EUTHANASIA

       New Horizons Ministries, 724-455-2222           a ministry of the Christian Family & Children's Center

http://www.champion.org/new_horz.htm

email: cpc@champion.org
See relatled link on End of Life Decisions

Although Euthanasia or Physician Assisted Suicide is a related topic to end of life decisions, it is important to distinguish between the two.  PAS is the process of actively taking life, while end of life decision planning is just being a steward of the end of life process.  The activities under PAS are more political in nature and are given here as a helpful understanding of what is happening in the world around us.  Many people believe that PAS is moving rapidly upon us as the accepted way to deal with end of life decisions.    New Horizons strongly disagrees and believes that one of the reasons PAS proponents are getting such a hearing is that those of us who believe in the Sanctity of life have left the area of end of life decision making wide open.    Check out these readings for additional information...

Also See Related Link on making end of life decisions at:  www.champion.org/new_horz.htm/cpcendoflife.htm

Q. What is euthanasia?

A. The Greek meaning is: 'eu'-easy, happy, painless; 'thanatos'-death. A British House of Lords definition is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life to relieve intractable suffering". Some draw a distinction between 'passive' and 'active' euthanasia - the difference between the withdrawal of treatment to allow death, and deliberately putting someone to death, usually to secure release from pain - sometimes called "mercy killing". Other definitions to remember are: 'voluntary euthanasia' - with the person's consent; 'living-will' - a declaration made in advance where the person directs that they should not be kept alive by artificial means (usually this is associated with 'durable power of attorney' where someone is appointed in advance to make medical decisions for the person when they are unable to do so for themselves).

Q. Why is the euthanasia debate becoming so prominent?

A. There is a growing drive to legalize euthanasia and a proliferation of 'Right to Die' societies. Back in 1948 the World Medical Association adopted the Declaration of Geneva which rephrases in modern language the 24 centuries old Hippocratic Oath containing the words: "I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked of me, nor will I counsel such". However, this has been contradicted in the past few decades. An editorial of the Californian Medical Association of September 1970 ('A New Ethic for Medicine and Society') stated that in the future people will be eliminated whose quality of life does not meet certain medical criteria, and that next to birth control there will be death control. Society will accept euthanasia, either voluntary of compulsory, as "the new ethics of relative rather than absolute and equal value will ultimately prevail".
One needs to consider the whole picture to understand the "new ethics" which justifies the killing of human beings. Humanistic thought, which controls most educational systems and governments, is responsible for this new, anti-Christian way of thinking. For instance, the British Humanist Association states: "Humanists are sympathetic to voluntary euthanasia. By this we mean helping people to die painlessly if their lives have become hopeless, with no prospect of relief before death and if they wish to die. But these conditions must be rigidly adhered to". Humanists consider euthanasia as part of their agenda, together with rights, abortion on demand etc. Since humanism believes that man is simply a product of evolution it has no foundation for upholding the sanctity of life. Killing unwanted babies and the aged are the logical conclusion of humanistic philosophy.
Though seldom admitted, economic pressures are often the reason for advocating euthanasia rights. Some openly argue that families as a whole should be able to decide what happens to their older members so that they can free resources to care for their younger members. Others have gone so far as to suggest that people should 'volunteer' to be 'put down' at the age of 65 and be given 'hero status' for their contribution to society.

Q. Surely, euthanasia is acceptable if it is voluntary?

A. Beside the obvious Biblical response which is that God has given life and only He has the right to take it, there are also a number of other considerations why 'voluntary' euthanasia is unacceptable and dangerous:

Q. What does the Bible have to say?

A. Human beings are not animals but unique beings made "in the image of God" (Gen 1:26-28).
"You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).

Life is a gift from God and the moment of death is God's prerogative.
"Man's days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed" (Job 14:5);
"My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and form those who pursue me" (Psalm 31:15);
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12);
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die" (Eccl 3:1-2);
"...And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Rev 1:18).

