Stephen Hawking and the Dignity of the Human Person

Last week I saw the movie “The Theory of Everything,” the story of the great British scientist, Stephen Hawking.  As a young man out of college, Hawking got the shocking news that he has what is now known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The movie has an emotional scene where the doctor explains to Stephen Hawking the bad news.  The doctor tells him he has no more than two years to live and he can do nothing for him.  Hawking, not only has a brilliant mind, a genius, if you will, he has lots of courage.  He is not defeated.  He gets along as best he can.  He marries, has children, and becomes one of the world’s best scientists.  The disease takes its toll on him, rendering him completely paralyzed and unable to speak.  He not only did not die in two years, as the doctors predicted, but 50 plus years later is just as prolific a scientist as ever.  He is still alive today.

While watching the movie I could not help but think of the recent case of a young 29-year-old woman, Brittany Maynard, who committed suicide via euthanasia in Oregon, after moving there for this purpose.  Brittany made her case very public and indicated that she chose this path voluntarily, with no regrets.  Doctors had given her six months to live.  Who is to say, that something could not have happened in the next six months that would have mitigated her condition, as unlikely as it was?  Certainly, Stephen Hawking’s condition was just as serious.

The question that we must answer is, do we have the right to take our own lives?  Why or why not?  I would want to err on the side of doing the right thing.  Committing suicide, under any circumstances, does not seem to me to be the right thing.  Who gave us life?  Those of us who believe in a supreme being, believe that it was God.  It then follows that only God can take a life.  Indeed, in the 6th Commandment, God orders us not to kill; this includes ourselves, in my view.

In an earlier piece on this blog, I wrote a piece on “Pascal’s Wager.”  In short, Pascal’s Wager, is a hypothetical bet.  If you bet that there is no God and lose, you’re finished.  If you bet that there is a God and it turns out there is, you end up on the right side and save your eternal life, if you lose the bet, you’re in darkness forever.  When it comes to ending a life, I want to bet on the right side of things and not on my own understanding or ease of things.

“The War on Women”?

During the last election cycle in the United States, the Democratic Party promoted what they called “the war on women.”  For example, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, and Wendy Davis, who ran for Texas Governor,  based their entire campaign on this false narrative of “the war on women.”  One of my favorite speakers on the pro-life circuit, Greg Kokul, is fond of what he calls “the Columbo method.”  The Columbo method is based on the old TV character of the 1970s, Columbo, starring the great actor, Peter Falk.  Columbo is famous for always asking the crucial question.  After stumbling thorough questioning  a suspect, he turns to leave, but has “just more thing” – then he asks the crucial question that brings final clarity.

What is the crucial question about the so called “war on women”?  You have to ask for clarity from anyone using this false moniker.  Excuse me, but what do you mean by “war on women”?  Only after you get an explanation can you address the issue.  What the left defines as “a war on women” is shorthand for:  abortion for any reason, contraceptives paid for by someone else, free sex as you want it and no rules barring whatever you want in these areas.

Now, those of us who are for protecting the unborn child, the most vulnerable human being in the world, or if we have objections on religious grounds against paying for contraceptive drugs, we are considered to be waging a “war on women.”  We want to protect unborn children from being ripped apart by abortion, piece by piece from a woman’s womb, because this causes the death of a human being.  In our culture, killing another human person is considered murder and a crime, not a personal option, nor “women’s health,” as the left calls it.  Not giving you free contraceptives is not a “war on women.”  We are not saying we’re against you buying your own, which you can do for no more than $9 per month at Target. The cost is not the issue, the issue is why do I, or anyone else, have to pay for your choice of taking contraceptives, something that is totally elective on your part?  Why should an employer owe this to an employee?  The “war on women” is a false narrative, pure and simple.

Why the Left is Anti-Christian

The recent Hobby-Lobby Supreme Court case highlights why it is a contradiction to be a Christian and a leftist or a liberal Democrat.  Immediately upon hearing the court decision the left went nuts.  Let’s back up and pretend that we’re Lt. Columbo.  What is the issue here?  The issue here is simple:  nobody should be forced to violate their religious beliefs by paying for an abortifacient.  Simple as that.  Nobody is preventing anyone from getting these drugs.  As a matter of fact you can get this drug at Target for no more than $9.00 per month, even if you don’t have insurance.  Who is forcing whom?  I say that the political left is trying to force their view on everyone else.

To add insult to injury, the political left, in the name of the Democratic Party, and Senator Patty Murray proposed a law that would override the Hobby-Lobby case.  Click here to see the story on the very leftist Huffington Post.  What more smoking gun do you need that left is anti-Christian and anti-religious freedom.

