Posts Tagged ‘Culture of death’

Even More Gubernatorial Abortion Radicalism

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Just when you thought New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had gone about as far as he could in supporting extremist abortion laws and policies, he manages to find ways to go even more radical.

Last week, the Governor announced a new state-funded website that gives people information about how to get an abortion. In bold, large-font type with strange capitalization reminiscent of Twitter rants, his internet announcement invokes an approaching anti-abortion apocalypse in such exaggerated and hyperbolic terms that they would exceed the most generous Orwellian standards:

In Light of Widespread Reports that Crisis Pregnancy Centers Provide Misleading, Medically Inaccurate Information on Reproductive Services to Dissuade Abortion, Campaign Connects Women to Accurate Information on Options for Unintended Pregnancies, Including Abortion. Facing Relentless Federal Attacks on Reproductive Rights, Governor Cuomo Will Fight Back to Protect Women’s Access to Reproductive Rights and Continue to Call on Senate to Codify Roe v. Wade

These alleged “widespread reports” actually come from the Governor’s allies in the abortion industry, and he gladly parrots all of their propagandistic talking points. As for “relentless attacks”, those are only in the fervid imaginations of abortion zealots, whose company the Governor regularly keeps and who are happy to number him among the true believers by endorsing him for re-election.

Does anyone really believe there’s a lack of access to abortion in New York? My office did some research a few years ago and found over 40 places to get an abortion in the City of New York alone. Mr. Google is happy to provide an extremely long list of abortion clinics in New York State, just for the asking. A simple search yields over 22 million hits, some of which might not be a place to have a child killed, but an awful lot of them are, and some of them are even helpfully reviewed by Yelp.

The horrific official abortion statistics from the New York State Health Department put the lie to any claim that there is difficulty getting abortions in our state:

  • 86,627 – the total number of abortions in New York State in 2015 — more than two sell-out crowds at the Mets’ Citi Field.
  • 367 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births in the state. In other words, over a quarter of all pregnancies in our state ends with an abortion.
  • 505 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births in New York City. In other words, over a third of all pregnancies in the City ends with an abortion.
  • 1,038 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births for African-Americans in New York City. So there are more abortions than live births among African-Americans.
  • 2,106 – the number of abortions in our state after 20 weeks — after the time when unborn children can feel pain. How much more inhumane can we be, than to dismember a living human being who feels the pain of it?
  • 2,854 — the number of abortions where the mother had already had at least 5 prior abortions.

Seriously, if those numbers don’t horrify you, or at least give you pause, then I fear for the state and fate of your soul.

The Governor’s attack on pro-life pregnancy centers is truly bizarre. His press flacks said, “We are launching this public awareness campaign to combat the insidious spread of misleading, medically inaccurate information about reproductive health and to ensure all New York women know the options they are legally entitled to.”

Insidious? Really? You mean when pregnancy center volunteers actually tell women the real facts about the stages of fetal development, the potential side-effects of abortions, and remind them that an abortion ends the life of a real human being? Horrors. Of course, they cite no actual evidence whatsoever that pregnancy centers pose a threat to anything, because there is none. Anyone who thinks that volunteer-run, shoe-string-budget pregnancy centers are some kind of massive stealth threat to women’s health has drunk too much pro-abortion Kool-Aid.

One can only assume that the people who write the Governor’s scripts haven’t seen the videos of women being taken from Planned Parenthood clinics in ambulances due to complications from abortions, or they didn’t read the recent stories of the doctor who pleaded guilty this year to killing a woman in a botched abortion. Or perhaps they didn’t ask the Governor how many abortion clinics his Health Department has inspected recently (because it’s virtually none) and how many unlicensed clinics they’ve shut down (absolutely none). They certainly have never interviewed the women who have been coerced into abortions, or who were the victims of sex traffickers or abusers who were never reported by abortion clinics. I guess they were too busy complaining about pregnancy centers to investigate the abuses of the abortion industry.

