Ontario MDs Reject Hippocrates for Kevorkian

by Wesley J. Smith

First the Canadian Supreme Court imposes the world’s most radical right to be made dead by euthanasia policy in the world as a Charter right.

The Liberal Parliament is now in the process of legislating euthanasia legalization, and has narrowed the “right” a bit, for example, requiring that death be “foreseeable.” That’s amazingly loose, but whatever pretense helps you get through the night.

But even that very open license is too narrow for the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons–which infamously wants every doctor forced by law to be complicit in killing patients. From the Waterloo Region Record story:

Canada’s largest medical regulatory authority is warning that most or all doctors in some Ontario communities could be disqualified from approving requests for a medically assisted death under the federal government’s proposed new law.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons issued the warning Tuesday even as the Liberal government of Ontario threw its support behind the restrictive approach to assisted death taken in the proposed law…

The province’s college of physicians told a Senate committee that some of the safeguards the government wants to impose are so stringent they will prevent many otherwise eligible patients from accessing an assisted death. 

It is a very alarming day when a medical association is so into the killing agenda that it wants a radical legislative proposal to go even further!

Hippocrates? To hell with him. We want to be Kevorkians!

Assisted Suicide MDs Would Never be Convicted of Fraud

by Wesley J. Smith

The Justice Department has convicted two doctors for falsely diagnosing patients as “terminal” to qualify for hospice care. From the U.S. Attorney’s press release:

Two doctors were found guilty today of federal health care fraud charges for falsely certifying that Medicare patients were terminally ill, and therefore qualified for hospice care, when the vast majority of them were not actually dying.

Following a two-week trial, the doctors were found guilty of participating in a scheme related to the Covina-based California Hospice Care (CHC). Between March 2009 and June 2013, CHC submitted approximately $8.8 million in fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medi-Cal for hospice-related services, and the public health programs paid nearly $7.4 million to CHC.

The motive there was clearly money. But this same kind of false terminal diagnosis could also happen with assisted suicide as a matter of ideology.

It already has. In the Michael Freeland case, a death doctor wrote a lethal prescription to a patient who died naturally…two years later. He even contacted Freeland after one year offering to write another prescription! That was an obvious violation of the assisted suicide law.

And yet, unlike the hospice fraudsters, nothing was done to punish this (now late) doctor, even though it was exposed in a professional journal and came to light when Freeland was admitted to a mental hospital a year after receiving the poison drugs. Worse, his treating psychiatrist took his guns but made sure his overdose remained at his home!

Why the enforcement disparity for violating “six month to live” rule between hospice and assisted suicide situations? I suggest the following:

  • First, once assisted suicide is legalized, violations of “guidelines” just don’t matter to law enforcement or the media.
  • Second, even if they cared–which they don’t–Oregon authorities don’t have the power, legal authority, or ideological desire to investigate assisted suicide abuses. Their desire is to help assisted suicide advocates spread the false propaganda that the Oregon law without a flaw. As Kathleen Foley and Herbert Hendin wrote in the Michigan Law Review:​
    OPHD “does not collect the information it would need to effectively monitor the law and in its actions and publications acts as the defender of the law rather than as the protector of the welfare of terminally ill patients.”
  • Third, death doctors have greater protection in their assisted suicide activities than doctors do when treating patients. The latter have to comply with the “standard of care,” to be free potential liability. But death doctors cannot be punished or sued for assisting suicide if they act in “good faith.” Proving bad faith is far more difficult than demonstrating the standard of care was violated.
  • Finally, Oregon relies almost exclusively on doctor self-reporting in its so-called “overight” of assisted suicide. They are as likely to admit they violated the law as to tell the IRS they cheated on their taxes.

Oregon aside, if assisted suicide is widely legalized, the Justice Department would never pursue intentional misdiagnoses, as it has in hospice cases.

Why? Assisted suicide saves money in health care. In an era in which containing costs becomes paramount, illegal premature assisted suicide prescriptions would be winked at as a proper husbanding of resources.

Hospices are under a lot of government pressure not to allow patients in who are not dying within 6 months. (That requirement needs to change.) Assisted suicide docs would never feel that heat from either state or federal authorities.

Erasing the Truth About Planned Parenthood

by Wesley J. Smith

To The Source asked me to give my impressions of the Planned Parenthood “fetal parts for sale” imbroglio. I was happy to oblige.

Sadly, I am not surprised that the scandal–and that’s what it is–has been forcibly erased by the media from the public’s consciousness. From, “Erasing the Truth About Planned Parenthood:”

When videos were released of Planned Parenthood executives apparently admitting that fetuses are harvested for their body parts for pay after abortions, many pro-lifers were hopeful that—at last—a tipping point had been reached that would discredit the organization responsible for more than 300,000 feticides in the United States each year.

