of receiving care. But it is the task of our present to ensure that where the family still has the capacity to choose for an aging parent or a dying child, the family rather than the system gets to make the choice.

Yes, that choice may be wrong; it may have its own dark or foolish motivations. But those are risks a humane society has to take, so that in our weakest moments we can hope to be surrounded not just by knowledge or power, but by love.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

The Alfie Evans Case (I)–Albert Mohler: Life in the Balance in Liverpool — Alfie Evans Is Not Alone

One of the most important rights throughout human history is the right of parents to make decisions concerning their children’s welfare. Almost every culture and civilization has honored this principle—formally or informally–as a basic human right and a necessary foundation for family flourishing. Western countries often recognized parental rights as natural rights—rights that cannot be compromised by government interference. But in the case of Alfie, the state is redefining parental rights so that they extend only as far as the government or other elites, such as the medical elites, determine.

Furthermore, unlike the Charlie Gard case, Alfie Evans has only been examined by one medical team or acute care team. As Charles Camosy has pointed out, those acute care teams of medical experts often make the wrong decisions regarding the inevitability of death. To put the matter bluntly, there are numerous cases in which medical authorities said an individual would surely die, but those people are still alive.

Sohrab Amari, writing for Commentary Magazine, is on point: “The medical complexities of the case, played up by the court and its defenders, serve to obscure a basic moral principle. No one is asking the UK National Health Service to expend extraordinary measures to keep Alfie alive. All Alfie’s parents ask is to be allowed to seek treatment elsewhere, again at Italian expense, even if such treatment proves to be futile in the end.” The same principle, says Amari, was at stake in last year’s Charlie Gard case. Once more, British courts have distorted the relevant legal standard, the best interest of the child, to usurp natural rights. This disturbing point is a political issue, to be sure. But natural rights are pre-political. Governments do not invent or grant natural rights. The rightful role of government is to respect and protect the rights that exist prior to the state and its laws.

If the state does not recognize parental rights as natural rights and government authorities and elites can subvert the will of parents, then we’re going to witness a long succession of cases just like Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans—and not just in Great Britain.

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Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

(Economist) is the Assisted Suicide Advocacy Movement gaining Momentum in the USA?

Three years ago John Radcliffe, a jovial retired lobbyist in Hawaii, was diagnosed with terminal stage four colon and liver cancer. He has since undergone 60 rounds of chemotherapy but doctors suspect he has just six more months to live. His illness often leaves him feeling exhausted but, undeterred, he has spent the past few years pushing to pass one last bill: Hawaii’s “Our Care, Our Choice Act”, which allows doctors to assist terminally ill patients who wish to die. Earlier this month, as Mr Radcliffe beamed behind him in a colourful lei, Hawaii’s governor signed the bill into law making Hawaii the seventh American jurisdiction to approve an assisted-dying law.

Like the laws in California, Washington, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, DC, Hawaii’s law is modelled on legislation in Oregon, which was the first state to allow assisted dying, in 1997. It permits an adult, who two doctors agree has less than six months to live and is mentally sound, to request lethal medication. The most commonly used drug is secobarbital, a barbiturate that induces sleep and eventually death by slowing the brain and nervous system. It is usually prescribed in the form of about 100 capsules that must be individually opened and mixed into liquid—a process advocates say averts accidental overdoses. The patient must take the medication themselves, without aid, but they can choose when and where to do so. Death with Dignity, an Oregon-based pressure group, estimates that 90% of the recipients of this service end their lives at home.

Legislatures in 24 other states are considering similar bills this year. Most will flounder. In 2017, 27 states debated assisted dying. None approved it. Still, the right-to-die movement seems likely to gather momentum. Between 1997 and 2008, Oregon was the only state that allowed doctors to let some patients hasten their deaths. In the decade since, six other jurisdictions have legalised assisted dying, either through legislation or ballot initiatives. Advocates are hopeful that Nevada, New Jersey and Massachusetts might soon follow….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(NC Register) Hawaii becomes the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide

“Nana, how is suicide okay for some people, but not for people like me?”

Eva Andrade’s teenage grandson, who had previously been hospitalized for suicidal ideation, had asked his grandmother that question recently: Hawaii became the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide April 5, a year after a previous legislative attempt.

Proponents claimed the law would give people with terminal illnesses (and a diagnosis of less than six months to live) the personal autonomy to make that decision. The teenager did not see why the circumstances made a big difference for one group having the legal right to end life on their own terms, while others did not.

“This is a 15-year-old child making this connection on his own, just based on the conversations he was hearing,” Andrade said.

Andrade, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Catholic Conference, told the Register that the “Our Care, Our Choices Act,” which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019, threatens negative social repercussions and will have a “very detrimental effect on our community.”

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(Crux) Vatican stages UN event to protest ‘genocide’ against Down Syndrome

While the United Nations has a stated commitment to protecting and promoting the lives of those with Down Syndrome, the Holy See believes some in the international community are abetting what one Washington Post columnist recently termed a “genocide” against such individuals.

At a United Nations event on Tuesday in anticipation of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, charged delegates with failing to uphold protections enshrined in international agreements to protect those with disabilities.

“Despite the commitments made in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including that of the right to life, by all persons with disabilities, so many members of the international community stand on the sidelines as the vast majority of those diagnosed with Trisomy-21 have their lives ended before they’re even born,” Auza said.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ) Cardinal Timothy Dolan–Why are the Democrats Abandoning Roman Catholics?

