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Wesley J. Smith  


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Life at Risk... Euthanasia Trends in America (NCCB)

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Why We Shouldn't Legalize Assisting Suicide.  Part I: National Right To Life

Why We Shouldn't Legalize Assisting Suicide.  Part II:  National Right to Life


The Nevada LIFE Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia & Futile Care Theory Information Page.

“I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel” Hippocratic Oath

"A man, even if seriously sick or prevented in the exercise of its higher functions, is and will be always a man ... [he] will never become a 'vegetable' or an 'animal... The intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being does not change depending on their circumstances.” Pope John Paul II 2004

"This is a precious possession which we cannot afford to tarnish, but society always is attempting to make the physician into a killer to kill the defective child at birth, to leave the sleeping pills beside the bed of the cancer patient ... It is the duty of society to protect the physicians from such requests.”  Margaret Mead, anthropologist


Euthanasia proponents are actively working to legalize and promote physician assisted suicide, withholding of care and the ability to end the lives of people deemed no longer persons or not having a life worthy of life and care.  This is already legal in The Netherlands.  The Nightengale Alliance says that  more than 10,000 people carry “Do Not Euthanize Me” cards asking that they not be killed if hospitalized unexpectedly in the Netherlands where 9 percent of all deaths in 1990 were a result of euthanasia.  

The current clamor for euthanasia, so called mercy killing, of those who are deemed not to be living a life worthy of life should give pause for a little historical reflection.  What was resisted by doctors in the Netherlands during the Holocaust and World War II,  was considered a war crime, and which was resisted by Dutch doctors sometimes at the risk of death, has become standard of practice and regarded as compassion in a little more than a generation.  

For several years there have been discussions about declaring people dead before their bodies die for organ transplants.  Futile care theory is practiced in hospitals in all 50 states.  Futile Care Theory says that health care providers and institutions may deny treatment to people who are deemed not to have a quality of life worth preserving.  This is applicable even if the care is wanted and would benefit the patient.  The doctor is entitled to call such care inappropriate. 

A. Terms: What Are Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide And Futile Care Theory?

Terms Regarding Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide, Futile Care Theory from www.euthanasia.com/definitions.html and www.californiaprolife.org/euthanasia/definitions.html

Euthanasia: the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit. (The key word here is "intentional". If death is not intended, it is not an act of euthanasia)

Voluntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed has requested to be killed.

Non-voluntary: When the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent.

Involuntary euthanasia: When the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary.

Assisted suicide: Someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life with the intention that they will be used for this purpose. When it is a doctor who helps another person to kill himself or herself it is called "physician assisted suicide."

Euthanasia By Action: Intentionally causing a person's death by performing an action such as by giving a lethal injection.

Euthanasia By Omission: Intentionally causing death by not providing necessary and ordinary (usual and customary) care or food and water.

Rational Suicide.”  This is a new term.  It is becoming common to think that suicide is rational if there is a hopeless condition including, but not limited to, severe pain, psychological pain, debilitating mental or physical conditions, and if the quality of life is no longer acceptable to the person.  (Wesley Smith, Culture of Death pp.96-97).  Wesley Smith notes that this would make all suicide “rational” because all suicidal people believe their quality of life to be unacceptable.

Futile Care Theory holds that when a physician believes the quality of a patient’s life is not sufficient to justify life-sustaining treatment, the doctor is entitled to refuse care, calling it inappropriate.  (Burke Balche J.D. Medical Ethics director, National Right to Life, personal pre-interview communication)

B. Is Refusing Treatment Euthanasia?

Withholding unwanted treatment is not euthanasia because patients have the right to refuse unhelpful or hurtful treatments.  That does not mean that we can stop other basic care like food and water.

C. Euthanasia and PAS In The USA and The World.  Where Is It Practiced?

“Oregon, the Netherlands and Belgium are the only jurisdictions in the world where laws specifically permit euthanasia or assisted suicide. Oregon permits assisted suicide. The Netherlands and Belgium permit both euthanasia and assisted suicide.”  http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/faq.htm.  

Attempts in Washington, California, Hawaii and other states have failed.  California’s 2005 Assembly Bill 654 the “California Compassionate Choices Act” would have created the same kind of law as in Oregon.  Fortunately it failed.

D. Futile Care Theory.

There are no laws permitting non-voluntary euthanasia in the United States, but it can probably be said that the same result occurs under Futile Care Theory. Futile Care Theory says that health care providers and institutions may deny treatment to people who are deemed not to have a quality of life worth preserving.  This is applicable even if the care is wanted and would benefit the patient.  The doctor is entitled to call such care inappropriate. 

How Futile Care Theory Works In Practice.  Burke Balche.

National Right to Life’s Medical Ethics Director, Burke Balche describes the dispute process (personal pre-interview note to Don Nelson, 09/04 to prepare for a Voice For Life Intereview):  “In the event of a dispute over providing wanted life-sustaining treatment, the matter will first be discussed informally among bioethics, chaplains, social workers, doctors, family, and patient (if capable).

“If the dispute cannot be resolved informally, it will be brought to the hospital bioethics committee or other body established for "adjudication."

“The committee hears from the doctors, family, bioethics experts, and others. If the committee rules that the treatment is not to be provided, the patient will be denied all further treatment in the hospital, other than comfort care--this, even if the family finds a doctor willing to provide the desired services.”

This has become standard of practice in all 50 states.  If a lawsuit were to occur, it is likely that judges would ask if the hospital were following standard of care.  This is why Futile Care Theory is a very hot topic in bio-ethics and the right to life movement

Advocacy Groups, Information Sites, Articles On Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide, Futile Care Theory.



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