DEATH ON DEMAND
Comatose but still in the land of the living, there was no raising up of Eluana Englaro. “Eluana is in a vegetative state but she is not a vegetable,” insisted Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family. “She is a person who is sleeping.” They mocked him, too. Then killed her off.
Slumbering peacefully ever since her 1992 car accident, thirty-eight-year-old Eluana was murdered on 9 February 2009 at a nursing home in Udine, northeast Italy. She suffered a cardiac arrest provoked by dehydration four days after her feeding tubes were removed on the orders of Italy’s top court, upholding a request by her family, who maintained that before her car accident, Eluana had expressed the wish not be kept alive should she ever fall into a coma.
At the time of the murder, in an attempt to prevent the removal of her feeding tubes, the upper house of the Italian parliament was debating a bill that would have made it illegal for carers of people “unable to take care of themselves” to suspend artificial feeding. In that pressing light, since her father had spent ten years fighting in the courts to have her killed, Eluana’s sudden demise was not so surprising (even though her doctor stated that her physical health was good, and that she might live for two weeks before succumbing to starvation).
In the bitter recriminations which followed, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed his “deep distress” at not being able to save her life, accusing Italian President Giorgio Napolitano of having made “a grave mistake” in refusing to sign a government decree that would have obliged Miss Englaro’s medical team to resume feeding her. “Eluana did not die a natural death. She was killed. She died while others discussed the constitutionality of a government bill,” he told Italian daily Libero.
Similar outrage reverberated around the nation. An Italian priest of the fraternity of St Charles Borromeo, who works with the long-term ill in Paraguay, even returned a state honour he received from President Napolitano last year, stating that the president had “permitted the death of Eluana in the name of the Italian Republic.”
The Italian Bishops Conference, echoing sustained Vatican criticism of the Englaro family’s decision, issued a statement declaring that “Eluana did not die on her own; rather she was killed by those who deprived her of food and water. Hers was certainly not a natural death.”
Referring to the fact that active euthanasia is illegal in Italy while refusing “medical treatment” is not, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Fisichella, emphasised that “Food and water are not medical treatment. Thousands of doctors and scientists share our belief that food and water are not medical treatment but an essential requirement for life which can never be eliminated.”
In this regard, the Church had led by shining example. For nearly all of her seventeen comatose years, until the courts intervened at her father’s instigation, Eluana had been in the care of the Misericordia Sisters in a hospice in her native town of Lecco, kept alive by a feeding tube.
Cardinal Barragan, President of the Papal Council on Health Care, immediately confirmed that if Eluana died because of “human intervention,” then a crime had been committed. He called for an inquiry with a view to possible criminal prosecution, supported by the International Federation of Associations of Catholic Doctors, which suggested that a sedative was used to accelerate her death. Federation president Dr Pedro Simón Castellví, said: “To deny her nourishment and sedate her to the end, when she had no pain, is simply and candidly murder.” While stating that he understood her father’s suffering, Castellvi insisted that human beings should never be left without food, adding: “Eluana could breathe, eat, swallow and smile. And now she is no longer in the land of the living.”
Subsequently, the local prosecutor’s office in Udine has launched an investigation. Fourteen persons have been accused of aggravated “voluntary homicide,” including the anaesthetist, twelve volunteer nurses of the pro-euthanasia organisation who “assisted” at the La Quieta clinic where Eluana died, as well as her father Beppino Englaro.
The Prosecutor said the investigation was legally required after his office received over 50 official requests from the pro-life organization Verita e Vita (“Truth and Life”) who were active in the case. A spokesman for the group said: “It would have been really tragic if in our country, faced with an event that has shocked and disturbed the public, no one had felt the need to ask the judiciary to conduct a serious and thorough investigation surrounding this affair. Life is good, it cannot be disposed of, and you cannot dispose of it even for those who request it. In addition, in this case we support - and we wrote in the complaint - that Eluana Englaro had not asked to die, or at least there is no evidence of such a request that can be used in criminal proceedings. That’s why we talk about murder: it was not the will of the victim to cause the actions of those who did the killing.”
In addition, investigations are being opened by the Prosecutor of Bologna into the decision by the judges of the appeals court of Milan, which allowed Eluana’s hydration to be removed.
With all the talk of homicide, Beppino Englaro threatened to file a lawsuit against Cardinal Barragan. On 13 March, while visiting the University Hospital of Monterrey in Mexico City, the media interrogated the Cardinal on the matter. “I said it then and I repeat now: whoever kills an innocent person is a murderer,” he told reporters. “Whoever does not kill is not. This is what I have always said.”
The Cardinal went on to explain his position, recalling the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” while pointing out that medicine should seek to cure the patient, and if that is not possible, it should work to alleviate the pain with “palliative care.” This is essential because “death is a most crucial moment for a person and one should take that definitive step with as much consciousness as possible.”
“Cruel and agonising death”
He duly noted that the Church does not support the use of extraordinary means in which “medicine or techniques…do not alleviate or cure and only prolong a difficult agony. No one is obliged to use disproportionate means instead of allowing nature to take its course.” Clearly, however, this was not the case with Miss Englaro. “Eluana was not ill with anything,” he stated. “Therapeutic care does not include food or water. To deny water or nutrition to a patient is to condemn them to a terrible death by thirst and starvation.”
