Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cal Thomas may be hysterical, but he is not wrong

Medical: Cal Thomas had this to say about the Schiavo case.

"Our "evolving standards," as Justice Kennedy recently called them in a death penalty case, means all of us are potentially at risk of euthanasia if we do not measure-up to cultural and arbitrary whims imposed by unaccountable judges. Do you see where this is headed? Today, it's Terri Schiavo. Tomorrow it could be you or me."
John Cole said this in response
"Next thing you know, the 'Culture of Death' Police will be pulling over blue-hairs on their way to the earlybird special, Mercury Marquis after Lincoln Town Car after Buick LeSabre, and shooting them by the side of the road because they are no longer worthwhile or 'measure up.' What a hysterical moron. And not, tragically, in the funny way."

Cal Thomas may be over the top in delivery but he is not wrong in saying of the risk of adding in regards to euthanasia will happen if you go by what is going on in Holland.

Guardian 12/2004
"Euthanasia has been practised for 10 years in the Netherlands, the first country in the world to legalise the practice, and now accounts for 4-5,000 deaths a year, 3.5% of the national death rate. The practice is severely circumscribed and tightly regulated. It is estimated that doctors in the Netherlands, the only people allowed to perform euthanasia, turn down two-thirds of euthanasia requests. Euthanasia is legal from the age of 12. It cannot apply to children because they cannot take a free decision. But several moves are afoot to extend euthanasia beyond the current limits. For example, a national commission of experts concluded last week after three years of deliberation that euthanasia rights should be extended to those wanting to die because they are "tired of life". There is also a discussion about euthanasia for patients suffering from dementia, as well as about psychiatric and other cases involving patients unable to take a rational decision for themselves. On top of these debates comes the discussion over newborns. The dilemma has triggered surprisingly little debate in the Netherlands, but has caused a storm of controversy outside, particularly among the religious right in the US and in the churches. "From the point of view of the Netherlands, this debate about newborns is a logical development," says Professor Henk Jochemsen, a medical ethicist and Christian critic of euthanasia. "It's another step in the wrong direction."
BBC 11/2000
"...Over half of Dutch doctors have performed mercy killings with the required consent and consultation and at least 90% of the population support euthanasia. The BMJ study found that in 1995 almost two thirds of cases of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide went unreported. One in five cases of euthanasia occurred without the patient's explicit request, and in 17% of such cases, alternative treatment was available in contravention of the guidelines. Dutch law requires patients to experience "unbearable suffering" to justify euthanasia. But more than half the doctors surveyed said the main reason given by patients for the request was "loss of dignity". Almost half said they took action "to prevent further suffering". But there are fears that the system is already being abused. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some elderly people carry cards saying they do not want euthanasia. It is said they fear what will happen if they are suddenly hospitalised. Opponents of euthanasia warn that the liberal attitude to euthanasia is fraught with dangers. They say euthanasia has been offered to people suffering from depression, or even as a convenience. Dr Ben Zylicz, of the Dutch League of Doctors, said: "I have heard about a patient where the family came from Canada because of planned euthanasia. "The patient said, 'no, not today I don't want it anymore' and everybody pressed him saying 'look your family came from Canada, they cannot do it again'. "In a country where euthanasia is accepted this kind of thing can happen."
Expatica 06/2004
"Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has backed a decision by the Procurators-General Council (Attorneys-General Council) that dementia can — in accordance with strict conditions — be a valid reason for euthanasia. The council decided on 8 October last year that a doctor who acceded to an Alzheimer patient's request for help to kill him or herself should not be prosecuted. The council said Alzheimer's on its own is not sufficient reason for euthanasia, but can be if accompanied by unbearable and hopeless suffering. Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, but is governed by strict regulation, including evidence the patient requested the procedure and that all the alternatives were clearly outlined. "
Australian BioEdge:
Dutch doctors prefer "terminal sedation" to lethal medications, according to a survey by Nijmegan University. Under this system, all treatment, food and water are withheld from heavily sedated patients until they die. Its detractors describe it as "slow euthanasia" since the intention of the doctor is to kill the patient. Pain control expert Bernardus Crul said that better care for the dying in the Netherlands and advances in pain control had now made terminal sedation a viable alternative. "Most doctors no longer see euthanasia as a medical necessity for fighting unbearable suffering and that the solution of terminal sedation is suitable for that," he told the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting Network. The idea had a frosty reception in Australia from both sides of the debate. Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke said that it put doctors in control of dying rather than patients. "No one has every come to my [assisted suicide] workshops and said I want to spend five days dying slowly," he told The Age. The president of New South Wales Doctors for Life Catherine Lennon said that it was just another form of euthanasia and that patients should beware of "unethical doctors" who might be willing to use it.
Then you have the cleft-palate abortion case in the UK where two doctors did not have charges brought against them by prosecution services because they acted in good faith.
Guardian: "The inquiry began after a legal challenge over a previous decision by police not to charge the doctors involved in the abortion carried out, in 2001, on an unnamed woman from Herefordshire who was more than 24 weeks pregnant. Joanna Jepson, 28, now at St Michael's Church, Chester, but then a trainee vicar, found out about the procedure in 2002 when studying abortion statistics and suggested that it amounted to unlawful killing. Yesterday Ms Jepson said: "While I'm disappointed about the CPS's decision to drop the case, I am pleased the case has raised the issue of late-term abortion and the plight of disabled babies in late-term pregnancy. It has exposed grave discrimination and I will be seeking legal advice." She said she might try to get clarification from the courts about whether unborn children in the third trimester have got human rights and what constituted "serious handicap". She might consider whether to re-open a judicial review of the first decision not to prosecute. This was stayed after police decided to conduct a second inquiry into the case, admitting the initial decision was not based on a full investigation. Ms Jepson was born with a congenital jaw defect, uncorrected until her teens, and her brother has Down's syndrome. Her lawyers had argued that a cleft palate could not be considered as a severe disability."

