Thursday, December 16, 2010

Herod, Planned Parenthood & Wise Men

Christmas time brings about many different ideas for gift giving to celebrate the season. Planned Parenthood has an idea that gift-certificates for abortion, is a great stocking stuffer. This brings to mind, King Herod, who told the Wise Men, that he too wanted to brings gifts to the child. Fortunately and angel warned them of Herod's true intent to kill the child.

This Christmas the new Herod, Planned Parenthood, also presents a gift to honor Christmas, by killing as many babies as they can, with abortion gift-certificates ... a gift-certificate which is actually a death-certificate. Herod would be so pleased.

2,000 yrs. ago, Herod, in his paranoiac rage, sent out his henchmen to slaughter the innocents. Today, Herod's henchmen are still out there, seeking to destroy the lives of innocent unborn children. So, this Christmas Season, instead of worship and adore, Planned Parenthood's aim is to search and destroy, just like their ancestor King Herod.

Only Wise Men know the difference.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dilemma in Antioch

The case of a 27 yr old paralyzed man from Antioch, Illinois, has made national news. Paralyzed from the neck down, due to a car accident at age 3 ,he wants Froedtert Hospital to remove his ventilator.

He has battled the hospital for the last year and a half for this purpose. He says, "I have no friends - I have no education - no education prospects - no job prospects - I have no love prospects - all I want is to no longer live like this." He is physically incapable of ending his own life. "I feel I'm the only person in the country who does not have a way or an option to kill myself."

At Froedtert, hospital psychiatrists and mental health professionals say, he is depressed and must be treated for it, before they will consider his request. He says, his desire to die does not stem from his depression, but from his poor quality of life and the low odds that it will improve.

Depression is not uncommon for people with spinal cord injuries, who often struggle to gain control over their own lives. Their suicide rate is 2 to 6 times that of the general population. Their inability to end their lives themselves often compounds their sense of helplessness.

Disability rights activists argue that the quality of life doesn't have to be inherently bad, rather, they say, society doesn't provide the resources to live a satisfying life.

This young man is not dying. He is profoundly handicapped and totally dependent on others. Hospital records reveal that he has expressed concerns that his monetary problems and desire to help his mother are clouding his judgment. He refused any mental health treatment. He said, "It wouldn't change his decision and he couldn't afford the hassle and expense of visiting the hospital regularly for treatment." He has explored moving to a state where physician-assisted suicide is legal.

This is the dilemma that society is facing all over the country. Should non-dying but profoundly handicapped people be assisted to end their own lives? And should it be legal?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What ever happened to Ars moriendi?

Our Western society is focused on eternal life ... in this world only. We use health clubs and health foods to Botox, plastic surgery and organ transplants in order to enhance and prolong our earthly existence. Where is the focus on our spiritual existence? All religious denominations have suffered a decrease in fervor, understanding and practice. This focus on mere earthly existence has created new societal questions on how to face death, in an age which does everything to postpone it.

Now bioethics is forcing society to look at the "Art of Dying Well", and what that means? Could this mean legalizing euthanasia? Could this mean rationing in medicine? Could it mean altering what it means to be human? Just what are the ethics regarding these questions, and what is their main focus?

All of these questions led us to look up a long forgotten Latin text called Ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying"), dating from the Middle Ages and written within the historical context of the effects of Plague and the consequent social upheaval of the 15th century, which it caused. It was very popular, translated into most Western European languages, and the first in a Western literary tradition of guides to death and dying. It consisted of 6 chapters, which sums up the dichotomy between today's focus on death and dying, as opposed to the late Middle Ages.

The chapters speak for themselves:

1.) Explains that dying has a good side, and serves to console the dying man; that death is not something to be afraid of.
2.) Outlines the five temptations that beset a dying man, and how to avoid them .. ie .. lack of faith, despair, impatience, spiritual pride and avarice.
3.) Lists 7 questions to ask a dying man, along with the redemptive powers of Christ's love.
4.) Expresses the need to imitate Christ's life.
5.) Addresses the friends and family, outlining the general rules of behavior at the death bed.
6.) Includes appropriate prayers to be said for a dying person.

Compare the focus of these chapters to today's end of life concerns, and you will find a marked contrast between the two.

Follwoing Robby the Robot

The Hastings Center Report, for those of you who don't know, is the first bioethics journal celebrating 40 years of publication (or could you say medical indoctrination?). The journal is really all about euthanasia covered with a bioethics blanket.

The Hastings Center Report asked young scholars to write about what the next generation of bioethicists should take up? There were 195 submissions and 4 of the best were published.

