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April 12, 2005

Before You Sign . . . On the Dotted Line

Topics: Legal affairs
Do not sign a living will or any of its variants.If you have signed one,
rescind it immediately and destroy every copy. Do not sign an advance
directive that would deny you treatment on the basis of vague and
life-endangering language. Don't be deceived by "pro-life" packaging.
Before you sign on the dotted line, read Dr. Byrne's informed analysis.

by Paul A. Byrne, M.D.
Past President, Catholic Medical Association

In 1990, Congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act. As much of the legislation enacted amidst the escalating disrespect for life that ensued in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade and Karen Ann Quinlan, the Act does not enhance but debases the legitimate rights of patients and physicians, while undermining everyone's right to life. Under the law, anyone entering a healthcare facility that receives any federal funds will be proselytized, if not pushed, to sign the misnamed "living will."

* The "Living Will"

The myriad dangers of the suicidal living will are well-documented if not well-known. The latter is not surprising given a mass media that covers up the mass murder of the abortion holocaust, while promoting the impending euthanasia holocaust through death peddlers like Abigail Dear Abby Van Buren, who has hawked the living will for decades. Euthanasia, however, has as much to do with the ballyhooed "right to die" as abortion has to do with the equally amoral and inane slogan "freedom of choice." The plain truth is that euthanasia, like abortion, is something done to, not chosen by, its victims.

Even when the victim cooperates in his death by signing a living will, it is rarely with full knowledge of the nature or consequences of his act and more often represents his surrender to the cultural pessimism that corrodes his God-given will to live.The trick, then, is to convince the potential victim of euthanasia, which includes everyone reading these lines, to sign his death warrant on the dotted line, especially, the person who has been forewarned about the deadly dangers of the living will by those "pro-life

An effective way is to imitate the wicked queen in Sleeping Beauty and hide your poison deep within a deceptively enticing and highly polished exterior. The apple, in this case, is a new name concealing an old lie. The polish is the striking of familiar chords, while marching to a decidedly different drummer, as in the duplicitous "Christian Affirmation of Life," which is anything but an affirmation of life and anything but Christian.

Read the rest.

Posted by earl at April 12, 2005 11:14 PM

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This is relatively unrelated, but since abortion was mentioned it triggered something that's puzzled me for good while in understanding anti-abortion sentiment and usually not too many people comment on posts like this anyway.

I think I understand why someone would be opposed to it after conception takes place. It's a potential life and it's sacred and hence shouldn't be ended.
What I have more problems in understanding is where and also how you draw the line.

I don't mean to offend anyone but I have a hard time understanding. If abortion is wrong, then so is any form of birth control? If it is then why, and if it isn't why not?

I also have problems with the enigma of artificial conception. It's meant to help a couple create life but since only one cell cluster eventually qualifies and the others are destroyed, it's wrong?

I don't mean to rattle any cages but I'm having a really hard time wrapping my mind around the objections.
Preferably, if anyone wants to share their thoughts, I'd like to hear from other women, because no objection to men, but pregnancy isn't about your bodies.

Posted by: Vanessa at April 13, 2005 7:02 AM

I will caveat my remarks by stating that I am a man.

Vanessa, it would be incorrect to argue that pregnancy is only about a woman's body. Yes, the actual development of the child only takes place in a woman's body, but without the introduction of a sperm there could be no conception and consequently development of the child. This is not a fine point, but one which having been ignored has caused great harm. The results of thinking that pregnancy is only about a woman's body has led to men failing to take responsibility for their actions and women being forced into abortions because "it's the woman's problem that she is pregnant." The man is responsibile for his actions that led to conception and the consequences of a new life having been conceived. By continuing to focus on the woman's pregnancy, women are treated with greater disrepect.

This ties into your original question regarding artifical birth control. What was heralded as a great leap forward for women, has proved to be anything but that. It again places the burden upon the woman. The idea is to allow men and women to have sex without any consequences. Unfortunately, when there is a "consequence" of conception, the woman is left with the burden. The actual result of artificial birth control is to again place the burden upon women to deal with the consequences of both the man's and the woman's action. Men have become "freer" to engage in sex without consequences. With artificial contraception, men are less responsible and more likely to treat women as simply objects for their pleasure. Finally, the real result is widespread abortion which is considered a "solution" to the problem of conception.

The Catholic Church's teaching is that artificial birth control should not be practiced because it strikes at the heart of human dignity. This is because it separates the two parts of sex which are uniative and procreative. The beauty of marriage is that a man and woman are united. One of the signs of that union is sexual union. To be truly unitive, the husband and wife must give all of themselves to one another. To hold back the most intimate part of themselves (fertility) is to withhold part of your whole self. Neither is it acceptable for the other spouse to say that all will accepted from the other except fertility. In other words, the spouse does not want all of what is truly human from the other spouse.