Or perhaps they have discerned certain truths that are embedded deep in their hearts, and are reacting angrily because they feel threatened in their distorted worldview. Perhaps they realize that if women are truly presented with their options, in a loving and supportive environment, they might actually choose not to have an abortion. Perhaps they’re afraid that women will reject the lie that they cannot fully participate in life if they have an inconvenient pregnancy. Perhaps they’re worried that more and more women will see that life is a beautiful gift, and that when we receive it generously we become better people.

The truth is a frightening thing, when you’re in the grip of a radical anti-life ideology.

How the Law Kills

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

The world was transfixed over the last week by the tragic case of Alfie Evans. This poor young boy, not yet two years old, was the center of a legal dispute in which his life hung in the balance. His case has a greater significance, though, because it is a demonstration of how bad law can kill.

A quick synopsis of the basic facts of Alfie’s case will help put us understand this bigger picture. Not long after he was born, he started showing symptoms of a neurological disorder and had to be hospitalized. The condition was never diagnosed, but it progressed and left Alfie in a coma and dependent on assisted food, hydration and breathing. After over a year of treatment, the doctors decided that further treatment of Alfie was futile and that his recovery was impossible. I am sure that they made that diagnosis in good faith. But his parents disagreed, and searched out other options for continued treatment or, failing that, they wanted to bring Alfie home.

Here is where the bad law makes its appearance. In the UK, the law gives the court authority to overrule parental decisions if there is a dispute between the doctors and parents over life-sustaining treatment for their child, based on his assessment of the “best interests of the child”. And that’s what happened here. The court overruled the parents and gave permission to the doctors to remove Alfie from life support.

So without any proof of abuse or neglect or any other misconduct on the part of Alfie’s parents — in fact, all the evidence was that they were devoted to him — their parental rights were stripped from them simply because they disagreed with the doctors about how to care for their son. The court actually went even further, and forbade Alfie’s parents from choosing any other kind of treatment, and even forbade them from taking him home. This is an astonishing result. Alfie had the right to have his care decided upon by his parents, not by doctors or judges. I can only describe this as judicial kidnapping.

As bad as that law is, the underlying principles are even worse. The initial court that ruled on Alfie’s case gave great authority to a document called “Making Decisions to Limit Treatment in Life-limiting and Life-Threatening Conditions in Children: A Framework for Practice”, issued by the Royal College of Paedriatics and Child Health in 2015. This “guidance” sets out the standards under which medical decisions will be made for critically ill children who are dependent on “life-sustaining treatment”. In that document, there are two fatal errors that inevitably distort the way that doctors will approach the care of children on life support, and that create a significant bias in favor of death.

The first error is this astounding statement: “The principle of the sanctity of life is not absolute.” All the errors in Alfie’s case, and all those like it, stem from this tainted source. If the sanctity of life isn’t absolute, then of course courts and doctors will put conditions on preserving it. When that decision is made in the context of our society’s fear and even disgust for disability and diminished capacity, this guarantees that imperfect lives will be systematically devalued and discarded. And that’s exactly the calculus that the court was making, applying the principle set out elsewhere in the document that life-sustaining treatement can be ended “when life is limited in quality”. Operating from these premises, it makes perfect sense that a misguided court will reach the horrific conclusion that a patient like Alfie is better off dead.

This is the evil doctrine of “lives unworthy of living”, the wicked notion that “It can in no way be doubted that there are living human beings whose death would be a deliverance both for themselves and society, and especially for the state, which would be liberated from a burden that fulfills absolutely no purpose”. This discredited principle from the infamous 1923 book Permitting the Destruction of Life Not Worthy of Life , which led to the involuntary euthanasia program of the Nazis, keeps coming back under different guises. Pope Francis called it by another name: “the throwaway culture”.

Along with this fatal flaw comes the second error, which can be found in this key definition: “Life-Sustaining Treatments (LSTs) are those that have the potential to prolong life. They may include… Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration”. Considering assisted nutrition and hydration as “treatment” is very common in the medical world. But it is utterly misguided.