Suffering can be a blessing. "...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Rom 5:3-4);
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer ... Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10).

God can heal even the hopeless cases. "...heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers, and cast out demons" (Matt 10:8);
"Nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37);
"...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3).

Q. What can I do about euthanasia?

A. Start by holding fast to God's revelation about life and death (see Scriptures above). Do not allow humanist thought infiltrate your way of thinking. Paul's warning must be heeded: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Col 2:8). Hold on to the fact that each human being has objective value in an absolute sense, since God declares this to be so. Refuse the relativistic moral code of humanism which results in the killing of the weak, the unborn and the aged.
Be ready to show God's love to the sick and dying. Let them feel wanted and loved, especially when death is unpleasant and painful.
Earnestly seek God for revival. Only the supernatural intervention of God which brings people back to a culture of godliness will be effective in reversing humanism and its culture of killing.

Sources:

 


          AMA Responds to Kevorkian Prison Sentence

CHICAGO, IL The following statement can be attributed to D. Ted Lewers, MD, Vice-Chair, AMA, Board of Trustees:

"Today's sentencing of Jack Kevorkian to a 10-25 year prison term is a strong deterrent to those who would take the lives of patients prematurely.  "The American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs opinion is that physician-assisted suicide is unethical and in direct opposition to the role of physician as healer.

"The AMA remains committed to assuring patients dignity and adequate relief of pain at the end of their lives. "The AMA has long supported compassionate, quality care for dying patients. We will continue our efforts to teach physicians everything they should know
about providing proper end-of-life care.  SOURCE  American Medical Association

          Survey: Six Percent of Docs Involved in Assisted


BOSTON -- The first national survey of assisted found that 6 percent of the front-line doctors who responded have hastened patients' deaths with lethal injections or prescriptions.

The results suggest that while assisted does occur, it is rare and accounts for a small number of deaths in the United States.The survey was conducted in 1996, a year before Oregon became the first state to legalize assisted . Doctors there can prescribe lethal drugs at the request of patients who have less than six months to live.

Dr. Diane E. Meier of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City sent
questioners to 3,102 doctors, and 1,902 answered anonymously. The results were published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

The survey asked family practitioners, general internists, cardiologists and others who regularly care for the dying whether they had ever given lethal injections or had written prescriptions so patients could kill themselves.

Eighteen percent had gotten such requests. Five percent said they had given at least one lethal injection, and 3 percent had written a prescription. Some had done both, and overall about 6 percent said they had done one or the other.

The doctors said most of the patients asked for help ending their lives because because of discomfort, pain, loss of dignity and fear of uncontrollable symptoms.

``This is really not happening very often,'' Meier said. ``That's the most important finding. It's a rare event.''

Most doctors who had intentionally hastened a patient's death said they had done so only one or twice. However, one reported writing 25 prescriptions and giving 150 lethal injections.

Among other findings:

One-third of doctors said they would write prescriptions for deadly doses and one-quarter would give lethal injections if they were legal. Of the 10 specialties surveyed, general internists and those who specialize in care of the elderly and lung problems were most likely to help hasten patients' deaths.

Jewish doctors and those with no religious affiliations were most likely to provide death assistance, while Catholic doctors were least likely. Opiates, such as morphine, were the drugs most often given to help patients die.

``There is good reason to think this actually characterizes the behavior of doctors nationwide, and this is the first time we have ever had that,'' said Dr. Joanne Lynn, president of Americans for Better Care of the Dying, an advocacy group.

While this is the first national survey of a broad range of doctors, about 30 earlier ones have surveyed doctors in particular specialties or geographic areas. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the National Institutes of Health, who has surveyed cancer specialists, said these studies found that between 3 percent and 13 percent of doctors report assisting patients in death.``It is not common, and if they do it, they don't do it a lot,'' he said. Emanuel estimated that perhaps 1 percent of all patient deaths are hastened by physicians.


