(The Corner) – People have the right to refuse medical treatment, including in an advance directive. But they do not–and most definitely, should not–have the right to force caregivers to starve them to death when sustenance is not medically delivered, e.g. spoon feeding.
There has already been one Canadian case–lost–to force a nursing home to starve an Alzheimer’s patient. Now, in Oregon, another such dispute. From the Mail Tribune story:
Although food isn’t being shoved in Nora’s mouth, Crain said in some ways Nora is being forced to eat because if she were still competent she would not want the spoon-feeding intervention. After consulting an expert on appeals, Harris has decided not to challenge Crain’s decision. Continuing the fight likely would cost $10,000 — but more importantly, the appeal would be halted if Nora dies. Harris doesn’t think she would survive the 18-month to three-year protracted court battle. CONTINUE
(First Things) – If you want to see what is likely to go awry in medical ethics and public healthcare policy, pay attention to the advocacy of bioethicists—at least of those who don’t identify themselves as “conservative” or “Catholic.” In their many journal articles and presentations at academic symposia, they unabashedly advocate for discarding the sanctity- and equality-of-life ethic as our moral cornerstone.
Instead, most favor invidious and systemic medical discrimination predicated on a patient’s “quality of life,” which would endow the young, healthy, and able-bodied with the highest moral value—and, hence, with the greatest claim to medical resources.
Thanks to the work of bioethics, life-taking policies that a few decades ago were “unthinkable” now are unremarkable. Withholding tube-supplied food and water from the cognitively disabled until they die—Terri Schiavo’s fate—is now legal and popularly accepted, much like abortion.
The legalization of assisted suicide is a constant threat. Even where lethal prescriptions or injections cannot be legally provided, some of our most notable bioethicists urge that doctors be permitted to help the elderly and others commit suicide by self-starvation—a process known in euthanasia advocacy circles as VSED (Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking). CONTINUE
(ce&n) - Whether from a car crash or playing football, a blow to the head that causes a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have lasting consequences. Patients who experience such injuries often suffer persistent problems such as attention deficit disorder or depression.
But little is known about what triggers such symptoms for some patients and how they can be treated. Now, for the first time, scientists have created an animal model that reproduces these chronic psychiatric effects and find that one drug, amphetamine, may help reduce these symptoms in rats (ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.6b00166).
After TBI, a person’s recovery is determined by many factors, including the site and extent of cell damage, degree of inflammation, and differences between patients such as education level. Researchers trying to mimic TBIs in animals have replicated the physical injuries but found it difficult to create animal models of long-lasting psychiatric or cognitive symptoms. CONTINUE
(LifeSiteNews) — During the 11 years since the “brutal and barbaric” death of his sister Terri Schiavo, Bobby Schindler has seen America’s health system becoming “increasingly aggressive” in its efforts to end the lives of those it deems unworthy.
Schindler, now 51 and head of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, will speak at Life Canada’s first New Hope Fundraising Gala on September 29 in Vancouver.
He told LifeSiteNews that he will talk about the long, much publicized and eventually doomed struggle to protect Terri from a husband who claimed she preferred death to permanent disability. He will also discuss his own commitment to protect others whose disabilities have put them at the mercy of hospital staff or kin.
“When we were fighting for Terri,” he said, “we became aware of many others who told us of their very similar struggles on behalf of family members and wanted to encourage us.” Once Terri Schiavo’s husband won a court order allowing her to be starved and dehydrated to death, Schindler realized the best way to honor her memory was to continue the fight to defend human dignity. CONTINUE
(The Star) – I first saw Daniel as a premature infant when I was a neonatology fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Daniel was born at 26 weeks. In the first week of his life, he developed a major bleed into the right side of his brain, damaging the areas that would normally control the left side of his body.
