Small bits of good news in evil times

March 6, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on 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 Today, the physician assisted suicide bill, SB418, was withdrawn from consideration by its lead Senate sponsor, Sen.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.

Odds and ends number 81

It’s Leap Day, so why not use the occasion to put up the odds and ends cluttering up the mailbox? After sifting through the stuff I thought might be useful but is now pretty much irrelevant, I’ve still come up with a post’s worth of things that take a sentence to a couple paragraphs to deal with.

As you may know, here in Maryland we have passed the halfway point of the “90 days of terror” I call the General Assembly session. While several of the items I cite aren’t on the agenda, I think you can file them under the “bright idea” category, as in “don’t give them any bright ideas.”

While the first idea (one of many Daily Signal items that caught my eye) isn’t really on the table in the state, locally they are kicking around the thought of assisting local students who want to attend Wor-Wic Community College. But Louisiana’s program is breaking the state, so it may be a cautionary tale for the county.

Look, you begin with one college campus and recent high school graduates but then the folks at Salisbury University will want in, then there will be a clamor to include other groups and schools. With any government program, mission creep is a concern and this is no exception. It’s a natural lead-in to an excellent piece by James Bovard at Mises Daily (for this the hat tip goes to my friends at Americans for Limited Government.) Once we set the precedent of free tuition, will the county ever get off the hook?

“(Politicians) realize that addicting citizens to government handouts is the easiest way to breed mass docility and stretch their power,” writes Bovard, and he is absolutely correct. Why do you think I advocate so much for starving the beast? It’s the only way out of this mess we have created.

But as the Daily Signal adds in another great piece, Republicans who want limited government find it a tough sell in minority communities despite the evidence that shoveling money into the welfare system isn’t helping. Perhaps this is because conservatives are losing the battle for debunking the lies being sold to the minorities and youth, despite Dan Bongino’s best efforts to change the narrative at the Conservative Review.

Then again, when you have the dissent-free atmosphere of college campuses these days (again from the Daily Signal), it’s easier to see why the “skulls full of mush” remain in their state.

Something that is on the docket in Maryland once again is a “death with dignity” bill. But my final piece from the Daily Signal points out that if you took Oregon’s assisted suicide rate and extrapolated the numbers nationwide, 10,529 people annually would take their own lives. By comparison, in 2013 just over 33,000 people died as a result of vehicle accidents and roughly the same number perished in firearm-related deaths. But the majority of those firearm deaths were suicides, with 11,208 being homicides. (Table 18 way back in this government report.)

So what we would be doing is likely reducing the firearm death figure by a little bit, but increasing the suicide rate by giving it less of a stigma. I’m not sure I agree with this because in this day and age it’s easy for the greedy grandkids to convince their rich grandma she is bound any day to catch Alzheimer’s and struggle on for years afterward. Why not save us, uh, we mean yourself the trouble, they would ask.

I wanted to bring up one more seeming juxtaposition in Maryland politics before I switch gears. A couple weeks back there was a candidates’ debate for the Republicans seeking the U.S. Senate seat (way too) long held by Barbara Mikulski. I believe there were five candidates present of the fourteen who filed, but the most notable absentee was Delegate Kathy Szeliga. As she noted, there was a Maryland GOP event held that same night. Under the heading of “An Amazing Event!” she wrote:

Thursday night, I was able to attend an event with three great governors… Bob Ehrlich, Charlie Baker (Mass. GOP Gov.), and Larry Hogan even stopped by! These men know how to win and govern in blue states.

We will win our U.S. Senate campaign the same way – by being authentic and showing voters that we truly care about our state and nation. Our ideas work and empower people over big government.

It’s interesting she points this out since we didn’t get to hear her ideas in the debate. On the other hand, fellow candidate Richard Douglas chided Szeliga indirectly by stating:

I am delighted to be participating in the Goucher College Republican candidate’s debate for the U.S. Senate on February 18, 2016. Only a serious family emergency could keep me away. Over many weeks, College Republicans and some of Maryland’s most devoted grassroots Republican activists have devoted enormous effort to this useful event. I warmly commend them for this effort, and from the beginning, my participation was never in doubt. Service in the armed forces and with two U.S. Senate committees teaches a vital lesson: people come first. I took that lesson to heart in Iraq, on a Navy submarine, and in the U.S. Senate as it reacted to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will never make party or President higher priorities than the people of Maryland.

As you recall, there were a series of questions I sent out to 12 of the 14 candidates (two had bad e-mail addresses so their mail bounced.) I mention this because I received Douglas’s answers yesterday as the second response to come in – haven’t heard from Szeliga yet.

Finally, if there were a third person I would like to add to monoblogue (at least on a weekly basis) it’s this lady. Each time I read Marita Noon’s posts on the political aspects of energy I nod my head in agreement, and this one was no exception – it even ties in to the lunacy on college campuses these days because this is what some of these crackpots do after college. I give you the movement to “keep it in the ground”:

“Keep it in the ground” is the new face of environmental activism. If those who understand the role energy plays in America and our freedoms don’t engage, don’t attend meetings and send statements, and don’t vote, the policy makers have almost no choice but to think these vocal few represent the many.

For example, there’s the case of Sandoval County, New Mexico, which has potential to be a wealthier county but can’t even give permission to drill an exploratory well without angst:

In the past few years, when oil prices were higher, Encana and WPX drilled some 200 wells in the same geology, 70 of them in Sandoval County. Not one single instance of any interference, damage, or invasion of fresh water aquifers has occurred. For that matter, over the past 50 years of production in Sandoval County, even with technology and safety standards that were not as advanced or rigorous as todays, there has not been one instance of aquifer harm.

(snip)

One “small drilling well” outside of a community on the edge of Albuquerque that could create jobs and help the local and state economy could be blocked because of a few dozen agitators who could cause the county to “keep it in the ground.”

When I read this it makes me think of the short-sightedness of several regional governmental bodies that have expressed their opposition to the simple act of seismic surveying of the waters off the coast, citing harm to marine life. (This didn’t seem to be a problem in 2013 when it was done to place wind turbines, though.)

I suppose they would rather wreak havoc on the migratory bird population with wind turbines, but I think both oil platforms and wind turbines can co-exist – an “all of the above” strategy if you will. It’s just that one will prove to be a boondoggle without subsidies and one won’t.

So as we wrap up this Leap Day, here’s hoping Donald Trump is the first to take a flying leap – to where I don’t care.

Odds and ends number 80

For awhile I wasn’t sure I would ever make it to the 80th edition of this longtime monoblogue series but I have finally arrived with more tidbits that require only a few dozen words to deal with.

Since this category has the item I’ve been sitting on the longest, I’m going to talk energy first. Some of my readers in the northern part of the state may yet have a little bit of remaining snow from the recent blizzard, snow that may be supplemented by a new blast today. But the fine folks at Energy Tomorrow worry about a regulatory blizzard, and with good reason: Barack Obama has already killed the coal industry, states are suing for relief from the EPA,  and a proposed $10 a barrel oil tax may further hinder the domestic oil industry already straining under a price war with OPEC. So much for that $550 annual raise we received, as Rick Manning notes in the latter story I link – for the rest of us, that’s like a 25-cent per hour raise without the increased taxation that normally comes with a pay increase. Yet that quarter would be lost to taxation under the Obama scheme.

It’s interesting as well that the Iowa caucus results favored Ted Cruz over Donald Trump despite their competing stances on ethanol, as Marita Noon wrote, but Cruz’s Iowa win also emboldened others to speak more freely about rescinding the ban.

Speaking of Cruz and Iowa, over the last week we’ve heard more about third-place Iowa finisher Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, as Erick Erickson predicted we would. It’s obvious to me that the media is trying to pick a Republican candidate for us, so they have been pushing either Donald Trump (who is far from conservative on many issues) or Marco Rubio (who has been squishy on immigration and perhaps can be rolled more easily on the subject again.) Or, as Dan Bongino writes, it could be the left’s divide-and-conquer strategy at work once again.

It seems to me that today’s New Hampshire primary should bring the race down to about five participants on the GOP side. The herd will almost certainly be culled of Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Jim Gilmore based on results, polling, and financial situation, and that would cut it down to six. The loser between Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich should whittle the field to five in time for South Carolina and we will begin to see if Donald Trump’s ceiling is really about 25 percent.

Trump’s popularity has been defined by a hardline approach to border security, but once again I turn to Rick Manning who asks what Trump would do about Obamacare, He also shrewdly invokes Bobby Jindal’s name, since the policy wonk had a conservative approach:

Jindal understood that the Obamacare system has put down some roots, and tearing it out was not going to be an easy task that could be glibly done with the wave of a wand or a pronouncement from a podium. He understood that whatever health care system replaced Obamacare would set the tone for whether or not the federal government continued its expansion in scope and power. He understood that what we do about Obamacare is likely to be one of the most important domestic policy decisions that any president will make. So, he laid out his vision for what health care should look like in America. (Link added.)

Yet on another domestic issue New Hampshire’s neighbor Maine is making some serious steps in cleaning up their food stamp rolls. It’s a little scary to think that the Millennials and Generation X decided keeping the “free” stuff wasn’t worth actually getting a job (or taking alternate steps to improve themselves or their community.) Perhaps it is fortunate that these are childless adults.

Turning to our own state, Maryland Right to Life was kind enough to inform me that a rebadged “death with dignity” assisted suicide bill was introduced to the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate (HB404 and SB418, respectively.) The 2015 rendition never received a committee vote, but it also had a late hearing – this year the setup is a little bit more advantageous to committee passage and the number of sponsors (all Democrats) has increased. They thought they had enough votes to get it out of committee last year, and chances are they are correct.

I have postulated on previous occasions that this General Assembly session is the opportunity to plant the seeds of distrust Democrats desperately need to get back that which they consider theirs in 2018 – the Maryland governor’s chair. It will likely be a close, party-line vote but I suspect this bill will pass in order to make Governor Hogan either veto it (which, of course, will allow the press to make him look less than compassionate to cancer sufferers such as he was) or sign it into law – a course for which he will accrue absolutely zero credit from Democrats for reaching across the aisle but will alienate the pro-life community that is a vital part of the GOP.

Try as they might, the Democrats could not bait Hogan into addressing social issues during his 2014 campaign but that doesn’t mean they will stop trying.

On a much more somber note insofar as good government is concerned, the advocacy group Election Integrity Maryland announced they were winding up their affairs at the end of this month. As EIM president Cathy Kelleher stated:

The difficulty of maintaining a small non profit was a full time job and the responsibility fell on the same few individuals for far too long.

We can proudly say that in our 4+ years of operations, we made a difference in the way citizens view the record maintenance of the State Board of Elections and had an impact in the legislative process.

The problem EIM had was twofold: first, a lack of citizens interested enough to address the issues our state has with keeping voter rolls not just up to date, but insuring they are limited to citizens who are eligible to vote; and secondly just an overwhelming task considering there are over 3 million voters registered in Maryland. And for some of the counties that are more populous, the powers that be didn’t much mind having inaccurate voter rolls that may have had a few ineligible voters among them just in case they needed a few extra on election night.

And it’s that prospect of fraud which is among the reasons not to adopt National Popular Vote, as Natalie Johnson notes at the Daily Signal. It’s a good counter to an argument presented in the comments to one of Cathy Keim’s recent posts. After the angst of Bush vs. Gore in 2000, could you imagine the need for a national recount with states hanging in the balance?

I think the system can be improved, but there’s a time and place for that proposal and it’s not here yet. There’s also a time and a place to wrap up odds and ends, and we have arrived.

Easter musings

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: Rather than leave the site all but dark for Easter as I did last year, I’m going to back up what I wrote on Good Friday with Cathy’s thoughts on the week that was in the religious realm.

**********

This has been a tumultuous week with hysteria over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana and Arkansas, the tenth anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo, and always in the background the ongoing holocaust of abortions.

Terri Schiavo, a profoundly brain damaged woman, was starved and dehydrated to death by court order despite her family pleading to be allowed to take care of her. They were not even allowed to moisten her lips as she died a prolonged and painful death that would be deemed inappropriate for the vilest convicted felon.

Her husband decided, and the courts backed him up, that Terri would not want to live in her condition, so she was forced to die by starvation and dehydration. Here were two opposing points of view embodied in the husband and Terri’s family. He could not tolerate allowing her to live and they could not tolerate forcing her to die. After a lengthy court battle, a judge decided that she must die. Nothing that the family could do could stop that order. Police guarded her to make sure that they did not touch a drop of water to her parched lips.

That is where the new tolerance takes you.

When there are two strongly held convictions, traditional understanding is that tolerance will allow each to go his own way. This is not how tolerance works anymore.

The tolerant position in the Terri Schiavo case would lean towards do no harm. She had a loving family that wanted to care for her. The husband had moved on with his life including a new girlfriend and children. Let the poor woman live.

Do not be taken in by the use of tolerance by the social progressives. It is a code word that means they will get the social agenda that they want over the protest of anyone and everything that is traditional, sacred, or reasonable.

Just as Terri Schiavo had to die because the social progressive movement had deemed that a brain damaged person was not a “real” person, so they have decided that religious freedom must die because it stands in the way of their continued restructuring of our society.

The Terri Schiavo episode was a watershed in our culture turning towards a culture of death. The ongoing abortion holocaust is another example as are the Death with Dignity bills that are popping up all over the country.

We are being pushed inexorably towards a total refutation of our Judeo-Christian heritage. The holdouts are the Christians that still believe that God’s truth is more important than the progressive gospel of man’s perfectibility leading to Utopia here on earth. The dream of Utopia, heaven on earth, is a popular, recurring theme that always leads to mass mayhem, death, and fascism. People are individuals that do not like to be told how to think and what to do. The only way to ensure conformity of the masses is to coerce compliance by fear and force.

The governors of Indiana and Arkansas (Mike Pence and Asa Hutchinson, respectively) that just caved on the RFRA bills did not understand what hit them. Why they did not see it coming, I do not know. Certainly there was warning when Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona faltered last year.

Perhaps now we finally have the attention of our fearful leaders. The progressives that have been pushing to destroy the fabric of our society are serious. They will not be stopped by Republican leaders caving a little here or there. Giving ground only fuels their lust to win. That is why I keep begging our leaders to consider their principles carefully and then to stand on them.

This RFRA fight is not about gay marriage or equality for gays. That is just a temporary way station on the path to the total destruction of traditional (religious) values. It started years ago with no-fault divorce weakening marriage. Contraceptives allowed the separation of child rearing from marriage, thus further weakening marriage, as it became just a form of personal fulfillment rather than the vehicle to rear children in a loving home with two parents to guide them.

The push for release from sexual restrictions brought on cohabitation, single parents, and eventually homosexual marriage.

Homosexual marriage was always a side note though. The vast majority of the gay population does not want to avail themselves of marriage. Their goal is the complete equality of the homosexual lifestyle and that is not premised on a monogamous relationship.

The end game is becoming clearer now. It is not really anything to do with the homosexual movement per se. It is about the total release of any and all sexual restrictions on any person. To reach that goal, all the traditional foundations of a society have to be weakened and eventually removed. This will leave a people that will need the government for everything.

The only groups standing in the way are the religious believers. Thus they must be denigrated, reviled, and berated until they either fall into line or are so cut off from society that they cannot have a voice. Their views will be deemed so bigoted and hateful, that nobody will even consider anything they say. Who bothers to listen to a bigot?

We are very close to achieving that reality. Any person or group that steps out of the politically correct storyline is decried as beyond the pale.

Religious freedom or freedom of conscience means being able to say what your convictions are and to live by them. It doesn’t mean that you will be popular, but you can come into the public square and speak your mind.

Today just try saying that you do not believe in climate change – there are calls to cut funding to states whose governors refuse to agree that climate change is real.

Today just try saying that marriage is between a man and a woman. You may lose your job as CEO of a major company like Brendan Eich did at Mozilla.

If a governor or a CEO cannot state their conscience, then how is the normal citizen to stand in the public square and be allowed to speak?

Remember, the issue on display this week may not matter to you, but if you don’t allow your neighbor to speak his mind today, will you be allowed to speak yours tomorrow on the issue you care about?

The new tolerance means that you must say what the cultural elites and media order you to say. As long as you dance to their music all will be well, just don’t step out of line.

‘Death with Dignity’: compassion or dispatch?

March 11, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · 3 Comments 

By Cathy Keim

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees held a joint hearing last Friday on HB1021, the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death with Dignity Act. Yesterday the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee held a hearing on the cross-filed SB676.

The arguments that were offered at the House committee hearing on March 6, 2015, were exactly what were expected. The two sides are clearly divided here. The culture of death has no room for the culture of life. The desire to rule one’s own fate does not leave room for compassion or suffering, which are both elements of the human condition.

The siren call of death takes the guise of “fairness.” It is only “fair” that a person that is terminally ill should be able to end his suffering. Without a doubt, we all tremble at the thought of pain, dependency, loss of mental capacity and/or bodily functions. We all desire to be healthy and happy, but to equate the loss of our health with the right to die is a dire step.

Let’s run through some of the arguments that opponents of the bill put forth.

Maryland has outlawed the death penalty for anyone, no matter his or her crime. However, the same drugs that Maryland will not allow to be used to execute murderers are the drugs that will be prescribed for a person to die with dignity.

Physicians are not trained to kill their patients. It will inevitably change the doctor/patient relationship if the doctor is expected to offer death as an option.

People that are given a diagnosis of a terminal illness with six months to live will most likely respond by being depressed. They could kill themselves in a state of depression because there is no provision for a mental health professional to evaluate them in the current bill.

Physicians cannot tell with accuracy who has six months to live. Plenty of people live for years after they are told they have six months to live, but we will never know if they kill themselves out of despair. Amazingly, about 20% of the people that receive hospice care actually leave the hospice instead of dying.

Palliative care is available for patients in pain. We are not condemning our loved ones to endless, unrelenting pain.

Many of the most poignant cases that are presented as deserving a death with dignity are those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, ALS, or Parkinson’s. However, by the time they would want to die, they would not be able to self administer the drugs, so this bill would not “help” them anyway.

Handicapped people already feel pressured because they are using medical resources at a steeper rate than healthy people. This bill would increase the pressure on the handicapped to not use more than their fair share of medical care.

Do you see how the subtle pressure works? Especially once the government is in control of health care, there will be the pressure to manage care from an organizational, cost-effective perspective, not a personal case-by-case perspective.

An effective way to save on costs is to encourage the elderly, the handicapped, and the sickest patients to stop their suffering (and ours) by removing themselves. It does not even have to be said aloud, but the pressure will build on our weakest, most vulnerable citizens.

It is time now to stop and count the cost of this type of public policy. Our country was established with a Judeo-Christian foundation of which the keystone is that each individual is created in the image of God. This is the concept that gave birth to Western Civilization, which resulted in our Declaration of Independence proclaiming, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Already we are seeing breaches in the wall protecting our weaker brothers. Abortion claims the lives of many babies because they are deemed defective (the vast majority of Downs Syndrome babies are aborted). Sex-selection abortions claim many female babies even here in the United States. Abortions are performed for trivial problems that could be surgically corrected like a cleft palate or even more troubling for the convenience of the mother. The absolutely logical next step after abortion on demand is the removal of the handicapped and elderly.

We are seeing the complete inversion of our thinking. Compassion used to mean caring for those that needed help. Now compassion is making sure that you can have a lethal dose of drugs to end your life. We have moved from compassion to dispatch, but in an Orwellian turn of the phrase, we still call it compassion. Then to keep up the farce, this bill would require the doctor to lie on the death certificate and list as the cause of death whatever terminal illness the patient had rather than suicide by overdose.

This Death with Dignity bill is a lie from start to finish. The true dignity would come from all of us rejecting this manipulation of our emotions and comforting our family and friends when they need comfort, not helping to finish them off.

Once again, I am aware of the pain, emotional and physical, that is present as we watch a loved one or ourselves move towards death, but this is part of the human condition. We do not make ourselves more human by rushing life out the door. We cannot create life, so let us not be over eager to take it away.

On ‘Death with Dignity’

February 22, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Cathy Keim, Maryland Politics, Politics · 2 Comments 

By Cathy Keim

“The solution to suffering never is to eliminate the sufferer.” – Dr. William Toffler

I was writing a piece on the Death with Dignity Act but Michael beat me to it by posting on it last Wednesday, so I will address some of the issues that Michael touched on briefly.

I agree with Michael that this bill has a good chance at passing. My reason for thinking this is due to the emotional appeal that is being made by the proponents. None of us like to think about death in general and our own death in particular. Even less appealing is to consider oneself in extremely poor health with no chance of recovery; indeed, only a continued progression downward.

Many people jump from that grim thought to friends or loved ones that they have seen suffer and are ready to declare that they will not submit to such a fate. This is really a very American “I am captain of my ship” type of thinking. We are a free people. Why should we have to suffer a lingering illness and the indignities that accompany such a loss of mobility or mental capacity?

The more libertarian among us declare that the government has no right to keep us from our choice. Perhaps they should stop for a minute and realize that the more present fear is that the government will all too willingly let you have your wish and maybe help you along before you quite decide that is where you want to go.

Now that our healthcare has been taken over by the government and our Republican leaders show no progress in their faint attempts to stop it, people should realize that things are quickly moving to the government being able to refuse care. After all, it costs a lot of money to treat sick or handicapped people and we could save a lot if we helped some of them choose to leave a little sooner.

Insurance companies are already questioning charges on patients that have difficult prognoses and are refusing to cover futile care. I think you can see that this could get pretty scary pretty fast. Or let’s consider that now Maryland hospitals are given a set amount of money at the beginning of each year and they are not to go over budget. The safest way to not go over budget is to reduce the number of patients you see, particularly the really sick ones.

Now some of these measures may be good, but when you change your basic outlook from “we are here to help sick people” to “we are here to not bust our budget” then you can quickly see how this might not be to the patient’s benefit. This is why we must consider the principles involved before we go to the emotional appeal. Sadly, the emotional appeal is more attractive, which is why it is used over and over again to gain voter support for a myriad of causes.

But on to the less attractive principled approach. This comes down to do we want a culture of life or a culture of death? When you start addressing the big issues, then you have to come clean on your worldview. There are really only two worldviews: we are either created by God (you may choose which one, but America was founded on a Judeo-Christian construct) or we sprang from somewhere with no purpose and no place to go.

If you believe that the world and all that is in it, including men, were created with a purpose, then you will lean towards a culture of life. Since you cannot create life, then you should respect it and care for all men, even those that are not perfect no matter how they came to be that way, whether through accident, age, birth, or war.

You will show compassion to those that need help, starting with your own family and then spreading outward to your community and beyond.

This culture of life says that each life is of value whether they can contribute economically or not.

If, on the other hand, you do not believe that you owe allegiance to any Creator, then you will be quite right to think that you can decide whatever you wish. However, you must realize that Nietzsche dealt with all this and you are heading down a path to a very dark place.

In a very short time, you will go from being captain of your own ship to “might makes right.”

One small aside is that weakness and compassion may have lessons for us all that we will never learn unless we are exposed to situations where we must care for or be cared for by someone. This is not a particularly happy thought, especially to our can-do American spirit, but it is true. Suffering is not something that we seek, but it does bring strength that nothing else can.

Dr. William Toffler, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, is also the National Director of Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation. Since Oregon passed an assisted suicide law in 1997, Dr. Toffler has had plenty of time to observe the law in action. In a USA Today op-ed he wrote with Dr. Frank S. Rosenbloom, Toffler noted:

At the most fundamental level, the fatal flaw of assisted suicide is that it subverts the trust in the patient-physician relationship. Once a physician agrees to assist a patient with suicide, their relationship is altered.

(snip)

Clearly, the disconnection from the patient under the guise of compassion is contradictory to the long tradition of medical practice: ‘First, do no harm.’

In short, this legislation has not granted, but has actually stripped vulnerable individuals of their worth and dignity. In fact, it has diminished the dignity of us all.

Dr. Toffler’s last quote points us to another danger of the emotional appeal. Vulnerable individuals are not immune to the subtle push of the culture of death which whispers to them: you have no value, you are a burden to your family, you are costing everybody a lot of money and time, you should just take these pills as it would be better for everybody. Mothers carrying babies with handicaps are already told that it is for the best to abort the imperfect baby.

I told you that the principled approach would not be the easy way. Perhaps I have not convinced many to change their mind with such a short essay, but to those who understand I appeal to you to call your Delegate and State Senator and tell them that you do not support HB1021 or SB676.

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