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Archive for the ‘Euthanasia’ Category

Sen. LaTurner

Sen. Pilcher-Cook

Last night, the Kansas Senate approved Simon’s Law, 29-11, despite a last-minute hostile amendment from Sen. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills).

All but three Republicans voted in favor of this Kansans for Life-priority bill while eight of nine Democrats voted in opposition.

Simon’s Law insures that parents are the decision-makers when it comes to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders for their critically ill children.

Sen. Jacob LaTurner (R-Pittsburg) carried the bill on the Senate floor, and opposed the Bollier amendment as undermining the key purpose of the bill.

Baby Simon

Simon’s Law was introduced last year and passed the Senate but wasn’t heard in the House before time ran out on the session. It is named in honor of infant Simon Crosier, whose life ended when he was denied resuscitation in a hospital, after a DNR was put on his chart without the knowledge or consent of his parents.

Parents have been uniformly shocked and disturbed to discover that DNRs could be assigned to their children without their consent. In a number of cases, families testified that their children were treated as “not worthy of life” due to chromosomal disorders. Simon had Trisomy 18.

During Thursday evening’s Senate floor debate, pro-life champion Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook brought up the issue of medical discrimination. She cited a book by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen.

In “Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation,” the Santorums chronicle medical discrimination against their daughter, Bella, who, like Simon, has Trisomy 18. Sen. Santorum recounts how Bella had to be hospitalized repeatedly and for six years, medical personnel continually advised the Santorums to let her die.

Sen. Pilcher Cook warned that medical discrimination exists, and cited last year’s study in which 25-76% of responding pediatricians said they were comfortable issuing DNRs unilaterally. That is the situation Simon’s Law is meant to end.

Vocal support for parental rights during the debate on Simon’s Law also came from pro-life Senators Rob Olson (R-Olathe), Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha), and Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth).

Sen. Pyle

Sen. Fitzgerald

This year, Kansans for Life collaborated with medical and disability experts to produce a slightly amended version of Simon’s Law, which was commended during floor debate.

Substitute for SB 85 requires that parents be informed orally and in writing, before an order for a DNR can be placed in the medical chart of an unemancipated minor.

The delivery of that information must be recorded on the chart. Parents can allow that order to proceed or refuse it.

During conflict resolution, the child’s life must be preserved. This provision was emphasized by Sen. LaTurner as particularly important.

Sub SB 85 also requires that hospitals and medical facilities with written “futility” policies about when life-sustaining care will be denied, must disclose them to patients (or prospective patients) upon request.

Simon’s Law will have a hearing in the House Federal & State Affairs committee on Tuesday. In the House, Simon’s Law has the sponsorship of 30 State Reps, including three practicing physicians.

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no-physician-asst-suicideThe American Medical Association (AMA) is in the process of considering whether to forego its opposition to assisted suicide and “go neutral.”

At its summer meeting, the group voted to further study the issue, after rejecting a proposal from the Louisiana delegation that would retain the AMA’s opposition to physician-assisted suicide.

Kansans for Life is sponsoring a citizen petition to urge the AMA not to abandon its long-held opposition to physician-assisted suicide. Please sign the petition here today and circulate on social networking. It is urgent that physicians hear from thousands of concerned Americans.

National Right to Life’s NRL News Today continues to cover this issue. It featured a November commentary about the AMA retreating “into the mirage of moral neutrality,” the position articulated by Dr. Frederick White, chair of the International ethics committee with the Willis Knighton Health System in Shreveport, Louisiana. White writes:

“The central premise of physician-assisted suicide is this: A doctor should be allowed to kill certain patients. …
Despite what advocates of physician-assisted suicide claim, this debate is not about autonomy. Patients with terminal conditions already have the autonomy to direct limitation or withdrawal of life-sustaining care, to request palliative and hospice care, and to even take their own lives. Physician-assisted suicide is about a method of death, about whether that method of death should allow a conspirator, and about whether that conspirator should be a doctor.
…on the most pressing life-and-death issue of our day, doctors cannot take a pass. They must choose — either a doctor will or will not be allowed to kill certain patients. “

Recently NRL News Today posted an encouraging article, announcing that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has taken a strong position that

a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.

This implies that it is not ethical for a psychiatrist to help a non-terminally ill person to commit suicide, either by providing the means or by direct lethal injection, as is being currently practiced in The Netherlands and Belgium.

Although this binds only APA members, the APA is one of the world’s most influential professional bodies. The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) is considering a similar statement.suicide-control

FALSE ASSURANCE of CONTROL
Prolific author and euthanasia opponent, Wesley J. Smith, debunks the popular idea that medicalized killing will be “a last resort” reserved for the terminally ill, “to be deployed only in the context of a long-term relationship with a caring doctor and, even then, strictly when there is no other way to alleviate suffering.”

