Body Snatchers on Parade: Abortion, Organ Donation, Euthanasia, and Assisted Suicide
by Mary Ann Kreitzer
In 1973 Roe vs. Wade fired up the fledgling pro-life movement in the United States. Grassroots groups rallied to fight the evil locally: speakers’ bureaus formed to educate the community; picketers marched and prayed at abortion mills, housewives lobbied state legislators. Everyone worked to mitigate, even to a small degree, the new Dred Scott decision that made unborn babies the chattel of their mothers. At the time prolifers predicted that the mass killing of the unborn would lead inevitably to euthanasia and other atrocities. Pro-aborts scoffed. But today, after thirty-seven years, where are we? Abortion continues unabated with many defending even the most gruesome methods. Embryonic cannibalism is sold as a snake-oil cure for diseases despite disastrous results. Assisted suicide advances across the fruited plain, and hastening death to provide a continuing source of fresh organs for implantation and research is a growth industry. Aging baby boomers, who justified the murder of their children to solve social problems, are now themselves in the crosshairs. Their numbers represent a looming economic catastrophe. The children whose incomes would have supported their retirement died on the altars of choice. The culture of death offers a solution: an early exit compliments of Dr. Death. The Church Militant, trained in the pro-life wars, faces new battles ahead.
The recent 40 Days for Life Campaign shows exactly how a determined grassroots effort can throw the enemy into confusion. Eighty cities in thirty-three states across the U.S. committed to forty days of prayer and fasting with round-the-clock vigils at local abortion mills and community outreach using flyers and petitions. In many places the Catholic Church was a major supporter. In Fargo, SD Bishop Samuel Aquila pledged an hour’s vigil and urged his priests to do the same: “Tell your parishioners when that hour will be and challenge them to meet or exceed your example.” Bishop Robert Morlino led a midnight vigil October 22 at a Planned Parenthood in his Madison, WI diocese. Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento endorsed the effort in his diocesan paper.
The results can only be described as miraculous. City after city saw abortion rates slashed, babies, saved, women healed from past abortions, and Planned Parenthood in confusion. Thousands of people who never participated in a pro-life activity before rallied to pray and do penance to end the holocaust. David Bereit, campaign organizer, said as the effort ended, “40 days for life has reinforced something we’ve known all along – prayer works…imagine – with God’s help and guidance – what the future could hold.” [See www.40DaysforLife.com]
Bereit’s words both challenge and warn the Church Militant to put on its armor and hold its ground. The culture of death is on the march and it’s not just abortion by a long shot. Most people don’t realize that euthanasia, abortion’s evil twin, grew right alongside it from its earliest days. In 1974, a year after Roe, pro-life hero, Fr. Paul Marx, published a tabloid brochure called The Mercy Killers. It graphically illustrated that “zealousness in death promotion” was already well underway in the U.S. Fr. Marx connected the dots linking abortion, euthanasia, and population control. He exposed a who’s who of author’s, doctors, scientists, educators, and legislators offering death as the answer to life’s challenges. He showed that, like abortion, euthanasia acceptance advances through clever use of semantics and slogans. Where abortionists stress the right to choose and reproductive rights, euthanasians talk about the right to die and the right to control one’s destiny. Both stress ownership of the body to do with it as one chooses.
The Hugh Finn case in Virginia in 1998 and the Terri Schindler Schiavo case in Florida in 2005 showed how successful the mercy killers are at manipulating language to bring about the elimination of those they consider useless eaters. Neither Hugh nor Terri was dying or in a coma. Both were severely brain-damaged but awake and at least minimally aware. Both laughed at their dads’ jokes and could track objects with their eyes. But Hugh’s wife, Michelle, and Terri’s husband, Michael, wanted them dead. Both spouses refused the ones they swore to love “in sickness and in health” the most basic therapy to improve their conditions.
A new weapon in the death camp’s arsenal emerged during Schiavo’s ordeal: hospice. The movement founded to offer compassionate care to the terminally ill was perverted to aid and abet Terri’s active murder. Although hospice admission requires a patient to be terminal with life expectancy of only six months, Michael transferred the living, not dying, Terri to Hospice of the Florida Sun Coast. The move was illegal. Once there, hospice cooperated with an immoral court order to deny Terri food and water. Terri became terminal when her caregivers starved and dehydrated her. Given similar treatment even an Olympic athlete is terminal.
Terri’s case gave a big push to living wills. These documents supposedly guarantee control over treatment if one becomes incompetent; however, they often become death warrants. Many include sections refusing medical care to prolong life -- from resuscitation to “artificial” feeding. A person who goes into cardiac arrest during surgery, for example, might survive and thrive with aggressive treatment, but doctors refuse it because provisions in the living will deny “extraordinary” care. Increasingly extraordinary care means any care at all: food and water, antibiotics for infection, even an aspirin for a headache. If the individual with a living will suffers a life-threatening complication, the likelihood of non-treatment and death by neglect (and morphine drip) is a real threat.
And where do these documents originate? The first living will appeared in 1967 developed by the Euthanasia Society of America. Today many organizations promoting “living wills” are actively seeking legalization of assisted suicide and active euthanasia. They include Choice in Dying, Death with Dignity Education Center, Compassion in Dying and End-of-Life Choices (Hemlock Society). The last two combined in 2005 as Compassion and Choices. It is hard to keep track of all these organizations because they change names, putting on the mask of compassion to cover up the death’s head underneath.