The Arrogant Delight in Their Arrogance

I often wonder how intelligent and educated people can be so fooled and refuse to see or even investigate some of their beliefs.  I’m speaking of “pro-choice” people.  Many of my friends and my fellow Catholics who are “pro-choice” are also intelligent and well-educated people.  How can they fail to see the logic of the dignity of the human person?  How can they fail to understand, as does science, that life begins at conception?

I’ve come to one conclusion, although I cannot prove it, and that it that these people who are “pro-choice” simply refuse to investigate the issue..  They simply want to believe what they’re comfortable with.  I know this from my experience with my “pro-choice” friends.  whenever I mention science, logic, or reason, it just goes over their heads.  A common response is “I just think that every woman should choose for herself.”  A rhetorical question I have is what is she choosing?  She’s choosing the death of a human being.  Can this be a choice?  To put it in plain terms, can you choose whether you can kill your children who are under two, for example, as long as it’s your choice?  What is the difference?

In the Book of Proverbs Chapter One states it this way:  “The arrogant delight in their arrogance, and fools hate knowledge,” Pv 1:23.  You have heard the phrase, “don’t bother me with facts.”  This reminds me of this example.  You see, I was that person for the first 40 years of my life.  I was “pro-choice” but could not tell you why except that I thought we should be able to make such decisions ourselves.  It was not until I investigated the issue that I found I had no basis for such beliefs, indeed, the evidence was totally against me.

The Phony War on Women

How many times have you heard the hackneyed phrase from the political left, “the war on women”?  I think I hear it on a regular basis.  Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace, had a Democratic spokesman, Xavier Becerra, on to discuss the pending SCOTUS ruling related to religious freedom, otherwise known as “the Hobby Lobby Case.”  When Mr. Wallace asked Mr. Becerra how can the Democrats defend forcing people to pay for something they believe violates their religious freedoms, he answered by saying that Obamacare does not violate a woman’s religious belief (apparently they have another definition of what is a violation of religious beliefs) and that “no one has the right to discriminate against a woman’s beliefs.”  As Lt. Columbo would say:  just one more question:  what does a woman’s beliefs have to do with the violations of a person’s religious beliefs ?  This is what the left does, it cannot answer a direct question and they instead, change the question.  Click here for a video of this interview – this particular question starts at about the 11:50 minute mark of the video.

Former Hewlett Packard Executive, Carly Fiorina has started a campaign to counter this phony “war on women” that the left is promoting.  Click here for more information on this issue from Ms. Fiorina.  The classic on this phony “war on women” was when a supposed Catholic girl, Sandra Fluke, a law student at a Catholic University, Georgetown University Law School, testified before a Congressional committee.  What she was complaining about was that an employer should pay for her birth control insurance coverage.  As it turns out you can get this type of drug for no more than $9 per month at Target.  This, to the left, is the burning issue; sexual satisfaction should be guaranteed by and paid for by your employer.  So, the left invents a “war on women” unless an employer pays for his employees sexual pleasures.  What right does that come from?  Where do these rights come from and why should an employer be forced to pay for these costs?  An employer pays an employee for work provided.  Why does he have to pay for anything else, unless it is negotiated freely between the two?  Do you pay for your Plummer’s insurance just because he fixed your faucet?  You pay him for the work and nothing else.  Does the word hedonism come to mind?  I think it does, but then this is the world of the left.

The U.N. Declares Pro-Life a Form of Torture?

If there ever was a sign that our culture is not only upside down but has gone into a demented state, the proof was provided recently by a UN conference declaring that the Catholic Church is guilty of torture for advocating the saving of babies in the womb.  I know that this sounds absurd but you have to read it for yourself.  Click here for the story.

Let me see if I got this straight.  The UN says that the Catholic Church by advocating for the life of an unborn baby is committing torture?  If you read the story mentioned earlier you will see that the UN has its own definition of what torture is.  No it’s not water boarding, it’s the natural delivery of a baby from its mother’s womb.  Don’t ask me, I don’t get it either.  Such is the state of our society where wrong is right and down is up.

I know that the UN knows what an abortion is but perhaps they don’t understand what happens in an abortion.  For the benefit of those in the UN here is what an abortion looks like.  Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has a wonderful video explanation.  I invite all of you and especially anyone who works for the UN to watch it.  Click here to watch it.

Stealth Euthanasia

The following is a summary of notes I took and materials presented and discussed at the Stealth Euthanasia Conference held on November 23, 2013 at Biola University, La Mirada, California.

