Category : Life Ethics

(ACNS) Victorian euthanasia vote a cause for lament, says Australian primate

The state of Victoria is set to become the first in Australia to legalise euthanasia after the upper house of the state’s parliament approved a Bill earlier today. The 40-member Legislative Council approved an amended version of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill by 22 votes to 18. Because the Bill was amended by the upper-house, it will need to be approved again by the 88-member Legislative Assembly next week before becoming law.

In August, the lower house had approved the original version of the Bill by 47 votes to 37. That vote came as the Melbourne Diocesan Synod – meeting metres away, urged politicians to reject it.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, and six other senior leaders from Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox churches took the unusual step of placing an advert in the Herald-Sun newspaper in August setting out their objection to the Bill. Their advert said that “human dignity is honoured in living life, not in taking it.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(The Australian) Euthanasia laws passed in Victoria’s upper house

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

Visibly emotional government MPs including Jaala Pulford, Jaclyn Symes, Cesar Melhem all embraced in the wake of the vote, which occurred in front of a packed public gallery where pro-euthanasia advocates including Andrew Denton, Dr Sally Cockburn sat alongside pro-life campaigners including Australian Christian Lobby Victorian chief executive Dan Flynn.

The vote came at the end of eight days of debate, including two all-night sittings with one that ended when an MP was rushed to hospital with a medical emergency.

The scheme, which is expected to come into play by 2019 will grant terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months the ability to choose when they die.

The government has not yet released details on the lethal formula that will be given to patients, but has drafted the plan in which the drugs will be issued to patients in a locked box to which only they have the key.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(Wash Post) Erik Wemple–NYT’s (former Supreme Court Reporter) Linda Greenhouse boasts of monthly Planned Parenthood donations

Linda Greenhouse has nothing to hide with respect to her charitable activities. Writing in her new book “Just a Journalist: On the Press, Life and the Spaces Between,” the former New York Times reporter notes that she wasn’t content to allow Planned Parenthood to deduct a monthly contribution from her bank account. “It was important to me to write a check every month and sign my name,” writes Greenhouse, who is now a contributing op-ed writer for the same paper. “It was the signature of a citizen. The stories that appeared under my byline, on abortion and all other subjects, were the work of a journalist. If anyone ever thought those failed to measure up to professional standards, they never told me or anyone else.”

That’s one heck of an internal firewall. Skeptics of Greenhouse’s remarkable ethical divisibility are already speaking up. “Rather than meld her identities, she dons or sheds them whenever convenient,” writes Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada.

The New York Times itself preaches caution when making donations. “Staff members should think carefully about their own contributions to various causes, bearing in mind the need for neutrality on divisive issues,” notes a September 2004 New York Times ethics guide. “Those in doubt about contributions should consult their supervisors and the standards editor or the deputy editorial page editor.”

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Media, Politics in General, Supreme Court

(Guardian) ‘Any taboo has gone’: Netherlands sees rise in demand for euthanasia

This year, 18,000 requests for help to die have been made, including 2,500 – up from 1,234 in 2015 – to the Levenseindekliniek – the only medical facility in the Netherlands that specialises in euthanasia.

The clinic is a charity whose costs are covered by a standard Dutch health insurance policy.

Steven Pleiter, director at the clinic, said that in response to growing demand he was now on a recruitment drive aimed at doubling the number of doctors and nurses on his books willing to go into people’s homes to administer lethal injections to patients with conditions ranging from terminal illnesses to crippling psychiatric disorders.

Pleiter has 57 doctors on call but he believes he could need more than 100 by the end of next year with a growing number of people in Dutch society seeking an organised death.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, The Netherlands

(Diocese of Melbourne) Please reject euthanasia: Church to Victorian Government

Melbourne Anglicans have pleaded with the Victorian Government not to legalise medically assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia just before the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed in the lower house of the State Parliament.

The church’s synod discussed the bill on 19 October at their annual synod at St Paul’s Cathedral as a few blocks away Victorian MPs debated the bill in State Parliament.

Medical ethicist Dr Denise Cooper-Clarke told the synod the bill’s proposed safeguards were inadequate, that it was inherently discriminatory, and that improved palliative care was a much safer and more compassionate way to address “bad deaths”.

