1. We Can’t Be ‘Neutral’ About Assisted Suicide, At a personal level, neutrality means indifference to an individual human life. 

By Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan is the archbishop of New York and the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, National Catholic Register, June 13, 2018

At its recent House of Delegates meeting, the American Medical Association voted to continue to study the principled stance against physician-assisted suicide that has been part of its Code of Ethics since 1994: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

Advocates of assisted suicide have tried for two years to change this stance to one of “neutrality.” With this vote for delay and further review they will surely continue to do so. But as the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs rightly said after an intensive study of the issue, such “neutrality” can be read as “little more than acquiescence with the contested practice.”

It has been read exactly that way wherever a state medical society has decided to go “neutral” on a proposal to legalize the practice. It sends the signal that there is no serious problem with doctors prescribing lethal drugs so their patients can kill themselves.

The ethics council has also recommended that the AMA keep calling this practice “physician-assisted suicide,” rather than using vague euphemisms like “aid in dying” or “death with dignity.” The latter phrases, said the council, could mean anything from active euthanasia (direct killing by the doctor) to responsible hospice and palliative care.

As usual, social engineering is preceded by verbal engineering. But to have a serious debate we need at least to be clear what we are talking about.

This year, in my home state of New York, our highest court also concluded that what proponents call “aid in dying” is exactly what the laws in New York and most other states have long called assisting a suicide. Giving someone a drug overdose for the purpose of killing himself or herself is not magically transformed into something else because the culprit wears a white coat, or the victim has an illness.

The law does not treat attempted suicide as a crime, realizing that people with depression and despair need support and care rather than punishment. But it promotes suicide prevention, and it allows others to use force if necessary to stop a suicide attempt. It forbids assisting a suicide because that involves deliberately helping to cause someone else’s death. And unlike the victim, the person who “assists” is not generally acting from mental duress or disturbance.


2. Pope Francis opens his eyes, After denials, the pontiff moves on a sex-abuse scandal in Chile. 

By The Washington Post, June 13, 2018, Pg. A18, Editorial

Now, five years into his papacy, there are signs, at last, that Pope Francis is starting to get it.

In an extraordinary move, he summoned all 34 of Chile’s bishops to the Vatican last month for an emergency summit and dressing-down, accusing them of collective responsibility for systematically ignoring and covering up for pedophile priests over decades. The pontiff included himself in the problem — “me first of all,” he wrote to the bishops — having in January summarily dismissed as “slander” credible accusations that a Chilean bishop, Juan Barros, whom he appointed in 2015 despite warnings by other prelates, was complicit in misdeeds by a notorious abusive priest.

Upon the conclusion of the three-day session , every one of the Chilean bishops offered to resign — an unprecedented gesture. Then, on Monday, the Vatican announced the pope had accepted the resignation of Mr. Barros and two other bishops; an official described it as a first step in reordering the Chilean church.

In the past, resolute deeds have seldom followed the pope’s promises to hold senior church figures accountable for tolerating and enabling abuse. This time, the pope seems to understand that is not an option. The shake-up in the Chilean church, if continued, would send a message to the hierarchy around the world.


4. The danger of assisted suicide, Why doctors must remain committed to improving care, not arranging the end of lives. 

By Henry Rex Greene, Henry Rex Greene, a physician, has more than 35 years of experience in medical oncology/hematology, both in cancer centers and a private oncology/hematology practice. He has also served in academic roles at the University of California’s Keck School of Medicine and at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif, The Washington Times, June 13, 2018, Pg. B4, Opinion

As a physician specializing in oncology and hematology since 1975, I am pleased that the American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Physicians, American Psychological Association and many other medical organizations have, to this point, recognized the real danger associated with assisted suicide, and hope that they continue to distinguish between assisted suicide and authentic medical care.

After two years of carefully studying the issue, the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) recommended that the AMA remain opposed to assisted suicide. For whatever reasons the AMA House of Delegates sent the matter to the CEJA for further consideration. The policy of opposing assisted suicide remains in effect.

