Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christians and the Party of Death

Sep 19, 2010

In 2006 Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a book entitled The Party of Death. It was primarily about the US Democratic Party, and the courts and mainstream media who side with the culture of death. They see the right to abortion as almost a religious obligation.

And it is not just abortion, but a general disregard for human life that is expressed in plenty of other policy positions. The culture of death is ever on the move, and it is not just the unborn who are at risk. As Ponnuru put it in the opening page of his book:

“The party of death started with abortion, but its sickle has gone from threatening the unborn, to the elderly, to the disabled; it has swept from the maternity ward to the cloning laboratory to a generalized disregard for ‘inconvenient’ life.”

He says the phrase is not just pejorative, but descriptive: “The party’s core members are those who explicitly deny that all human beings are equal in having a right to life and who propose the creation of a category of ‘human non-persons’ who can be treated as expendable.”

The story is the same here in Australia. We clearly have a party of death here: they are known as the Greens. They are quite open about how they embrace the culture of death. This could not be clearer than in today’s headlines: “Greens fight for euthanasia”.

The new Labor/Green government has not even been in power for two weeks yet, and already the Greens are telling us what they consider to be the most pressing issue of the day – their key priority: the right to kill off the elderly, the infirm, the suffering. And of course they will push this agenda in the name of compassion.

But it is a horrific type of compassion which says to help relieve suffering we should kill the sufferer. This has nothing to do with compassion, but everything to do with a diabolical view of human life. The Greens have bought into the mistaken notion that somehow the ‘quality’ of life is superior to the sanctity of life.

And it is always a minority of elites and technocrats who decide for the rest of mankind who should live and who should die. They tell us that the unborn are not persons, that the terminally ill are not persons, and soon that a depressed teenager is not really a person.

But what do we expect from a party which was begun with someone like Peter Singer? He and Bob Brown co-authored the book The Greens back in 1996, laying out the core beliefs, values and philosophies of the Greens. And Singer ran as a Greens’ candidate for the Senate in the same year.

Singer of course is the animal rights activist who is pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia and pro-infanticide. Yes he actually believes the newborn do not have a right to life, because they are not ‘persons’. As he and Helga Kuhse said back in 1985, “We do not think new-born infants have an inherent right to life”.

And back in 1983 he wrote, “Species membership in Homo-sapiens is not morally relevant. If we compare a dog or a pig to a severely defective infant, we often find the non-human to have superior capacities.” With a guy like this helping to set up the Greens, why should we be surprised at their consistent and insistent pro-death agenda?

Yet some might argue that Singer is a bit extreme, and does not really represent the Greens, and he is not with the Greens now. But the reason he is no longer with the Greens is of course because he left Australia in 1999 to lecture at Princeton University in the US.

And how can it be argued that he is not representative of the Greens? He ran as their Senate candidate and co-authored their manifesto! Of course his views are right in line with that of the Greens. And spare us trying to make a distinction between the two.

If some neo-Nazi managed to run for a conservative party here, it would be attacked by these very same people. “See, this is what these conservatives are really all about – they are all a bunch of closet Nazis.” Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If they take this line on the conservatives, then they must consistently take it with the Greens as well. Trying to disassociate Singer from the Greens will just not work.

Christians and the Party of Death

Sadly at the recent Federal election many Christians actually voted for the Greens. Some even ran as candidates for the Greens! Why this is so is unclear. Were they ignorant about the pro-death nature of this party? Did they know about it, but voted for them anyway? Do they even care?

The Bible of course is full of warnings about those who are pro-death. Indeed, the very enemy of God himself, Satan, is described as being at heart pro-death. Jesus contrasted the life-affirming nature of God with the death-affirming nature of Satan: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Jesus comes to bring life, while the enemy seeks to destroy it. We are told quite clearly in the Old Testament that those who reject God are pro-death: “All who hate me [God] love death” (Proverbs 8:36). And the protection of the innocent and those being led to death is everywhere championed:

Psalm 82:2-4: Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Proverbs 24:11: Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Prov. 31:8: Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

Yet incredibly some Christians thought it was a great idea to vote for the pro-death Greens. How they can reconcile their biblical faith with voting for the most pro-death party in Australia is beyond me. Sure, many will mouth off about the need to save the trees or protect the whales.