Smith reminds that no law requires objective proof of unalleviable pain and suffering before death can be administered.  So-called “protective guidelines,” are false assurances, because as it works out in countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, “doctor-facilitated suicide is available to the dying, the disabled, the elderly, the mentally ill—and even some married couples who choose death over the prospect of future widowhood.

Read more about physician-assisted suicide from NRL News Today here.

TAKE ACTION: A position of “neutrality” from the AMA on physician-assisted suicide is unacceptable cowardice. Sign the KFL petition to the AMA today!

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pp money (2)The Kansas Legislature adjourned for the year in the wee hours of Monday morning, with two big victories in the area of pro-life healthcare. UPDATE, May 13: Gov. Brownback signed both measures into law this week.

Disappointingly, the time clock hurt us on achieving Simon’s Law, which will be explained further on in this post.

Senate Bill 248, formerly SB 436 (KFL testimony here) was enacted late Sunday evening. It enacts, as permanent law, the “Huelskamp-Kinzer” language prioritizing Title X federal reproductive health money to full-service public health clinics.

Planned Parenthood hates this mechanism because they do not qualify as full-service and it’s a big chunk of Kansas money they no longer get. Planned Parenthood filed a legal challenge against the prioritization but lost in federal appeals court. Title X Kansas funding now surpasses the pre-litigation level.

Sen. Masterson, Sen. Tyson

Sen. Masterson, Sen. Tyson

Huelskamp-Kinzer language is a model way for states to improve healthcare for the indigent, by funneling Title X money to comprehensive services at “safety net” clinics and public hospitals.

State Sen. Caryn Tyson (R- Parker) carried the bill and Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) shepherded it to completion. The vote was 87-34 in the House and 32-8 in the Senate.

MIDWIVES’ ROLE IN ABORTION STOPPED
Kansas passed a large bill, HB 2615, with a number of sections regulating health care services and providers. The section governing the independent practice of midwives includes pro-life language:
            Nothing in the independent practice of midwifery act should be call midwifeconstrued to authorize a certified nurse-midwife engaging in the independent practice of midwifery under such act to perform, induce or prescribe drugs for an abortion.”

There was quite a bit of educating to do on this subject as some legislators just didn’t want to believe that nurse midwives– those most intimately dedicated to nurturing labor and delivery– would actually do abortions.  Yet the National Abortion Federation has long had a strategy for increasing “access to abortion” (i.e. more babies aborted) by expanding the scope of practice of lower level health care professionals. Read more on this topic, including a memo from National Right to Life Director of State Legislation, Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. here.

Sen. O'Donnell, Sen. Pilcher Cook

Sen. O’Donnell, Sen. Pilcher Cook

Sen. Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R-Wichita) and Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook (R-Shawnee) were real champions on insuring the abortion ban stayed with the midwives’ regulation. The House passed the final healthcare bill 115-7, but only after Senators voted 26-12 to insure that the final version kept the pro-life language.

TIME CRUNCH HURT SIMON’s LAW
This year’s Kansas legislature was dominated by a budget crisis, and in an unprecedented move, leadership cancelled two weeks of legislative session time.  This really doomed House consideration of Simon’s Law, despite heroic

Sen. Laturner, Rep. Pauls

Sen. LaTurner, Rep. Pauls

attempts by bill sponsor, Sen. Jacob LaTurner (R-Pittsburg), vice-chair of the Senate Federal & State Affairs committee, and Rep. Jan Pauls (R-Hutchinson), Chair of the House Federal & State Affairs committee, to maneuver it to get a House vote.

Simon’s Law is a vital bill to protect parental rights in preventing the unilateral issuance of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) for minors. The measure has gained tremendous public enthusiasm, and secured an amazing 37-3 bipartisan vote in the Kansas Senate. With support of pediatric specialists across the country and four pro-life medical groups, Kansas ought to be enacting Simon’s Law next year.

baby SImon Crosier died to a secret DNR

baby Simon Crosier died due to a secret DNR

Lest too rosy a picture be painted about Simon’s Law, however, it must be noted that not one Kansas medical facility or physician group officially testified about the measure—pro, con or neutral—and many well-paid medical lobbyists out of the public eye pushed to kill the bill. Apparently, the current ability to issue DNRs unilaterally is sadly a power that too many medical entities do not want brokered by parents.

The movement to educate the public about discrimination in life-sustaining procedures has just begun and the entire nation needs Simon’s Law.

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Heart stethPro-lifers across the nation have been reading our series of articles on the “Faces & Facts of Simon’s Law,” and are urging Kansas to protect children and empower parents by enacting this vital measure.

