Tuesday 13 December 2011

Doctors wanted to starve disabled son of Irish pro-life politician

On 30 November Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, took part in a debate at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, on assisted suicide (slides from Anthony's speech), organised by the UCC Law Society. Anthony was quoted in The Irish Times report on the debate:
"[E]uthanasia [i]s underpinned by a pessimism about the value of life and the ability of society to respond adequately to the sick and the vulnerable."
Speaking (pictured) alongside Anthony was Kathy Sinnott, the Irish disability rights campaigner, SPUC supporter and former member of the European Parliament (MEP). Anthony and Kathy have spoken together before at UCC, to Students for Life there.

Also featuring in the debate were:
  • Tom Curran, European coordinator of Exit International, the pro-euthanasia and suicide organisation headed by Dr Philip Nitschke;
  • Dr. Kieran Doran, senior lecturer in healthcare ethics, UCC;
  • Dr. Adam McAuley, senior lecturer in medical and international human rights law, University College Dublin (UCD). 
The debate was chaired by Dr Deirdre Madden, senior lecturer in law, UCC.

Mrs Sinnott began her speech (full text) by challenging the students to confront the fundamental questions of what it means to be a human person and what is the true nature of death:
"I would suggest to you that before approaching the question of natural death or euthanasia it is important to find out the truth about ourselves as the human person.

In doing so you will go a long way to answering another question important to this discussion: what is death?"
Mrs Sinnott spoke powerfully on a number of issues, including the attempts of hospital staff in Dublin to deprive her son Jamie of a feeding programme, based on their assessment of his quality of life:
"My first [experience of euthanasia and it's advocates] was a personal encounter which concerned my son Jamie, who is profoundly disabled. Following a severe reaction to a flu jab, his health seriously deteriorated. By the time he, a young man taller than I, had been reduced to 65lbs, he was spending a lot of time in hospital in Dublin.

However he was not being treated. I knew that he needed to be fully scoped and put on a feeding program; both were standard procedures that would have been performed on someone without a disability long before they got to this stage.

Through persistence, I got half the test done and based on this the consultant told me and repeated three times that if we did not get Jamie on a feeding program that he would die. I thanked him and said that we would do whatever it took to make a success of the feeding program. I was delighted that at long last, Jamie could start to get well.

But a half hour later, the consultant, two younger doctors and a nurse, came to the ward where I was waiting for Jamie to come back from the test. They sat down around me with an atmosphere of concern and told me that they had been talking and that they had decided not to put Jamie on a feeding program. They said his quality of life was poor.
I got Jamie out of there as fast as I could and brought him back to Cork, where he was fully tested and put on a program of elemental feeding. Today Jamie weighs 8 stone, he no longer needs a wheelchair instead he walks the country roads every day. He is not longer miserable he takes an active part in his life and sometimes even smiles.

Thank you Cork University Hospital Prof Quigley and team. And an Irish Constitution and High Court that recognized his worth and therefore his rights."
This is yet another example of the success of the euthanasia lobby in exporting the practice of euthanasia by neglect - see my blog-posts earlier today and on 2 December about this practice in the UK.

In his own speech Anthony Ozimic highlighted  the comment made in 1984 by Helga Kuhse, the international euthanasia advocate and leader, which perhaps most concisely encapsulates the widespread radicalism of the euthanasia movement:
"If we can get people to accept the removal of all treatment and care, especially the removal of food and fluids they will see what a painful way this is to die and then, in the patient's best interests, they will accept the lethal injection "
Mrs Sinnott said in her speech that her time working in the European Parliament revealed the truth behind the myth that there are 'extreme' and 'mainstream' branches of the euthanasia lobby. I made this very point recently when pointing out that Dr Philip Nitschke is not the extreme wing of the pro-death lobby, but rather the unacceptable face of a lobby wishing to appear moderate in the promotion of their radical pro-death agenda. Mrs Sinnott explained that she had attended a conference organised by the liberal democrat group at the European Parliament, in which the organisers made clear that their objective was free, easy and open access to euthanasia, voluntary and involuntary - although they cautioned that it is important in the beginning to always talk of assisted suicide and to downplay euthanasia.

Mrs Sinnott also relayed the experiences of a friend of hers with ten years' experience confronting death as a hospice nurse. Her friend informed her that her experience suggests that an initial fear or rejection of death, the desire to confess and the desire to travel are so common as to be almost universal traits among dying patients.

Mrs Sinnott's speech concluded with her own reflections on death:
"What I have discovered from those who know death well, those who have had a personal encounter and those who are facing into it convinces me that death is both a unique and very important personal event and a stage, a normal developmental stage of human life."
Dying is a natural, normal part of life which comes to us all. Assisted suicide and euthanasia are violations of that natural process, which should be respected as an integral part of our lives.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
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