What is Euthanasia:  An action or an omission which of itself or by intention causes death, in order that all suffering may in this way be eliminated.  Euthanasia’s terms of reference, therefore, are to be found in the intention of the will and in the methods used. There is a trend in the United States to legalize euthanasia.  Three states have already legalized it:  Oregon, Washington and Vermont.  The euthanasia lobby is very savvy and has as their goal to legalize euthanasia throughout the United States.  Their method is one of gradualism.  They pour all their recourses into one state and after passage in that state, move to another state until all states legalize euthanasia. The euthanasia advocates do not like to use the word, euthanasia, they prefer terms like “death with dignity, assisted dying, compassionate choices, etc.  LMU Professor Christopher Kaczor, one of the speakers, states that euthanasia is driven by a worldview of human life, one that does not value the dignity of life.  There is no moral difference between active or passive euthanasia; they both accomplish the same thing:  death.  He also explained ordinary and extraordinary means of extending life.  The main issue is whether the treatment is burdensome or beneficial.

Abuse of Euthanasia:  Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in Canada, another conference speaker, talked about the slippery slope that is euthanasia.  In Oregon, for example, the only reports made to the state on legal euthanasia are provided solely by the doctors who perform the euthanasia.  Reports are voluntary. There are no controls on how euthanasia is administered.  He pointed out that if there are abuses, no one knows about them because the doctors do not self-report abuses.  The principal goal of legalized euthanasia is to protect the doctors, not the patients.  It is estimated that depression is the prime factor in choosing euthanasia.  Since assisted suicide became legal in Oregon, state officials have been candid about offering suicide in lieu of costly medications.  In refusing to approve requests for expensive drugs that could prolong several residents’ lives, Oregon Health Care officials reminded them that the cost of suicide pills would be fully covered.  Schadenberg commented that the most likely person in our society to kill you is a doctor.

In Belgium, a 37 year-old college professor got a call one day telling him that his perfectly healthy 64 year-old mother, had chosen euthanasia and had died.  It turned out that she was depressed after a 10-year relationship ended so she chose to end her life “legally.”  Also, in Belgium, two Belgian identical twins, both born deaf, Marc and Eddy Verbassem chose euthanasia after they started losing their sight.  Not wanting to be a burden to others they both elected euthanasia and died together.  Recent studies concerning the Belgian euthanasia law found that: 32% of the assisted deaths are done without request and 47% of the assisted deaths go unreported in the Flanders region of Belgium.  Another recent study found that even though nurses are prohibited from doing euthanasia, that in fact nurses are euthanizing their patients in Belgium. There has never been an attempted prosecution for abuses of the Belgian euthanasia law.  In Oregon since 2009 there has been a 30% increase in euthanasia deaths.  Furthermore, the Oregon suicide law does not prevent elder abuse; the lethal dose can be administered without oversight.  There are many pitfalls in euthanasia laws.  Some people are counseled to take euthanasia for no good reason.

Another conference speaker, Jennifer Hamman, related a story about when she was hospitalized and in a coma due to epileptic medicine that proved to be totally wrong and put her in a coma.  While in a coma in a hospital she could hear the doctors discuss her case.  One doctor complained that her husband had not agreed to stop all treatments and that her organs could go to some needy persons.  The woman eventually recovered and today is perfectly healthy. I’m a witness since she spoke at the conference and looked perfectly healthy.  In Oregon, in 2012, only 2 of the 77 people who died by euthanasia were referred for a psychiatric evaluation. This is significant because a study conducted by Oregon researcher, Linda Ganzini, found that 15 of 58 participants in her study were either depressed or experiencing feelings of extreme hopelessness. Of the 58 participants in her Oregon study, who had asked for assisted suicide, 18 died by assisted suicide with three of the assisted suicide deaths being persons who Ganzini found had questionable competency due to their depression/feelings of hopelessness.

Medical experts, like Herbert Hendin, MD, in his book Seduced by Death. (New York:  W.W. Norton & Co., 1998, notes that nearly 95% of those who kill themselves have been shown to have a diagnosable mental illness in the months preceding their death – the majority suffering from treatable depression.  Several studies have found that, especially among the elderly, more patients kill themselves out of fear of having cancer than do patients actually diagnosed with cancer.

Margaret Dore, a Washington State Attorney on Euthanasia Abuse: The Washington euthanasia bill was sold as “promoting patient choice and control,” instead the bill is a recipe for elder abuse.  The law allows an heir or another person who will benefit financially from a patient’s death to help the patient sign up for the lethal dose.  The law allows an heir, or someone else who will benefit financially from the death to pick up the lethal dose at the pharmacy.  Once the lethal dose is in the house, there is no oversight.  Washington law applies to patients with a “terminal condition” defined as having a medical prediction of less than six months to live.  Such patients are not necessarily dying and may have years to live.  This is because doctor predictions of life expectancy can be wrong because the requirement of six months to live is based on the patient not being treated.  Consider Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and wanted to do assisted suicide.  Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead.  In a 2012 affidavit, she states:  “This July, it was 12 years since my diagnosis.  If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead.”

Patient control is an illusion. Washington law does not require a witness to the death.  Without the disinterested witness, the opportunity is created for the patient’s heir, or for another person who will benefit financially from the death, to administer a lethal dose without his consent.