Oblivious to such warnings, Umberto Eco, the renowned novelist, wrote in La Repubblica that if he were reduced to Miss Englaro’s condition, he would want feeding stopped.
Signor Eco’s false compassion rooted in fatal ignorance of the medical facts is par for the course in the affluent West, where most people have never encountered such a death. Dr. David Stevens of the Mayo Clinic, U.S.A., explained to Lifesitenews.com:
That gruesome information casts the Beppino Englaros of the world in a much darker light. Alleviation of their own grief and suffering, not that of the comatose, can be seen as taking precedence in decision-making. Unlike the Spanish mother who has been caring daily for her 22-year-old daughter since she fell into a coma after a moped accident seven years ago.
As with Eluana Englaro, this young woman cannot eat, speak or move. And yet “each morning,” says her mother, “I thank God for giving her to me one more day. It never occurs to me not to feed her, and I have stopped being afraid when she suffers a respiratory crisis or [afraid of the thought] that she could die at any moment, since I continually put her in the hands of the Holy Spirit.”
“From day one I wanted her to be at home with me. The problem is that not everyone can assume the expenses that this entails. Nobody can imagine how much this makes a parent suffer. Therefore my desire is to keep my daughter in the best conditions possible, no matter what the cost.” She said she gives her daughter liquefied food because “it is what’s best for her,” and that each day is “a little bit easier than [in] the beginning” to face the situation.
Opposed to the selfless, holy compassion represented by this mum and the nuns who cared so lovingly for Eluana, we find a burgeoning number of demonic parodies - like Friends at the End (FATE). A group of retired GPs, FATE lobbies for the introduction of “assisted dying” in Britain and gives practical advice to patients about starving and dehydrating themselves to death.
According to The Sunday Times, this month “the group will hold a meeting in London to promote a voluntary refusal to eat or drink as a legal way of committing suicide in Britain.” The report of their ghoulish activities continues:
Even more significant is the way in which the report marks the onset of the latest inexorable phase: namely, the urgent demand for legalisation of lethal injections once the punters realise what denial of food and fluids actually involves:
If such cruelty has infiltrated families and driven true compassion from hearth and home, we should certainly expect no mercy from functionaries of the leviathan State, for whom the sick and vulnerable are mere economic units; costly obstructions to balanced budgets and NHS empire building.
Given our pervasive culture of death, it is hard to believe that anyone could doubt this charge. Each day sees a new affront to human dignity worse than the hitherto unimaginable one that preceded it. Even the holocaust of unborn babes and high-profile cases like Eluana Englaro and Terri Schiavo fail to plumb the diabolic depths of amorality we have reached in the name of enlightened Western “healthcare.” As I write, for instance, there is news of a joint research project funded by the National Health Service and “medical research charity” the Welcome Trust, which hopes to produce synthetic blood from discarded IVF embryos and aborted babies within three years. In addition, the NHS Blood Transplant service has approved plans to look at ways to harvest stem cells from aborted babies and IVF embryos.
In the same cannibalistic vein, an Oxford University stem-cell expert, Professor Sir Richard Gardner, is proposing that doctors cut kidneys and livers out of aborted babies and implant them in desperately ill people to ease the organ-donor shortage, since their organs might offer a more realistic solution than other technologies under development. “Morally abhorrent” and “absolutely horrifying” cried the pro-lifers. Yes, but also perfectly consistent. Like the NHS and the Welcome Trust, Professor Gardner is merely filling the hellish moral vacuum of post-Christianity with utilitarian principles and praxis. This necessarily involves the commodification of human life and its consequent degradation and destruction, especially when governments are flat broke and rationing healthcare is the order of the day.
Yet many remain stubbornly blind to the clear and present danger posed to themselves, their families and British society by respectable aliens like Gardner. Julie Bailey, one of two determined women who exposed the latest NHS horror story, said that she was relieved when a Health Commission report vindicated all her murderous claims against Stafford Hospital “because so many people in this community didn’t believe us.” This reveals a stupefying level of ignorance because the case documented by Julie and her campaigning friend Deb Hazeldine, both of whose mothers were done to death under the Stafford regime, was wholly plausible for anyone with a minimal knowledge of current affairs.
Since “progressives” like Richard Gardner thrive in this dumbed-down environment, let us spell out the gruesome reality.
A special report on Stafford in the Daily Mail of 21 March 2009 described a hospital in turmoil, the care almost non-existent: “There was not enough nurses to feed the patients, to change their soiled sheets or to deal with the nightly chaos caused by the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable.” Visitors had to feed their ill relatives themselves, clean them, and even provide blankets and pillows for them.
“What I saw in the eight weeks my mother was there will haunt me for the rest of my life,” said Julie. “Patients were drinking out of flower vases because they were so thirsty. There were terribly confused old men wandering around, shouting, fighting, even openly masturbating in the ward... It was terrifying for me, let alone my mother. She would clutch hold of my hand, her nails digging into my skin, terrified that I would leave her. You just feel so powerless, so totally powerless.”
Deb, whose 67-year-old mother Ellen was only admitted to Stafford for a few weeks of intensive physiotherapy, immediately caught two superbugs in the sort of filthy wards for which NHS hospitals are now renowned. As for patient care, she arrived one day to find that her mother “had been left on a bed pan for over an hour. I confronted the nurses and they told me that they had forgotten. How could they have forgotten? She was screaming. She was in such agony that she grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eyes and said: ‘Deb, don’t let me die in here’.”
