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The gift of cussedness

Several stories all came up around the same time in the "choice devours itself" department. Readers to whom this concept is new may need it explained. I coined the phrase "choice devours itself" over ten years ago while writing for a different blog. It doesn't describe merely in general the fact that the party of "consent" becomes increasingly coercive. Rather, it describes situations where the person who was supposed to benefit from having the option to "choose" something the left considers good (generally in the categories of sex, abortion, or euthanasia) is actually coerced into this alleged "choice."

So forced or high-pressure abortions to which the left turns a blind eye are cases of choice devouring itself. Perhaps the most common type of example comes from coercing or pressuring people into "consenting" to euthanasia, or euthanizing people who by definition cannot give mature and informed consent (those with dementia, children, etc.). In the most extreme cases, the victim is physically coerced, as in one of the stories in this post.

I reported last year on this case in the Netherlands in which a female doctor openly and directly murdered an elderly patient by having relatives hold the patient down while the doctor administered a lethal injection.

The more recent news is that a review board in the Netherlands has clarified that literally holding down a squirming patient is unethical (!) and that the case will be investigated further. I doubt that this means that anything will happen to the doctor. The Netherlands is famous for pushing the envelope farther and farther by simply giving a slap on the wrist to scofflaw doctors who kill patients even when it is formally against the law. However, the recent official tut-tutting over this messy case may save a few lives, and the death advocates are unhappy about it:

"At last there is clarity," said Bert Keizer, a doctor who works for a euthanasia facility in the Netherlands. "But for people with a living will who want to die if they have advanced dementia, this is a negative ruling. If they can no longer indicate that they still want to die, they will have to drink the cup [of sedative] otherwise they will not receive euthanasia."

Shoot! We're going to have to go to the trouble of inveigling elderly dementia patients to drink enough sedative so we can be sure they will chill out and be calm, otherwise we aren't allowed to kill them. Notice that this apparently does not mean that people with dementia can't be killed after they are unable to give present, legal consent. It just means that they, unlike the patient in the story last year, have to be doped up enough so that they don't struggle. But even this is considered a "negative ruling." Why? I guess Bert Keizer wanted it to be A-okay to murder patients by lethal injection while they struggle.

A report on child euthanasia is out from Belgium. The minors killed there in the last two years were ages 9, 11, and 17. (This out of more than four thousand people officially euthanised overall.)

The minors were 9, 11 and 17 years old, according to the report. Their conditions ranged from muscular dystrophy to brain tumors to cystic fibrosis. The conditions of all three were determined to be terminal, and euthanasia was approved unanimously by the committee.

Remember when this was all about consenting, rational adults? Yeah, I remember that too. But the euthanasia advocates are happy:

"There is no age for suffering," said Professor Wim Distelmans, chairman of the euthanasia committee. "Fortunately, euthanasia among young people remains very exceptional. Even if it were only one, the law would have been very useful."

Very useful. Brrrr.

And finally, a new-to-me case in Canada. I don't have full clarity on the nature of the legal dispute between disabled patient Roger Foley and a Toronto hospital. My best understanding is that Foley, who is mentally competent but severely physically disabled and dependent, wants to live on his own in the community and receive care from caregivers of his choice. The Toronto hospital tells him that he must work with their chosen contracted agencies for community care or else he will not receive financial assistance for leaving the hospital and living in the community. He claims to have had extremely bad experiences in the past with their contracted home-care agency and wants to work out a self-directed plan of care. So they have told him that either they will sock him with an $1800-per-day bill to stay in the hospital, or he can agree to their plan for assisted living, or they can offer him lethal injection. He's asked for a higher review of his preferred plan, but it keeps getting delayed.

Now Foley has released audio tape of two occasions on which lethal injection has been pressed upon him by representatives of the hospital. The exchanges are...interesting:

In one audio recording from September 2017, Foley is heard speaking to a man about what he has described as attempts at a “forced discharge,” with threats of a hefty hospital bill.

When Foley asks the man how much he’d have to pay to remain in hospital, the man replies, “I don’t know what the exact number is, but it is north of $1,500 a day.”

Foley expresses shock at the figure and tells the man that he’d just read an article that quoted the Ontario health minister saying it’s “not legal” for hospitals to coerce patients like that.