The underlying idea is that the Catholic Church has always taught that the body is good, and to share ones body with another through sexual union is great good of marriage. In marriage, two people have pledged all of themselves, including all of their bodies, to one another. This is part of the wholeness that is created by joining together a man and a woman in marriage. To not share all of their bodies is to withhold a good from the other.

Consequently, contraception is a barrier to both the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual union in marriage. Instead, the Catholic Church teaches natural family planning which is not some dressed up form of contraception. Instead, it practices awareness of fertility and appreciation for the gift of sexual union and new life. It is a means of regulating birth that recognizes the diginity of both the man and the woman, their bodies, and allows each sexual act to be open to life in order to maintain the unitive and procreative aspects of sex. In other words, true respect of one another is practiced by the married couple.

If you are interested in more, I would look at the Catholic Church document entitled Humanae Vitae (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html) which describes what I am talking about in far clearer language.

Posted by: djw at April 13, 2005 10:38 AM

Well, no offense to you, either, Vanessa, but pregnancy isn't about any woman's body, either.

It's about the body that is growing inside her. Ask any woman who's had a baby. It is undeniable that that is not the same person.

As a human being, I have the same right to speak on the matter as you do, as I suffered the same opportunity to be a victim of this barbaric practice as you and everyone else on this earth who has and has not fallen victim to it.

The line I draw in my discussions of the matter of abortion is this: Once conception has occurred, we are talking about a human child whose right to life should be protected.

Cases of rape and incest may be a different matter. I will make a concession on the following basis: If you have consented to the act which created the life, you have consented to the pregnancy and the responsibility of protecting the life and health of the child as long as he/she is your responsibility.

I believe that forms of birth control that prevent above-mentioned conception from occurring are fine. Let the church piss on me for saying it, but if you prevent conception, you have prevented the life from bring created. Of course, no birth control method is foolproof, and if it fails and a human life is created, there is an obligation to protect it.

I have been mulling over the "artificial conception" concept for several years now. On one hand, you are going out of your way to create life, but other lives do wind up being destroyed in the process. Friends and relatives of mine have conceived (or tried to conceive) this way. Fortuantely, for the time being, none of the children have been destroyed. Cases in fact:

* D., a friend from college, and his wife B., had problems conceiving. No attempts at "arificial conception" were successful. This is very sad because they are wonderful people, and passing on those genes would have been a benefit to the world. Last I heard, they were working on adopting.

* B. and A., both friends from college (who met there, of course), had problems conceiving and used "artificial conception" to have their first child, a son. He is healthy and doing very well. They will be using the remaining embyos, which have been frozen, to attempt another pregnancy in the near future.

* J., my wife's cousin, and his wife T., had problems conceiving and used "artificial conception" to have their first child, a daughter who is also healthy and doing well. A second attempt to become pregnant in this fashion was unsuccessful, and all the remaining embryos were used in the process.

We must make a distinction, of course, between the intentional destruction of the embryos, and the occurrence of an unsuccessful implantation or a miscarriage, as these are not intentional occurrences. Like I said before, I have not formed a complete opinion on this part of the discussion because of the dilemma which exists. Should a couple who is willing to go out of their way to bring a life into the world be forced to choose between having no biological children at all, or being treated as murderers? This is the dilemma with regard to this. Perhaps a viable opportunity to donate embryos to couples who have problems creating them could be a good solution. And let's not forget adoption. That is always a good choice.

This position is pretty much the same as my wife's and other pro-life women that I know, just so you know.


Posted by: RightWingRocker at April 13, 2005 10:48 AM

Also Vanessa, just so you know ...

An abortion cannot happen until after conception takes place. There's nothing to abort until it does

Posted by: RightWingRocker at April 13, 2005 11:07 AM

"I'd like to hear from other women, because no objection to men, but pregnancy isn't about your bodies."

Is there an icon for "rolling eyes"? Geesh. I guess if you're the BOY being aborted, than I suppose you'd say that perhaps it IS about your body, hmmm? Have you thought about that one during your trolling missions?

Posted by: oldfitz at April 13, 2005 3:48 PM

djw and RightWingRocker:

both your answers, while somewhat different, helped to clear up some of the confusion of trying to see your side of it.
I'd want to comment on a few things, but I'm afraid I'll miss balancing on the edge and say something that's against your views so I'll just leave it with thanks for helping me understand a little bit better.


