When speaking about morality or ethics, we now and then hear the phrase “the slippery slope.” Practically speaking, for example, we entered the slippery slope when we allowed divorce for the sad case of domestic violence, but then, within a generation, we find that half of us are divorced because of “irreconcilable differences.” Or we allowed abortions for the tragic occasions of rape and incest, but within a generation, abortion has become the most common “medical procedure” in America. Of course, we have sympathy when there is domestic violence or incest, but then we find ourselves morally on the edge, and soon we are falling off the roof.
Another slippery slope we find ourselves on today is that of doctor-assisted suicide, which we want to allow for those in a vegetative state and those who are terminally ill. But soon folks are getting “euthanized” for all sorts of reasons. And euthanasia is something we all need to watch as our nation moves more and more towards socialized medicine. Thirty years ago, hospitals were reluctant to “pull the plug” for fear of being sued by a family for wrongful death. But now, with limited healthcare means, the industry is being pressured to make the bed available for the next patient. Times have changed.
Sadly, today when Europeans claim their “right to die,” they often choose suicide based on economic reasons. Socialized medicine is more for the socially productive, so the elderly can feel almost guilty for having lived so long (now having become “obsolete” in the eyes of the society). So there is a push towards suicide. Professionals encourage it. For you see, suicide is the polite choice, because after all, you don’t want to become a burden to society or your family, do you? However, these days, patients need not be terminally ill to claim this right. Europeans have chosen euthanasia because they were clinically depressed, blind or going deaf, anorexic, or they didn’t like the results of their cosmetic surgery operation. There were about 1,800 cases of euthanasia reported in Belgium last year, but the actual number may be twice that high, and some of those “euthanized” had not requested it. And Belgium matters because Brussels is the undeclared capital of the European Union.
But Europeans aren’t alone. In our own country, the states of Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Montana, California, and the District of Columbia have legalized “euthanasia.” So while in some states, suicide is still very much illegal, in these more “progressive” states, it is now legal. Soon, like “gay marriage,” what is legal in one or two states may become mandatory in other states regardless of their opinions, their elections, their legislators, their state constitutions, thousands of years of precedents, or even our own United States Constitution. Details! The point is we are way out on that slippery slope here. But even if we don’t live in a so-called “progressive” state, the issue of euthanasia is right upon us here and now, because our socialized medicine wants to standardize things. Certainly Obamacare is an effort to standardize forms and practices. So friends, we need to be very, very careful these days.
At our parish, we are very blessed to have so many competent and faithful people in our pews. One such person is Dr. Peter Morrow, who is a part-time parishioner. He presently lives in St. Cloud, Florida where he practices medicine, but he and his wife Chris are planning to retire to Jasper. Dr. Morrow is currently serving as the President of the Catholic Medical Association. The CMA is a professional organization that strives to uphold the teachings of our Church in the fields of medicine and science. Besides being a highly credentialed physician, Dr. Morrow is also a consecrated Marian Catechist and holds a certificate in bioethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Dr. Morrow wants to alert us to some of these end-of-life issues.
We, as Catholics living here in Georgia, can and perhaps even should have some Advance Directives for Health Care that are in conformity with Catholic teachings. So to that end, we are attaching a form for you to use that was created in part by our good Deacon Lloyd Sutter. Keeping in mind our specific state’s laws, this form is one we can recommend for you. It is free legal advice. You don’t need a lawyer. You don’t even need a notary. And it can benefit you and your family, and avoid the need for legal guardianship that can be so embarrassing and expensive for families.
Still, we should beware of the present Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (or POLST) forms that are being pushed upon patients where these forms are NOT in conformity with Catholic teachings. These are relatively new to Georgia. This is so important friends, because the standardized form you’re going to be encouraged to sign is from Oregon. You need to know your rights, and we strongly encourage you to watch the video below (click on the word POLST), and to read through the attached texts that can help to explain these critical differences. The first one is Lloyd Sutter’s recommended Advanced Directives for Health Care for Georgia Catholics. The second one is an Analysis on the POLST Form. The third attachment is Dr. Morrow’s Teaching Document on Catholic Living Wills. We’re also going to include a list of references for Catholic Teachings (entitled Excerpts from Documents Cited) that were pulled together by Deacon Lloyd. And we need to pray for the ongoing work of Dr. Morrow, who helps to shed the Gospel light into our so often dark world.