The man is heard saying that the hospital does not use “this conversation in every situation.”

“It is only in situations where somebody has a plan in the community that is feasible that they’re not going to accept and that’s OK,” the man says.

Foley then says that he hasn’t been informed of a plan for his care and that his rights as a patient are being violated.

“You have already violated my preferences…So what is the plan that you know of?” Foley asks the man.

“Roger, this is not my show,” the man replies. “I told you my piece of this was to talk to you about if you had interest in assisted dying.”

In a separate audio recording from January 2018, another man is heard asking Foley how he’s doing and whether he feels like he wants to harm himself.

Foley tells the man that he’s “always thinking I want to end my life” because of the way he’s being treated at the hospital and because his requests for self-directed care have been denied.

The man is then heard telling Foley that he can “just apply to get an assisted, if you want to end your life, like you know what I mean?”

When Foley says that he is being forced to end his life, the man protests and says that’s not the case.

“Oh, no, no, no,” the man is heard saying. “I’m saying if you feel that way…You know what I mean? Don’t get me wrong. I’m saying I don’t want you to be in here and wanting to take your life.”

Wow. I commend Foley's stubbornness and courage. He admits that of course he sometimes thinks about wanting to die. That is psychologically natural under the circumstances. But he refuses to go along quietly with the Canadian hospital's desire to euthanize him. It's his essential cussedness and desire for them not to win that are saving his life for the moment. But he's not sure it's going to last:

[H]e wants the public to know “the real truth before it is too late for my voice to be heard.”

“It is the real truth of what is going on in Canada regarding so many assisted deaths without appropriate safeguards, in combination with the lack of necessary care that is not being provided to persons who are suffering,” he says in the statement.

“I have not received the care that I need to relieve my suffering and have only been offered assisted dying. I have many severe disabilities and I am fully dependent. With the remaining time I have left, I want to live with dignity and live as independently as possible.”

I don't know enough about Foley's physical problems to know how long he has before he is unable to speak out boldly, with all his mental faculties. But presumably a time will come when he can't. At that point it would be all too easy for the hospital to use his earlier admissions of ideation about death as an excuse for bumping him off, hypocritically claiming to be carrying out his wishes.

May he continue to refuse to go gently into that good night. Cussedness can be a blessing.

Those of us who are Christians need to recognize that as well. A generally conciliatory attitude toward the world is going to erode our resistance across the board. This is simply psychology. Christians have already allowed themselves to be manipulated in so many ways by talk of compassion (I'm thinking here particularly of the homosexual agenda) that I have little confidence in the continued ability of such Christians to resist in other areas. Because often you just need to be stubborn. You need to be willing to think in "us" and "them" terms and in terms of fighting. You're definitely going to need that if you ever have to act as a patient advocate for someone the medical establishment is trying to bump off. You're going to need that if you are involved in ethics review in a medical context. You're going to need it as a pastor or other counselor if people come to you for advice on these and many other issues. If you have systematically squelched in yourself the ability to think in those terms and to dig your heels in, if for years you've been telling yourself that such thinking is bad for outreach, sets up barriers, etc., where is that internal toughness going to be when you need it on an issue that you may now think you would never compromise on, like active euthanasia?

Cultivate the gift of cussedness so that, at least, your voice, like that of Roger Foley, will be heard.

Comments (1)

The soft, smooth voice of reason: "It's OK, you don't have to do anything REALLY horrible, all you have to do is eat this small piece of pork. Do not make your mother saddened by watching you suffer out of sheer irrational stubbornness."

The mother's cussed response:

My son, have pity on me. Remember that I carried you in my womb for nine months and nursed you for three years. I have taken care of you and looked after all your needs up to the present day. So I urge you, my child, to look at the sky and the earth. Consider everything you see there, and realize that God made it all from nothing, just as he made the human race. Don't be afraid of this butcher. Give up your life willingly and prove yourself worthy of your brothers, so that by God's mercy I may receive you back with them at the resurrection. (2 Maccabees 7:25-29)

Stubborn adherence to right, in the face of unctious, soothing words of evil, is a virtue - a necessary virtue in times of grave evil that has taken hold of the authorities.

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