Dear Secular Humanist: Please Keep Your Religious Views about Abortion out of Politics!

In our country, there is a general feeling that only positions backed by actual fact should drive public policy.  ‘Religion’ is perceived to be the realm of personal opinion.   Even Christians tend to accept the view that people are allowed to have their opinion, but they aren’t allowed to impose that opinion on others.   The result is that many Christians refrain from acting ‘politically’ because they see their own beliefs as nothing more than ‘mere opinion.’

Secularists tend to be people who have dispensed with ‘religion’ altogether, and like to think that they are entirely ‘fact driven.’

When these ideas collide, we observe something very curious:  secular humanists conclude that they can advocate for anything that they want in the public sphere, because nothing they believe is ‘religious, ‘ while distinctly Christian viewpoints are forbidden from entering the public domain, since those will be, by definition, ‘religious.’  And again, even Christians gravitate to that view.

This tends to lead to debates and discussions and policy proposals that take the ‘facts’ of the secularists as the starting points.  We are expected to proceed on their terms.  And why not?  Surely without the ‘religious’ component, those ‘facts’ are as close to actually being real descriptions of the world as one could get, right?

But what if ‘religion’ and ‘fact’ are not opposites? Continue reading

I Can See the Next Holocaust From My House

Anthony Horvath is a contributor at Laigle’s Forum, Christian apologist, pro-life author and speaker, and publisher.  To learn more about his latest project aimed at combating the philosophies discussed in the essay below and how you can help, click here.


Tina Fey, impersonating Sarah Palin, joked, “I can see Russia from my house.”

I can see the next holocaust from my house, and it is no joke.

In the decades leading up to one of the most horrific chapters in human history, the leading lights of the day openly discussed bringing about those horrors.  Eugenics was posited as the rational position of all intelligent, well-meaning individuals.  In journals, newspapers, academic conferences, public health offices and elsewhere, they talked about sterilizing people with or without their consent, segregating them from society, or even exterminating them.  And that was in America.

In a book written in 1920 by two German experts and applauded by American experts, it was argued that it was allowable to destroy the ‘life unworthy of life.’

Who was regarded as ‘life unworthy of life’?  The handicapped, the disabled, the diseased, the mentally ill, the ‘feeble-minded.’  Really, just about anyone the experts decided was ‘unfit’ could be deemed ‘unworthy of life.’  When eugenics morphed into the Holocaust, many of its proponents quietly went to ground.  Some asked ‘What went wrong?’ but few arrived at the right answer.

Fast forward sixty years.  Enter Julian Savulescu.

You probably don’t know who Julian Savulescu is, just as your average American off the street in 1910 wouldn’t have known who Charles Davenport was.  You probably don’t know who Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva are, just as your average American in 1920 wouldn’t have known who Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding were.

But you may recall a few months ago when two ‘ethicists’ quietly submitted an article in an ethics magazine arguing that the logic of abortion does not cease after the child has fully exited the birth canal.  For all the reasons that abortion on demand was justified, so too, the two ‘ethicists’ Giubilini and Minerva argued, was infanticide.  Of course, they preferred to call it ‘after-birth abortion.’

I hope that nobody misunderstands me:  Giubilini and Minerva were correct in their analysis.  If they are to be faulted for anything, it is for stopping at the newborn.

When people heard about this article there was outrage, and not a little of it spilled over onto the journal that printed the article in the first place.  That journal was “The Journal of Medical Ethics.”  Flabbergasted, the editor defended the publication of the article, saying:

“As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.”

Yes, that is quite right.  The arguments presented were not new, and have been ‘presented repeatedly.’

He continued, “What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”

This embattled editor of a renown journal of medical ethics is named Julian Savulescu. Continue reading

Christians Are Not to be Malthusians

This is an excerpt of an article that Laigle’s Forum staff writer, Anthony Horvath, had published at Worldnetdaily.com last week.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Thomas Robert Malthus would have disagreed. The philosophical forerunner to Darwin, Malthus argued that there are limited resources, and competition for them is intense.  When there are too many people competing for those resources, you have war, famine and a continual threat to civilization itself.

For Malthus, the pie is only so big: We must reduce the number of people who want a share of it.

Christianity embodies another solution: Make a bigger pie.

In Christianity, God takes a few loaves and feeds thousands with them.  Entrance to heaven is not contingent on space available. Jesus came that we would have life, and life to the fullest. Not just for some, but all.

None of what follows is an argument for Christian indifference to the plight of other people. However, Christians should not advocate “solutions” that repress human liberty, dignity and freedom. For some reason, all of the Malthusian’s solutions do just that.

