Rest in Peace Charlie Gard

Little Charlie Gard passed away last week.  He died in the hospital because his parents were not permitted to take him home to die in the peace of home.

What kind of evil is it that claims to be magnanimously keeping an individual’s best interests at the heart of its decisions, but won’t let that person be cared for by the people who love him most in all the world — his parents?  Won’t let that person seek alternative care elsewhere, even when it has been offered by more than one hospital and doctor, and generous strangers have donated over million dollars for his care?  Won’t let that child and his parents have the comfort of having clergy visit and pray with them?  Won’t let him, in the end, die at home?  All this in the name of doing what is good and right for that person.  We know best… your wishes, your family’s wishes, are irrelevant… we are the ones with power… you will submit…

Jenny Uebbing had this to say about Charlie and what happened to him and his family (a good summary of which can be found here):

But, but, he was going to die anyway. Extraordinary means! The Catechism says! Etc. Etc. Etc.

True. All true. And yet, his parents wanted to pursue further treatment. His mother and his father, the two human beings who, entrusted by the God with whom they co-created an immortal soul, were tasked with the immense, universe-altering task of making decisions on his behalf.

It’s called parenting.

And when the state steps over the bounds of parental interests – nay, tramples upon them – insisting that government knows best what is best for it’s citizens, (particularly when government is footing the medical bills as is the case with the socialized NHS) then we should all of us, no matter our religions or our socioeconomic statuses or our nationalities, be alarmed.

Charlie Gard was a victim of the the most heinous sort of public power struggle: a child whose humanity was reduced to a legal case and an avalanche of global publicity. And no man, not the President of the United States or the Pope himself, could do a thing to turn the tide in little Charlie’s favor once the momentum was surging against him.

The British courts and the Great Ormond Street Hospital, convinced of their own magnanimity and virtue, ruled again and again against the wishes of Charlie’s parents, frustrating at every turn their attempts to seek a second option, to try experimental treatments, to spend privately-raised funds to secure care for their child not available in their home country.

To no avail.

Charlie Gard, baptized earlier this week into the Catholic Church, went home to be with Jesus today. His innocent soul in a state of grace, we can be confident of his intimate proximity now to the sacred heart of Jesus and to the sorrowful heart of Mary. May his parents feel the comfort of knowing that they fought the good fight, and that they brought their child to the font of eternal life by baptizing him into Christ’s Church and surrendering him into heaven’s embrace as he passed from this life.

And may they find, through the powerful intercession of their little son, now whole and free from suffering, the grace to forgive his tormentors and executioners here on earth.

Charlie Gard, pray for us.

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GOP fails again; here’s who to blame…

Congress has failed again to repeal ObamaCare.  At least the longer this goes on, the more obvious it becomes who needs to lose their seats as soon as possible.  Here are those Republicans showing their true colors…

Republican Senators John McCain, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, and Dean Heller all voted “no” on the straight repeal of Obamacare and defund of Planned Parenthood. The failed amendment also included a ban of federal funding of abortion.

All of those senators except for Collins voted “yes” on this bill back in 2015, when it was obvious President Obama would veto it.

Today’s vote doesn’t mean that the Senate still won’t end up repealing (and possibly replacing) Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. The process of Senate debate over the AHCA – and introductions of various amendments to it – will carry on throughout the week.

However, today’s vote showed which Republicans flip-flopped on their opposition to Obamacare.

Courts create “a duty to die” for those deemed not worth saving

Wesley J. Smith writes about the difficult and heart-breaking Charlie Gard case and the potential ramifications of the UK court’s decisions.  The precedent being set in this case (and similar cases discussed by Smith, including ones in the USA) is chilling regardless of whether you think you’d make the same decisions as Charlie Gard’s parents.  Read the entire article at First Things.

… the parents of “Baby Terry”—also born after twenty-three weeks gestation—faced a similar ordeal. The ethics committee at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan weighed in on August 9, 1993, opining that to honor the parents’ desire to continue Baby Terry’s treatment “would be contrary to medical judgment and to moral and ethical beliefs of physicians caring for the patient” (my emphasis). In other words, when it came to choosing between the values of the parents—based in large part on their religious faith—and the values of doctors and hospital bioethicists, the state argued that only the latter matters.