The state legislature returns to work Wednesday following a short recess. The Kansas Senate has already passed SB 437, Simon’s Law, by a notable bipartisan 37-3 vote last month. The bill will prevent minors from being denied life-sustaining treatment without parental permission and will require, upon request, disclosure of hospital policies on “futile care.”

Recently, four medical associations have published their strong support for Simon’s Law, see here. The following are some excerpts from their endorsements:

  • ACPEDSThe American College of Pediatricians informs that, “Once inconceivable, the practice of hospital staff placing a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on a child’s chart without the informed consent of the child’s parents or legal guardian is on the rise… increasingly predicated upon the ill-defined and subjective concept of ‘quality of life’ with one or more disabilities considered intolerable.”
  • AAPSThe Association of American Physicians & Surgeons writes, “care judged by some to be ‘futile’ is often life-saving, even if it does not restore full function… [When] there is a time when medical intervention provides no benefit, it is unethical and should be unlawful for a medical facility to determine that point unilaterally.”
  • NAPNThe National Association of Prolife Nurses asserts that parents have “a right to full disclosure and participation in the healthcare decisions of their disabled or severely ill children.”
  • The Kansas City (Kansas/Missouri) Guild of the Catholic Medical Association believes Simon’s Law “recognizes the right practice of medicine… the sacredness of life and the primary role Cath guildparents have in caring for a child. [F]acilities or practitioners cannot and should not determine that a patient’s life is no longer deserving of medical care.”

These medical group endorsements acknowledge that DNRs are very often being issued due to negative judgments about the kind of life the child will live—not upon a medical assessment of impending death. In shorthand, such judgments about ‘futility’ are qualitative, not physiological.

The families that submitted testimony for Simon’s Law recounted that too many medical personnel clearly viewed their child as a victim of disabilities, without a rewarding life–a view that the family vigorously disputed.

Neonatologist McCaffrey

Dr. McCaffrey

Neonatologist Martin McCaffrey regularly treats severely ill infants and counsels many families about Trisomy 18 and other related chromosomal conditions. He advises:

“ A medical team using its subjective prediction of future quality of life as criteria to make life and death decisions,and  forcing that determination is a tyrannical enforcement of prejudice towards children with disabilities.

The case which prompted Simon’s Law legislation is a prime example of such bias.

It is my sincere hope that Simon’s Law will pass. The only physicians and hospitals that would be impacted by this legislation are those employing unilateral [orders not to resuscitate].”

Knowledgeable medical groups and individuals agree that Simon’s Law is a necessary corrective measure.

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asst suicideKansas pro-lifers have become acutely aware of how legislation they support is under threat from courts acting like legislatures. Kansas has a host of excellent pro-life laws (see here) and that includes assisted suicide as a felony crime.

In the National Right to Life News Today, the role of the 2016 elections and the next nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court is examined  with respect to assisted suicide and even, involuntary euthanasia. Jennifer Popik, J.D. and Burke Balch, J.D. are the experts at the National Right to Life’s medical ethics division and they have authored a sobering look at the issue. Here are some excerpts:

-While the Supreme Court does indeed exercise judicial functions in a number of cases with low-ideological content – settling contract and patent issues, for example—when it comes to making “constitutional” rulings the body has gradually come to act more and more like a “Supreme Legislature.”

-Whereas in past decades presidential candidates often eschewed so-called “litmus tests” [for the U.S. Supreme Court] for how their appointees would vote on specific issues, instead talking generally about “judicial philosophy,” today those in both parties talk openly about a laundry list of positions anyone they’d nominate would have to take.

-For example, it is clear as daylight that if the Scalia vacancy is filled by a President Obama, Clinton or Sanders, there will be five votes on the 9-member body to strike down essentially all limits on or regulations of abortion, ranging from the Hyde Amendment through informed consent and parental involvement laws to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg contends that any law touching abortion differently than, say, prostate surgery invalidly constitutes “sex discrimination.”

-Less widely discussed is that the issue of assisting suicide will almost inevitably again come before the High Court. So while you might not live in one of the states where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, if more states join the ranks of California, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont—and above all if 2016 sees the election of a president and Senate likely to use the next Supreme Court vacancy to nominate and confirm a justice sympathetic to euthanasia–there is the real risk the U.S. Supreme Court might well follow the Supreme Court of Canada recent decision holding there is a federal constitutional right to assist suicide.

-Whether in one sweeping decision or through a carefully paced step-by-step series, an ideologically committed Supreme Court majority might well echo the Canadian court in ultimately stripping states of their legislative discretion. They would no longer be able to protect those with Alzheimer’s disease or other judgment-impairing mental disabilities from being killed at the direction of their relatives, guardians, or perhaps “ethics committees” at health care facilities presently often empowered to cut off treatment and assisted feeding for those under their care who have no one to speak for them.”