Are these things important? Yes, but even more important is the plight of the unborn and the elderly. Why are some believers more concerned about the well-being of dolphins than they are about unborn babies? Why is a tree of more value in their eyes than someone made in the image of God?

Still, some will appeal to the tired mantra of “social justice”. They seem to think that something like affordable housing is the most important issue of the day. But can I remind these believers that if you are dead, affordable housing doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

And who gives a rip about job opportunities or sustainable living if you are not allowed to even be born? When we slaughter 100,000 unborn babies in their mothers’ wombs every year, and some believers say and do nothing about it, and in fact support it, then I for one need to call their bluff. They blabber on about social justice, yet they deny the most basic social justice: the very right to life.

In my books this is hypocrisy and double standards of the highest order. These people will chain themselves to some stupid tree, thinking they are doing God a favour, while they don’t care at all about the death of God’s precious infants.

Sorry, but I call these believers phoneys and fakes. They refuse to recognise the most fundamental of truths, that social justice must begin in the womb. If it does not begin there, then all their rhetoric about social justice in my books is just that – so much empty and contemptuous rhetoric.

One day every believer will stand before their maker and give an account of themselves. That will include the way they voted. All their intellectually vacuous and morally empty rhetoric will be stripped away, and they will have to give an account for why they did not stand up for the unborn and did not defend the most biblical principle of all – the sanctity of human life.

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44 Responses to Christians and the Party of Death

  • I found this article very interesting…

    Jonathan May

  • Hello Bill
    Perhaps the fact that the Greens have formed an alliance with the Labor Party and now are in a position of influence, Australians and the media will now at last put their policies under some judgement. The election may prove to be a hidden blessing if this happens. Up to date having the pro life message heard is like trying to sell life insurance in a cemetery.
    Bill Spence

  • Very well done, Bill. As a staunch supporter of the Pro Life side and one who has always stood against abortion and all that it entails, this is a an excellent breath of fresh air and timely reminder about the hideous nature of abortion, and those who embrace and support it.

    The greens in Australia have their equal here in the USA. It is the party and those leftists who I have named the demosocialistacrats. Their hands and minds are stained red from blood spilled by the millions of aborted, living humans they have legislated and sentenced to death before they had a chance to draw one breath on their own. I will be cross posting this to my site.

    Prayers and blessing to you and yours!
    Rick Lakehomer, USA

  • Excellent article thanks muchly:

    The Australian Federal Government has so far, stood firm in its stance of NO to Euthanasia, but Bob and his bunch of cronies are going to do all they can to see that each State and Territory can decide for itself if it will legalise so called ‘mercy killing’ – euthanasia. Who knows what will eventuate now that we have a self professed atheistic Prime Minister.

    Whatever happened to the sacredness of human life? Used to be ‘from the womb to the tomb’ life was valued as a gift, to be treated with love and respect. Now it seems if you are old and frail, then you can be ‘terminated’……. with dignity!

    Clare Harris, Tasmania

  • So now we find out Bob is out for Euthanasia in the territories as his first priority.
    Green on the outside red on the inside and the stench of death and mendacity all over.
    No Christian could possibly vote for them!
    Rob Withall

  • Bill,

    You’ve missed the fact that it is “voluntary euthanasia” that is being proposed, i.e. that a suffering and incurable patient should have the right to hasten their own death. I think the issue needs more sober and rational analysis than hysterical rants about killing the elderly. It’s about voluntary suicide, not murder.

    Perhaps you’ve never had to deal with an elderly relative suffering agonising pain and begging you to help them die. Perhaps also you may feel differently about the issue if you yourself one day face a long and agonising death.

    Polls on this issue suggest that about 80% of Australians support the availability of voluntary euthanasia so it’s not just a Greens issue.

    Do you also consider turning off life support systems when all hope is gone to be murder? Many life issue have shades of grey. Not all is as black and white as you seem to believe.

    Bill Sayers

  • Hi Bill, I hope you don’t mind me sending this information along. Perhaps you can let people know about this meeting

    October 13th, Wed 7:30 PM
    O’Hanlon Centre
    Mitchell Street, Mentone
    Price, $5.00 per person

    Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is speaking on ”Caring Not Killing”. Democratic Labor Party Upper House MP, Peter Kavanagh is chairing the meeting and Bishop Peter Elliott will be in attendance.

