Mass Euthanasia in Britain?

A charge has been made that 11 men of varying ages, (none under 65) had their deaths helped along by being undernourished.

A CORONER is demanding a public inquiry into claims that 11 hospital patients were deliberately starved to death. He believes that it could be Britain’s first case of forced “mass euthanasia”.
Peter Ashworth, the coroner for Derby, will open an inquest later this year into the suspicious deaths at the city’s Kingsway hospital.

He considers the matter so serious that he has written to the Department of Health asking for the inquest to be superseded by a judicial inquiry with powers to investigate practices at the hospital.

There is now increasing concern across Britain about the way hospitals appear to be hastening the deaths of elderly patients. Police in Leeds and Hampshire are also looking into similar cases.

The 11 patients, all men aged between 65 and 93, died in the Rowsley ward for the elderly at Kingsway. A review of the cases, ordered by the coroner, found evidence that their deaths may have been speeded up by withholding sufficient food.

The allegations first surfaced after Jayne Drew, a healthcare assistant, alerted the hospital managers after the deaths of Simon Smith, 74, and Arthur Boddice, 81, in the summer of 1997.

Families of fellow patients at the hospital claimed that some staff had become so upset at seeing elderly people being starved that they had taken it upon themselves to feed them secretly.

One relative has described how it was distressing to see his father go without food. Andrew Hughson said his 75- year-old father, also called Andrew, would vainly stretch his hand towards meals being delivered to other patients.

“We kept being told that feeding him would be bad for his general health, and he was too frail to tell us otherwise,” he said.

This is a story to keep an eye on. It certainly seems compelling to me that in these Lenten and Easter seasons the issue that has come completely to the forefront, and seemingly will not abate, is the value and worth of human life, however weak or compromised, or old and ill.

Pope Paul VI was eerily prescient when he wrote Humanae Vitae – he drew the link from birth control to abortion to infanticide to euthanasia. I didn’t believe it for a long time. When I was a teenager, I remember thinking of it as mere Italian prudishness. But only forty years later, we have seen the establishment of the Culture of Death, and we can trace the tread. How quickly it unspooled!

Even in countries which are only recently embracing birth control, as in Ireland, we are seeing the immediate change of priorities, from family and stability, to materialism and worldliness.

And of course, some of this has been helped along by both the exorbitant cost of medical care in long-term facilities (let’s take out Grandma before our inheritance is eaten up by these fees), and on the other side by socialized medicine that has discouraged the best and the brightest from entering medicine. Socialism breeds mediocrity in everything it touches – it does not encourage excellence.

But mostly, this is a matter of the spirit. Where once the world understood the rightness of protecting innocent life and frail life – where thier dignity was affirmed by the world’s deference to them, things have turned upside down, and it is all exactly backwards.

President Bush said this January, at the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade that in order to end this societal unspooling, “we have to help change people’s hearts.” That wasn’t idle rhetoric. It is what must be done. You cannot appeal to the intellect on this issue, because the intellect is capable of admitting all sorts of “rationalizations” and obfuscations into an argument and the ego feels proud to have done so. This is a matter for the human heart. There is a war, between life and death. The battles are increasingly turbulent, and this war will be fought to its conclusion.

I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20a, New American Bible)

Choose life. Choose with the heart.

Blogging will be light. Have a houseful of folks coming for supper, to celebrate a son’s birthday, (no, not Buster, but I have more to write on him, maybe tonight.) Have a good one!

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About Elizabeth Scalia