Please read –and forward–the entire article!

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Kansas parents that we hStop dnrave been conversing with about an important new bill, Simon’s Law, are absolutely stunned to discover that a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) or DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) order can be placed in a child’s medical chart without the permission of any parent.

Simon’s Law is named for a case of this tragic deception which happened to the Crosier family five years ago. Simon, their three months old son with Trisomy 18, died due to a DNR order that was neither discussed with, nor permitted by, his parents. (Read more here and here.)

Simon’s death happened in St. Louis, but his dad is a Kansas native, with many extended family members who are Kansas residents.

While KFL was actively educating about Simon’s Law, new relevant scientific articles about this DNR/DNAR issue have been published. The article I will discuss here, published March 17 in BioEdge, reveals the shocking results of a survey of neonatologists— those pediatricians with special training in newborn intensive care. BioEdge writes:

“The authors of the article are sympathetic to the view that unilateral DNAR [DNR] orders are in certain circumstances ethically permissible. What’s more, they found that most American pediatricians agree with them.”

In essence, physicians entrusted to evaluate and treat infants in critical care situations willingly expressed their opinions that it is ethical for them to deny care “unilaterally” (without parental consultation and permission).

Granted, these survey results came from just one sixth of the 3,000 members of the American Society of Pediatrics Section of Perinatal Medicine who were sent surveys, but it surely is frightening.

Sheryl & Scott Crosier treasured their son, SImon

Sheryl and  Scott Crosier treasured their son Simon

  • 77% said it was ethically permissible to issue a unilateral DNAR order where doctors were treating an infant for whom survival was felt impossible;
  •  61% said it was ethically permissible when survival was felt ‘unlikely’;
  •  57% said a unilateral DNAR would be permissible if no curative treatment was available;
  • 25% said a unilateral DNAR order would be permissible based solely on neurological prognosis.

The many testimonies submitted to the Senate Health & Public Welfare Committee in support of Simon’s Law demonstrate that children have tragically died based on negative “quality of life” assessments by the medical community– particularly children with chromosomal disorders—even Down Syndrome.

Some physicians, in the context of highly expensive remedial treatment, believe they are responsible for “taking the matter in hand” and ending the life of a child– whom they consider a burden– but whom the parents see  as a gift.

Highly negative medical labeling–profiling– of both the unborn and newborns as “incompatible with life,” regularly occurs, in spite of evidence to the contrary from those with such conditions who survive for months, years and even decades.

On its face, a DNR/DNAR medical order for a minor that is issued without written permission indicates a desire to

  1. sidestep obtaining written parental consent, under the excuse of the emotional difficulty in discussing the matter; or
  2. avoid admitting that the physician/facility is committed to denial of life-sustaining treatment; or
  3. both.

Simon’s Law will protect lives threatened by medical discrimination and usurpation of parental rights by pediatric specialists claiming an “ethical” basis for denying life-sustaining care.

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Simon bookCan a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order be placed in your child’s medical file without your knowledge? YES!

Can your child be denied life-sustaining care based on a quality of life assessment by a hospital ethics board? YES!

Are both situations outrageous and scary? YES!

The remedy? Simon’s Law, a pro-life bill filed and being promoted in 2 states: Kansas and Missouri.

Simon was a 3-month-old precious boy who was starved, given antagonistic medication and not resuscitated due to the secret placement of a DNR order on his medical chart.

And why? Because Simon was labeled as suffering under a “syndrome”of an extra gene, Trisomy 18… and thus discriminated against as not worth life-sustaining care.

Simon’s family watched as he expired before their eyes and only later discovered in horror that a DNR had been placed on his chart which they in no way wanted or had even discussed.

Simon’s Law would do 2 simple things:

  1.  prevent any medical facility or practitioner from secretly placing a DNR order for children under 18 years of age without written consent of at least one parent or guardian.
  2. require that a facility disclose, upon request, any existing written policy on denial of life-sustaining treatment.

Under the second provision, a family would be able to better determine whether their child is at any risk of any refusal to treat (i.e.”futility” policies) at the medical facility. (read more about such policies here and here)

Imagine your eight-year-old sustains critical injuries from a skateboard collision,  or your sixteen-year-old is involved in a car accident with life-threatening injuries. Wouldn’t you want to be fully engaged in the decision making, rather than trusting unknown medical professionals without any mandate to seek your consent for non-treatment?

ALERT: Kansans for Life is seeking additional support for Simon’s Law this week from interested citizens and health care personnel for an upcoming Senate hearing. Email any testimony to kfltopeka@gmail.com and include full contact information.

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