A 26-week infant is tiny. Daniel at birth weighed 750 grams, about a pound and a half. When I started in neonatology in the 1970s, he would have had, at best, about a 50-50 chance of surviving. Daniel survived, but the common wisdom at the time was that the damage to his brain was permanent and would lead to disability. The expectation was that he would have difficulty with both gross and fine motor skills. We knew he had a brain lesion, so he was started in therapy fairly early.
To my surprise, the disabilities that developed in Daniel as he grew from infancy to childhood, as measured on a standardized scale of function, were not too bad. As I expected, he limped on the left side, landing on the front half of his foot, not his heel. His left arm hung at his side and did not swing normally when he walked. His right side was unaffected and his speech and cognition were normal. I diagnosed him with a left-sided hemiplegia, a type of cerebral palsy that affects the motor functions just on one side of the body. Hemiplegia is found in roughly 40 per cent of all children with cerebral palsy, and, like Daniel, 99 percent of these children are able to walk. CONTINUE
(The Corner) – This isn’t happening here–yet. But many in organ transplant medicine and bioethics want permission to kill the profoundly cognitively disabled for their organs, either by lethal injection and then harvesting, or by the process itself.
The latest example was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. From the article by bioethicist Zoe Fritz:
Where it is inevitable that an incapacitous patient is going to die—and specifically when it has been agreed through the courts that a patient in a PVS is going to have CANH [tube-supplied sustenance] withdrawn, it could be in a patient’s best interests to have a drug that would stop their heart and to have vital organs donated to a family member, acting as a means to the end of saving another, much as the mother would be doing in running out on the road to save her son. CONTINUERead more
(WHAS 11) — Disability rights groups are attempting to intervene in an Appleton teenager’s decision to cease medical treatment and die of the incurable disease that has racked her body and left her in constant pain.
Carrie Ann Lucas, executive director of the Colorado-based Disabled Parents Rights, said her organization is one of several that have asked for child-protection authorities to investigate the case of 14-year-old Jerika Bolen, whose decision to enter hospice care at the end of summer gained national attention.
“A child doesn’t have the capacity to make those types of decisions, and under the eyes of the law, this is a child,” Lucas said Tuesday.
Jerika suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2. She and her mother, Jen Bolen, said earlier this summer that Jerika would go without her ventilator while under hospice care in early September, essentially scheduling her own death. Her story drew an outpouring of support when her family, friends and her care team held a prom, dubbed Jerika's Last Dance, in late July. CONTINUE
(Winnipeg Free Press) – When he takes off his ball cap, you can see the scar from where Charles Post’s head was put back together after it was split open just after Christmas in 2014. He didn’t see or hear what was coming. "I was walking home listening to music," said Post.
He had his ear buds in when a drunk driver jumped the curb near Alexander Avenue and Sherbrook Street and ran into him from behind. He didn’t know what had happened until he gained consciousness a month later at Health Sciences Centre. "I didn’t know where I was."
When he found out he was in the hospital and had suffered severe brain trauma, it was emotionally and psychologically traumatic, he said. "I had no feeling from the waist down," Post said. "I snapped." He had to use a wheelchair and wasn’t sure if he’d walk again. CONTINUE
(First Things) – Have you noticed that suicide prevention campaigns these days don’t mention assisted suicide? Perhaps they don’t want to court controversy, or perhaps organizers have swallowed the notion that the suicide of the terminally ill isn’t really suicide—it’s “death with dignity.” Whatever the reason, this crucial lapse of proffered care illustrates how our society is less concerned about the suicides of terminally ill people than about the suicides of people who choose to die for other reasons.
This is wrong. Excluding the terminally ill from suicide prevention campaigns is discrimination and a form of abandonment. Dying isn’t the same as being dead; it is a stage, albeit a difficult stage, of living. But other times in our lives can be just as difficult, or even more so—for instance, the experience of losing a child. One of the points of suicide prevention is to help people in emotionally or physically excruciating circumstances to make it through the darkness. That should include the process of dying. Indeed, suicide prevention is supposed to be as much a part of hospice care as pain control.