I'm trying to think of a nice and non debate inciting way to respond to your comment and not getting very far.
Obviously I'm not against abortion, given what I asked, but I find it a lot easier to talk to other people or to read something when I have a good sense of how they feel about something and why they feel the way they do. It makes everything a lot easier to put into their proper perspective.
To be crass, I can see a man saying "women should not be allowed to abort" in the same breath they once said "women should stay at home" and "women can't vote".
However, I don't think your opinion is irrelevant in the bigger picture beyond me just wanting to understand and I probably am prejudged about this genderwise. It's just a lot easier for me to identify with another woman who has a differing view about it, and explains how she sees things differently.

Posted by: Vanessa at April 13, 2005 5:31 PM

At one time, I was one of the so-called 'cafeteria Catholics' who picked and practiced some beliefs and discarded others.

One of the things that changed my way of thinking, and living, (I hope) was taking with my husband the NFP (Natural Family Planning)course offered through my parish. I never used to see 'much' harm in artificial contraception, except it would bother me if I forgot to take the pill, took it late, etc., would it be MY fault if I got pregnant? Understanding it takes two to tango, still I would have been the one who failed the final step. It places a lot of pressure/responsibility on one person, and definitely removes God out of the relationship. As if we knew what would be best for us, and not God.

Having said this, I am most definitely against abortion. We were all at one point a tiny cluster of cells. Why is it ok to kill one that we just haven't met yet? What makes that small person different than what we once were?

Posted by: I hope at April 13, 2005 5:37 PM

Oh, I hope,

Praise God you stepped into the light. When I found out there were "other" Catholics I cried for four days. Call me naive (I was) but I thought all Catholics followed Church teaching--else why be Catholic? Cafeteria Catholics rocked my world.


I'm not sure I understand your question, but for what it's worth I will tell you my story. I was a Catholic before and after Roe v Wade. But I was busy raising my kids and utterly out of world happenings. Then my four day old baby died and I was in a world of hurt. I couldn't talk or cry to my husband because he would get angry, nor to my mother because I could see that she would relive and hurt over the babies she had buried. So I would go sit at his grave and do my crying and talking there, trying to understand, trying to surrender to God, trying to find some comfort. Anyone who has lost a child knows the drill.

Almost exactly a year after he died they did a documentary on abortion, the sixth anniversary of Roe v Wade. And that is when I learned what abortion was--before it had been just a word. I saw the glad bag and it tore me up all over again. I wanted to save those babies just as much as I had wanted to save my own. I wanted to hold them and feed them and wrap them in a warm, soft blanket and make it all better. I didn't want them hurt, much less killed, much, much less thrown away in a garbage bag.

That's my heart speaking, that's something that is just a no-brainer. So, you ask, what has this to do with contraception. Again it's in the heart, believe it or not. Jesus said that what comes out of the mouth is what makes a man unclean and as a man thinks/believes so shall he speak. Who we are and what we do is in our heart. Prior to my babies death abortion was just a word, there was nothing about it in my heart. After he died and I saw the aborted babies there was something about it in my heart. No inconvenience, no humiliation, no second car or anything else in the world mattered to me more than one of those babies. I had surrendered my heart to LIFE, PERIOD.

That said, it's just a matter of hair splitting about contraception. If you have ever vacilated about something you know that it can become untenable and you will eventually slide one way or the other. Contraception isn't a lone issue in a basket of other issues. It is a section of the one issue, Life...or death. I hope this helps in some way, even though I am doing a poor job of stating it.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 13, 2005 7:42 PM

Mary et al you did a good job stating your point.

I was merely a severely uninformed Catholic. However 3 years ago I enrolled in the Church Ministry Institute, a program run by the Archdiocese (of Phila.) to help develop your 'pastoral skills' and knowledge of the church so you can be effective in running a ministry program. I began learning more about the Catholic faith, the Vatican and was more exposed to Church writings (Pope John Paul II was a prolific writer). I think most people don't realize the depth of the beliefs of the church or the reason(or scripture) supporting it.

After a miscarriage 2 years ago, I deeply felt the loss of the baby and felt I had no one to talk to since it happened early in the pregnancy. It also made me more aware of the pro-life movement. After I successfully had another pregnancy, the NFP class appealed to me since I had been off birth control for at least 9 years and wanted to feel like our decision (or not) to have another baby was a little less arbitrary. It was eye opening in regards to birth control and the damage it has caused to society.

I now have expanded my pro-life thoughts toward capital punishment. Enlightening reading would be Sister Helen Prejean's books "Dead Man Walking" (better than the movie) and especially "Death of Innocents". I read the second book a few months ago and it was shocking the similarities in what happened with the two men profiled (allegedly innocent men convicted and sent to death row) and Terri Schiavo. Here I had wrongly believed if the courts heard truth, they would stand up for it.

Apparently, and sadly, not so. But light needs to be shed on these tragic and wrongful situations so they do not continue to happen. We can't just sit back and let it go on unhindered.