To read the whole article click here.

Why Not Euthanasia

Karel F. Gunning

 

 

If today we accept the intentional killing of a patient as a solution for one problem, then tomorrow we will find a hundred problems for which killing must be accepted as a solution. During World War II, euthanasia was considered to be a solution for over 100,000 German patients who were killed as unwanted by doctors under Nazi Germany.

 

In the Netherlands, a government-installed committee headed by the former Attorney Gene­ral, Mr. Remmelink, investigated the extent of euthanasia practiced in 1990 (1). The conclusion of the excellent Remmelink Report (see summary in Table) was that, on a total annual morta­lity of nearly 130,000, a lethal drug was given in ‘only’ 2,300 cases (1.8% of all deaths). As the Dutch government defines euthanasia as “ending a patient’s life at his own explicit request”, there remain many other cases of killing the patient which we would call euthana­sia, and which are not called euthanasia, but which are called “normal medical practice” by the Dutch government. There are 400 cases of assisted suicide and 1000 cases where a lethal drug was given without request. Then there were over 11,000 cases where life saving treat­ment was omitted with the explicit intention of shortening a patient’s life, while only 4,000 cases at the latter’s request. And in nearly 5,000 cases pain treatment was intensified with the implicit intention of shortening life. Together in almost 20,000 cases (15.4% of all deaths) the patient died after a doctor’s decision to hasten death, in almost 11,000 cases at the patient’s own request.

 

A change in the law since 1994 makes it possible today for a doctor to end a patient’s life without being prosecuted, provided he follows some guidelines: he must consult a colleague (not necessarily a specialist in palliative care); he must write a report answering some 50 questions, and so on. This report is given to the public prosecutor who decides whether to prosecute or not. But this decision is made on the basis of the report. Its author is the doctor himself. According to Dutch law, one cannot be expected to accuse oneself. The chief witness — the patient — is dead at this point. In most cases, the doctor can report as he likes. This means that our patients are no longer protected.

 

In 1996, a report similar to the Remmelink Report was produced over the year 1995 (2). Compa­ring the two reports (see table), we find that the number of cases where the patient died after a doctor’s decision to hasten death, had increased from almost 20,000 (over 15% of total deaths) to almost 27,000 (nearly 20% of total deaths) of which over 13,000 were done at the patient’s request. Of the cases which should have been reported according to the guideli­nes of the new law, only 41% were actually reported. In fact, the new law protects the doctor, not the patient.

 

 

What About The ‘Slippery Slope’?

 

The first case of euthanasia in Holland where a doctor killed her mother allegedly at the latter’s request, was in 1975. This doctor was sentenced to a two weeks prison term on probation. Twenty years later we got down to 27,000 cases of intentional killing per year. It shows that not only had the numbers increased, but that the mentality toward euthanasia is going down the slippery slope. Of course, if treatment is refrained from or if a high dose of medication is given without the intention to kill but for the patient’s benefit, this is regarded as very good medical practice.

 

The situation in which euthanasia can be practiced with impunity is also increasing. First, only in cases of unbearable and uncontrollable suffering near the end of life, can euthanasia at the patient’s request exempt a doctor from prosecution. Today, the handicapped, new borns, comatose patients, and even completely healthy but depressed people have been euthanized without punishment by the courts. Some Dutch doctors, hearing about the British successes with palliative care, answered that they did not need to study it, as they could apply euthanasia instead.

 

What this change in mentality means in practice, is shown by a few examples. An internist, called to see a lady with lung cancer who breathed with great distress, told her that he could help her, but that he would prefer to admit her to his hospital. The patient refused, as she feared to be euthanized. But the doctor told her that he would be on duty during the weekend and would admit her himself. She did go on Saturday. On Sunday night, she was breathing normally. On Monday morning the doctor was off duty. In the afternoon, he came back to the hospital but the patient was dead. A colleague had come in that morning and said, “We need that bed for another case. It makes no difference for her whether she dies today or after a fort night”. So, the patient was euthanized against her explicit will.

 

I, myself, had a discussion with a colleague about administering morphine. I maintained that large does are needed to kill a patient. At first he denied this, but suddenly said, “You are right. I remember a case of an old man who could die any day. His son came to see me. He was booked for a holiday and did not want to come home for his father’s funeral. He wanted the funeral to be over with before he left. So I went to see the old man and gave him a huge dose of morphine. In the evening I came back to declare death, but the patient was happily sitting on the edge of his bed. At last, he had gotten enough morphine to kill his pain.” My colleague told this story as if it were the most normal thing to do: to kill a patient in order to please the family.