    Car parking is available in St. Patrick’s School grounds, enrtance via Childers St.
    For more information you can go to www.euthanasia

    There are moves afoot to legalise euthanasia in Victoria so get informed!!!
    Patricia Madigan

  • Thanks Bill

    But I am not buying your cheap rationalisations here. Talk about ‘voluntary” euthanasia is meaningless. Whenever something is legalised and we end up with a right to something, there are always corresponding duties to ensure these rights are met. So whether that is physician assisted suicide, or whatever, the state will step in and make sure this is carried out.

    The truth is, anyone can bump themselves off prematurely at any time right now. What we are against is making this a legal option. But I write up all this in more detail here:

    And let me call your bluff: yes I do. My mother died a slow painful death of cancer. But she never once asked to be put down like a dog, and not once was euthanasia even mooted.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I admit I hope I am not in a position where I am in pain. But from the little I know of the subject, I am sure euthanasia is not good and open for abuse. In my city of Adelaide a few years ago in Rundall Mall, I kid you not Bill, there was a tent set up with signs etc was a organization called “Christians for Euthanasia”.
    Carl Strehlow

  • Bill Sayers,
    In all your attempted rationalisations about “voluntary euthanasia” you said not a word about the wholesale killing of babies in the womb who are never given a chance to see the light of day. Do you approve of the slaughter of 100,000 babies each year in our country alone?? Or do you disapprove, but consider it only a side issue? Let’s have a clear and decisive answer!

    As for your own “rants” about the elderly and “voluntary” death as an option, let me remind you that these so-called moral dilemmas and “hard cases” were exploited back in the 1970s to bring in abortion (I remember it well). But the principle always used to be that a law made to cover exceptional cases is always a bad law. Likewise with moral maxims: appeal to hard cases only obfuscates the issue. The proper procedure is to establish the general principle first, then and only then proceed to the difficulties – from that framework. Alas, that principle has been thrown out, and the argument for euthanasia is and will be from alleged hard cases.

    Murray R Adamthwaite

  • One only has to look at the experiences in the Netherlands to see what happens when euthanasia and voluntary euthanasia is legalised. Today, you can even take a course to become a euthanasia practitioner.
    While consent is required, many who are euthanised do not give consent. The governments own report shows that Drs. often do not report it on patient’s death certificate.
    Now once you hit 70, your days are numbered. Economically you are no longer of any value to society. As we approach 11/11 we need to ask ourselves – is this the freedom that our soldiers fought and died for! I think not. One wonders why those independents did not ask the Greens to show them their policies prior to deciding which party to support in government. Palliative care is the answer to pain and suffering. Let’s promote it.
    Madge Fahy

  • Bill Sayers,
    The argument you make has already been exploded in the Netherlands.

    Voluntary euthanasia there became subtly-forced euthanasia and now has become openly coerced euthanasia. The next step will be in-voluntary euthanasia, despite the laws.

    Elderly folk there are actually afraid to be admitted to hospitals even for essential operations, because so few ever emerge alive.

    So please spare us the dubious claptrap.

    John Angelico

  • My mother died from cancer. In the month leading to her death, my sisters and I took turns looking after her day and night. In pain she smiled and whispered only one thing to us…”Jesus will send the angels soon”. When they finally came to take her home, we saw on her face the peace and dignity of a Princess of the Most High, and we learned a last lesson from her – the faith of a true believer. I only pray that when my time comes, I too will have the same courage, pride and dignity of my mother to wait on my Lord. I will be still and know He is God.
    Eddie Sim

  • In May 2009, my fantastic Dad who was perfectly healthy, working 60 hours per week, was suddenly diagnosed with Pancreas Cancer. Dad had various operations throughout the 8 months that relieved symptom, plus a few other minor treatments. He was mostly just on Panadol right up until the end. He was driving his car until 2 weeks before he went to God in January this year. He was surrounded by his family at home. He had lots of prayer & died as peacefully as anyone could pray for. He died of one of the most aggressive, awful cancers there is.yet suffered minimal. Thank God. Euthanasia is just an evil con!!