We just have to be careful our actions and words are always guided by the Holy Spirit.


If we all could live this way, our problems would be solved.

Posted by: I hope at April 13, 2005 9:53 PM

The conversation re abortion and contraception while conducted in a open manner and seemingly received in the same way is largely off topic as Vanessa fairly notes in her opening sentence. Any further dialogue on these topics should be held offline.

Since Dr. Byrne's article mentions abortion by way of analogy, I should note that abortion per se is outside the purview of CURE, with the exception of our opposition to prenatal euthanasia, as we stand against all euthanasia without compromise or exception.

The essence of Dr. Byrne's essay is two-fold.

1) In today's Culture of Death, it is essential to sign a life-affirming advance directive, viz., the Life Support Directive.

2) It is important to examine what purportedly "pro-life" directives actually say, since many like the soi-disant "Christian Affirmation of Life" parrot the kanguage of the anti-life Living Will.

If you would like to receive a copy of the Life Support Directive to protect your family and yourself from the growing danger of euthanasia, please e-mail me (cureltd@verizon.net) and include your postal address so that I may send it to you. Indeed, feel free to contact me if I may help you in any way at any time.

Posted by: Earl Appleby at April 14, 2005 7:13 AM

Going back to the post... I think this idea of "don't sign a living will" is absolutely foolhardy. A living will, aka an advance directive, is merely a legal document that expresses your wishes should you ever become unable to speak for yourself. Just because living wills are advocated by the hospice movement doesn't mean they have to contain any specific language or course of treatment. The whole point is that you have it in writing and notarized what kind of medical treatment you want so it's not left up to family members, doctors, or lawyers to decide. You can ABSOLUTELY have a living will that states that you WOULD want a feeding tube, ventilation, or whatever. And the language can be as vague or specific as you choose (of course, the more specific you are, the less chance there will be for confusion). EVERYONE should have a living will, regardless of their beliefs. (Indeed, what better way to make the pro-life message heard than for hospitals and hospices around the country be overrun with people whose advance directives prevent "mercy killings"?) If Terri taught us anything, it should have been that we must take responsibility for our health care before it's too late. I think it's bizarre for this website to be advocating against advance directives when one easily could have saved Terri's life. There is no set document that constitutes a living will, and the laws vary from state to state regarding the requirements. An excellent advance directive is "Five Wishes" (http://www.agingwithdignity.org/5wishes.html), which meets the legal requirement in 36 states and covers not just your medical needs but your spiritual and emotional needs as well. BlogsForTerri, please reconsider your position on this issue. Without living wills, many thousands more people will die against their wishes. Isn't that the whole point?

Posted by: Becky at April 14, 2005 9:31 AM

Is the Life Support Directive mentioned on the Cure website the same as the Will to Live Directive posted on terrisfight.org? To me, the one I downloaded on Terri's site is decidely prolife. Is it the same one as the one supported by CURE?

Posted by: I hope at April 14, 2005 9:45 AM


I just read your comment here, and must object!

That link that you provided to 'agingwithdignity' - I would have to warn everyone NOT TO GO THERE!

It provides as one of its featured links (i.e. supports) the link to a site where a doctor advocates the **removal of a feeding tube** for death of a loved one, as follows:

“If, however, his daily life is miserable and it is consistent with your grandfather's previous wishes, I firmly agree that he should be allowed to die. Are there ways in which his present care is keeping him alive unnecessarily? Is he being fed by a tube? What was the goal of treating his infections? Discomfort can be managed without reversing the underlying condition. If the desire is to invite death, these treatments should be reconsidered. Malnutrition and infection are two of the most natural ways for people with dementia and general debilitation to die. By "letting nature take its course" you can remain loving and pampering in your care of your grandfather without feeling that you have caused his demise.”

AND also advocates ways that a suicide can be accomplished, painlessly, as follows (including STARVING ONESSELF TO DEATH WHICH PROVIDES MORE IMPETUS TO THE IDEA THAT STARVATION IS PAINLESS AND OK AND THAT SUICIDE IS OK!!):

“If your friend persists in his request, discuss his plans openly with him, but acknowledge that the decision and actions should be his own. Your friend already has the ability to end his life. People with AIDS and opportunistic infections need only stop taking their various antibiotics and complications of the disease would soon carry them away. The same carbon monoxide that Dr. Kevorkian provides is available from the back of any car. While this may sound awful, it is a mode of death that is available to him and is without pain. Additionally, because of your friend's condition, it is unlikely he would be bothered by hunger were he to stop eating. In fact, refusing to eat is probably the most common and age old way people who are fed up with life hasten death. Were he to do so, you could stand by him continuing to love, nurture and testify to his inherent worth.”

Posted by: juleni at April 17, 2005 10:48 PM