Dream on. As I wrote elsewhere at the time, a nation that embraced Jack Kevorkian as a “compassionate” crusader—even though his stated goal was to conduct experiments on living people he was euthanizing—and that also supported the cruel intentional dehydration death of Terri Schiavo at the orders of her husband—living at the time with his “fiancé” by whom he had sired two children—was unlikely to remain upset for long by the utilitarian use of fetal parts obtained in an abortion.

The Planned Parenthood controversy is about more than selling fetal parts:

Planned Parenthood is more than an abortion provider and dispenser of contraception. Its more potent role is as a vivid cultural symbol—to both supporters and detractors of the ongoing cultural contest between what is often called traditional morality around sexuality and the sanctity of human life and modern mores that extol abortion as essential to ensuring women’s equality.

The mainstream media is adamantly on the side of the modernists. Thus, it didn’t take long for newspapers like the New York Times and television journalists to claim—without factual substantiation—that the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress had been edited to create a false impression and were, thus, “discredited.” 

I was, however, surprised that liberal law enforcement politicians used their police powers to attack David Daleiden, charging him with felonies in Texas and raiding his home to seize his computers and videos in California.

This is a major escalation in the “culture wars,” by which policy disagreements are being transformed into indictable offenses. I conclude:

A strong message has been sent that not only is Planned Parenthood potentially above the law, but that concerted efforts to discredit the organization will be met with criminal charges or investigations against those seeking to undermine the organization. A Congressional hearing here and there can’t do much to counter those hurricane winds. That chill in the air doesn’t have anything to do with the weather.

This same tactic is being deployed against global warming skeptics. The Jacobins are loose and they take no prisoners.

Death as Sociological Opens Door to Evil

by Wesley J. Smith

Maintaining the concept of “death” as a biological, rather than sociological, event is one of the few remaining impediments to exploiting the most weak and vulnerable among as mere natural resources.

If death can be “redefined”–an ongoing project in bioethics–to include the end of the subjective concept of being a “person,” then the unborn–supposedly, not yet persons–and those who through injury or illness have lost the ability to express personhood, can be deemed dead, or perhaps better stated, as good as dead.

This issue is discussed regularly above the public’s awareness in bioethics and medical journals. Every once in a while, I think it worth the time to bring some of this advocacy to a wider readership to alert my readers to what the elites in bioethics would like to impose upon us. From, “The Death of Human Beings,” by bioethicist N. Emmerich, in the medical journal, QVM:

When we say that someone has died, we do not merely mean that some biological entity no longer functions. We mean that they, some unique mind or person, understood as a cognitive phenomena or psychological entity, has ceased to exist. Despite being a non-biological term, personhood admits of the application of the terms life and death and, furthermore, reflects the ordinary meaning of the terms.

We should think very seriously about the consequences of changing death from the irreversible biological end of the integrated organism, to the subjective determination that personhood and relevant “capacities” have ceased.

It would mean that clearly alive individuals could become exploitable–or used instrumentally–in the same way as we do biologically dead bodies now.

That wouldn’t just mean live organ harvesting of persistently unconscious or minimally conscious patients–often proposed in organ transplant journals–but also experiments conducted on their living bodies.  

Such uses could also be applied on living fetuses, perhaps even, infants, who would be deemed not yet “alive” as human beings because they haven’t yet attained the self-awareness deemed necessary for personhood, and hence, “earned” their equal moral value.

You think I exaggerate? Ponder the profound and adverse consequences of this:

A severely anencephalic neonate is a human organism that may be alive (or dead) in the sense of zoe. However, they will never have a life in the sense of bios. On the account offered by Schofield et al. life begins at conception. We should, therefore, distinguish between the commencement of biological or organismic life and the point at which the fetus becomes a subject, and not just an object, of life.

This does not mean the matter is easily settled; as with brain death, brain life remains a contested notion.9 Nevertheless such conceptual difficulties should not lead us to simply reject such notions. Rather, we might accept that situating an essentially metaphysical and philosophical conception of personhood in the empirical and practical context of biomedicine presents inherent epistemological challenges.

Changing death from biological to sociological would open the door to profound evil.

Illustrating how mainstream this subversive approach to human life and death has become among the medical/bioethics intelligentsia, this article was listed as the “editor’s choice.”

I explore these and other dangers of “personhood theory” much more deeply in my just released book: Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine.

Total Non-Cooperation with Assisted Suicide

by Wesley J. Smith

Over at First Things, I offer some suggestions for those living in the few jurisdictions that have legalized assisted suicide/euthanasia; refuse all participation and complicity.

What would that look like? From, “Declare Total Non-Cooperation with Assisted Suicide:”

1. Do not participate in efforts to regulate medicalized killing:

2. Refuse to attend an assisted suicide:

3. Doctors should declare their offices assisted-suicide-free zones:

4. Mental-health professionals and clergy need to help the suicidal find a better way,

I get into details on the whys and wherefores of these suggestions, of course, And then I conclude:

Legal euthanasia and assisted suicide will be with us—at least in a few places—for the foreseeable future. That means that some will face the difficult prospect of deciding what to do if the culture of death knocks on their door.