On that basis alone, a judge found Terry’s parents unfit to make health-care decisions for Terry and stripped them of their parental rights. He awarded temporary custody to the maternal great-aunt, who had previously stated her willingness to obey the doctors. Before that could happen, the infant died in his mother’s arms, aged two-and-a-half months…

… Charlie’s, and many other similar cases I could recite, involving profoundly ill people of all ages, are examples of what is known in the bioethics trade as “futile care” or “medical futility”—or, as I call it, futile-care theory. FCT authorizes doctors to refuse or withdraw wanted life-sustaining medical treatment over the objections of family and patients when the doctors and/or a bioethics committee believe that the patient’s quality of life makes that life not worth living—or, lurking in the subtext, not worth the resources required to sustain it.

A couple of important points need to be made: We are not talking about an intervention without a potential physiological benefit to the patient—a medical determination. Rather, FCT constitutes a value judgment. As bioethicist Dr. Stuart Youngner once put it, “futility determinations will inevitably involve value judgments about: 1) whether low probability chances are worth taking; and 2) whether certain lives are of a quality worth living.”

Worse, FCT empowers strangers to make medicine’s most important and intimate health-care decisionsDeciding whether to accept or reject life-sustaining care is one of the most difficult medical choices. Under FCT, a patient’s decision—whether it be the desire of an infant patient’s guardians or written in an adult patient’s advance directive—matters less than institutional and professional opinions.

Given all that, Charlie Gard’s heartbreaking situation is not surprising. However, until Charlie’s case, the patient or family has always had the option of finding alternative care. The hospital refusing Ryan’s dialysis did not seek to prevent his transfer. Neither did the hospital in the Baby Joseph controversy.

This is where Charlie Gard’s case is breaking new and even more authoritarian ground. Not only are doctors and judges forcing Charlie off life-support; they are also declaring that their ethics rule over Charlie’s life, even if the parents—Chris and Connie Gard—find alternative care. As far as I know, this is unprecedented in futile-care controversies.

Chris and Connie have raised more than $1 million through crowdfunding to pay for Charlie to be flown to the United States for an experimental treatment that has shown some potential in other mitochondrial conditions. If that course proves impossible, they just want to take their baby home so he can die there instead of in a pediatric ICU. But the hospital administration refuses to permit Charlie to be discharged! And the courts have agreed, based on a determination of what doctors and lawyers believe to be Charlie’s “best interests.”

The only silver lining in this tragedy is that a very sick baby’s life still has the power to move hearts. Not only have Chris and Connie received tremendous popular support internationally, but they are also being backed by two of the most visible leaders in the world: Pope Francis and Donald Trump.

The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?

The UK medical center fought in court to disallow the parents to take Charlie elsewhere for care when at one point he was offered care in the USA, and Congress offered them citizenship to do so, AND they raised $1.5 million for his care.  The UK medical establishment and courts wouldn’t even let the parents take Charlie home to die in the peace of his home if death were going to be the only option allowed to him. In these difficult cases, it can be very hard to know what is the right thing to do.  BUT having the medical center and court overrule the family’s (or individual’s) choices and force someone to die?  And die in the hospital too?  It is sickening.  And terrifying.

Obamacare, you’re fired!

Today the White House issued this statement:

President Donald J. Trump’s Administration is working tirelessly with the Senate to bring relief to the American people from the devastating effects of Obamacare. Americans are suffering under the limited choices and high costs brought on by Obamacare, and the President is committed to solving this problem once and for all by repealing and replacing the disastrous law. As Obamacare continues to implode on itself, the time to fix this broken system is now.

I’d say the time to fix it was yesterday, but I keep hoping that the Senate will actually start doing their jobs and delivering on what they’ve been promising and posturing about for years.

You can find plenty of statistical evidence why Obamacare hasn’t worked as promised and why it’s a disaster if you look online.  But here’s a bit of anecdotal evidence:

The father of a friend, who is a family practice doctor, is planning to retire as soon as possible to get out of the mess of Obamacare and insurance companies that are tying his hands to practice medicine in a way that is in the best interests of his patients.  Often he is forced to proscribe medication that might not be the best choice because it is what the insurance company will cover.  When he retires, the community that he serves will lose a well liked, experienced doctor who may not be replaced.