Food and water are not medical treatments but basic human needs, like shelter, clothing, air and sanitation. They are fundamental human rights, and caregivers have an obligation to provide them if a person can’t do so for themselves. This stems from their inherent dignity as a human person, which is never lost because of condition or prognosis. This is a foundational perspective of sound medical morality. By rejecting this norm, the UK doctors ensured that some of their patients, whose lives are no longer considered worth preserving because of a negative prognosis, will be killed by starvation or dehydration.

These distorted principles produced the regime of law that killed Alfie Evans and betrayed his parents: a law that permitted a judge to substitute himself for Alfie’s parents; an underlying bias against the value of life with a disability; and an erroneous notion that a fundamental human need can be denied if the overall prognosis is bad. All of that adds up to a law that leans in favor of death.

We are dangerously close to following it here. It’s true that our Supreme Court long ago recognized the natural law principle that “the child is not the mere creature of the State” and that parents have the authority to oversee their health and upbringing. But we have already seen courts and laws interfere with that sacred family relationship. For example, children can get contraceptives and even abortions without their parents even being notified. That is a dangerous path, and it is even more treacherous when combined with trends in the medical world like increasing approval of assisted suicide and euthanasia, futile care theory, cost pressures, and the invidious social fear and disdain for disability. It leads inexorably to euthanasia, the fancy word for murder by doctor.

The Alfie Evans case is a test study for how the law can kill. This is why we cannot give an inch in our resistance to assisted suicide and euthanasia, and why we can never surrender to the Culture of Death.

The Obscenity of the Culture of Death on Display

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

If anyone wonders where the Culture of Death leads, it is there before our eyes — the government of the UK is planning on starving a toddler to death against his parents’ fervent wishes, for no other reason than that he has a disability. The government and the courts have prevented his parents from moving the child to another hospital, and have decided that he is better off dead.

The story is about little Alfie Evans, who will be two years old on May 9 — if he survives. Not long after he was born, he started showing symptoms of a neurological disorder and had to be hospitalized. The condition still hasn’t been diagnosed, but it has progressed and left Alfie in a coma. His parents have been with him the whole way and have not given up hope for him.

In December, the hospital decided to go to court to terminate the parents’ rights to determine Alfie’s health care. The reason was that the hospital considered Alfie’s case to be hopeless and that he would be better off dead. The legal battle over Alfie’s life has engulfed the UK and Europe. Court after court refused to grant his parents the right to continue his treatment or to take him elsewhere.

Others have stepped up to offer help to Alfie. The Holy Father has pleaded for him. The Vatican-related Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome has offered to take him, and another hospital in Munich has done the same. Italy granted Alfie citizenship in hopes that this would convince the UK courts to release him to be transported to the Bambino Gesu.

The courts have remained adamant that Alfie must die.

On Monday evening the hospital took Alfie off life support. To their surprise, he didn’t die, but breathed on his own. Undaunted, the hospital withheld food and water from him for a day. Try to wrap your brain around that. The hospital tried to murder Alfie by starving him to death. Fortunately, they renewed life support and feeding when a new round of court appeals began.

Awaiting the final ruling of the court, the Holy Father arranged for a military helicopter ambulance to transport Alfie. But again, the courts were unmoved. The latest judge ruled that dying was in Alfie’s best interests and that he could not be taken from the country.

It’s difficult to even think about this case without crying and becoming enraged. I’m a parent and I can’t even imagine the pain Alfie’s parents are going through. I’m a lawyer and I can’t comprehend the mind of a lawyer and judge who can be so heartless in his rulings.

This is the product of a culture where every life is not valued for its own worth, regardless of function, capability, and usefulness. This is the product of a “throwaway culture”, as Pope Francis calls it, where the answer seems to be to discard troublesome life. This is the product of a huge structure of sin created by and fed by abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, violence, indiscriminate war. This is the product of a society with a very, very deep spiritual sickness.

Alfie is a victim of the Culture of Death at its most obscene.

