Anybody paying attention to what has happened in our nation, and worldwide for that matter, regarding the lack of reverence for the dignity of life, is probably aware of the advances the culture of death has made over the past several decades. Here is some of what has happened:
In 1968, a committee of 13 men at Harvard Medical School endorsed brain death as legal death; in 1981 it was approved by the American Medical Association. This has a profound effect on decisions regarding life and death and has placed physicians as the sole decision makers of who is alive and who is dead based on the extent of a person’s brain injury.
In 1973, abortion was legalized on demand – through all nine months of pregnancy – and has been responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths, not only here in the United States, but around the world. Just in America alone, more deaths have occurred by abortion than in all of our wars combined. Staggering, and unthinkable, no doubt.
Jump forward 20 years …
Unbeknownst to most of the general public was a major change that has occurred regarding the administration of food and water via feeding tubes, which was once considered basic and ordinary care. As a result of this change, feeding tubes were redefined as “artificial nutrition and hydration” – and therefore a form of “medical treatment”.
Consequently, the removal of food and water occurs every single day across countless health care facilities throughout the world leaving the elderly, the disabled and countless other medically vulnerable left to die in the most horrific and inhuman way, by dehydration and starvation, which can take up to 2 or more weeks. Individuals are being denied this very basic right, despite the insertion of a feeding tube being a safe and routine procedure which simply helps a person who may have difficulty swallowing and consuming food.
In 1994, Oregon legalized physician assisted suicide. Since that time, there have been three additional states that allow doctor assisted suicide. Indeed, with the media frenzy over Brittany Maynard’s decision to kill herself, the death advocates will be licking their chops at the chance to use her tragic situation as a way to promote their agenda and introduce new legislation to permit physician assisted suicide. In fact, NJ is already in the process of trying to legalize assisted suicide, and there are plans to introduce bills in Pennsylvania, New York and California. In Europe, things are much worse. Physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Let’s not forget our friends to the north. In Canada, legislation has been recently introduced that would legalize active lethal-injection euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with disabilities. And there is a Canadian ethicist who made headlines stating that it is justifiable to kill terminally ill newborns who are “suffering”. Same goes for Belgium, where children with disabilities who are terminally ill are permitted to end their lives if they decide. And there is a growing number of Bioethicists here in the US who believe in the theory that there is such a thing as non-persons and therefore we can justify killing them, even if they never asked to be killed.
We know the number of victims who commit assisted suicide each year, however there is no way to account for the number of deaths that occur by dehydration and starvation. Nevertheless, there is no question that it far outnumbers those who seek the help of physicians – or others – to end their lives. If you go by the amount of calls we have received at the Life & Hope Network over the past ten years, it is painfully obvious that this is happening more than anyone could imagine. Aside from abortion, I believe that legalizing the removal of feeding tubes has been one of the most significant “victories” for the culture of death.
Certainly, there are other laws attacking the dignity of the human person not mentioned here. Hard to measure is the attitude shift that has taken place in our nation towards the medically defenseless which is just as dangerous as any law that has been passed or policy that has been changed. Clearly, much of the general public is buying into the culture of death and the propaganda they are selling, giving us a real sense of the insidious nature of this death movement, with no signs of it slowing down.
One might wonder how or why there has been so much success by this right to die movement. Unquestionably, there are strong prejudices towards our weak that are at play and responsible for such depraved behavior. We also hear all of the absurd and misleading arguments to justify decisions regarding killing our vulnerable. Whatever the argument is or the rationale that is made, make no mistake, much of what is driving the agenda is money. Nothing else. Simply put, to the culture of death, money has more value than the dignity of the human person. Indeed, if you took a quick accounting of abortion, assisted suicide, dehydration of our medically vulnerable, and the organ donation program – where a person’s organs can exceed a half a million dollars – the common denominator in each is money, and a lot of it can be at stake. It is having a devastating and lasting effect.
The future doesn’t look much better. Particularly, in this time of a government controlled health care industry and its focus to contain costs, legalizing physician assisted suicide, aborting the preborn disabled, and euthanizing the elderly, the disabled, and other medically vulnerable, will all be ways of containing costs for them.
When no one wants to take into consideration the consequences of their actions, or no longer believes in a just and merciful God, then how can we expect the dignity of the unborn, the elderly, the disabled or any of our medically helpless to be embraced?
We are failing terribly as a nation to look out for the weakest among us. In fact, right now, there are those fixated with death who are working to find better and more convincing ways to justify killing our vulnerable. What’s worse is all of the people who will agree with them.