In the event, Ellen left in a body bag, her corpse so riddled with hospital infections that no one was allowed to touch her. “I couldn’t hold her hand or kiss her goodbye. I’ll never forget that,” said Deb.
Prompted into action by these two women and a couple of dozen others also seeking justice for dead relatives, the Healthcare Commission investigated, finally reporting that 400 to 1,200 people may have lost their lives because “of appalling standards of care and chaotic systems for looking after patients.”
In fact, the sick had been sacrificed on the altar of Labour’s infamous “target” culture: by which improvements are measured against savings in time, cost, numbers etc., resulting in huge increases in managerial posts to monitor the cash and meet the targets. At Stafford, reported the Mail, “receptionists judged how ill patients were, and the seriously injured were hived off to suffer on their own in unstaffed ‘assessment rooms’ so that they weren’t technically in a ward. Budgets were slashed and staff laid off as the hospital’s management sought to gain foundation status - a title given to the NHS’s ‘flagship’ hospitals. It became a Victorian workhouse with New Labour management.”
Only a year earlier, Stafford’s 50-year-old chief executive had boasted about the hospital’s new foundation status: achieved through a £10 million savings programme instigated in 2006/7 so as to end the year in the black. This involved savage cuts to the number of nurses, doctors and consultants, but not to his £150,000 a year salary. “Dismissing concerns about the higher-than-average mortality rate by claiming it was a statistical aberration,” he also told a concerned Health Commission “There is no cause for alarm.” Meanwhile, he was fobbing off complainants with management-speak and the false promise of “action plans.”
Nor is the Healthcare Commission itself blameless. Despite its thorough investigation and the blare of publicity and outrage it is not only dragging the chain on emergency measures, according to Julie “its recommendations for change don’t go far enough. People are still dying there,” she told the Mail. “I know that because only last night we were alerted to a man on a ward who was so dehydrated that he was near to death. They are trying to tell us that everything is all right there now. I don’t believe it.”
Still receiving hundreds of emails from relatives whose loved ones have died or suffered at the hospital in recent months, she declared with admirable resolve: “This is not over yet. It is simply not over.” You bet! But in ways Julie might not envisage.
Far from concluding anything, Stafford is just one scary glimpse of an emerging state-sanctioned assault on the end of life, to mirror the abortion-on-demand legislated for its beginning. For what she experienced was no aberration. Despite extreme aspects, very many features of the saga - dirty wards, superbugs, incompetence, chaos - are by no means peculiar to Stafford hospital. They are commonplace.
The NHS no longer guarantees a ‘one-stop shop’ where all the relevant medical professionals gathered under one hygienic roof provide expert, humane and timely treatment from start to finish. It still happens, of course, but anecdotes of brilliant care are now swamped by horror stories which make even Third World healthcare attitudes and conditions seem aspirational. Officially, 60,000 caught superbug infections last year (so double or triple that). Deaths from the C.diff bug alone have risen 800% in ten years. Yet despite the simple solution - clean hands and spotless wards - Labour’s response is another snout-in-trough Stalinist quango. Launched last month, the Care Quality Commission duly announced that it “commends NHS progress on infection control.” Hardly surprising, since its £200,000-a-year boss is one Cynthia Bower, the atheistic feminist who previously ran the West Midlands NHS - responsible for Stafford!
This chronic uncleanliness overseen by the neo-Marxist gravy train has turned even the most innocuous hospital treatment into a lethal lottery. As already flagged, however, it is just a symptom of the darker cause now stalking NHS corridors and menacing the whole cradle-to-grave apparatus: callous disregard for life.
Quite apart from societal indifference to the workaday slaughter of the pre-born, the magnitude of this anti-life mindset now threatening those beyond the womb occasionally explodes into Stafford-like headlines. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, for example, which without parental consent removed thousands of organs from dead children (while also providing a pharmaceutical company with the thymus glands of living children, removed during heart surgery, in exchange for donations).
The scandals horrify the nation for a few weeks before the institutionalised inhumanity and death-dealing resumes. In recent years, the Daily Mail has exposed the systemic nature of the problem through an ongoing campaign for greater respect for the elderly; its massive readership providing countless examples of the most shocking abuse (often unto death) of senior citizens in hospitals and nursing homes up and down the land. The recent findings of an inquiry into the abuse of vulnerable patients, who endured “prolonged suffering and inappropriate care,” only confirm the pitiless face of this statist healthcare-monster being primed to devour us.
Delivered on 24 March 2009 by the Health and Local Government Ombudsman, the damning verdicts concerned six deaths of patients with disabilities which occurred between 2003 and 2005. They involved a total of ten health bodies and councils, leading the Ombudsman to describe the poor quality of NHS and social service care for such patients as “an indictment of our society.” One victim, Martin Ryan, a 43-year-old with a severe learning disability, Down’s Syndrome and epilepsy, was sent to hospital after he suffered a stroke in 2005. Unable to swallow or communicate properly, doctors ordered that he should not be fed orally, but nurses did not replace a drip he had pulled out of his arm. Consequently, Mr Ryan died after being left unfed for 26 days. In the case of Mark Canon, who had a learning disability, his wicked maltreatment saw him die from multi-organ failure in 2003, aged only 30. “I think he was treated as a nuisance,” said his mother, “because he was making a lot of noise as he was in pain. He was discriminated against because he was disabled.”