The euthanasia/assisted suicide movement is a many-headed hydra working throughout the culture at all levels: education, legislation, and health care. It is heavily funded by George Soros and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Billionaire atheist Soros, through his Open Society Institute, promotes euthanasia, abortion, drug legalization, homosexual activism, and the ACLU. Soros also plays sugar daddy to leftwing organizations like MoveOn.org and pumps money into liberal political campaigns. Not only that, but his institute gets tax dollars as well. RWJF, the fifth largest philanthropic group in the U.S. is a major funder of the palliative care movement which is increasingly dominated by the euthanasians.
Palliative care has a nice ring. It evokes images of Florence Nightingale spoon-feeding the sick and Albert Schweitzer wiping fevered brows. But many leaders in the palliative care camp are assisted suicide and euthanasia proponents. One organization attempting to blow the trumpet and wake up America to the danger is Life Tree (www.lifetree.org). In an article on Life Tree’s website, Ione Whitlock writes that “Many pro-life advocates had hoped that palliative care would prove to be the ultimate antidote to the assisted suicide movement….Traditional palliative care — symptom relief when death is imminent — might have accomplished that mission. However, over the past ten years, palliative care training and certification has been gradually co-opted by the very same right-to-die advocates that palliative care was meant to counter.” Whitlock goes on to identify the culprits and show how money is being funneled into their work by Soros, RWJF, and other foundations.
Among those with a pro-euthanasia background promoting palliative care are Drs. Diane Meier, Sean Morrison, Linda Emanuel, Joanne Lynn, Porter Storey, and others. All support the withdrawal of food and water from helpless patients. Life Tree’s list of villains includes a lawyer, Bill Allen who debated pro-life writer Wesley J. Smith in 2005 on Court TV during the Terri Schiavo case. Smith later wrote an article for National Review Online that included a chilling exchange:
Smith points out that Allen is not a member of the bioethics lunatic fringe; his perspective is “relatively conservative.” Who, besides patients like Terri, are non-persons to these death-dealers? Smith answers, “All embryos and fetuses, to be sure. But many bioethicists also categorize newborn infants as human non-persons (although some bioethicists refer to healthy newborns as ‘potential persons’). So too are those with profound cognitive impairments such as Terri Schiavo and President Ronald Reagan during the latter stages of his Alzheimer’s disease. Personhood theory would reduce some of us into killable and harvestable people…. Such thinking is not fringe in bioethics, a field in which the idea of killing for organs is fast becoming mainstream. In 1997, several doctors writing for the International Forum for Transplant Ethics opined in The Lancet that people (like Terri) diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state should be redefined as dead for purposes of organ procurement.”
To think of people who advocate starving the helpless to death and harvesting their organs teaching bioethics to future doctors of America gives one pause. It also gives one pause to find that the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) founded at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City by Dr. Meier and Dr. Christine Cassell promotes palliative care as a cost-cutting measure. Whitlock calls CAPC “the nation’s premier training center for development of palliative care programs in US hospitals” and says, “As a result of CAPC’s program, the number of hospital-based palliative care programs has nearly doubled — increasing from 668 in 2000, to 1,240 in 2005. Through CAPC’sLeadership Centers across the United States, over 3,100 health care professionals have been taught CAPC’s methods and ethics.” Those “methods and ethics” include publishing guidelines for hospitals that state, “non-oral feeding/ hydration is considered a medical treatment, not ‘ordinary care.’” Presumably this means when “medical treatment” becomes “futile” for the terminally ill, feeding and nutrition can be cut off, hastening death and saving money for hospitals and insurance companies.
Such a policy, of course, directly conflicts with Catholic teaching on nutrition and hydration. Everyone needs food and water to live. Providing it is NOT “medical care” any more than bathing a patient or providing clean sheets and a warm blanket is “medical care.” It is the ordinary care one expects to give to anyone whether sick or well. The Vatican has made that clear Responding to questions from the American bishops about artificial nutrition and hydration the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said that “administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.” When asked if artificial feeding could be stopped for a patient in persistent vegetative state, CDF responded, “No. A patient in a ‘permanent vegetative state’ is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means.”
Unfortunately, Catholic teaching appears to have less influence on “end-of-life” care in the U.S. than the money being pumped into education and institutional change to bring about acceptance of the death ethic. Despite that, people can take some important steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. It is absolutely essential for every person over eighteen to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This is NOT a living will. It names a trusted person to make medical decisions when an individual is sick or injured and incompetent to do so. Obviously, selecting a person who both supports one’s values and is assertive enough to stand up to an aggressive medical staff is essential. The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, headed by pro-life attorney Rita Marker, offers a wealth of information on their website. The Advanced Directive and the Protective Medical Decisions Document (PMDD) which specifically prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide are both available from the Task Force.
In closing, it’s instructive to note that the same strategy appears in all these areas of evil. Money, semantics, and brainwashing are molding the people of America to accept the seamless garment of death and destruction: abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, homosexuality, etc. Evil often seem to be winning the fight, and, in human terms, there is no solution. But with God all things are possible. The 40 days for life campaign demonstrated an effective counter strategy: prayer, fasting, and faithful witness. As more people of good will adopt it, not only will abortion and euthanasia be pushed back, but the entire culture of death. All these issues are connected; to fight one is to fight all. God’s warriors must run and never grow weary and commit their resources (time, talent, and treasure) to the work of Almighty God under the banner of Christ the King. We’ve read the end of the book. God wins. We can hasten the victory by bravely engaging the enemy in spiritual battle before the Blessed Sacrament as well as in hospital corridors, on the sidewalks outside abortion mills, and in the halls of federal and state legislatures.