    Loretta Coffey

  • Hi Bill,

    Some very important points. Whilst I might be one who cares passionately about the rights of the vulnerable, the poor and the homeless (though I eschew the term “social justice”, which you rightly question as a rather nebulous concept), I also agree wholeheartedly that justice begins in the womb. If not for the basic right to life – which ought to apply to life in utero (is that the right phrase?) – then every other subsidiary right would vanish. Any talk about standing up for the most vulnerable surely must include the unborn, who are the most vulnerable individuals in society. I guess the issue for me is to bring these things together, championing the rights of the vulnerable – before and after birth – as part of comprehensive Christian vision of life.

    Scott Buchanan

  • The percentage of voters who supported the Greens in the election prove the old and trusted saying that “you can fool some of the people all of the time”. Bob “Green” Brown has already started his rot by claiming that all that he is proposing is that the two Territories may implement legislation to introduce voluntary euthanasia. Pull the other leg BOB – that is the entree, the main meal will be more comprehensive. In Holland elderly people are being murdered by doctors, because relatives are impatient over receiving their inheritance. The reason we are in this situation in Australia, is that the shame stream media support these Death Parties. They irresponsibly give their comrades in the Labor/Green Party a free run and do not do any intelligent analysis of their far left agenda. Their “enemies” among the conservative ranks are forever under scrutiny.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  • @Eddie, My Sister, Brother and I did shifts caring for my Dad at home 24 hours, for the last 2 weeks before he went to God also. Its such a sad time, but we prayed 24 hours with Dad & the peace of God was with us all the time. Like you say about your mums courage and dignity while waiting on the Lord to come. You put that so perfectly, thank you. We saw that with Dad also, as he bravely waited on God, who took him as peacefully as could be prayed for, thank God. Thanks Eddie, was great reading what you said. God Bless you.
    Loretta Coffey

  • I do realize that at the last poll we perhaps did not get much of a choice as to who to vote in. Despite This the Voting rights we have should be treasured and used responsibly in line with our beliefs. Many of those that voted for the greens, I suspect are now beginning to regret it as the greens show their true color and make their policies more transparent, now that they are in a position of some power. I for one am against Euthanasia whether it is voluntary or not. The checks and balances, such as the best medical care possible and palliative care seems the best way to do things. The sanctity of life is paramount. I have had an experience where my father battled cancer for 7 years. through good medical attention his life was prolonged and he enjoyed a few grandchildren that he may have never seen if he decided to pull the plug early so to speak. I read a report on the issue tonight that said “Federal MP’s are likely to be given a conscience vote on the bill”. To me a conscience vote is a cop out and it shows that the major parties are too spineless to have a policy on the issue as a party. There are too many issues requiring a conscience vote, making voters believe that the major 2 parties are not really much different and not forthright in policies in such areas as euthanasia, thus giving the greens a foot in the door.
    Medhat Youakim

  • One thing Bill or someone coud explain to me is what are these Death Panels over in the US I am hearing from the radio’s there, included in the Obamacare bill. I think Bill Gates has expressed support, why I don’t know. Is the subject like euthanasia?
    Carl Strehlow

  • Thanks Carl

    Yes, it may well be part of Obamacare, and is really euthanasia being snuck in. Gates thinks we are overpopulated, and spend too much on end of life care, so these panels are meant to determine who gets health care. Lots of debate exists about them. But here is an introductory piece, with more leads:

    Here is one quote:

    What conservatives are objecting to is the involvement of the state in end-of-life counseling. It comes down to this: if the government is funding health care, and simultaneously funding end-of-life counseling, the government has a conflict of interest. The government has a financial incentive to encourage people to “pull the plug on granny,” regardless of whether or not that is consistent with granny’s, or her family’s, wishes. It is, at bottom, the same reason we insist on a free, independent press (and free speech in general): when the government controls the media, it has a conflict of interest; i.e., an incentive to promote journalism that is favorable to the government.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I note with interest the protest marchers in Victoria. They are deeply grieved about the cruelty of “puppy farming” – this in the state that has the most evil disregard for the sanctity of human life of any state in Australia!!
    I too abhor cruelty and abuse of God’s glorious creation in any shape or form, but the total perversity of this evil distortion of priorities is just sickening. Will we wake up before “Earth First” and the Greens achieve their true aims?
    Anna Cook

  • It hasn’t taken Joolya long at all to back the Spleens in their attempt to restore the territories’ power to pass euthanasia laws.
    A spokesman for the PM said last night that she was happy to discuss Senator Brown’s proposal and saw ”no reason” why MPs would not be afforded the opportunity of a conscience vote.
    Australia is in for a headlong slide into depravity with these 2 partners!
    Roy Ford

  • I’m disgusted that this issue is even raised. Here’s what I sent to The Age, but I doubt they’ll publish it.