She said the bill would fundamentally change attitudes to suicide at a time when the Government was trying to reduce youth suicide.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Must Not Miss Science Times Article–To Mend a Birth Defect, Surgeons Operate on the Patient Within the Patient

The patient, still inside his mother’s womb, came into focus on flat screens in a darkened operating room. Fingers, toes, the soles of his feet — all exquisite, all perfectly formed.

But not so his lower back. Smooth skin gave way to an opening that should not have been there, a bare oval exposing a white rim of bone and the nerves of the spinal cord.

“All right, it’s the real deal,” said Dr. Michael A. Belfort, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Primate Philip Freier’s Presidential Address to the Australian General Synod

Even though the matter is before the High Court of Australia this week, it is likely that Australians will soon be given the opportunity to vote on changing Australia’s
marriage law to include same-sex marriage. I have encouraged all Anglicans to exercise their democratic right and to participate in the postal plebiscite. Although not legally binding, I believe that Parliament will be better informed about Australians’ views by this means. Anglicans, like other Australians, have a wide range of opinions on same-sex
marriage, supporting or opposing it for a variety of reasons in accordance with their conscience and their understanding of the principles and issues. I do not presume to advise others how they should vote, though I myself intend to vote “no”.

I think Anglicans are capable of a respectful discussion without vilifying our opponents and respecting that each side’s position can be principled and considered. Kindness in our speech should be the hallmark of our engagement in difficult issues. For me, the most disturbing part of the recent discussion has been the assumption that Australians are incapable of discussing this matter with civility. It is unfortunate that this rhetoric, that we are well accustomed to in party political debate, has been applied to a large part of the electorate who reasonably expected to share a direct role in the decision. Stereotyping public opinion ahead of an argument being advanced is divisive and destructive of public discourse.

If same-sex marriage becomes law, the Church will of course need to accept that it is part of the landscape. Politicians on all sides have affirmed that we can still stand for and offer holy matrimony between a man and a woman as a sacred ordinance given by God, while accepting that the state has endorsed a wider view of marriage. The doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, that marriage is between a man and a woman, under God, forsaking all others until death parts them. I do not believe that the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage.

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Posted in Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Provinces Other Than TEC, Theology: Scripture

(Commentary) Sohrab Ahmari–When ‘Freethinkers’ Persecute the Faithful: Soft totalitarianism

The State Department on Tuesday released its annual International Religious Freedom Report, and the grim upshot was that people of faith face persecution around the globe. This year’s report, the first under President Trump, called out usual suspects such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. It also notably used the “G” word–genocide–to describe Islamic State’s crimes against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.

Authoritarian regimes and jihadists aren’t the only ones who mete out anti-religious repression these days. Nominally free societies, particularly in Europe, are increasingly guilty of it as well. Yet because it is less visible, carried out by governments with impeccable liberal credentials, such persecution receives far less attention, including in the State report.

Consider tiny Belgium, which has been roiling with controversy this month over whether Catholic hospitals can be required to permit euthanasia on their premises. Belgium’s pro-euthanasia lobby and its political and media allies seek to bring to heel the country’s last bastion of opposition, the Roman Church.

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Posted in Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

(AP via CBS) Euthanasia deaths becoming common in Netherlands

Euthanasia has become a common way to die in the Netherlands, accounting for 4.5 percent of deaths, according to researchers who say requests are increasing from people who aren’t terminally ill.

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world that made it legal for doctors to help people die. Both euthanasia, where doctors actively kill patients, and assisted suicide, where physicians prescribe patients a lethal dose of drugs, are allowed. People must be “suffering unbearably” with no hope of relief — but their condition does not have to be fatal.

“It looks like patients are now more willing to ask for euthanasia and physicians are more willing to grant it,” said lead author Dr. Agnes Van der Heide of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, The Netherlands, Theology

7 Bishops based in Melbourne writer to the Premier of Victoria about the Proposal to legalise Euthansia

Dear Premier
We, the undersigned leaders of faith communities in Victoria, commend much of the work of the recent Victorian End-of-Life Choices Inquiry, which identified the need to improve the quality and accessibility of palliative care for all Victorians.  However we strongly reject the proposal to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia in Victoria.

Better care – not killing

Human dignity is honoured in living life, not in taking it. Even though an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide may be motivated by a sense of compassion, true compassion motivates us to remain with those who are dying, understanding and supporting them through their time of need, rather than simply acceding to a request to be killed. It is right to seek to eliminate pain, but never right to eliminate people. Euthanasia and assisted suicide represent the abandonment of those who are in greatest need of our care and support.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Tablet) The Australian R Catholic Church opposes Victoria euthanasia legislation

Archbishop Hart commended efforts to strengthen and better resource Palliative Care but said that was a minimum necessity.