Care at the end of life is a primary concern for most of my patients and I can say without hesitation that terminal patients need quality hospice and palliative care — not assisted suicide.

And, in fact, physical pain is seldom the reason patients request assisted suicide. Most often patients list psychosocial factors such as concerns over the loss of autonomy, inability to participate in activities they found enjoyable, and fear of being a burden when choosing assisted suicide.

This fact frightens many in the disability community because being burdensome or demoralized should have no bearing on medical care.

Depression, demoralization and family dysfunction all cause suffering and can provoke suicidal thoughts. Chronically ill patients are at greater risk of developing a condition known as a “demoralization syndrome” in which overwhelming hopelessness and self-blame eventuate in suicidal thinking. Most patients with a terminal prognosis likewise experience depression at some point in the course of their illness.

Assisted suicide forces physicians who don’t specialize in mental health to diagnose mental illness, clinical depression and other psychological conditions, thereby putting vulnerable patients at the risk of going undiagnosed, untreated and receiving the means to kill themselves.

Psychiatrists agree that even physicians within their own discipline need more than a one-hour session with a patient repeated in one week to diagnose and manage the forms of depression that can affect terminally ill patients, yet this is all assisted suicide laws recommend. These laws require instead the establishment of “competence,” which is a non-medical concept.

A further problem with all existing statutes is that they require that a patient have six months or less to live to “qualify” for assisted suicide. But a six-month prognosis doesn’t accurately predict end of life. I recently cared for a woman whose lethal prescription was written more than two years ago under the California assisted suicide law. She remains reasonably functional and comfortable. Prognostication is not an exact science. Very good, experienced physicians can be wrong about the time a person has left, by months, years, and even decades.


3. Legal abortion vote carries weight for all Latin America, 14th week rule may have ripple effects in region. 

By Frederic Puglie, The Washington Times, June 13, 2018, Pg. A8

Wednesday vote on legalizing abortions in Argentina, highly anticipated because of the ripple effects it could cause across Latin America, has turned into a nail-biter, with the long-favored anti-abortion camp’s lead narrowing in the final hours.

Following a marathon debate amid dueling protest marches, lawmakers in the lower house of Congress are expected to vote in the wee hours of the morning on the bill that would allow all abortions until the 14th week of pregnancy.

Tuesday vote count showed 117 lawmakers favoring the measure, with 119 opposed and 19 undecided. If subsequently approved by the Senate, President Mauricio Macri, despite being an abortion opponent, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Wednesday’s vote follows a months-long national debate that pitted pro-life groups backed by the influential Catholic Church against a women’s rights coalition seeking to make Argentina the first major Latin American country to allow all abortions, which would be provided free of charge in public hospitals. In nationally televised committee hearings, lawmakers heard hours of emotionally charged testimony from dozens of witnesses after Mr. Macri had opened sessions on March 1 with a plea for a “mature” debate he said the country owed itself after decades of kicking the can down the road.

In Argentina, abortions today are legal only in exceptional cases, such as if the pregnancy results from rape or if the pregnant person’s health is in danger — a conservative approach the country shares with all of its Latin American neighbors except the smaller nations of Uruguay and Guyana.

But if the abortion bill moves forward, history suggests it could well spawn similar efforts across the region. After Argentina became the region’s first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Uruguay soon followed suit.


4. After the Irish Debacle. 

By George Weigel, First Things, June 13, 2018

So with Ireland having joined the Gadarene rush into legalizing the dictatorship of relativism, what next?

Amend the Irish Constitution again. Ireland’s constitution begins with a preamble that now seems, at the very least, ironic: “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred…” 

Ireland has been a post-Christian society for decades. The effects of de-Christianization and ecclesiaphobia were painfully evident in the aggressive tone of pro-abortion advocates during the pre-referendum debate and by the referendum’s results. So why not stop the charade and delete from the Constitution an affirmation belied by both contemporary custom and Irish law?