The values Archbishop Hughes and Dolores Grier cherished—the dignity and sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic schools, the defense of a baby’s civil rights—were, and still are, widely embraced by Catholics. This often led Catholics to become loyal Democrats. I remember my own grandmother whispering to me, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.”

Such is no longer the case, a cause of sadness to many Catholics, me included. The two causes so vigorously promoted by Hughes and Grier—the needs of poor and middle-class children in Catholic schools, and the right to life of the baby in the womb—largely have been rejected by the party of our youth. An esteemed pro-life Democrat in Illinois, Rep. Dan Lipinski, effectively was blacklisted by his own party. Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez insisted that pro-life candidates have no place in the modern Democratic Party.

It is particularly chilly for us here in the state Hughes and Grier proudly called their earthly home. In recent years, some Democrats in the New York state Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children. Opposing the bill reduces the ability of fine Catholic schools across the state to continue their mission of serving the poor, many of them immigrants.

More sobering, what is already the most radical abortion license in the country may soon be even more morbidly expanded. For instance, under the proposed Reproductive Health Act, doctors would not be required to care for a baby who survives an abortion. The newborn simply would be allowed to die without any legal implications. And abortions would be legal up to the moment of birth.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Wash Post) In Oregon, pushing for assisted suicide for patients with degenerative diseases

Relatively modest drives are afoot in Washington state and California, where organizations have launched education campaigns on how people can fill out instructions for future caregivers to withhold food and drink, thereby carrying out an option that is legal to anybody: death by starvation and dehydration. (It is often referred to as the “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking” method.)

The boldest bid is taking place in Quebec. Prompted by a 2017 murder case involving the apparent “mercy killing” of a 60-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s by her husband — who smothered her with a pillow — the provincial government is studying the possibility of legalizing euthanasia for Alzheimer’s patients. Unlike medically assisted suicide, a medical doctor would administer the fatal dose via injection. A survey in September found that 91 percent of the Canadian province’s medical caregivers support the idea.

“The process that could lead to [legislative] changes has already begun,” said Marie-Claude Lacasse, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Somewhere between these points is Oregon, where several lawmakers are trying to push the right-to-die envelope.

Under the current law, eligible patients can obtain prescriptions for lethal barbiturates. Qualified patients must be diagnosed with a terminal illness, have a prognosis of six or fewer months to live, and self-ingest the drug. The vast majority — more than 70 percent, according to the Oregon Health Authority — have cancer; most others have either heart disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WSJ) DeSanctis Alexandra–Notre Dame Becomes a Bit Less Catholic

The University of Notre Dame caved in. It will partly obey the Obama Care mandate requiring employer health-care plans to cover the cost of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. Rejecting the Trump administration’s religious exemption, Notre Dame announced last month that it will provide “simple contraceptives” to students and employees through its insurance program.

Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, deserves praise for discontinuing coverage of abortifacients. Yet he justified the birth-control decision by saying, in part, that Catholic tradition requires respect for “the conscientious decisions of members of our community.” Of course, Notre Dame community members can exercise their consciences without receiving university-provided contraception. And there is also the serious possibility that Notre Dame abused the legal process when it sued the Obama administration for relief. If the university had standing on religious-freedom grounds, how can it now explain its decision to facilitate coverage of birth control?

While these issues are concerning, as a graduate of Our Lady’s university, I take the recent news personally. I chose to attend Notre Dame because its essential Catholicism makes​it different from other outstanding American universities. Serious young Catholics may no longer look at Notre Dame the way I did, and with good reason.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CT) America’s Surrogacy Bump: Is Fertility a Blessing to Be Shared?

[Meg] Watwood is part of America’s rapidly growing surrogacy movement. The number of babies born through surrogacy in the United States, though still relatively small, has quadrupled in just over a decade. And despite ethical questions surrounding the practice, demand isn’t slowing.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, surrogates gave birth to 2,807 babies in 2015, up from 738 in 2004. Nearly all were conceived by IVF and carried by women with no genetic connection, a process called “gestational surrogacy.” (In “traditional surrogacy,” the only option prior to IVF but one rarely used today, the carrier would also be the genetic mother of the baby.)

IVF and surrogacy are becoming more normalized in the US just as other countries have shut down foreign surrogacy enterprises, dual trends that have made the US a top surrogacy destination. High demand for surrogates, who typically earn more than $20,000 per birth, has attracted many evangelical women, who often fit the profile of the “ideal” surrogate and are drawn to the idea of using their fertility to bless others.

But laws and ethical discussions surrounding surrogacy haven’t kept up with the industry’s growth, and pastors and churches appear largely ill-equipped to guide women and couples through the high-stakes decisions involved in third-party reproduction.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Anglican Taonga) New Zealand Anglican leaders speak out against a proposed euthanasia Bill

Eight Anglican bishops have called for a halt to the End of Life Choice Bill, which proposes legalising medically-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In their submission to the Justice Select Committee on David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill this week, the bishops recommended no change to existing laws, and called for more funding of palliative care and counselling support for patients and their whanau.

Rather than introducing assisted dying as proposed in the Bill, the bishops believe our government should ensure New Zealanders have access to the best quality palliative and psycho-social care when faced with terminal illness.

They cite Australian doctor Karen Hitchcock who in her 12 years of work in large public hospitals has often heard patients express a wish to die, but says the cause of that desire is seldom physical pain,

“[It] is often because of despair, loneliness, grief, the feeling of worthlessness, meaninglessness or being a burden. I have never seen a patient whose physical suffering was untreatable,” she said.

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Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics