Better Dead Than Disabled?

Laws legalizing physician-assisted suicide send the message to both the disabled and to those around them that being dead is preferable to being disabled and that we shouldn’t respect those who choose to live.

Zachary Schmoll is disabled and writes a great essay in Public Discourse about this phenomenon. He contrasts the effect of laws banning assisted suicide with those that legalize it.

Laws that prohibit physician-assisted suicide encourage a worldview that says there is value to life and it ought not to be thrown away based on an individual’s subjective perception of his or her situation. Such laws teach us that our lives are objectively valuable, even if we do not recognize our own value. And they teach everyone else to help us in finding value and enjoyment in our lives.

But by legalizing physician-assisted suicide, we make a different statement. Such laws communicate the idea that suicide can be a reasonable, moral, and socially acceptable choice, because some lives are no longer valuable. Suicide is prohibited in all other circumstances, sending the message that most lives have value that ought to be protected by law, even when the person in question does not see that value. In certain circumstances, however—specifically, when an individual is losing his or her own independence—such protections need not apply. Society is affirming, by legalizing physician-assisted suicide, that it is better to be dead than disabled. It is better to be in the grave than to live with reduced independence. This message is sent both to people with disabilities like me and everyone else who interacts with us.

This is what is meant by “creating a culture of death.” When we fail to affirm the value of every life in our laws, then we create a condition and a context where some lives are not only less valuable, but that are expendable. And the expectation is created that such lives should be ended.

We’re already seeing this in practice. In the Netherlands and Belgium, they’ve already extended assisted suicide for the terminally ill to now include those who are mentally ill or merely tired of living. Rather than extend treatment and help, such people are killed.

Even worse, the killing is now sometimes involuntary, i.e. doctors are taking it upon themselves to kill the elderly, the infirm, the mentally ill, the disabled without being asked for it, but because in the doctors’ estimation, those lives aren’t worth living.

We already see it starting in this country. In Oregon, patients seeking coverage for cancer treatment are being refused chemotherapy, but are told that assisted suicide would be covered by insurance. We know where this story ends: in furnaces and gas chambers. Does that seem hyperbolic? People are already dying.

The Danger of Animal Rights

I just finished reading the science fiction novella, “The Vital Abyss”, by James S.A. Corey, which takes place in their “Expanse” milieu1. The story revolves around the fate of some scientists who engaged in the most horrific act of scientific malpractice in history, sacrificing millions of men, women, and children to an experiment.

At one point in the story, we see the main character, a scientists, as he undergoes intake processing for the project and through some kind of biological manipulation has his sense of morality removed. Essentially he and all the scientists are turned into psychopaths. The recruiter tries to explain to the protagonist through the lens of whether animal testing is okay:

“The idea that animal suffering is less important that human suffering is a religious one. It assumes a special creation, and that we—you and I—are different in kind than other animals. We are morally separate from rats or horses or chimps, not based on any particular physical difference between us, but just because we claim that we’re sacred by our nature and have dominion over them. It’s a story we tell that lets us do what we do. Consider the question without that filter, and it looks very different.

“You said there’s an ethical obligation to avoid unnecessary suffering. I agree. That’s why getting good data is our primary responsibility. Good experimental design, deep datasets, parallel studies whenever they don’t interfere. Bad data is just another way of saying needless suffering. And torturing rats to see how humans would respond? It’s terrible data because rats aren’t humans any more than pigeons are horses.”

“Wait, so you’re… are you saying that skipping animal testing entirely and going straight to human trials is… is more ethical?” “We are the animal we’re trying to build a protocol for. It’s where we’d get the best data. And better data means less suffering in the long run. More human suffering, maybe, but less suffering overall. And we wouldn’t have to labor under the hypocrisy of understanding evolution and also pretending there’s some kind of firewall between us and other mammals. That sounds restful, don’t you think?”

I realized as I read this that here is what’s fundamentally wrong with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and all the other animal rights groups out there.

What they all miss is that when you erase the distinction between humans and animals, you aren’t elevating animals so they can be treated like humans.

What would inevitably happen if the distinction between human and animal was erased is that humans would be treated like animals. Again. Like too often in history.

  1. Which has been made into a hit TV series on SyFy.

Far from Safe

Radical pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave an interview to the New York Times over the weekend in which she discussed the recent ruling that overturned Texas’ law that required abortion facilities meet the same basic standards of health care that other outpatient surgical facilities would. The argument for overturning the law held that it would force the closure of the vast majority of abortion facilities in Texas.

“I wanted to highlight the point that it was perverse to portray this as protecting women’s health,” she said of the challenged requirements. “Desperate women then would be driven to unsafe abortions.”

Why were the only two options keeping open the facilities as they were or closure? What about the third option of making the facilities, you know, safe? Would we accept the same argument for hospitals in general? “We can’t require hospitals to follow basic medical standards for safety because they’ll have to close and people will go to witch doctors.”

When it comes to abortion every bit of common sense goes right out the window.

Independence Day and the Right to Life

US flag

I wrote this for Massachusetts Citizens for Life and re-publish here as well.

Independence Day may be the most pro-life of American holidays because it marks the anniversary of that wonderful founding document, the Declaration of Independence. And in that document we read those famous words we all remember:

“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.”

The right to life is at the very heart and foundation of the United States of America, and even then not just the USA. These are rights that apply to all men and women everywhere in every time, not to be abrogated by any government or person. We are endowed with these rights, not just from the moment of our birth, but from the moment of our creation.

So as you celebrate our great country with friends and family this weekend, please recall all those who’ve sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears for the sake of liberty and be renewed in your resolve to secure that most precious of rights for all people, the right to life.

God bless America. Happy Independence Day.

Study: Fewer Abortions, Less Contraception Mean Stronger Families

For decades, pro-lifers have repeated the mantra that abortion is bad for women and bad for children, while pro-choicers have maintained that access to abortion give women better outcomes. It looks like science continues to back the pro-life position.

Apart from the well-known health impact on women seeking abortion (and its obvious and tragic impact on their children), there are other consequences for women as well. In the Boston Globe’s “Uncommon Knowledge” column on Sunday, June 19, 2016, we see a small item on a new study that backs up the results of a two-decade-old study showing that where access to abortion and contraception is restricted, we find less single motherhood and more cases of mothers living with the fathers of their children.

“The results showed that women in states that removed public funding saw decreased single motherhood and increased cohabitation among women giving birth. Estimates showed a 13 percent lower chance of being single following a birth in a state where funding was removed. This policy impact is substantial. If the entire sample were to experience a removal of abortion funding, these estimates would imply that the probability of cohabiting or marrying among low-income mothers would increase by between 12 and 18 percentage points conditional on giving birth. These estimates mean that among the children of low-income mothers, the fraction of children living with both biological parents at the time of birth would rise by 10 percentage points.”

It seems counter-intuitive, perhaps, because you would think increased access to abortion would result in fewer women giving birth, but as most pro-lifers know abortion doesn’t reduce the number of “unwanted” children. It just creates a vicious cycle of crisis pregnancies.

The reason why the decrease in single motherhood is significant is because of the well-attested data that shows single motherhood is a leading indicator for poverty for both women and children, that children who grow up in single parent homes are at risk for poor school performance, criminal behavior as both juveniles and adults, psychological and emotional difficulties, and more. (This isn’t to say that all children of single mothers end up this way, but that there is increased risk.)

As time goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that abortion breaks down the family and that the breakdown of the family causes a breakdown in the fabric of our society.

A Life Well-Lived and Well-Loved In a Few Short Minutes

Tommy Tighe tells us the end of the tragic tale of his son Luke, who was diagnosed in utero with a condition that meant he would only live a short time after being born. Instead of aborting their son, as suggested by the doctors, they embraced what time they had over the last 20 weeks of the pregnancy and the short minutes after he was born. It is a story of sadness and love and hope that strikes at the heart of this dad.

Thank you to the Tighes and all families who embrace life and death in this way as a sign of the hope we find in Jesus Christ.

Demographically, it seems likely that Garland is probably pro-choice: he’s not super-conservative, he’s Jewish, and he’s the father of two daughters (and Judges with daughters are more likely to rule in favor of women’s rights). But nobody knows for sure. Charlotte Alter, "Merrick Garland: The Abortion Rights Sphinx," TIME

I don’t know whether to be offended or horrified. Even if it’s true that judges with daughters are more likely to be pro-abortion, what does that say about us fathers in America today? Perhaps judges, who see the underbelly of society more often than most of us, are making observations about the effects of unplanned pregnancy on unmarried women (and their children), but it’s still horrible that a father can’t see how abortion can be just as damaging to his daughter (and more so spiritually) and is ultimately fatal to his grandchild.

Questionable genetic counseling

The Boston Globe reports today that some genetic counselors are ordering tests during pregnancy without revealing their financial ties to the testing companies. And since some percentage of the tests will have false positive or false negative results, the consequences can be devastating.

Devon and Mike Summersgill had believed baby Kate was all but certain to be born with the intellect-stunting disorder because of a blood test Devon’s doctor recommended during her 2014 pregnancy. Even after the birth, when their baby looked fine, their genetic counselor, Laura Limone, insisted that the result of the test was not a mistake, Devon Summersgill says.

Only after the Summersgills agonized over Kate’s future and spent almost $2,000 more on another test were they satisfied that Limone was wrong — their baby was fine. And when they learned that Limone had a financial relationship with the company that makes the test, called MaterniT21 PLUS, they wondered whether money had influenced the counselor’s advice.

Given that the majority of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted1, this conflict of interest combined with false confidence in the test results is only increasing the death toll for the unborn. 2

Genetic testing can be a boon to parents, especially as researchers find more and more ways of treating babies before birth, but also as a way to help parent prepare for the arrival of children who will have special needs. But the medical community must do a better job of giving the complete picture to patients and of policing its own ranks.

  1. We often hear that 90% are aborted, but this is based on a questionable European survey, not actual US data. Better surveys still show that over 50% of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome lead to abortion. ↩︎
  2. I don’t want to suggest that it’s okay to abort babies with Down syndrome. It’s not. But false positives from unnecessary tests only compound the horror. ↩︎

The Baby Gianna Story

If you haven’t yet seen this, you must read the weeklong series at Creative Minority Report called The Baby Gianna Story. It’s a personal story of one woman with an unwanted pregnancy who changes her mind and fights for her daughter after another young woman not only convinces her otherwise, but makes it her personal mission to become an advocate for mother and daughter. And you won’t believe what they have to battle to give this child a chance at life: not just the baby’s abusive father who pressures the mother to the point of violence, but also health-care professionals at a Catholic hospital who apply coercive pressure to abort this child. Yes, at a Catholic hospital.

So it’s both a personal story and a look at how Catholic hospitals deal with doctors and other professionals within their facilities who openly defy Church teaching. One of the best pieces of writing on a Catholic blog in recent memory.

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