Small bits of good news in evil times

By Cathy Keim

It is great to receive good news when the Maryland General Assembly is in session. Too often one opens the morning emails to find a call to arms to fight off the newest horror that our Delegates and Senators are perpetrating on us. So it was with great pleasure that I read this announcement from Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide:

We had to share this exciting news with you as soon as we could. Today, the physician assisted suicide bill, SB418, was withdrawn from consideration by its lead Senate sponsor, Sen. Ron Young. Sen. Young stated that he didn’t believe the bill had enough support in the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee to pass, and he’d rather withdraw it than have it voted down.

This bill was cross-filed with HB404, sponsored by Delegate Shane Pendergrass, so there is still a small (but unlikely) possibility that it could proceed from the House side. Sadly, it can be assumed that the bill will be reintroduced again next year since the progressives never, never give up no matter how bad the idea.

In fact, the Washington Post reports that:

Kim Callinan, chief program officer for the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, said her organization will continue to push for passage of such legislation in Maryland and elsewhere. “From our experience, it takes multiple times,” she said. “This is not uncommon.”

Compassion and Choices was formerly known as the Hemlock Society. You have to give the progressive groups credit for advancing their cause by changing their language to fit the times.

Nor was this their first bite at the apple. I covered the issue last year when it was called Death with Dignity. This year they tweaked the bill and called it the End of Life Option Act. We will just have to wait and see what new name it appears under next year.

I took the time to watch the committee hearings for the House bill a couple of weeks ago and wanted to mention some thoughts I had on the newest attempt to push the Culture of Death in Maryland. First of all, the many citizens that came to testify against the bill were articulate, compassionate, and informed. They included doctors, nurses, pharmacists, caregivers, social workers, and family members.

Advocates for the disabled made a particularly poignant argument for not passing this bill because people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are already discriminated against by the quality of life argument.

“Not Dead Yet, The Resistance, is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination.” I found them while reading up on the issues. I do not know if they participated in the testimony at the Maryland hearings, but their website is a great resource for information and facts such as:

Although intractable pain has been emphasized as the primary reason for enacting assisted suicide laws, the top five reasons Oregon doctors actually report for issuing lethal prescriptions are the “loss of autonomy” (89.9%), “less able to engage in activities” (87.4%), “loss of dignity” (83.8%), “loss of control of bodily functions” (58.7%) and “feelings of being a burden”(38.3%). (Death With Dignity Act Annual Reports, PDF download) These are disability issues.

Many people are so afraid of being disabled that they would rather kill themselves than suffer the ignominy of being disabled. However, their demand for death puts all disabled people at risk. Once it is deemed acceptable to kill people to end their suffering – since poor quality of life is considered suffering – then all disabled people are one step closer to being denied care and the ultimate form of discrimination: euthanasia.

I have generally thought about life issues in term of Judeo-Christian ethics, which are more than sufficient for me to oppose abortion, suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. The concept of Imago Dei, that we are formed in the image of God, which gave us the basis for our Declaration of Independence and the foundation of our whole system of government based on the God-given rights of the individual, is what I base my principles on.

However, in this present age of post-Christian thought, it is not bad to have some principled arguments from others that come alongside the Church to make the stand for life to an unbelieving culture.

One moment of the testimony that I found revealing was when a physician who works with elderly patients and helped craft the Maryland patient rights law told the Delegates that HB404 was poorly crafted and would cause many problems legally and ethically if they passed it. The Delegate who was questioning him declared that they had taken a lot of time and care to write the bill. Despite his testimony pointing out flaws, she was unwilling to admit that there might be problems in the offing should the bill pass.

The hubris of this Delegate was a picture of what we are up against when our politicians get together for ninety days to wreak havoc on our state to please their advocacy groups. Their lack of understanding of the basic issues at hand is readily evident and their lack of concern for what the laws will unleash is disconcerting. Single party dominance of our state has not enhanced our legislative experiences.

The second piece of good news that I saw this week concerns SB868 which would require that all students have three doses of the HPV vaccine prior to entering ninth grade. Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, the sponsor, pulled the bill after receiving more information about the vaccine.

The American Academy of Pediatricians stated in January:

It has recently come to the attention of the College that one of the recommended vaccines could possibly be associated with the very rare but serious condition of premature ovarian failure (POF), also known as premature menopause.

They call for additional testing to be done to ensure the safety of the vaccine.

This bill is also cross filed with HB1178. I called Delegate Angela Angel’s office to inquire if she would pull her bill also. Her office responded that there was discussion between the bill sponsors to decide what to do. The hearing is currently scheduled for March 10, so we will have to continue to watch that bill.

Just a word on the inconsistencies of the human mind. It is in vogue to eat hormone free meat and to avoid all sorts of food that is deemed not healthy, but at the same time we push young women to be on hormonal birth control and try to mandate that all students be vaccinated against human papilloma virus (HPV).

No one questions whether it is healthy for our girls to be on hormonal birth control for years, but you won’t eat a chicken breast from a chicken that is fed hormones?

Furthermore, while HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that does cause cancer, young people can avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy by not having sex! Perhaps we need to spend more time teaching our youth about the dangers of promiscuous sex rather than subjecting them to hormone manipulation and vaccines which may cause premature menopause.

Editor’s note: In verifying the websites (as I always do to check the links) I read what Cathy sent and then found this from the Patients Rights Action Fund:

Maryland – This week assisted suicide proponents withdrew legislation noting to the Associated Press, “it became clear the measure did not have enough votes…” The bill author further mentioned that it is unlikely a new bill will be reintroduced next year due to the strong opposition. The Maryland Senate includes 35 Democrats and only 12 Republicans, and the House of Delegates holds 98 Democrats and 43 Republicans. (Emphasis mine.)

So we will see if they keep to their word or try it again under yet another name. They could also be saving it to make it an election-year issue in 2018.