Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Elderly and Embryos

I have blogged on this before but in our study of Evangelium Vitae last night we touched on the topic of euthanasia again. Here's a link to an excellent article regarding euthanasia and the recent release of Dr. Kevorkian. The "futile care theory" is spawning the creation of "ethics" committees in hospitals which may be more accurately called "Auschwitz Welcome Wagons." When the doctors perceive that the patient's quality of life is poor they now consult these "Welcome Wagons" to badger the families into relenting and letting them stop care. I understand the need to stop aggressive measures when death is imminent and the treatment is over-burdensome, however, I have seen fluids and feedings stopped because a person with dementia was judged to not "measure up," to use Dr. Kevorkian's terminology.
Once we start killing life at the beginning, it becomes so much easier to hasten death at the end.
Germany still has the graveyards as the one seen above where the elderly and disabled were interred after being euthanized.
Let's face it, elderly and embryos don't look good in two piece bathing suits nor do they contribute to the GNP. So where's the quality there? God have mercy on us. Lord Jesus, Give us understanding of the inviolability of life.


Anonymous Edmund C. said...


Is the major problem here a presumption against an afterlife, or at least, one which is affected by things we do or think here on Earth? If our "enjoyment" or "quality" of life here on Earth is all we have, or if we are all going to be welcomed into Paradise regardless of our state in life, then the "ethics committees" in hospitals make perfect sense.

Depressing thoughts as I start back to med school on Monday...

June 27, 2007 12:48 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Good point. Not only is it the lack of belief in the afterlife as well as a mentality of nothing we do here affects it, but also a lack of understanding of the purpose of suffering.
As Fr. Stan Fortuna says so aptly, "everybody's gotta suffer."
But we live in a world when all suffering must be extinguished and life itself loses value if there is any suffering involved. So the medical profession as well as patients themselves see no value whatsoever in the experience of suffering.
I am not advocating torture or pain for the sake of redemptive suffering,and actually spend most of my days as a medical director in two long term care facilities attempting to diminish the degree of pain that elderly people have. My experience is that we all suffer at some level at some time and the attempt to vanquish all suffering at the cost of prematurely ending life is mis guided and truly evil.
Only an appropriate view of the sanctity of life combined with a proper understanding of carrying our cross daily will lead us out of this trajectory back to Germany in 1941, Or Oregon in 2007!

God bless your return to med school, you will be in my prayers and you will make a difference~!!

June 27, 2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, then, may I ask what you think of feeding tubes for elders refusing to eat? When they are capable of eating, but just don't want to any more? When family is there to spoon feed, but more than a bite is refused? Does your opinion change when the elder is suffering from moderate dementia?

Is it morally wrong, and a dismissal of the value of life refuse the feeding tube? Or is it an acceptance of the coming end of life?

June 27, 2007 10:18 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Excellent question and one that I have wrestled with given my vocation as a geriatrician and 'end-of-life" specialist if you will.
Let me put it this way, Say a person has a stroke and cannot swallow, but their heart, lungs kidneys etc are still working and death is not imminent. By denying a feeding tube they will dehydrate/starve and die, though without the swallowing chewing deficit, they would naturally live for a longer period of time. That would be wrong to deny them food and water.

Now say a person has dementia and forgets how to eat, (masticate and swallow). Their heart, kidneys, lungs etc are still working and death is not imminent. Food and water are not considered extra-ordinary and to deny them would be wrong. Regardless of dementia, they are still alive and therefore deserve ordinary care such as hygeine, turning, and food and water. Placing of a feeding tube is not extremely dangerous nor costly. About 8 dollars a day!
The dementia diagnosis is not an imminently terminal diagnosis and does not make them any less of a person, despite our society that devalues a person with loss of cognitive faculties. A person with dementia is fully human and alive and thus we are required to respect the God given life in them and provide them the basics of life which is food and water.
See my post here:

June 27, 2007 10:55 PM  

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