Ruthless Sympathy


assisted-suicideWhat is happening in our country when killing is preferable—and acceptable—to selfless love for the suffering? Too many instances lately shine a light on the depravity of this behavior and on our ever-declining treatment of our fellow human beings whom we call “expendable.”

For example, a 7-year-old Massachusetts child is nearly killed and her dad, who tried to take her life by poisoning her with drain cleaner, says he is not guilty of a crime. The little girl was seriously ill and her father argued he was only trying to relieve her of her suffering.

In New York, efforts are underway to facilitate starvation of patients who are unable to speak for themselves. An online article by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition states: “Senate Bill 4794 would grant an agent decision-making authority to dehydrate a patient even when the patient’s wishes are not known and cannot be determined.” In other words, if this bill passes and is signed into law, it will be legal to kill by dehydration. Rather than keeping a patient comfortable, death will be caused sooner rather than later.

In California, the California Medical Association has decided that it will “drop opposition to what has long been known as ‘physician-assisted suicide.’” This change in policy “reflects a change in patient and doctor attitudes about assisted-death and acknowledgment that there are times when palliative care is not enough to make the terminally ill comfortable.”

In the ever-growing trend toward packaging imposed death as a “choice,” the panoply of selections seems endless. Everything from terminal sedation to denial of food to more overt methods like that employed by the Massachusetts dad can be thought of as ideal options if you want to relieve yourself or someone you love from lingering too long in the hospital, hospice, or at home.

Nancy Valko, RN, provides a word of explanation for the novice in this struggle to defend the lives of the ill from those who want to end life rather than affirm it. She states that terminal sedation is “the deliberate ‘termination of awareness’ for ‘relief of intractable pain when specific pain-relieving protocols or interventions are ineffective’ and/or ‘relief of intractable emotional or spiritual anguish (existential suffering, psychological distress, emotional exhaustion).’ (Emphasis added) An essential component of TS is also the withdrawal of all treatment, including even food and water, so that death occurs as soon as possible.”

Andy Ho also wrote about terminal sedation, telling readers:

What could be kinder than helping the dying “go gentle into that good night”? Yet, from its name, one would not have known that what ends life is not the sedation but the fact that fluids are concurrently and totally discontinued for the unconscious patient. Such dehydration leads inevitably to death within one or two weeks, even for healthy persons. By contrast, starvation alone, where fluids are not restricted, takes weeks or even months to bring on death. So it is dehydration that kills the patient—unless the disease takes him first.

While some may find it astounding that the pro-choice-to-die movement is gaining ground, I for one do not. Many years ago the United States of America’s collective conscience lost its will to live when it went along with a 7-man majority on the United States Supreme Court ruling that a human being—a preborn child—was not a person, thus opening the door to abortion-on-demand. Ever since that time the will to kill has been in abundance, but always disguised with some softer, more palatable name such as pro-choice or human rights or compassion in dying. Today the words are the same as the outcomes—dead people.

The father in the Massachusetts case mentioned earlier is not an isolated story. Many fathers have gone before him, including Nancy Cruzan’s father Joe and Christine Busalacchi’s father Pete. In both cases the fathers of these young women felt strongly that living was too much of a burden for their daughters to bear. Sadly, Nancy’s father ultimately committed suicide—a tragic end to a story that began with a desire to prematurely end a life rather than devote oneself to caring for that human being until death.

Where society goes from here we do not know, but we do understand fully that where ruthless sympathy prevails, human beings are in peril.

Defend life, speak out for the vulnerable, teach the ignorant, and pray for those promoting ruthless sympathy.


About Author

  • Guy McClung

    Judie and ALL: Hate to sound cynical, and hate to accuse M. Deities and Hospital CEOs of anything but altruism, but could it be that one of America’s new guiding ethical principles – “In this life, one thing counts, in the bank, large amounts” (Fagin, Oilver) – or put more succintly “Follow the Money” – or put in terms of economics “He who has the gold, makes the rules,” – could it be that hospitals make more money dehydrating a patient rather than caring for them til natural death? Just a thought. And how many hospitals – gotta love this word “hospital” whose root is “hospitality”-are owned or “sponsored” by religious orders or dioceses-or are significant benefiicaries of hospital revenues? Can you find out profit totals for dehydration vs. care-til-natural-death? And I am sure that a hospital’s inability to send a non-profitable patient home once the patient approaches death or the hosptial’s inability to send the non-profit patient to another facility – assuming money is involved-is the real driver of letting an “ethics committee” decide to enter the non-profit patient into the “death care” program. Death care administered by a legally non-profit entity-now that is irony on irony. Guy McClung, San Antonio

    • Christian West

      I cannot confirm or deny your suspicions, Guy but one thing I know: there are things in this world that should not be a business and health care is one of them. Perhaps religious orders should care for everyone free and trust that God will provide. Some do it all over the world in their missions. Having said that I also thing that people of means who prefer to pay for health care should be free to do it. What is definitely sinful is to force those without means to pay fines and taxes to sustain a system that is not meant to serve them. It seems to me this is like a reverse version of the Good Samaritan parable. Instead of paying for the Jew’s care at the inn, we seem to be more willing to force the Jew to walk the distance and have him pay for his own death. That seems to me more the ethics of the highway robbers that preceded the Good Samaritan. Why are we doing this to ourselves as a society?