"Picking the essays we wanted to publish turned out to be surprisingly difficult", said Gregory Kaebnick, editor of the Hastings Center Report. "We not only wanted good essays; we also wanted to represent the range of topics that people had written about and the range of people writing them up. But it's a good problem to have, of course, and it gives us great confidence about the future of bioethics." Here we go. 1.) "Establishing A Duty Of Care For Pharmaceutical Companies" 2.) "A Role For Moral Vision In Public Health" 3.) "The Art Of Dying Well" 4.) "The Challenge Of Regenerative Medicine"

Wow! That sums up medical ethics. Let's take "The Art Of Dying Well". In his essay, the point that one of the most pressing bioethical concerns is to create a framework for teaching an aging population to prepare for death and support on another through the dying process. In the article, Lydia Dugdale from Yale School of Medicine says, "American society remains ill equipped for the experience of of dying. Among the reasons are advances in medical technology, that have obscured the distinction between death and life, physician difficulty in discussing end of life issues with their patients, and the secularization of Western culture, which has marginalized the role of religion in preparing people for death."

All of this sounds good but, just like "the secret's in the sauce", the implementation of these noble principles may be delivered by Robby the Robot, whose learning ethics from ?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Robby The Robot Has Ethics? Whose Ethics?

Robots are now being programmed with "ethics" in order to make complicated moral decisions. One has to wonder whose "ethics" are the ones being implanted in Robby the Robot's artificial brain. Sound far fetched?

Philosopher Susan Anderson and her computer scientist hubby Michael Anderson, have teamed up in a new field of research, called "machine ethics". Using each of their different expertise they now claim to have programmed a robot to behave "ethically" We already have machines out there that are doing ethical tasks, such as automatic cash withdrawal machines. Many other robotics are still in the developmental stages, such as cars that drive themselves and elder-care robots. The approach has yet to develop far enough in order for the robots to weigh different obligations with satisfactory decision principles. So when several of the robot's directives pull in different directions, it will not be able to adequately distinguish between which one "ethical decision" is prime.

So, if Obamacare's ethics are the ones being implanted, or the "Hastings Institute", which is a think tank for euthanasia, are the ones which Robby receives in his computer brain, hmmmm?
Elder-care robots! Just in time for Christmas and Obamacare. Look under your tree. I wonder if Robby will be sitting on the death panel? Does this all sound like a science fiction novel gone mad?

Those of you who are old enough, may remember the movie "Forbidden Planet". In this story, monsters from the Id, or the primitive sub-conscious mind of man, create a moral dilemma for poor Robby the Robot. Poor Robby's robotic brain short circuits, when he is unable to distinguish which ethical decision to follow, because of the conflicted mind of his own creator.

There's a huge fly in the ointment when it comes to humans trying to program "ethics" into machines. Remember also the poor scientist in the movie "The Fly", who also does not see the fly which gets into his machine. Well, there's a lot flies out there. Whose the fly here? Whose "ethics" will be programmed into Robby? I hope it's not Donald Berwick, the Director of Medicare/Medicaid, appointed by, none other than the fly in the White House.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

When Is It Ok To Pull The Plug?

Case in point ... a 27 yr. old local boy from Antioch, paralyzed from a car accident at the age of 3, who is only able to move his head, states, "He has no friends, no education, no educational prospects, no love prospects; all I want is to no longer live like this." Although he graduated high school and earned an Associate's degree from the College of Lake County. Later he gave up dreams of becoming a prosecutor because of the physical difficulties of attending a college away from home.

He has battled Froedtert Hospital to remove his ventilator. Hospital psychiatrist and mental health care professionals say he's depressed and must be treated before they will consider his request.

Depression is common with spinal cord injuries. This person is non-dying, but profoundly handicapped. He has been recognized by professionals as profoundly depressed. The question at hand, just like the Cruzan case, is this ... should a non-dying, profoundly handicapped person remove themselves from life support? The difference in this case, as opposed to the Cruzan case, is that the 27 yr. old is depressed but competent. In Cruzan's case, as she was unable to make her own decisions, her husband made the decision for her.

Both cases had and will have a profound influence on end of life decisions ... both morally and legislatively. This is the way euthanasia is being sold. It's an emotional appeal designed to bypass your rational thought and moral underpinnings. If this case proceeds and this young man non-dying but profoundly handicapped, kills himself because he finds life too difficult ...

This young man's restrictions to realize his dreams are obviously greater than the average. Yet, there are many of us who have had to alter our dreams when they became unattainable for whatever reason. If this young man can discount himself because he considers certain options of life to be beyond his reach, when will the next person who did not get to become an astrophysicist or an academy award winning actress, decide their life is too hard and they should end it? When does life stop having worth, no matter the options?

Civil Unions in Illions

"Everyone has a right to marry, but no one has a right to change the nature of marriage, marriage is what it is and always has been, no matter what a legislature decides to do; however, the public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by the passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage." Cardinal George

Well the Catholics, as well as all the other denominations, didn't pay much attention to the Cardinal's words. Even worse, they didn't take in the meaning of what he said. Last night the Illinois House of Reps, passed a civil unions bill, which in Illinois law equates to a same-sex marriage.

It was incredible to watch as Speaker Michael Madigan, a Catholic, vigorously worked the floor during the debate, twisting the arms of members in order to secure legislators' votes for same-sex marriage. Illinois House of Reps. is now officially unable to make moral distinctions. And haven't we had enough of legislators who can't make moral distinctions?

Since the great sexual revolution of the 60's, we have had pleasure without consequences. Now we have subsidized pleasure without consequences.