“While the report recommends what it calls safeguards, the truth is that these safeguards are never going to be enough and that there are no flawless medical procedures,” he said. “All procedures and interventions can have complications. I have watched supporters of this proposal and they are going out of their way to convince us that assisted suicide is acceptable, seeking to lessen our human, moral and natural distress because of suicide.

“It seems that on the one hand we are seeking to lessen suicide in our society – an admirable aim – but here we have this report looking to normalise it. When viewed from the perspective of the whole Victorian community these two objectives cannot be reconciled.”

The archbishop said the legislation would impose extraordinary and unreasonable responsibilities on medical professionals, who would be called upon to determine which patients were eligible and how the safeguards were to be applied. This then became a matter for decisions by medical practitioners and not the patients for whom they were required to care.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(TheArda) David Briggs–Studies: How clergy can help believers die a ‘good death’

One of the studies was a national survey of more than 1,000 clergy. The other involved in-depth interviews with 35 ministers from five states. The research raises three critical areas of concern:

• Too much faith in miracles: More than three in 10 clergy in the national survey said they would strongly agree with a congregant who said, “I believe God will cure me of this cancer.” Eighteen percent affirmed the belief that every medical treatment should be accepted “because my faith says to do everything I can to stay alive.”
• Lack of knowledge: In the in-depth study, spiritual leaders showed little knowledge of end-of-life care, including the benefits of palliative care and potential harms associated with invasive interventions. “Many grossly overestimated the benefits of aggressive medical procedures at the end of life,” researchers reported in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. Three-quarters said they would like more training in end-of-life issues.
• Fear of overstepping boundaries: The default position of many clergy, even those who personally believed it was against God’s will to suffer unnecessarily, was to merely support the decisions of dying congregants and their family members.

But even such passivity has consequences, researchers said, in that it can enable congregants to seek potentially nonbeneficial treatments that are associated with increased suffering.

The larger problem was summarized by one study participant: “We have not done a good job…on preparing people to die–that they don’t need to live the last days of their lives under terrible and excruciating pain.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(The Goodbook) Vaughan Roberts on assisted dying, dignity and dependence

How should Christians bring our perspective into the public debates about assisted dying?

Well for a start, we need to make sure that we are involved in these discussions, even if it’s just closer to home—in our offices, in our communities, among our friends, as well as in the national debate. We’ve got good news to share—so let’s get engaged. So much of this discussion assumes that some lives are just not worth living—and Christians need to say, no, every life has dignity.

Second, we’ve also got something important to say about suffering. Our culture can’t cope with suffering—it wants to reduce suffering as much as possible and at all costs. Christians say suffering is bad—it’s a result of the fall—but God can be wonderfully at work in and through it.

And third, I think one key assumption underlying the argument for assisted suicide is that there’s just nothing worse than being dependent on others. But a Christian worldview says that actually our dependence on God and on one another is fundamental to our humanity. It’s a good thing! Illnesses brings that dependence to the fore, and that can be mutually very uplifting—for the carer and the one being cared for—even in the midst of very hard times. My father found the loss of independence the hardest aspect of his illness to cope with. At the very end of his life he was paralysed and unable to speak. Those last few days were intensely sad and yet also, in a strange way, profoundly beautiful. He had given so much to us and now we in the family had the privilege of caring for him, stroking and kissing him, singing his favourite hymns and praying. Such dependence is not undignified. This is being human.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Books, Children, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology

NYT: How one Christian School Dealt with a Teenager who bravely chose to Keep her Baby

Ms. Runkles’s story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.

“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity — or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”

Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.

“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Mr. Kempton said. Of Ms. Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Uncategorized

(Gallup) Americans Hold Record Liberal Views on Most Moral Issues

Americans continue to express an increasingly liberal outlook on what is morally acceptable, as their views on 10 of 19 moral issues that Gallup measures are the most left-leaning or permissive they have been to date. The percentages of U.S. adults who believe birth control, divorce, sex between unmarried people, gay or lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, pornography and polygamy are morally acceptable practices have tied record highs or set new ones this year. At the same time, record lows say the death penalty and medical testing on animals are morally acceptable.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sociology