    I’m born of German heritage. Both my parents grew up in Nazi Germany and were profoundly affected by World War 2, as were people they knew.

    I have also watched both of them die before my eyes, my mother dying from cancer just a few weeks ago, so you can spare me the emotional pleas against the ‘cruel’ position I supposedly hold. The reality is I know exactly what it is like to watch a deeply loved family member and close friend die in pain. And given that my first birthday without her was just yesterday, my grief is still quite fresh, believe me. Many others who oppose euthanasia ‘reform’ have similar experiences too.

    However, unlike others, I will not allow my grief to cloud basic priorities concerning life. Anyone who thinks that democracy can be utilised to decide on the right to live has obviously not thought fully about how that power can be abused, nor have they looked at the fact that it is in fact already being abused in places where euthanasia laws have been relaxed. The simple problem is that the dead don’t complain if they didn’t want to die. There is always this loophole that can never be closed. No appeals to ‘compassion’ or emphasis of the word ‘voluntary’ can avoid this truth.

    But what is most frightening is that we have a Prime Minister who has absolutely no understanding of this, nor of the simple logic that democracy itself assumes the right to life as a given, so to vote on this issue is already an act that is logically inconsistent. Hey – a ‘conscience vote’! – sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it? Will someone please explain to me the value of democracy if the majority vote you dead first? A civilized society understands that some things must remain beyond the power of the majority and be protected without qualification. Otherwise democracy itself becomes a farce.

    Obviously the lessons learnt from World War 2 and countless other episodes in history about the intrinsic value of human life have not been learnt. That we should even consider blundering towards an abhorrent moral vacuum like this again and attach the debate by inference to a good ‘conscience’ is bordering on the most profound of evils. At the very least it is an indictment on every member of parliament who does not instinctively recoil at even the suggestion of the discussion.

    What also staggers me is that so much of the general population does not seem to understand that if we have parliamentarians who have such screwed up principles of life, the chances of getting good policies on any other issue are pretty slim. Principles precede policies, always. What is your representative made of?

    I was shocked that today the Age published yet another emotional letter supportive of euthanasia, but in this one the writer, Barbara Weeber, concludes this way –

    “How much more sensible it would be if the funds employed in keeping people alive against their will could be used in the health system for other purposes.”


    One last thing – to Bill Sayers – how would you like it if your life was able to be voted on? You can probably guess what I think of your “80%”. Unless you are willing to put your life up to a majority vote, anyone can see what the credibility of your position is.

    Mark Rabich

  • Yes Anna your right,

    Animals above humans, Its all wrong. The opposite to what God wants. And like you i dearly love animals.

    Mark please accept my condolences and my praise of your courage.

    Bless you both.

    Daniel Kempton, Perth

  • Bill
    I follow US news with great interest. Obamacare, by its very nature will not have a sufficient number of doctors and health care workers to cope with the extra millions who Socialist Obama intends to place under the health umbrella. He intends to ration health care, particularly for the elderly. “Don’t expect a hip replacement, old geezer, you haven’t that many years to go and ‘hips’ are expensive, but we will supply you with free panadol”. He intends or has already appointed a non-elected czar to oversee this barbarism. And of course there could be a limit on children in families, unless the Republicans kick this walking disaster out of office in 2012. He is the most dangerous individual, ever to take office in the USA.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld

  • Having lived in the Northern Territory for almost 20 years, I opposed the NT Statehood campaign in 1998 because the NT (and ACT) are too easily manipulated by political parties. We are ‘overgoverned’ now, and statehood won’t really improve things.
    ALP and Greens personalities opposed the Liberal party’s federal intervention, which was to save young (and old) people from abuse and neglect. Now they want to target abuse and neglect at indigenous people by legal methods.

    Indigenous people will elect to avoid medical services at great cost to their own health just to avoid being euthanized by doctors who ‘care’ more about their own philosophy and lifestyle than their patients.