Protect the dissenters. Before and immediately after the referendum, the totalitarian passions of some of the pro-abortion forces were on display in TwitterWorld. Their target was the Iona Institute, a think-tank led by one of Ireland’s leading Catholic laymen, David Quinn.…The morning after her side won, another columnist, Alison O’Connor, gnawed the same rotten bone, tweeting: “Is it too soon to ask just who are the Iona Institute? Where do they get their cash? Who appointed them guardians of our nether region morals? Did we hear far too much from one small (& we now know hugely unrepresentative) group over the last month?”

Thus speaketh the thought police. So the friends of democracy in Ireland had better think quickly about providing robust legal protection for heroes like David Quinn and other pro-life stalwarts who fought the good fight, lost, and will now try through persuasion to limit the damage that will follow the repeal of the pro-life amendment. If their voices are squelched by thuggish cultural pressures, or even by law, Irish democracy will become a pathetic joke.

Take bold steps to rebuild Irish Catholicism. Whatever polling data tells us about the percentage of the pro-abortion vote that was an anti-Church vote, it’s been obvious for more than a decade that, with a few exceptions, the Irish bishops are incapable of leading the re-evangelization of the country. Their credibility has been shattered by abuse cover-ups. The strategy of kowtowing to political correctness and bending to cultural pressure, which too many Irish bishops have adopted, has been a complete failure.

In December 2011, after meeting in Dublin with legislators of both major political parties, journalists, serious lay Catholics, and the country’s most accomplished theologian, I sent a memo to friends in Rome, arguing that radical measures were needed to turn things around in Irish Catholicism: retiring most of the then-sitting bishops; shrinking the number of Irish dioceses by at least half; and appointing new bishops for Ireland from throughout the Anglosphere—the principal criterion for selection being a man’s demonstrated capacity as an evangelist. Ireland, I wrote, was mission territory. It needed missionary bishops. And if native-born Irishmen could once become bishops in the U.S., why couldn’t American bishops known to be effective evangelists be sent to Ireland today?

My analysis, I fear, was correct. The drastic measures needed to rebuild Irish Catholicism remain to be implemented.


5. Most Americans support restrictions on abortion. 

By Catholic News Agency, June 12, 2018, 4:41 PM

Americans who think abortion is morally wrong outnumber those who see it as morally acceptable, said a new Gallup poll, released Monday.

This result is consistent with Gallup’s findings since it first started surveying Americans about the issue in 2001.

In this year’s poll, 48 percent of respondents believe abortion to be wrong, and 43 percent say it is acceptable.

Abortion, said the poll report, is one of a small handful of issues “about which Americans’ views have not become more liberal over the past two decades.”

Asked whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” respondents were evenly split, with 48 percent siding with each label. Over the last three years, “pro-choice” respondents outnumbered “pro-life” respondents by an average of about three percentage points.

Most Americans favor at least some restrictions on abortion, the poll found. Fifty percent said abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances,” while 29 percent said it should be legal in all circumstances, and 18 percent said it should be illegal in all cases.

“In a follow-up question asked of those [50 percent] in the middle ‘legal under certain circumstances’ group, most of these respondents say it should be legal ‘only in a few’ rather than in ‘most’ circumstances.”


6. Judge allows Missouri medical abortion rules to stand. 

By Associated Press, June 12, 2018, 5:29 PM

A federal judge has denied a Planned Parenthood request to block new Missouri regulations on abortion that have so far prevented the organization from offering medication-induced abortions at two of its clinics.

U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips wrote in a ruling Monday that the regulations “have virtually no benefit” but do not impose enough of a burden on women to be considered unconstitutional, The Columbia Tribune reported .

The regulations require providers to obtain written contracts with two doctors who have local hospital admitting privileges who will agree to be on call at all times to treat complications from medication abortion. … The ruling doesn’t end the case but showed Phillips doubts Planned Parenthood will succeed if it goes to trial.