Excluding the terminally ill from suicide prevention services is cruelly misguided, even in states where assisted suicide for such patients is legal. Here’s why: CONTINUE
(Sequoyah County Times) – Christian Mayberry, 19, has come a long way since his ATV accident almost three years ago. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and the chances of recovery were very low. The ATV had crashed, throwing Christian off and fighting for his life.
“They told us while he was lying in the hospital bed that he may never walk or talk again,” his mom, Kim Mayberry, said. “I told them that he wasn’t going to be the norm. He was going to get better and we would have our boy back.”
He spent months in a nursing home with little improvement, she said. There, he learned to talk clearly and gained use in his hands again.
The Mayberrys fought long and hard with Soonercare to ensure he got the treatment he needed. Their insurance would only pay for home health care or a nursing home, but it was clear that Christian would need more specialized treatment. CONTINUE
(ABC 13) – Every step 17 year old Luke Burnham takes in therapy at TIRR Memorial Hermann is one step closer to his goal of walking on his own. "When he came here he could only straighten one index finger. And that was it," said Luke's mother, Robin Burnham. She tells us about the car crash, just over a year ago, which led to his traumatic brain injury.
The family lives just outside Lake Charles, where Luke played soccer and ran cross country. "He was getting his running in and during his run, a car hit him," she said. The prognosis from doctors was bleak, "If he survived he would be a vegetable." The injury brought him here to TIRR Memorial Hermann, for evaluation by a team of professionals, among them, clinical neuropsychologist, Katherine O'Brien.
"I remember sitting down with Luke's parents, and saying I don't know if Luke will ever return to school, they were not happy with me that day." CONTINUE
(The Corner) – The Netherlands considers itself oh, so rational. Its laws around controversial social issues involve the concept of harm reduction. Harm reduction? Once the country accepted killing as an answer to suffering, it was sure to include the mentally ill. Now a new study reveals the law’s cruelty. From the Reuters story:
Overall, about a third of the people helped to end their lives were age 70 years or older, 44 percent were between ages 50 and 70 and about a quarter were 30 to 50 years old. Seventy percent were women.
While fully 55 percent of patients were diagnosed with depression, the others had a number of different conditions, including psychosis, posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety, neurocognitive issues, pain without any physical cause, eating disorders, prolonged grief and autism.
And now, Netherlands is following Belgium by conjoining euthanasia with organ harvesting, raising the prospect that the mentally ill will come to see their deaths as having greater value than their lives. CONTINUE
(LifeNews.com) – In an abrupt, unexpected, and surprise decision, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Thursday dissolved an injunction that prevented a local hospital from turning off 2-year-old Israel Stinson’s ventilator. The adorable little boy, whose brain-dead diagnosis was fought on two continents by his parents, died shortly afterwards.
“They are devastated. I think still in shock,” family attorney Alexandra Snyder told reporters. “It’s not even my child; I am still in shock this could happen so quickly.”
According to CBS News/Los Angeles:
Snyder is shocked by a judge’s decision because just last week the court gave her a temporary order to stop the hospital from removing the ventilator so they could get an opinion from another neurologist.
Many reporters have covered this tragic situation which is eerily similar to Jahi McMath, also diagnosed as brain-dead, whose mother moved her out of California when doctors refused to treat her daughter and who is alive today two and one-half years later. CONTINUE
(Daily Mail) - A 25-year-old man has become the first coma patient to regain consciousness without life-threatening surgery. The man, who has not been identified, had his brain jump-started with new ultrasound technology in an experiment by UCLA. Within days of waking up, he was fully conscious, responding to questions, and even gave his doctor a fist-bump. It is the first time such an approach has been used to treat severe brain injury.
The procedure marks a significant step in medical understanding that could save and transform millions of lives. 'Until now, the only way to achieve [brain function] was a risky surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation, in which electrodes are implanted directly inside the thalamus,' said lead author Dr Martin Monti, UCLA professor of neurosurgery.