    At , the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land on 7 Aug 1995 wrote to both houses of Federal Parliament in support of the Kevin Andrews Bill, and stated that they view euthanasia as ‘sorcery’ which is illegal according to their law.

    More needs to be done to educate indigenous people about the political and spiritual ‘sorcery’ which the Greens and ALP will commit against them if they re-introduce this evil legislation.

    The Greens will lose their ‘sympathy-base’ in the bush, as they usually project themselves as ‘caring’ for indigenous culture.

    Dr Nitschke may see himself as a champion for wealthy whites, but he will not be able to stop those with other agendas from ‘eliminating’ whomever they see as unfit to live.
    Some with racist tendencies might even see the NT as an opportunity to practise their racist medical philosophy on those they see as less fit to live. In the NT the group with the worst health indicators are the indigenous people.

    The Dutch experienced philosophical and lazy medical practises when doctors didn’t follow the legal procedures, and just killed people whom THEY chose as unfit to live.

    Keep up the good fight, Bill.

    Mike Evans

  • Peter Singer’s noted addiction to euthanasia failed him when his own mother was in her declining years.

    Although he paid for her aged care in those declining years he avoided euthanasing her.

    Hopefully he regarded his mother as even more important than a dog.

    Pat Healy

  • Dear Bill, I live with pain 24/7 every hour, every second, noon, midday, sunset and sunup although only for a short time, 12 years seems like an eternity and I look forward to being with my LORD even more than with my wonderful, wonderful wife and children. BUT this is still no excuse to commit suicide or have it legalized so that people can help you end this life, for a majority of those are going to go to a Christ less eternity.
    Doug Matthews

  • Thanks Pat

    Yes Singer was quite inconsistent here, and he treated his own mother quite differently than what he wanted other people to treat their infirm and elderly loved ones.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Doug

    I appreciate your spirit, and will keep you in prayer.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill Sayers,

    It is perhaps important to understand the Christian mind in this debate. God gives life, and at some point, life is taken away. Most Christians believe that God is also instrumental in this.

    It is not surprising that people are supportive of euthanasia to some extent (I am not confident with your statistics) because they don’t believe in God, the creator of their life.

    This is fact can also be applied to the many other issues that Christians see as problematic: abortion; materialism; sexual immorality to name a few.

    Once you see God as your almighty Creator, it is like turning on an amazing light – your life changes forever.

    I understand your point regarding the grey areas around life support. Modern medicine allows doctors to prolong life, and this certainly creates enormous emotional trauma, when one is faced with a decision of turning off life support, for example.

    But, I have seen my own eyes, the Rosary being prayed (I am Catholic) over a dying person, and watch them pass away, as the 15 minute prayer is finished. I have seen this on a number of occasions. It is truly spectacular.

    I hope try to open your eyes to the spiritual experience of death…it is powerful beyond belief!

    Jane Petridge

  • I am ardently pro-life and president of my local (Mackay, North QLD) branch of Cherish Life (formerly known as QLD Right to Life).

    Bill Sayers’ comment that “a suffering and incurable patient should have the right to hasten their own death” and “an elderly relative suffering agonising pain” reveal inadequate medical care, not a pressing need for euthanasia.

    I am a GP, not a specialist in palliative care or pain medicine, but it is my experience that I can generally prevent the suffering that Mr. Sayers refers to and that those more skilled and specialising in those fields can indeed universally do so. Indeed I had thought that most euthanasia advocates had given up that line of argument.

    And those contributors on my side of the argument who acknowledge the terrible pain that themselves or relatives suffer, please contact your GP for better pain relief medication or request a referral to a palliative care or pain specialist.

    Graeme Cumming

  • Bill Sayers wrote:
    Do you also consider turning off life support systems when all hope is gone to be murder? Many life issue have shades of grey. Not all is as black and white as you seem to believe.

    Bill, I am a medical practitioner who has spent time working with many dying patients. Arguments about there being a thin line between turning off life support and euthanasia are (to use the academic term) “complete bollocks”.

    Life support (which includes such things as respirators, dialysis and artificial feeding) is artificial intervention which maintains life when it would otherwise cease. On the other hand, euthanasia is administration of a drug to a living patient which will shut down their body systems and kill them.