Certainly. But in a society as spiritually and morally ravaged as contemporary Britain, the definition of what constitutes “a nuisance,” warranting extermination, is endlessly elastic. When material possessions and the comfort of the greatest number constitutes the greatest good, any imperfection or inconvenience at all - sickness, old age, disability, pain or the mere prospect of death - soon becomes an unendurable “nuisance.” This utilitarian outlook is shaping the euthanasia snowball now building and gathering speed en route to its ghoulish denouement. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 [MCA] hurried the process forward, allowing the BBC and media icons to join eminent persons and senior politicians in upping the ante.
Last year, Baroness Warnock, a key figure in the development of medical ethics in the UK, from research on embryos to the debates over euthanasia, openly declared, in a church magazine no less, that elderly people with dementia are “wasting” the lives of their carers, and have a duty to die so as not to be a burden to others. Perhaps such bravado merely serves to rationalise her own complicity, since she looked on as the family doctor helped her incurably ill husband take his life with lethal doses of morphine. But it is also more sinister. Commenting on Warnock’s “chilling absence of elementary human sympathy,” Melanie Phillips suggested that “What drives her is simply the belief that lives which she considers to be worthless should be ended. Down this particular road, of course, lie the historic spectres of eugenics, the concentration camp and the gulag.” She goes on:
Helping the terminal process along is former media icon-cum-sex kitten of the swinging 60s, Dame Joan Bakewell. A week after her November 2008 appointment as Labour’s “voice of older people,” despite abject ignorance of the assisted suicide Bill she was promoting at the time, this 75-year-old called for a voluntary cull. Having made a living will herself, so that she is “not kept alive if I’m a vegetable,” Joan thinks it only decent and right that others should be able to pull the plug and rip the drip with her (“sex kitten” and “moral compass” being mutually exclusive terms).
The latest high profile voice to join this nihilistic chorus is veteran BBC broadcaster John Humphrys. In a series of emotive, superficial and increasingly strident feature articles which appeared in the Daily Mail last March, Humphrys advocated assisted killing on the basis of familial deaths he has endured. Until five years ago he had given little thought to whether the law should be changed in this regard. But since that time, he truly states, “the debate has taken off beyond anything I could have imagined... with the pressure for change apparently acquiring an unstoppable momentum.”
He was particularly impressed with the response to a series of reports on the Today radio programme last summer concerning the Government’s new “end of life” strategy. “When the broadcasts were over we were inundated with calls, letters and emails from people who said, in effect, that they were afraid of living too long and might end up having no control over how their lives ended.” To underline this supposedly overwhelming British penchant for suicide, he trumpeted on 25 March that “The most recent UK polls show that about 80 per cent of us are in favour of some form of mercy killing.” Yet would this clamour for self-destruction abate if pundits like Humphrys put aside their dissembling and started telling the truth? Is the general populace as well-informed as doctors, for example, two-thirds of whom were reported in the very same edition of the Mail as opposing “any move to make euthanasia or assisted suicide legal in the UK”?
In fact, just 34 per cent of the 4,000 doctors polled would support a change in the law tabled on 20 March by the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, to protect those who help terminally-ill relatives and friends travel abroad in order to suicide (even though none of the 100+ people who have already helped friends and relatives suicide in Zurich have been prosecuted). More than a hundred MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for the issue to be debated, with Hewitt proclaiming that this was the first stage in a wider drive to legalise euthanasia in Britain.
“Is it possible that this country is on the brink of a seismic shift,” gasps Humphrys in breathless admiration and anticipation of the homicidal Hewitt initiative. Then, in the next breath, leaving nothing to chance, he warns of dark forces: the “highly influential minority” trying to stifle “mercy killing,” including “the Roman Catholic Church.” Per usual, the minimal influence of our insipid, de-facto schismatic local Church (compounded by the recent appointment of Archbishop Nichols to Westminster) is inflated to create a non-existent religious bogeyman who would deny our “rights.” If only!
This pathetic straw man speaks to the poverty of Humprhrys’ shallow, populist critique which, when all is said and done, boils down to the hackneyed liberal panacea: “it-happens-anyway-so-let’s-make-it-legal-to-make-it-safe.” This is the inflammatory, knee-jerk response to each disastrous rending of the Christian socio-moral fabric. The underlying hypocrisy is so obvious it would hardly bear comment, were it not a matter of life and death.
Oregon and the “safeguards” myth
On the one hand, for instance, liberals argue that the manifold checks and balances of the criminal justice system are insufficient to save the one innocent man whose execution justifies the abolition of capital punishment. On the other, they blithely accept the “safe sex” lie of condom usage despite the fact that the worst HIV/AIDS infection rates are in countries virtually awash in latex, as Harvard University expert Dr Edward Green recently confirmed. In other words, whether claiming to save just one life from a miscarriage of justice or many lives from a deadly disease (while sacrificing many more in the process) the liberal ideologue appeals to “safeguards,” viewed as insufficient or infallible depending on which erroneous, self-contradictory argument he is seeking to rationalise at the time.
And so, on cue, Humphrys proudly sets forth all the “safeguards” enacted in the state of Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, to ensure that a person consents to be killed in a fair and proper manner. Supposedly trumping all objections, this is the ace in his suicidal pack. After bullet-pointing a raft of conditions designed to protect the suicidal ‘applicant’ (two doctors, cooling off period, etc.) he gushes that the person also has to “live in Oregon and must have known their doctor for some time.”