'Our approach directly targets the thalamus but is noninvasive. 'It's almost as if we were jump-starting the neurons back into function.' CONTINUE
(LifeNews.com) – I often wonder the extent the general public is aware of the significant changes that have occurred within the American healthcare system.
When my family established the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network in response to my sister Terri’s 2005 death, it was for the purpose of serving the medically vulnerable. We could not have anticipated the calls for help we would receive. But since that time, there has been a marked decline as far as families receiving medical treatment they are seeking for those for whom they are advocating.
I don’t think it would surprise anyone that the cause of this is precipitated by the desire on the part of hospitals, physicians, and insurance companies to decrease costs by keeping patients in the healthcare system for as short a time as possible, even if that means denying lifesaving or sustaining care.
Indeed, I could give dozens of accounts of families who have called us for help that would send chills down your spine, but consider a call we received just last month – the story of Tabetha Long. It’s an amazing story of perseverance and recovery, but also an alarming example of how far we’ve drifted from properly caring for our medically vulnerable. CONTINUE
(Fox News) – Fewer U.S. nursing home patients with dementia are getting feeding tubes as mounting evidence suggests it may not help them live longer or make them more comfortable, new research suggests.
Researchers focused on the sickest dementia patients who tend to have difficulty chewing and swallowing as they near the end of life, a point when they may also struggle to speak, recognize loved ones, get out of bed or go to the bathroom independently.
The proportion of these advanced dementia patients who got feeding tubes when they couldn't eat on their own dropped from 12 percent in 2000 to 6 percent in 2014, according to an analysis of data on 71,000 nursing home residents published in JAMA.
"Families should understand that by foregoing tube-feeding, care is not stopped," said lead study author Dr. Susan Mitchell of the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research at Harvard University in Boston. CONTINUE
(The Corner) – Assisted suicide is promoted in the USA with fear mongering about the terminally ill suffering with intractable pain for which nothing other than a lethal overdose will suffice.
In actual suicide facilitation, existential issues–such as fears about being a burden or loss of dignity–rather than untreatable pain are the reasons people cite for requesting assisted suicide.
These are important issues that need to be addressed. But, like pain, they are relievable and often respond to compassionate interventions.
The thing is, these very real difficulties also could apply to the non terminally ill elderly and people with disabilities–threatening these populations with the assisted suicide temptation the more doctor-prescribed death is celebrated in the media and normalized in society. CONTINUE
(Human Exceptionalism) – Once a society accepts the premise that killing is an acceptable answer to suffering, there is seemingly no upper limit to which that principle will eventually not apply.
The Canadian Supreme Court recently imposed a nationwide right to euthanasia. The government passed a bill with an extremely loose–nay, close to meaningless–restriction that death be “foreseeable” to qualify for the lethal jab.
But that small impediment is too much for culture of death aficionados. Now, the Canadian Bar Association wants more euthanasia. CONTINUE
(LifeNews.com) – Bobby Schindler is the president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, an organization dedicated to defending the vulnerable and disabled from euthanasia. He and his family had a tragic, first-hand experience with euthanasia when they fought to preserve the life of his sister, Terri Schindler Schiavo.
After Terri’s tragic death in March of 2005, Bobby left his teaching position at Tampa Catholic High School to become a full-time disability rights advocate.
Today, he travels across the United States, educating the public on the threat of euthanasia. He, along with his family, wrote the book A Life That Matters, describing their fight to save Terri. He and his family continue to work tirelessly in defense of the medically vulnerable. This week, he spoke with LifeNews about his work. CONTINUE
(NRO) – The normalization of suicide by the media–in the guise of celebrating assisted suicide as autonomy–continues. Now, as I predicted, the AP touts an assisted suicide party complete with pictures of the smiling guest of honor hours before she killed herself. From the story:
In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: “These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.” And just one rule: No crying in front of her.