Tomorrow, April 26, we will be having a Mass and prayer vigil for Alfie. We will start at Holy Family Church on East 47th Street with noontime Mass, and we will walk up the block to the UK Mission to the UN on 2nd Avenue between 47th and 46th Streets, where we will pray. Please join us in prayer if you can’t join us in person.

The Heart of Darkness in our Nation

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

We are once again confronted with a horrendous act of violence directed against innocent people. A young man, obviously disturbed, gained access to a powerful weapon and an unlimited supply of ammunition, and brought death into a school, traumatizing dozens of families, a community, and a nation. This comes as a tragic exclamation point to weeks of news about violence against women, either in the form of sexual harassment or domestic violence.

The public policy debate over gun control will be raised to a fever pitch. That is entirely right and good. There must be a public response to these events — and all the similar ones like them — as a defense of the common good and innocent vulnerable people.

We like to consider ourselves the most powerful, technologically and socially advanced nation in the world. Yet we seemingly cringe in a self-perception powerlessness when it comes to gun violence. We are the only nation in the world where these mass shootings happen on a regular basis, yet we seem unwilling to learn the lessons of other nations or to take them seriously.

How many more tragedies have to happen before we strictly limit access to firearms? In Florida, where this most recent tragedy took place — and in most other states — it is pretty much as easy to buy a gun as it is to buy a can of soda. Under their laws, you don’t need a permit to own a rifle or handgun, you don’t need a permit to carry a rifle and you can get one to carry a pistol for a small fee, you don’t have to register the weapon, you can you don’t have to take safety classes, you can buy the gun from anyone, you don’t have to pass any screening beyond the perfunctory federal questionnaire, you don’t have any limits on the number of weapons or the amount of ammunition that you buy, you don’t have a waiting period to buy a rifle and only a three-day limit for a handgun, there are no on-going permit or inspection requirements, and you can bring a weapon in from out-of-state without any restriction or regulation.

This is absurd. It is more difficult to obtain a barber’s license than it is to get a gun. We cannot stand by any longer and allow this to go on.

This is an important pro-life issue. Obviously, abortion is a much more grave threat to human life than gun violence — about 900,000 unborn babies are killed in abortion, while there are about 35,000 deaths from firearms (of which fewer than half are from assaults, the majority being suicides or accidents). But the amount of gun violence, and the availability of guns, are significant contributors to a culture of violence in the United States. They are a key part of the “Culture of Death” so often condemned by St. John Paul II:

This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life. (Evangelium Vitae 28)

It is also something that Pope Francis has talked about. Last year, one of his monthly prayer intentions was for the elimination of the global arms trade. He said this:

It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time, promote or permit the arms trade. Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death get rich? Let us put an end to this situation. Let us pray all together that national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade which victimizes so many innocent people.

The arms trade has been denounced repeatedly by the Holy Fathers and the Holy See and our Bishops. But it’s not just an international problem. Over 27 million guns were sold in the United States in 2016 — enough for just about every single person in both New York and New Jersey to own one. That is ridiculous. There is no justification for such an arms trade in the United States, and it must be stopped by legislation restricting gun ownership and gun availability.

At the heart of all this violence — and the other violence we’ve seen in the news, particularly violence against women — is a darkness in the human heart. In The Gospel of Life, St. John Paul repeatedly referred to this darkness, the loss of the sense of God and the good, the turning against neighbor as Cain turned against Abel, and the fruits of violence in death. But he also pointed to the solution to this darkness — the light of the Gospel and the light of Jesus Christ Himself. The Apostle John says it very clearly:

I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:8-11)

We don’t know what darkness lurked in the heart of the young man who killed all those children in Florida, any more than we know the darkness that lives within each one of us. But we do know that we have a duty to the common good to stop wringing our hands and pretending that we don’t know how to reduce gun violence. We do, but our political classes lack the courage to do it.

And we also have a duty to proclaim boldly to our deeply wounded nation that the answer to our darkness is not to choose hatred and sin. It is to open ourselves to the healing love of God the Father through Jesus Christ.