Well, what a blessed relief. How utterly foolproof it all is. Except, of course, that it isn’t!
“Oregon has become the model for how assisted suicide is supposed to work,” writes Wesley Smith, associate director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. “But for those who dig beneath the sloganeering and feel-good propaganda, it becomes clear that legalising assisted suicide leads to abandonment, bad medical practice and a disregard for the importance of patients’ lives.” [www.wesleyjsmith.com]
He details the case of two people with cancer who were covered by Oregon’s state health insurance plan but denied treatment. The government informed them in writing that chemotherapy was an unjustified expense for the limited extra time it would afford them, but that assisted suicide would gladly be provided. “It dropped my chin to the floor,” said one. “[How could they] not pay for medication that would help my life, and yet offer to pay to end my life?”
Just as Baroness Warnock’s original plea for the “right to die” quickly mutated into the “duty to die,” so Mr Smith states that:
It would have taken the disingenuous Humphrys all of several minutes on Google to discover this brutal truth behind the “strict safeguards” myth and relay it to his audience. He simply does not want to know. Why? Because it shows up the monstrous duplicity of his pious prose about protecting “the weakest, poorest, most vulnerable” - which he calls “the great moral principle” of our “tolerant society.” Funny, I don’t recall tolerant John championing “strict guidelines” for the worldwide abortion franchise making billions out of exploiting women and killing their unborn babies. Yet the latter are “the weakest” and “most vulnerable” of all!
In the end, the righteous emotion he musters in the name of “humanity” cannot hide his smug self-serving. Oblivious to the Oregon-like conditions attached to early Nazi euthanasia legislation of the 1930s (see p. 40), he finally mocks “the ‘slippery slope’ brigade” for their alarmist claims, since only forty people a year are taking up the suicide option in Oregon. “It’s absurd,” he cackles, “to suggest that anything like that is likely to happen in a properly regulated system. The law would not allow it. There would be too many safeguards built in.”
On the contrary, we have seen the futility of the law and its so-called “safeguards.” But to understand how slippery anti-life slopes lead to mega-death - including 500 healthy pre-born babies killed in his own country every day - John Humphrys need only spend an hour with Dr Bernard Nathanson, the man who pioneered and got filthy rich on “safe,” “legal” abortion. Humphrys and his fellow propagandists would, of course, run a mile rather than initiate such an eye-opening public dialogue. Best not let the punters know where they are headed once their “right to die” becomes a lucrative business opportunity on the back of someone else’s “duty to kill.”
Thus, they do not care to mention the rapid mutation/evolution of the assisted-killing habit in liberal Holland. Originally legislated “only for people who are in great pain and have no prospect of recovery,” the requirement that only the terminally-ill may be killed has been scrapped and about 2,500 a year are now deliberately killed by doctors - a full two per cent of all the country’s deaths. Besides those who volunteer for death, SPUC relates that “even with safeguards, around 900 patients a year are being killed by doctors without request or consent.” Indeed, the Dutch have “progressed” to the stage where patients now have to carry cards saying “Please, doctor, DON’T kill me.”
This is Britain’s dystopian future once the Hewitt plan to abolish the current 14-year jail penalty for assisted suicide sets the killing habit in train. “The law has an important deterrent effect,” said Dr Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing. “Take away that deterrent and we would soon start to see cases of abuse and an opening of the floodgates.” In the process, John Humphrys’ cherished “safeguards” would be swept away by the torrent.
No easy exits
The more honest liberals state the case with relish. In June 2006 one Guardian scribe wrote with admirable candour:
As stated, the euthanasia propagandists are now manipulating the argument in this direction: towards the most expeditious and painless way to kill. Their receptive audience can be found in letters to the press, typified by Mr Len Williams who recently declared in the Daily Mail: “Now in my 82nd year, I hope I will be allowed to end my life, with perhaps ‘a short stay in Switzerland’.” Yet however much the Anaesthetic Society yearns for an easy exit from this life, reality ever beckons. And so for Len and anyone else contemplating a one-way ticket to Zurich, Soraya Wernli’s forthcoming book, The Business With The Deadly Cocktails, is highly recommended!It seems that death by lethal injection does not live up to the blissful promise of the Swiss brochure.
In 2007, after nursing at the Dignitas suicide “clinic” for two-and-a-half years, Wernli publicly exposed what she claims is a “production line of death concerned only with profits.” The owner, Ludwig Minelli, charges about £7,000 for an assisted suicide and funeral, but Wernli claims many wealthy people have bequeathed him “vast sums.” In the past ten years, the “clinic” has helped around 1,000 people kill themselves, the majority with a spiked drug cocktail containing a lethal dose of barbiturates.
It was the gruesome 70-hour death of Peter Auhagen in 2004, later the subject of a German TV documentary, that finished Mrs Wernli with Dignitas and saw her become an undercover informant for the police. The machine that Auhagen controlled to self-administer the drugs intravenously did not pump all the poison into his system. After 24 hours he was still alive when Wernli went to relieve his exhausted female companion. “The man was partially poisoned,” she related, “in agony and thrashing around in a coma, frothing at the mouth and sweating. It was a terrible thing to witness. ... After 48 hours I told the family Mr Auhagen had to go to hospital.”