The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill. “For me and everyone who was invited, it was very challenging to consider, but there was no question that we would be there for her,” said Niels Alpert, a cinematographer from New York City. CONTINUE
(LifeNews.com) – The California bureaucracy proposed a dramatic policy last week. It was essentially unreported. The Department of Corrections issued new regulations proposing that no prisoner shall be allowed to avail of the so called “Death With Dignity” Act.
The law itself, currently under litigation, has been allowed to remain in effect for all other Californians until a ruling expected later next month. But in the meantime it is proposed that no prisoner, no matter how ill, may avail of the ‘right’ that other ill people have been offered; the supposed ‘right to be dead’. This might indeed be a good idea, but it reveals much deeper problems with the law. Problems other countries have also faced.
Individuals in California are currently ‘free to be dead’ when given a terminal diagnosis and an MD approximates that within 6 months they could die. If despondent and ‘hopeless’ in their own judgement, the patient is free to simply ‘get things over with.’ And ‘accommodating individuals’ may attend. They may be given a lethal dose of medicine. No psychological evaluation or counseling is required for those patients. As in Oregon and elsewhere, only certain physicians who view mercy killing as benign, are inclined to employ medicine in a deadly manner. CONTINUE
(Republican Herald) – The remarkable life story of Sarah Godfrey, Wilkes-Barre, draws an ever-expanding crescendo of “Wows!” and “That’s wonderful!”
Clinically dead and suffering from severe brain trauma following a horrific auto accident, Godfrey came out of a six-week coma and — supported by family, friends and medical professionals — she has continued on a long path of recovery and learning.
She is now poised to begin her latest challenge. Godfrey, 23, will depart for Fife, Scotland, in late August to begin studies at the University of St. Andrews for a master’s degree and then hopefully a doctorate in health psychology. She said her goal is to work one day in a neuropsychology setting and help others suffering from brain injuries, including brain trauma. CONTINUE
(The Colorado Independent) - More than 20 activists for disability rights marched to the Secretary of State’s office to protest an assisted-suicide measure likely to end up on Colorado’s November ballot.
Holding signs that read: “Death does not cure anything,” “Give me liberty, Don’t give me death,” and “It’s not compassion, it’s contempt,” the protesters marched about 2.5 miles from the Atlantis Community Center to the Secretary of the State’s office. The march was led by a protester dressed as the ghost character from the movie, Scream.
The Colorado End-of-Life Options Act would allow mentally competent adult Colorado residents with a prognosis of six months or less to live to take life-ending drugs. Doctors would have to confirm the diagnosis and give such patients multiple opportunities to decline the drugs, which patients must self-administer. CONTINUE
(Post Star) – When Marine sniper Sgt. Eddie Ryan was shot twice in the head by friendly fire while serving in Iraq, doctors told his parents he would not survive. His family flew to Germany, where he was being treated, essentially to say goodbye. But Ryan wasn’t ready to quit. He recovered, and over the past 11 years he has been moving down the long road to recovery that follows a traumatic brain injury.
On Wednesday, Ryan demonstrated the progress he has made by standing, with assistance from his therapists. It was the first time his mother had seen him standing in person since before he was wounded. Following the injury, Ryan had to relearn how to speak and use most of his muscles.
A key part of his recovery has been physical therapy. However, Veterans Affairs will only pay for 12 sessions before it requires a re-evaluation and report of progress. This can take months, and a patient like Ryan can lose all the gains that have been made. CONTINUE
(Deseret News) – As states across the nation consider proposals to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, a longstanding but little known group of Christian medical professionals is doubling down in its opposition by taking proponents of the practice to court.
The Christian Medical and Dental Associations sued the Vermont Board of Medical Practice in federal court on July 19, alleging that physicians are being forced to violate their conscience and professional ethics through a government requirement that they either inform patients about end-of-life care or refer them to a doctor who will.
Dr. David Stevens, CEO of The Christian Medical & Dental Associations, recently told the Deseret News that his organization believes that doctor-assisted suicide is immoral as well as "dangerous for doctors, patients and family." CONTINUE