    In a life support situation, if medical staff elect to “do nothing”, the patient will die in a way that is completely natural. Sometimes a patient is put on (artificial) life support in the hope that their body will recover to a point that life can be sustained naturally once again; life support is only switched off when it is clear that there is actually no prospect of recovery.

    In a euthanasia situation, if medical staff elect to “do nothing”, the patient will continue living. Ongoing life is natural; euthanasia is artificial — the exact reverse of the former set of circumstances.

    There is therefore a world of difference between withdrawing medical treatment which artificially prolongs life, and deliberately administering a drug to kill somebody. Contrary to your claim, there is not a hint of “grey” in this at all.

    Jereth Kok

  • I agree with Bill Sayers to some extent – there are some greay areas in this debate. (I commend Jane Petridge’s Christ-like (in my opinion) response to Bill Sayers and contrast it with several other more trenchant responses.)

    While I am sympathetic to the desires that people who are suffering terrible pain with terminal illness may have to end their lives at some point, and agree they should have that right, I cannot support laws that provide for that to be implemented in a cold-blooded process, because of the obvious slippery slope that a compassionate society heads down with such laws.

    The grey areas come I think with the distinction between what I call artificial termination of life to avoid a suffering experience, as opposed to the easing of pain and suffering by an act which indeed may hasten death.

    An example of the latter is the palliative care doctor who instructs a nurse to ignore morphine dose limits and give the patient any amount needed to relieve pain, knowing that this will hasten death, perhaps by minutes or a few hours. Or the husband who has been married and in love with his wife for fifty years who, near the end of his wife’s suffering, helps her take a few extra pain killers then lies down beside her and holds her as she passes away.

    While technically murder, I don’t believe any good is served by taking criminal action in these instances and should be left to the privacy of the individuals concerned.

    I also take exception to Bill M’s statement “The truth is, anyone can bump themselves off prematurely at any time right now. ” With depression & teen suicide such a critical issue I think you could be more sensitive with comments such as these and consider the feelings of people reading your articles who may have gone through such a situation.

    David Williams

  • Thanks David

    But when pain relievers are administered, normally the intention is to relieve pain, not hasten death. In ethics this is known as the principle of double effect. The intent was to do good (relieve pain) while an unintended side effect may occur (hasten death).

    And my remark was simply to say: If people really want to die, they can – there is almost nothing preventing them from doing so. No offense was intended there. It seems the real offense comes from those who are cavalier about human life, and consider humans to be just like animals – to be bumped off at will.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • David Williams wrote “While I am sympathetic to the desires that people who are suffering terrible pain with terminal illness …”

    David, It is my contention that such does not occur with proper palliative care and so you are, without trying to support your opinion that such does occur, simply ignoring the facts.

    Graeme Cumming

  • I was wrong. They did publish it. Well, some of it.

    Mark Rabich

  • Hi Bill,

    I don’t share your concerns about the potential for gross abuse of euthanasia laws. We do live in a law-abiding country, and I have confidence that laws could be appropriately framed with strong protections against abuse.

    I sympathise with you over the loss of your mother. However, the fact that neither she nor you had any desire to hasten death is not relevant. It is about the freedom to make a personal choice, and not all will want to exercise their right to die peacefully. Those who oppose the availability of voluntary euthanasia are forcing their views on those who want that right.

    I’m not as sure as you that it is all that easy at present to arrange one’s peaceful death, especially for the elderly and bed-ridden. If it were, there wouldn’t be any clamour for change, which is mostly coming from elderly folk. Go along to an Exit International meeting and you’ll see for yourself. I wish you luck in trying to convince them to change their views.

    I thank Dr Cumming for his comments, but in my experience (in NSW) good palliative care in the home is very difficult to arrange. You have little choice but to go to a nursing home, which is not much of a life.

    As for comments about the USA, they have had “involuntary” euthanasia for many years. It is called universal health care, or rather the lack of it. As a result, many folk (not necessarily elderly) who can’t afford to pay for their own care are left to die. It helps explain why life expectancy in the USA is 3 years lower than in Australia.

    Obama tried to address this issue but was only partially successful, thanks to opposition from Republicans and right-wing Christians. It appears that politics over-rides concern for life in the political culture wars of America.