Michigan Program Offers Alternatives to Euthanasia/Assisted

Michigan -- Clinical training, pain management and public information programs are the fundamentals of a new collaborative initiative to address end-of-life issues in Michigan, organizers said today.  Called Michigan Circle of Life, the program is a joint effort by professional associations, organizations of care providers, education, religion, advocacy groups, and others. "It is important to plan in advance for some of the circumstances we are all at risk of encountering towards the end of our lives," said James K. Haveman, Jr., Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health.   "Michigan Circle of Life will encourage more families to take
advantage of the planning tools and resources that are available to help assure quality care and compassion when it's needed most."
The initiative will focus on preserving the dignity and rights of terminally ill and chronically ill individuals.  Priorities include: Programs such as hospice that focus on individual dignity and quality of care for persons with terminal illness Programs serving persons with chronic illnesses to reduce the rate of through greater knowledge and use of improved pain management Training health care practitioners and faculty in managing pain, providing palliative care and prevention.  One of the initiative's first projects is a palliative care clinical conference that convened Thursday at Michigan State University's Kellogg Center.  Palliative care uses pain and symptom management to ensure comfort and to maintain a level of dignity and quality of life for patients who have a terminal illness.  It is effectively used to meet the needs of patients who have decided that the physical and emotional toll of
curative treatment is no longer in their best interest.
A new pain management tool is being introduced in collaboration with MSU.  Developed at the MSU Communication Technology Laboratory,Easing Cancer Pain is an interactive CD-ROM that helps people with cancer who suffer from pain.  It provides resources to help them understand their pain and seek effective treatment.  The software highlights personal stories of people who are being treated for cancer pain.  It also describes pain assessment and barriers to pain relief.  The program offers detailed information on approaches to pain treatment.  Michigan Circle of Life will distribute more than 10,000 copies of the CD to physicians,
hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, libraries and other appropriate locations.
Public service announcements on television, radio and in print will inform Michigan residents that resources exist to help make decisions about end-of-life issues.  The advertisements begin today.  They include a toll-free number.  Persons interested in more information can call for a background packet that describes the Michigan Dignified Death Act, the Michigan Patient Bill of Rights, hospice, durable power of attorney for health care, and other resources.  The phone number is 1-877-224-2727.


                  Fewer docs support assisted poll says

LOS ANGELES, -- Far fewer cancer doctors are supporting the idea of assisted compared to three years ago even though most are requested to perform the service, according to a report published Saturday. The survey from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) found that only 22 percent of cancer doctors support assisted in terminally-ill patients compared to 45 percent in a similar study three years ago.  Support for euthanasia was just 6.5 percent down from 22
percent in the previous report. ASCO surveyed 3,200 oncologists for the report.
But while doctors are less willing to help end the life of terminally-ill patients, the majority of oncologists, 64 percent, said they have received requests for euthanasia or physician-assisted . About 13 percent of oncologists surveyed said they had performed assisted or euthanasia during their careers, four percent in the
past year. The survey's results are more pronounced than a similar survey published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine last month.  The Journal's survey of doctors in all fields, found that 18 percent of doctors received a request for assisted and 3 percent of the total had acceded to the request. About 11 percent had received a request for euthanasia and 4.7 percent acceded.
ASCO's survey also revealed that 56 percent of doctors have trouble obtaining nurses and care-givers for the terminally ill. Doctors said lack of insurance coverage for unskilled home care was the biggest obstacle in obtaining palliative care.`The less access physicians have to such services, the more likely they are to grant requests for physician-assisted and euthanasia,'' ASCO's President Dr. Robert Mayer said. ``We must continue to improve palliative care in order to render euthanasia and assisted unnecessary.''
The report also found that less than 50 percent of oncologists feel competent in managing depression in the terminally ill.  Doctors surveyed said more than 20 percent of their patients die in pain. While 95 percent of those surveyed felt they could treat pain answers given in the survey found that one quarter of doctors were not managing pain well.  

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