Compassion and Choices, formerly (and more honestly) known as the Hemlock Society saw a very compelling need to weigh in against the Little Sisters of the Poor. They filed a “friend of the court” brief with the Supreme Court in support of a mandate that would impose crippling fines and dramatically hurt the ability of the Little Sisters to help the dying. These two competitors for end of life care provide Americans with a remarkable contrast. On the day of oral arguments, the members and supporters of the Hemlock society were on the Supreme Court steps, rallying loudly for their version of compassion. Then there were more than one hundred humble, modest nuns, keeping vigil by singing and praying.
But why weigh in against the nuns, on this case in particular? Because they know that it is life-affirming religions like Catholicism, Evangelicalism, and Orthodox Judaism, that provide the last firm, philosophically-rich, and institutional defense against the “culture of death.” These religions teach that a human being, especially if disabled or afflicted with physical or psychological suffering, should be comforted, tenderly supported — accompanied with love. They feel this is the only humane response to our brothers’ and sisters’ afflictions. Clearly, a nursing home for the elderly run by Catholic sisters, when faced with a patient who is so fearful and anxious that they wish for death, would see this only as a call to redouble their loving attention.
The pro-suicide group, on the other hand, is fighting tooth and nail to make the idea of suicide not only morally acceptable but acknowledged as a brave and honorable “choice.” They are fighting a battle against thousands of years of Western culture, which has always considered suicide an act of despair and abandonment, to be prevented at all costs. They are also fighting a battle against traditional Hippocratic medicine, which has never considered the elimination of the patient as an honest and effective therapy. They cunningly couple the universal virtue of compassion with suicide, always using the example of a terminally patient in extreme pain. They ignore how patients cite loss of dignity and autonomy, as well as fear of being a burden, as their reason for choosing death. They know that no doctor can be sure when a patient will die, as all of them have been surprised by people outliving a terminal diagnosis for months and even years.
The laws they have helped pass through expensive and aggressive lobbying efforts in the states are equipped with “safeguards” that are ineffective and unenforceable. Sold to the public as an option reserved for a narrow range of patients and as a last resort when pain management has failed, physician-prescribed suicide has become an alternative to treatment and to real compassionate care.
If the Little Sisters win their case, the Soros-funded group knows that religiously-affiliated hospitals and health care workers of conscience will be able to treat their patients without violating their deeply held beliefs. The millions of patients being cared for in Catholic hospitals and nursing homes would be safe from euthanasia and suicide.
Compassion and Choices is very much afraid of this. They envision a day when all hospitals and doctors will be obliged to facilitate the death of some of their patients, whether they find this wicked or not. Even if a doctor believes they are doing a depressed patient a deadly wrong, something the patient would one day regret, they will be compelled to do it. For this scenario to come to pass, religious liberty must be degraded and ultimately destroyed.
Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.