By Dave Andrusko
A trio of speakers at the Saturday morning opening session of NRLC 2019 provided a human face to the issues of euthanasia/assisted suicide/rationing in three powerful presentations.
Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo and President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, reminded his audience that it has been over fourteen years since Terri was starved and dehydrated to death but that the thirst for death is unquenchable among those who grade life on a sliding scale.
Bobby pinch hit for Wesley J. Smith, whose flight was cancelled due to weather, and recalled how Wesley was the proverbial canary in the coalmine, warning decades ago of the growth of a deadly bioethics establishment ever on the hunt for other categories of people it could label “human non-persons.”
Bobby’s sister is one of most publicized cases of a cognitively disabled person sentenced to death, because she had ostensibly claimed she “wouldn’t want to live that way.” Her parents and siblings fought heroically for Terri but in the end her estranged husband won the “right” to have Terri’s food and water cut off.
Wayne Cockfield serves as an at-large director on the National Right to Life Board of Directors, vice president for medical ethics for NRLC, and does invaluable work at the UN thwarting bad language intended to be included in various UN documents. He is a decorated Marine who was gravely wounded in Vietnam. Wayne is intimately familiar with the dehumanizing way people with disabilities are treated, particularly in hospital settings including the VA. (He spent two years and three months in hospitals.)
“Euthanasia is not for dying people,” Wayne said. “It’s for those who won’t die” (the famous “biologically tenacious”), people whom hospitals and bioethicists have deemed to be living lives not worthy to be lived. Euthanasia, Wayne said, is “the final solution for disposable people.”
Yet we live in such a disposable society, he said. First the unborn child, then grandma, now disabled people—and more to come. Yet “Where’s the outrage?” he asked.
He concluded we are in a battle “that we must win.”
Jennifer Popik, J.D., is NRLC’s director of federal legislation and of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics. She, too, offered a personal story—Jenny’s twin 10-year-old daughters who have an incredibly rare disease. While their treatment is excellent now, Jenny worries what the attitude of doctors will be when the girls are in their 20s.
She provided an overview of state legislation where pro-euthanasia forces probe for weaknesses while the opposition coalition works to fend off the hundreds of assisted suicide proposals that flood the states.
Health care rationing, Jenny reminded the audience, is a form of euthanasia and NRLC has been in the forefront in resisting congressional cost-cutting initiatives that are thinly disguised forms of medical health care rationing.
“We are in this to win,” she concluded, “but we can only win with you.”