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Euthanasia: Lessons not learned

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Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “If we can accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?” Acceptance of one assures the other; thus the slippery slope.

The state of Florida ranks third behind New York and California in the number of abortions performed each year. According to the Florida Dept. of Vital Statistics, in 2009 there were 82,038 abortions. Most Floridians, including Catholics, are probably totally unaware of this sad fact.

We sound the alarm about Mother Teresa’s warning but it seems few want to listen. People continue to think they can control who lives and who dies without consequence.

Our choices do have consequences. Disrespect for the beginning of life — through abortion, infanticide, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, and contraception — have set the stage for what is about to happen in Florida.

The newest attack on life is coming from proponents of euthanasia. The sick and elderly are the latest targets of the culture of death.

As we drive down the highways in our state we will soon begin to see billboards with right-to-die messages like: “My Life, My Death, My Choice” — Final Exit Network

Final Exit has 3,000 members nationwide and has guided dozens of suicides. The network takes its name from the 1991 best seller "Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying" by Derek Humphry. The first chapter of the book says: “If you consider God to be the master of your fate then read no further.”

Humphry, an advisor to the network, said this is the first right-to-die public awareness campaign in the U.S. to use billboards. Members of Final Exit say the state of Florida was chosen for its elderly population. Therapists called the billboard "irresponsible," arguing it could serve as a "tipping point" for troubled teens or others at risk of suicide.

Many people do not know that the first major euthanasia program began in Nazi Germany. They began slowly by killing “defective” people, the mentally handicapped and deformed, then finally declaring there to be a “defective” race whom they also killed. The first gas chambers were located in mental hospitals.

If we as a society accept euthanasia and assisted suicide, who is going to do the killing? The same doctors who have sworn to be healers? Even the 5th century pagan physician Hippocrates understood you can’t do both when he wrote the Hippocratic Oath which, up until now, has been said by all new doctors: “...I will give no deadly medicine to anyone, even if asked, nor suggest any such counsel”

“The Catholic Church teaches, and has always taught, that all human life has dignity and all human life is precious,” said a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, where a Final Exit billboard went up in June.

Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, describes what will become of the human race if God’s plan for us is replaced by man’s distorted view of human life: “Where the sense of the singular dignity of each person is lost...there the project of mankind is horribly deformed, and his freedom, devoid of rule, becomes monstrous.”

Lord, you are in control of my life; my suffering and my death. May I never forget that.

Miami to host Respect Life conference Oct. 29-30
“Ignite the Spark Within Us!” is the theme of this year’s Florida Respect Life Conference, which will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Miami Oct. 29-30 at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North Hotel, 6650 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. For more information, click here.

Comments from readers

Brother Jay Rivera, OSF - 10/06/2010 04:25 PM
To challenge whether or not the billboards will lead to suicide is missing the moral mark. The question is rather simple. When did God give man the right to decide to take his life or accelerate the death of a loved one entrusted to his or her care? If we deny the value of suffering, how can we believe that we are redeemed by the passion of Christ?

My sister was euthanized. She was not dying. She was severely disabled. However, someone decided that she should die with dignity. Therefore, they took away her feeding tube, hydration and antibiotics. Despite the efforts of her brothers get those responsible to reverse this horrible decision; the law supported the decision to allow her to die with dignity. The law did not factor in that she was part of many people's lives and that her presence would leave a void that no one else could fill. The law did not take into account that she was a mother, sister and aunt to a loving family. Death with dignity failed to factor in the whole of her life and the lives of others affected by her premature death. To forget who a person is in relation to his Creator, family and friends is to deny the genesis of human dignity. Our dignity is not in how we die, but in our relationship with God and man.
Barbara Groeber - 10/06/2010 10:29 AM
I find it interesting that one would connect what the Nazi's did in Germany to a movement in this country that is all about protecting life. I can well imagine that the people in Germany never would have imagined that the subtle beginnings Joan is talking about would have led to such a widespread euthanasia movement. Similarly, Americans have difficulty imagining that our so called right to choose an abortion and now euthanasia, would someday lead others to force those decisions upon us. When the state of Florida was in the process of allowing Terry Schiavo to be dehydrated and starved to death, a warning was issued by Netherlands telling us not to go down this road as their current euthanasia laws had similar beginnings. I for one do not want to wait for the evidence to prove that a depressed teenager might act upon seeing a billboard that reads: My Life, My Death, My Choice.
Bob Levine - 10/05/2010 10:45 AM
The argument continues, "Therapists (or someone) say it will lead to suicide". They offer no evidence that this is true nor is it reasonable to think that reading a billboard will do so.

What they are really saying is that we insist you believe as we do. That is in fact what the Nazi's did.
Richard DeMaria - 10/05/2010 09:05 AM
Joan, It has always been important to have your voice reminding me of the danger that a culture of death poses for the human race. The principle of the slippery slope is an important one and is best illustrated in the history of Nazi Germany. Thanks you for an excellent survey article. Richard

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