 

 

Two Ethical Systems

 

Nowadays, there are two competing ethical systems. The oldest, which I call humanitarian, is the ethics of the Universal Declaration: the Hippocratic Oath formulated in 400 B.C. by Hippocrates who was no Christian. He believed that the doctor was a powerful man who could decide on life or death. As the patient could not know whether a white powder was meant to kill or cure him, he had to simply trust his doctor. That is why Hippocrates made doctors swear that they would never use their knowledge and experience to kill, either before or after birth; not even at the patient’s own request. In this humanitarian ethic, the well being of the individual is central.

 

The other ethic I call utilitarian because it is not for the patient’s well being, but the well being of others which prevails. The doctor judges the quality and the sense of a patient’s life whether he is a burden or useful to society, etc. This way of thinking was described in a very clear editorial in California Medicine, September of 1970. It said that medical ethics had been based so far on the notion that all men’s lives had equal value, but that this could no longer be maintained as over population was threatening us and we were no longer prepared to accept every quality of life. Choices would have to be made on the basis of medical evalua­tion. Intentional killing was still abhorrent, so one had to begin with abortion and then go on to voluntary euthanasia. But in the end, we would have death control as well as birth control, and we doctors should prepare ourselves for this new task.

 

Many people think that legalizing euthanasia will make them autonomous. But, in fact, it is the doctor who is made free to do as he thinks right. In the end, it is not the patient, but the doctor who decides when life should be ended. Is this what we really want? Respect for human life will diminish: violence will increase.

 

Here is another option. Instead of killing the patient, we can kill the pain. Britain is far ahead of us in dealing with the symptoms of terminal diseases: pain, vomiting, constipation, short­ness of breath, itching, fear of the future, loneliness, and so on. Today, we can help these patients effectively.

 

The big question is, Will the United Nations maintain the humanitarian ethic of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which recognizes each man’s right to life? Or, Will we accept the utilitarian ethic of death with its elimination of unwanted people? We cannot at the same time defend people’s right to life and allow them to be killed. We need a clear strategy to make sure that our children inherit the kind of world the U.N. has promised to build.

 

 

K.F. Gunning, MD – President

World Federation of Doctors Who

Respect Human Life

 

 


Notes

 

1    P.J. van der Maas, J.J.M. van Delden & L. Pijnenborg. 1991.Medische beslissingen rond het levenseinde. SDU – Den Haag.

 

2    G.van der Wal & P.J. van der Maas. 1996. Euthanasie en andere medische beslissingen rond het levenseinde. SDU – Den Haag.

 

 

Summary of Report 1990 (1) and Report 1995 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year

1990

 

1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total number of deaths

128,824

 

135,675

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lethal drugs given (total)

3,736

2.9 %

 

4,613

3.4 %

Of which assisted suicide

386

0.3 %

 

407

0.3 %

At the patient’s request

2,319

1.8 %

 

3,207

2.4 %

Without the patient’s request

1,031

0.8 %

 

950

0.7 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death intended

3,736

2.9 %

 

4,613

3.4 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intensifying pain-treatment (total)

24,219

18.8 %

 

26,050

19.2 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death not intended

19,324

15.0 %

 

22,115

16.3 %

Partly intended to hasten death

4,895

3.8 %

 

3,935

2.9 %

At patient’s explicit request

4,122

3.2 %

 

4,447

3.3 %

Without the patient’s request

20,097

15.6 %

 

21,573

15.9 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-treatment decisions (total)

23,060

17.9 %

 

27,406

20.2 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death not intended

11,852

9.2 %

 

9,361

6.9 %

Explicit intention to hasten death

11,208

8.7 %

 

18,045

13,3 %

At patient’s explicit request

3,994

3.1 %

 

5,155

3.8 %

Without patient’s explicit request

19,066

14.8 %

 

22,251

16.4 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total decisions around end of life

50,885

39.5 %

 

58,069

42.8 %

Total decisions intended to hasten death

19,839

15.4 %

 

26,592

19.6 %

Total decisions at patient’s request

10,821

8.4 %

 

13,296

9.8 %

Total decisions without patient’s request

40,064

31.1 %

 

44,773

33.0 %

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reported cases of life-ending

484

18 %

 

1,463

41 %

 

 

 

The Continuing Threat of Euthanasia

International Conference 1997

Schreeuw om Leven – Ruitersweg 35-37, 1211 KT  Hilversum, The Netherlands

phone +31 35 624-4352, fax +31 35 624-9141, e-mail info@schreeuwomleven.nl, internet www.schreeuwomleven.nl