Refusing to cooperate is a hard choice that could subject conscientious objectors to criticism, ostracism, and emotional pain. But it also sends a clear and important social message: Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right.

A radically changing culture forces hard choices. If you are asked to be complicit in an assisted suicide by validating or attending, what will you do?

If Brain Death Reversible, It Isn’t “Dead”

by Wesley J. Smith

There is only one type of death but two means of declaring a person “dead.”

One is the irreversible cessation of cardio/pulmonary function. Let’s call that “heart death.”

The other is total brain failure, or the irreversible cessation of the brain–and all of its constituent–parts as a brain. This is popularly known as “brain death.” 

Neither means that all the cells in the brain or body are dead. The key question is irreversible cessation of essential function.

Now, the CEO of a company called Bioquark writes me to tell me that his company has been given the go-ahead by a university ethics committee to commence “the first trial of its kind and a step towards the reversal of death.” From the NIH summary:

This is the proof of concept study with multi-modality approach (using intra-thecal bioactive peptides, stem cells, laser and transcranial IV laser and Median Nerve stimulation as adjuvants) in cases of brain death due to traumatic brain injury having diffuse axonal injury to document possibility of reversal of brain death (BD).

Here is the company press release.

A few points. First, this will apparently take place in India, not at Harvard, the Mayo Clinic, or Oxford. I don’t mean that as an insult, but I tend to be more skeptical of studies done in more remote places.

Second, it seems more likely that these interventions, if successful, will not “reverse death,” but potentially treat profound brain injury.

Finally, if brain death becomes truly reversible, if neurons that no longer function as a brain are restored to brain (not mere cellular) functionality, death by neurological criteria will no longer be a bona fide means of declaring a human being dead.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Some might cheer because they don’t believe brain death is “dead,” and that such an outcome would mean no more organ procurement from such patients. 

Maybe. But given the utilitarian flow of our culture, I think it more likely that if “brain dead” patients’ brains can be restored to a functioning state, the dead donor rule will be tossed to ensure access to good organs for more people.

Euthanasia “Treatment” for Suicide by Starvation

by Wesley J. Smith

We are creating a culture of death where, in essence, suicidal people can coerce the medical system into providing euthanasia.

Here’s what I mean. If a despairing person does not qualify to be killed under a legalized euthanasia/assisted suicide law, they simply harm themselves to become eligible for killing. Then, a doctor finishes the job of death.

That has now happened in Quebec. A disabled man starved himself into debilitation, and then a doctor provided a lethal injection. From the CBC story:

A 61-year-old Sherbrooke, Que., man ended his life legally last week.

But Jean Brault got a doctor’s help to die only after starving himself for 53 days and refusing water for eight days — at last arriving at a point so close to death he satisfied his doctors that he’d met all the criteria under Quebec’s assisted-dying law.

Suicide prevention? Treatment for despair? A doctor not “completing” a suicide?

What the hell are you talking about, Wesley? Being made dead is now the ultimate civil right.

#nihilism

Assisted Suicide Advocacy & the Increase in Suicides

by Wesley J. Smith

There has been a huge and alarming increase in the U.S. suicide rate. From the CDC announcement:

From 1999 through 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 24%, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population, with the pace of increase greater after 2006…

Suicide is increasing against the backdrop of generally declining mortality, and is currently one of the 10 leading causes of death overall and within each age group 10–64…

This report highlights increases in suicide mortality from 1999 through 2014 and shows that while the rate increased almost steadily over the period, the average annual percent increase was greater for the second half of this period (2006–2014) than for the first half (1999–2006).

Color me decidedly not surprised. We are becoming a pro-suicide culture

I believe the assisted suicide movement bears partial responsibility. Suicides have increased at the very time the assisted suicide movement has been vigorously and prominently promoting self-killing as a proper means to alleviate suffering.

Moreover, assisted suicide is often portrayed sympathetically in popular entertainment and the media is completely on board the assisted suicide bandwagon. Don’t tell me that doesn’t give despairing people lethal ideas.

At the same time, suicide prevention campaigns usually ignore this toxic elephant in the room.

It is also noteworthy that the suicide rate increased faster after 2006–the very time when the assisted suicide movement has become the most vigorous and made its most dramatic advances.

There is no question that assisted suicide advocacy is not the only factor causing this alarming increase in suicides. But I am convinced that the correlation could also be at least a partial causation.

Look at it this way: If we say that suicide is okay in some circumstances–but not others–at best we are sending a mixed message, making it more difficult for the anti-suicide message to sink in.

In this regard it is like telling someone, “Don’t smoke, but if you do, use filter cigarettes.”

One study has already found a weak linkage. I would like to see a more concerted investigations that aren’t afraid of making a controversial connection.