She also rang Minelli who, unusually, turned up at the death house. He was not angry that the suicide had failed but at the suggestion that the man should be in hospital, as the press would have a field day. “We are falling behind here - there are others waiting to use the room!” he raged. “He then confronted the family and said: ‘Bundle him up and drive him back across the border to a German hospital where you won’t have to pay for hospital treatment.” In the event, Mr Auhagen died in that room, although it is not known who (illegally) administered the drugs by injection.
“[Minelli] once said to me,” revealed Wernli, “that if he had his way, he would have vending machines where people could buy barbiturates to end their lives as easily as if they were buying a soft drink or a bar of chocolate.” On 2 April 2009, BBC Radio 4 allowed Minelli to spread this anarchic view unopposed. Suicide, he insisted, is both “a human right without any conditions except [mental] capacity” to make the choice, and “a very good possibility to escape a situation which you can’t alter.” He also decried the “huge costs” incurred by the NHS for failing to ensure that all suicidal Brits kill themselves, since unsuccessful attempts result in “very costly” long-term treatments and rehabilitation.
How unsurprising that this apostle of Antichrist is a human rights lawyer, able to weave his way through Swiss legislation to commit bloody murder. Last September, he helped a young Englishman to kill himself simply because he was paralysed and not wanting to live his life in a wheelchair. “Daniel James was by no means the first person to have been helped to die who wasn’t terminally ill,” said Wernli. “In March 2003, there were Robert and Jennifer Stokes from Leighton Buzzard, who were in their 50s and both had a history of mental illness and failed suicide attempts. They were in constant pain from chronic diseases, but were not considered to be dying. Yet they were dispatched with the aid of Dignitas.”
“Minelli has the cheek to call his practice Dignitas, when dignity is the last thing afforded to these poor people,” she added, describing the “filthy” rooms where they died, often with “shoes or underwear or some other deeply personal item of an earlier victim lying beneath the bed or around the room.”
Humphrys & Co. will gravely tut-tut about all this, of course, before assuring us that “safeguards” built in to British lethal injections would avoid such abuse. Not so, according to Dr. Richard Lamerton, Medical Director at Hospice of the Valleys, South Wales. In March 2005, he warned:
Dehydration and sedation: collusion and cover-ups
“The law as it stands is exactly right,” said Dr Lamerton. “It is not a crime to commit suicide, but the duty upon anyone else is to try to relieve the distress and despair which led to it, not to kill the sufferer.” However, if we make it legal to kill, “some very dangerous consequences would follow”:
The number of patients already being murdered in England serves to highlight the rate of escalation we could expect with legalisation. In the same survey which revealed the opposition of two-thirds of doctors to euthanasia, it was revealed that:
In his recent articles, John Humphrys related how he wrote in 2003 that he had been “assured by medical staff that... increasing a morphine dose to a fatal level was an accepted procedure.” Subsequently, he received letters from several doctors who strongly denied the fact. One experienced consultant told him he had never seen it done. Such denials are commonplace, epitomised by those of the disgraced Stafford Hospital CEO. They are especially vehement when it comes to dehydration.
During an inquest into the death of Olive Nockels, 91, who died after being admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital following a stroke in 2003, Dr Iain Brooksby, the hospital’s medical director, even denied the blunt testimony of Dr David Maisey, a consultant he himself described as utterly trustworthy: “an experienced, caring and dedicated doctor who has earned our respect and confidence.” Speaking to the BBC, the barrister for the Nockels family, Christopher McNicholas, discussed his cross-examination of Dr Maisey in July 2006:
Despite Dr Brooksby’s denials, Mrs Nockels’ grandson, Chris West, claimed staff at the hospital were not doing all they could to prevent his grandmother from dying. He had insisted that she be nourished, hydrated and treated. He also objected to doctors using the painkiller diamorphine, claiming it kept Mrs Nockels unnecessarily sedated.
“They said my grandmother’s quality of life would be so poor that they should not intervene and let her die. It became obvious the intention was not to treat her despite the fact that she was conscious and asking for food and water. The answer was always no.”
In a written statement to the coroner, Mrs. West also claimed that hospital staff members were “determined” not to treat her mother from the start. “I was seriously concerned about the attitude towards her and their determination not to treat her,” she said, adding that, contrary to the hospital’s claims, her mother was lucid and able to talk.
Although the cause of Mrs. Nockels’ death was given as cerebral infarction (a stroke), Dr. Michael Jarmulowicz, a consultant pathologist, told the July 2006 hearing: “She didn’t die of cerebral infarction, but with cerebral infarction. She died as a result of lack of food and fluids, with cerebral infarction secondary to that.”
Disregarding such expert testimony, the inquest finally determined that Mrs Nockels died of natural causes. However, as Dr Gillian Craig, a consultant geriatrician and expert on care for the elderly, told the BBC: “You won’t find dehydration on any death certificate. But if two or three patients a week are dying in the experience of one consultant [Dr Maisey] it suggests, I think, there should be a very careful enquiry into the reasons why, if need be a police inquiry.”
The dreadful fact is that Dr Maisey’s estimate rings true. For whenever one family comes forward to complain of death by dehydration or sedation, the quiet sea of wickedness festering behind official barriers of denial and cover-up bursts through in a flood of tears and anguish. At Stafford Hospital, the initial campaigners were deluged with comparable testimonies. And they continue to pour in long after completion of the official investigation which estimated up to 1,200 deaths.