.. and last you have Doctor Eduard Verhagen who wants to set up policies on infant euthanasia.

"DR. VERHAGEN says he has watched one child die and was there moments later for the three others. All had severe forms of spina bifida. "The child goes to sleep," he said. "It stops breathing." "I mean, it's difficult to give the right emotion there, but it's beautiful in a way," he said, somewhat aware of how this might sound to a layman. "They are children who are severely ill and in great pain. It is after they die that you see them relaxed for the first time. You see their faces in a way they should be for the first time."

Now I'm not saying that America in 50 years will turn into Logan's Run. But I find John Cole's dismissal of Thomas to be too quick just because of the way it is written. There is justification in people worrying about where is the line to be drawn. The Schiavo case is going to start hearings and debates about euthanasia because people are worried about the slippery slope that Cal Thomas is talking about.

"The Republican-controlled House already passed a bill that would allow the federal courts to review cases like Ms. Schiavo's, in which the patient has left no written instructions, the family is at odds and state courts have ordered a feeding tube to be withdrawn. That bill evolved into one that was narrowly tailored to Ms. Schiavo. Now some Democrats, prodded by advocates for the disabled, say Congress should consider whether such a law is needed. "I think we should look into this and very possibly legislate it," said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who opposed Congressional action in the Schiavo case. Mr. Frank was speaking on Sunday on the ABC News program "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." Mr. Frank added: "I think Congress needs to do more. Because I've spoken with a lot of disability groups who are concerned that, even where a choice is made to terminate life, it might be coerced by circumstances." In the Senate, Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, has also been consulting with advocates for disability rights and is preparing to introduce legislation along the lines of the bill that the House passed, a spokeswoman said. Senator Harkin, an author of the Americans With Disabilities Act, was one of the few Democrats in the Senate who spoke in favor of the so-called private relief measure that allowed a federal court to review Ms. Schiavo's case. "
This is not something that is going to go away anytime soon.

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