Another friend was recently sick with symptoms seeming rather like strep and he wasn’t getting better on his own.  When he called his usual clinic, they were booked a week out. This is a person who rarely goes to the doctor so it had been a long time since he’d last made an appointment.  This time was different than in the past.  The receptionist referred him to a walk-in clinic in a nearby city.  This seems to be the new norm: doctors’ offices are overwhelmed with patients.  There aren’t enough doctors to carry the load.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to get appointments in a reasonable amount of time. And if you’ve taken a child to your local pediatrician recently, you’ll have noticed that the waiting room is a lot fuller than it used to be, that you wait a lot longer to see the doctor.

Do you have insurance that costs buckets of money every month, but doesn’t actually cover anything?  Yeah, you’re not alone.  So say a prayer neither you nor anyone in your family gets sick and keep forking over the cash so someone else can have coverage – or to line the insurance executives pockets, whichever it is.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no escaping the light

Everybody knows they’re supposed to wear sunscreen outside.  But did you know that you’re supposed to wear it inside too?  Sunlight comes through windows but worse than that: light comes out of your computer.

Doctor who looks after Taylor Swift’s skin warns we should wear SUNSCREEN when using phones and computers to avoid the same damage as sunbathing

Experts have long warned that UV rays from the sun are harmful to our skin.

But according to one skincare specialist, our smartphones and computers can cause just as much damage as the sun.

In fact, Dr Howard Murad – an American dermatologist to A-list stars including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, and Jerry Hall – claims that spending four days in front of screens that emit harmful blue rays is the equivalent to 20 minutes in front of the sun.

Just as much damage as the sun.  Four days is the same as 20 minutes.  FOUR DAYS.  That’s real scary.

Friggin’ salemen is what it actual is.  Need to sell more sunscreen? Point out anything that emits light!

Is the GOP really bent on political suicide?

If they keep following the path they’re on, then apparently the answer is yes.  Here’s just another example of why the Republican Party deserves to die.

“How to Lose the Majority in One Easy Step.” That’s the book Republicans could write if they listen to their pro-abortion fringe over the millions of voters who put them in charge. As usual, the GOP is trying to balance the wishes of 52 senators with very different priorities on health care. But there’s one piece of the Obamacare repeal that has never been up for debate — and that’s the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Americans handed the keys to the Republican Party in November with the understanding that they’d finish the job they started in 2015: ending the forced partnership between taxpayers and America’s biggest abortion business. Now, with more than a dozen undercover videos of the group’s activities (most of which aren’t only callous, but lawless), there’s never been more urgency to cancel the half-billion dollar check to the organization.

***

But, despite the hours of tape and reams of evidence from the House’s Select Investigative Panel, there are still two “Republican” senators willing to torpedo the entire health care overhaul in support of a group caught laughing about the decapitation of unborn babies. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) flew to Planned Parenthood’s defense, telling reporters that defunding Richards’s business (which is rolling in $77.5 million in profits) shouldn’t “even be part of the discussion about health care.” She’s right. This should have never been part of the discussion. After all, abortion isn’t health care, and that’s the only thing Planned Parenthood seems to provide to women consistently. Three hundred twenty-eight thousand a year to be exact.

But in a disturbing new development, both Fox News and Politico are reporting that more Republicans may be willing to “give” on the pro-life provisions to pass the health care bill. I agree with my friend Todd Starnes: “That would be the end of the Republican Party. Period. Exclamation Point.” The only reason the American Health Care Act squeaked out of the House was because a number of conservatives thought gutting Planned Parenthood’s funding and ending taxpayer funding of abortion was important enough to override their other concerns. If that firewall is removed, the repeal will go down in flames. The strong support from pro-lifers in the House (and groups on the Hill) would vanish. Then what? The GOP would have failed once again to make good on their decade-old pledge to end Obamacare. And the American people wouldn’t nearly be as forgiving this time, because they’ll have had every tool at their disposal: control of Congress, the White House, and the backing of voters.

Study attacks calling breastfeeding “natural” as unethical

This woman (and of course the people responsible for this “study” – if you can use the term so loosely) may be some of the stupidest, un-educated, and un-scientific people I have encountered.  Right… breastfeeding isn’t natural; it’s natural for dads to feed babies formula; and people didn’t used to rely on breastfeeding they way they do today – it’s some new, phenomenon.  The lack of ability to think is astounding.  The lack of historical or biological knowledge is dumbfounding.  This woman has clearly never been around or even met a real breastfeeding mom.  She thinks “breastfeeding is not beautiful; it’s horrible.”  Tell that to all the happily breastfeeding moms and babies out there, lady.