Meanwhile, The Independent on Sunday of 15 March 2009 reported “an unprecedented inquest” into the “suspicious deaths of 10 elderly patients who died unexpectedly after being given high doses of powerful painkillers and sedative drugs at a hospital in Hampshire.” True to the established pattern, the hearing “highlights nearly 100 other cases at Gosport War Memorial Hospital which may be related.” The relatives have fought for 10 long years to have the matter investigated thoroughly, being continually fobbed off along the way by the police and, particularly, the General Medical Council. “They want to know whether their relatives died as a result of accidents, incompetence or what some fear might be something more sinister. They believe that there was a culture of treating patients with palliative care - as though they were dying - rather than rehabilitating them.”
Elsie Devine died suddenly and inexplicably at Gosport in November 1998, becoming seriously distressed a few weeks after arriving there for a short period of recuperation. Her daughter asked for her medical files. She told the Independent: “I discovered that my mum had been prescribed strong painkillers and other sedatives. She had been prescribed fentanyl which is used to treat severe pain in cancer patients. She was also injected with chlorpromazine, an antipsychotic drug, and given midazolam, a sedative and diamorphine. I knew that something had gone wrong because my mum hadn’t been in pain.” She has fought for justice on her beloved mother’s behalf for a decade. “The GMC is an absolute disgrace,” she said. “Its motto should read ‘Guiding doctors, silencing patients’, not ‘Protecting patients’.”
And so it goes. Euthanasia is, paradoxically, alive and kicking in the UK, as elsewhere. Readers at home and abroad will readily accept the fact, having themselves endured the trial of protecting family members from the tick-box commissars of the “tolerant society.” Those spared the draining ordeal need only consult the daily press for first-hand accounts. In a recent letter to the Daily Mail, one distressed wife described how “A doctor decided my husband should die straight away and not wait for the few weeks it might take for him to die. He ordered a nurse to withdraw all his medication, shouting ‘40, 20 and then nothing!’ The nurse looked shocked and upset: she knew what my husband would go through. The doctor bullied her and said: ‘You know how to do it?’ She said ‘Yes’ - ‘Then do it,’ he said.” Consequently, she wrote, the family “have had to sit by his bedside watching an 11-stone man being starved until he is just a small bag of bones. He looks as though he’s been murdered in one of the Germans’ camps during the war.”
The Nazi analogy is no exaggeration. It is the same evil spirit at work: negating (the Hippocratic Oath), perverting (basic medical care) and dehumanising (the NHS). This malign force, not superbugs, is our greatest threat. Posted online in response to yet another account of dehydration, a final testimony captures the murderous milieu:
The blunt response to that pressing query is: ‘Some considerable distance yet!’ Struggling to stave off bankruptcy, governments everywhere will be forced to ration healthcare programmes. However, rather than slashing extravagant management positions (under Labour 39,900 NHS managers outnumber doctors by 6,000 and CEO salaries have nearly doubled) the “useless eaters” - primarily the comatose, elderly and handicapped - will be the primary targets of an efficiency drive heightening by the year. “That will be just the harbinger of removing ordinary care like antibiotics for pneumonia,” predicts ex-nurse Mary Anne Kreitzer.
Consider the 2008 guidelines promoted by the NHS End of Life Care Programme and Marie Curie Cancer Care. Under these a patient is diagnosed as dying, when “all possible reversible causes for the current condition have been considered,” if he/she is merely “bed bound; semi-comatose; only able to take sips of fluid; no longer able to take tablets.” Dr Craig reports that on her geriatric ward there would seldom be patients who did not fit into at least two of these categories! Thus will “reversible causes” and “rehabilitation” become redundant concepts for cash-strapped hospital trusts.
Dovetailing with this utilitarian programme is the constant pressure to increase levels of organ donation. Whether through the introduction of a coercive opt-out system to replace voluntary donation, or via fascistic legislation of the type already enacted in Britain, as Dr Jacqueline Laing explains herein, the desire and ability of the state to harvest our organs is ratcheting up. In time, this will surely see hospitals incentivised to meet targets. “Chillingly,” wrote Melanie Phillips in January 2008, “hospitals are to be rated according to the number of dead patients they ‘convert’ into donors. It is hard to imagine a more sinister incentive for the wholesale abuse of vulnerable patients.”
In the event, the government ditched that development. For now. But in November 2008, when the independent Organ Donation Taskforce rejected “presumed consent,” after taking on board (for once) the opposition of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus, Gordon Brown said that unless the number on the organ donation register rises from 15 million to 20 million by 2010, or to 25 million by 2013, he would consider enforcing an opt-out system.
Brown’s fascist attitude reflects the ever growing disregard for patient autonomy and choice. Indeed, as our June/July 2004 edition explained, death itself has already been redefined to ensure a ready supply of viable human parts. So-called “brain death” has been condemned as a cynical invention to further the monetary interests of organ transplanters. Using “brain death” for the purpose of organ harvesting results in the death of helpless patients. “Since the patient is not truly dead until his or her organs are removed,” says Dr. Michael Potts, “it is the process of organ donation itself that causes the donor’s death.” Thankfully, this message is finally getting through to Rome. Last November, during an address at a Vatican-sponsored conference on organ transplantation, Pope Benedict warned that “the removal of organs is allowed only in the presence of [a person’s] actual death.”