    Bill, you didn’t answer my question about whether you consider switching off life support equipment to be murder. I mean of course in cases where there is no hope of recovery except in a vegetative state.

    Bill Sayers

  • Thanks Bill

    But that’s exactly what they said in Holland: I’m not worried; it won’t be abused; there will be safeguards, etc. And everything that the critics warned about has come to pass. It is now a nightmare country, with the elderly afraid to go into hospital, and with many moving out of the country altogether. I should know: I lived there for five years. So I am afraid your rather naive optimism is not grounded in fact or historical reality.

    And civilised societies have never considered it a fundamental right to commit suicide. It is a type of murder – self-murder – and has always been frowned upon.

    And no, it is not the elderly clamouring for this, but often friends or family member, along with the pro-death movement. And palliative care is now so well advanced that there is little room to ramble on about unmanageable pain, etc.

    Not do I buy your typical leftist take on the situation in America, where I come from. Obama even wanted death panels to decide who would be eligible for health care funding. So much for compassion and justice.

    And your last question is a hypothetical, and not worth answering. Far more would have to be known about any given situation to discuss such scenarios. And in other articles on this site I make the clear distinction between refusing futile treatment and euthanasia. And the whole issue of PVS is a can of worms. As I document elsewhere, many people thought to be in this “irreversible” condition have surprised everyone by coming out of it, returning to a normal life. But the pro-death crowd just wants to bump them off and get them out of the way.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • HI Bill
    I thought your readers might be interested in this

    Victorian DLP Senator John Madigan is talking on the topic
    “Pro Lifers in Politics, We Need More of ‘Em “on October 22 at 7pm

    John Madigan will be speaking about euthanasia and the current push to legalise voluntary euthanasia in our states and territories. He will also be commenting on the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008.

    St Anthonys, Cnr Riversdale Road and Power Street, Hawthorn
    Cost $10 as proceeds go to Pro Life Victoria Inc.

    Patricia Madigan

  • In regards to Peter Singer and his mother’s death, he shared the decision-making about her care with his sister. He openly says that if it were up to him, she probably wouldn’t have lived as long as she did.
    Source: Wikipedia
    Lucy Zubova

  • Bill Sayers thanks me for my comments but then says “good palliative care in the home is very difficult to arrange” and that “you have little choice but to go to a nursing home, which is not much of a life.”

    Bill, that highlights, not the need for euthanasia, rather the need for better funded palliative care!

    And life in a nursing home may not be your (or my) ideal, but post-euthanasia “life” is a contradiction in terms. Many people do enjoy lives in NHs and non-enjoyment of life in NH is an argument for better NHs, not euthanasia. (P.S. If you ever need to go into a NH I can tell you which ones in Mackay to avoid and which ones are universally enjoyed! I hope your GP is similarly capable in your home town.)

    Graeme Cumming

  • Thanks Graeme

    Quite right. You raise some very valid points there.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • David Williams said: “An example of the latter is the palliative care doctor who instructs a nurse to ignore morphine dose limits and give the patient any amount needed to relieve pain, knowing that this will hasten death, perhaps by minutes or a few hours… While technically murder…

    No, this is not correct. And again, I am speaking as a doctor, and as a doctor who has worked in palliative care.

    Firstly, the law does not consider such action on the part of palliative care physicians and nurses to be “murder”.

    Secondly, palliative care does not work the way you describe. In palliative care, there are usually no morphine dose limits. Morphine orders are written like this-

    “Morphine 2.5-10mg s.c. PRN”
    which means, 2.5-10mg of morphine may be given by the nurse as often as needed

    Doctors do not instruct nurses to ignore limits; they simply do not set limits, and nurses are free to use their professional judgment to administer as much drug as needed, as often as needed, in order to relieve distress or pain.

    Thirdly, and as Bill has already pointed out, the objective behind administering morphine in this fashion is to relieve pain. The double effect (of hastening death) may be a secondary outcome, but it is not the intention.

    If a nurse observes a terminal patient lying peacefully, in no pain, but walks in and administers a dose of morphine to speed up death, and is caught doing so, he/she becomes liable to discipline by his/her professional organisation and prosecution under the law.

    Please don’t believe the lies that are told out there by the likes of Exit International. Instead, I encourage you to find out the facts from those who are actually in the profession.

    Jereth Kok

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