20 Oct “Death With Dignity” Threatens Sanctity of Life!!!
This summer we sent you an alert on the dangers of euthanasia, physician assisted suicide and the threat they present to the elderly, disabled, and terminally ill. Now the threat is even greater as hospice care in many places is beginning to look more and more like euthanasia.
Hospice, also known as palliative care, is medical care given to terminally ill patients that limits suffering and pain in the last periods of life. Properly administered, it is a humane and necessary way to improve the quality of life of patients as they approach death.
However, due to the introduction of new formalized “pathways” for dying, hospice care in many countries is becoming more and more a way to hasten death. Under the guise of compassion, new hospice practices are enforcing the belief that a painful or burdensome life should be ended as quickly as possible. As a result, this brings us closer to the terrifying institution of involuntary euthanasia and “duty to die.”
Terrifying New Trends in Hospice Care
Britain is probably the most pressing example of this subtle progression from hospice care to euthanasia. Under the guidance of the National Health System, over 300 hospitals, 130 hospice centers and 560 care homes in Britain have adopted what is called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP). LCP is an end of life care program designed to guide medical teams in diagnosing a patient’s nearness to death and assigning proper end of life treatment. The “treatment” usually includes withholding food and water, removing medication and invasive procedures, and inducing palliative sedation, which is the practice of relieving distress through high dosages of sedative drugs.
This form of treatment is what one doctor calls “a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Once placed on the “death pathway,” a patient is essentially assigned to die. Any medicines that might assist in recovery are abandoned, sedative drugs conceal any improvements in health that might occur, and the patient is essentially starved or dehydrated until dead.
Furthermore, the diagnosis of a patient’s nearness to death is by no means an exact science and symptoms of curable problems can often be mistaken for indicating nearness to death. For example, patients on pain killing drugs such as morphine can become semi-conscious and confused if they are also dehydrated, a primary symptom used to diagnose nearness to death.
Numerous cases of elderly individuals being mistakenly placed on the pathway have already occurred across Britain. Just this month, a 76 year-old British man was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer and placed on LCP, inevitably resulting in his death. Tests after his death revealed that he was actually suffering from pneumonia and would have recovered with proper treatment. Similarly, an 80-year old grandmother was diagnosed as “near to death” by her doctors, who withdrew her medication and artificial feeding, essentially leaving her to starve. The woman’s daughter claims she had to fight for weeks to have her mother taken off the plan. Nine months later, the woman is still alive.
Sanctity of life v. Quality of life
Arguments used in defense of this terrifying practice is the same as that used to defend euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide-“death with dignity.” These practices indicate a general cultural movement away from valuing the sanctity of life to valuing only the quality of life. To value the sanctity of life is to believe that human lives, from conception to death, should be universally cared for, protected, and valued.
It is the quality of life view that has allowed the complete devaluation of the lives of unborn children, and threatens the lives of the elderly, disabled, depressed, and underprivileged. Once the sanctity of life is no longer the standard by which we judge the morality of our actions, the value of every human life is dictated by those in control of defining what a “quality” life actually is.
Dangers of the “Death Pathway”
The “advanced” hospice care procedures that explicitly hasten death, such as the UKs LCP, cannot be accepted. These aggressive procedures fundamentally and irreversibly change the way we view human life and the value we put on it, thus opening the door for a flood of dire and inevitable consequences.
These practices put undue power in the hands of doctors to dictate the viability, length, and value of human lives, when medical diagnoses of nearness to death are notoriously flawed. Furthermore, no matter the guidelines put in place, medical services are always practiced through the prism of social and personal biases, leaving the most vulnerable the most exposed.
Additionally, these palliative care practices enforce the dangerous and barbaric belief that when a life becomes too painful or burdensome it should be ended as quickly as possible. In the age of rising health care costs and socialized medicine, advanced palliative care practices pose the very real threat of progressing to involuntary euthanasia and “duty to die.”
The UK is not the only country on this slippery-slope to devaluing human life and exposing its most vulnerable to involuntary and early death. Similar “death pathways” are being developed around the world and palliative sedation is already common practice in most countries. Just last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement ethically approving the practice in the U.S.
In order to stop this slow devaluation of life and reaffirm the sanctity of every life from conception to death, we need to stand now against any and all legislation that implies the quality of life supersedes the sanctity of life. It is time to make our voices heard and stand for life.
Three Things You Can Do to Stand for Life
1. Let your government officials know that the sanctity of life overrides all other concerns.
2. Forward this email to 10 of your friends and family – people must be educated on this issue so that we can make a difference.
3. Donate now to protect the sanctity of life. You can make an online donation of $25, $50, $100, $500 or whatever you can afford now. Or if you prefer print this form and mail a check. Your contribution is needed now more than ever! Thank you for your support.
United Families International