So, how do we derail the Gadarene express now gathering steam under the liberal elite? How to stop these profane creatures careering on towards the abyss with the societal herd in tow?
Certainly, the Stafford crusaders bear testimony to the fact that a moral conscience and desire for justice still burns fiercely within many, including doctors and nurses fighting against their desensitised colleagues and the godless system which breeds them. But since egoistic materialism is synonymous with socio-moral and ethical decline, as every sector of ‘Broken Britain’ graphically testifies, the downward spiral can only be halted by a resurgence of religion in the public square; a robust Christian presence led by the Catholic Church, which alone possesses the God-given authority, insight, coherence and corporate muscle to take up the fight and see it through. For this reason, the universal crisis of Catholic leadership, not ecumenism, should be the papal priority.
Among the unchurched masses, this historical link - between a healthy Christian populace and a healthy state - is rarely admitted. The liberal-Left has successfully demonised religion in general and Catholicism in particular as the source of all the evils they themselves have spawned. As a result, very few perceive religion as the antidote and even then barely and in contradictory fashion.
On 26 September 2007, for example, the week before the Mental Capacity Act took effect (thereby criminalising doctors who insist on feeding patients who have said they want to die), Jill Parkin wrote in the Daily Mail’s leadessay: “If I am ever in a coma I would like to be treated by Muslim or Catholic doctors, because if they’re in charge, at least I know I will not be starved to death.” She did not need Christian faith to grasp the practical value of a religion which exhorts people not to treat human life like a disposable product. After all, anyone with “ears to hear” can recognise the life-affirming truth and goodness of the Catholic message articulated constantly by God’s Vicar on earth, as again last February when Benedict XVI told a Vatican gathering of patients and their carers: “Faith helps us to uphold the belief that human life is beautiful and worthy to be lived to the full, even when undermined by sickness. [It is] a precious casket to keep and safeguard with all possible care, from beginning to final and natural conclusion.”
Yet despite her appreciation of that Catholic worldview and a natural instinct for self-preservation, Parkin’s judgement remains clouded by the same wishful thinking which led to the very predicament she now dreads. Referring to the day on which the MCA came into force as “black Monday for healthcare in the UK,” she first rebuked “rationalists such as the British Medical Association and the British Humanist Association” for supporting the Act and perilous living wills. At the same time, however, the BHA’s catastrophic assertion that Christianity’s role in public life leads to “discrimination, disadvantage and inequality” did not deter Parkin from expressing admiration for its pernicious work, while clinging by her fearful fingertips to the secular humanist fantasy of a reverential world without Christianity. “Surely even in our dehumanised, irreligious age,” she pleaded, “the old belief - central to most religions - that life is sacred cannot be lightly dismissed.”
In fact, the irreligious Zeitgeist has not so much “lightly dismissed” the sacredness of life established at great cost over millennia by Christians, it has unleashed the fury of Hell against the most vulnerable members of society: the sick, comatose, elderly, disabled and mentally impaired. And the same irreligion points inevitably to the targeting of the not-so sick, not-so comatose, not-so elderly, not-so disabled and not-so mentally impaired.
In large part, as we have seen, that scenario is with us right now and escalating in inverse proportion to the decline of Christian faith, as bogus deities arise to fill the vacuum. The response of the local MP approached by the Stafford campaigners said it all. Far from resolving their nightmarish complaints, he undertook to spend a week on “work experience” at the hospital, after which he declared that there should be “a greater emphasis on recycling.”
Voila! As patients suffered and the body bags piled up, it was not the Christian God of mercy and compassion but the implacable Green god who was invoked. A small yet telling example of the neo-pagan path which is heading way beyond terminal illness and the “useless eaters” to anarchic death on demand.
Instaurare Omnia In Christo!
There is, of course another path: a narrow yet life-affirming one which all can tread with constant prayer and the grace of God. We must earnestly pray, therefore, that those cranking up the liberal killing machine will discover the Way, Truth and Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ; that they will awaken to His love for each and every soul made in His Divine image and likeness, a zealous love sealed with His Passion and Blood. For only then will the eyes of their souls, covered over by their faults and evil deeds, be opened - to the transformative nature of care and suffering when filled with His Presence. Only then will they understand the Italian bishops’ exhortation as Eluana Englaro endured her Gethsemane:
In this liberating knowledge, they will finally see that the death they currently fear and facilitate in equal measure has been conquered. And then, like the crowd who saw the official’s daughter resurrected by the Lord as if from a slumber, the worldlings will no longer mock but recognise and rejoice that ever since Christ’s coming, death is no more than a sleep.
And should the children of this world object: ‘But Christ did not raise Eluana!’ - they will reply as children of light: ‘Yes, but He will raise her up and with even greater glory. Because the little girl whose life He restored died again, whereas Beppino’s child, when He has raised her up again, will abide forever.’
Through her share in the Lord’s agonising thirst on Calvary, we pray not only that Eluana will win this eternal prize, but also the repentance of her father and all parents complicit in the “mercy killing” of their children. And may her suffering and the Christian witness of her loving carers and valiant defenders also renew our commitment to that divine remedy prescribed by St. Pius X for the “terrible and deep-rooted malady” of our world; which spiritual affliction, he warned, is “dragging it to destruction”:
Instaurare Omnia In Christo! Nothing less can save us from the suicidal vortex of a faithless age.