Archive for the 'life!' Category

Disability Resources: Articles and Books

There are lots of articles but not so many books. Many of the books listed address people with disabilities as a side topic, and I’ve included some non-Orthodox Christian books that contain Orthodox Christian elements. But the ones that spring from family johnlahutskyrelationships and friendships are inspiring and instructive.

In To Read – Books: 

The Boy from Baby House 10 & Catherine’s Pascha In God’s Hands: A mother’s journey through her infant’s critical illness & Getting My First Hug

The articles are on two different pages, one for individual articles and the other for webpages that contain numerous articles concerning persons with disability:

To read (online articles) & To read (online article collections)

From the article collections, I would recommend beginning with The Orthodox Church of America’s Parish Ministry Resources, especially Parish Development

The individual online articles cover a wide variety of situations and perspectives in regard to disability and the Orthodox Church, as well as the situations and issues Orthodox Christians with disabilities face in this world: their opportunities, dilemmas, and struggles. Look over the list and read a couple of articles which catch your eye. And then feel free to read some more!

 

a commentary on the widespread disinformation concerning Terri Schiavo, ten years after her death

Stephen Drake

From the weblog Not Dead Yet: Fifth Anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s Death: A History Lesson

 Both political parties are indicted for revising history toward political ends at the expense of persons with disabilities. Evidence is presented.

NDY’s Terri Schiavo articles page: All NDY articles on Terri Schiavo 

NDY’s articles on “the vegetative state”/consciousness: http://www.notdeadyet.org/docs/articles.html#pvs 

Also: Fifth Anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s Death – A History Lesson 

Not Dead Yet does not approach these issues from a religious viewpoint at all. They are simply fighting for lives of value, against powerful interests who would deny the value of the lives of severely disabled people.

Picture from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (March 18, 2009)http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/ 

Disabled unborn children: “Caring is always better than killing.”

The New York Times published an article a while back entitled “My Abortion at 23 weeks.” The author’s unborn son was diagnosed with a herniated diaphragm, which would require the unborn son, if he survived, to receive immediate surgery; and he would spend a long time on life support afterward. The parents dreaded “the thought of hearing him gasp for air,” and chose to have him aborted.  “He died in a warm and loving place, inside me,” she writes.

What does one say to this? An article by Paul Stark was published on the website of Lifenews.com which asks a question that seems, unfortunately, to be a settled matter for many in American society.

To Access:

Is Abortion Justified When the Unborn Baby is Disabled?

For Orthodox Christians the answer is certainly not a settled “yes.”  Is it a settled “no?” Here are some sources which address this matter: 

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America: Orthodox pro-life resources

Some of the sources on this list:

Orthodox Christians for Life

One of the Books: Real Choices, by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Two Ministries: the Treehouse Zoe for Life 

The question “Is it a settled ‘no?‘” is directly addressed in this resource:

Abortion, Oikonomia, and the hard cases  by Valarie H. Protopapas 

Picture from A. J. MacDonald, Jr. wordpress.com

Euthanasia and “futile” care: stories and commentary

It is clear that the following stories, which concern hospital decisions for Euthanasia over family objections and other obstacles to proper health care for people with disabilities reveal developments that are a deliberate threat to these people; so-called experts are deciding which persons’  lives are worth living and which persons’ lives are not worth living!

The following personal stories are from Texas, and concern that state’s infamous futile care law.

Sun Hudson:  http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/2005/03/lifesupport_sto.html (a health law professor’s account) http://differentriver.com/archives/2005/03/21/baby-pulled-off-ventilator-over-mothers-objections/ (another personal response)

Andrea Clark:  http://www.prolifeblogs.com/articles/archives/2006/05/disability_advo.php#more

Yenlang Vo:  http://www.prolifeblogs.com/articles/archives/2006/05/help_yenlang_vo_1.php & http://texasadvancedirectivesblog.blogspot.com/2006/05/law-did-not-work-thoughts-on-andrea.html

Similar personal stories from other places:

Peggy Albedhady, New Jersey:  http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2009/02/nj-woman-finds-aneurism-medicaid-sol.html

Kaylee Wallace, Toronto:  http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2009/04/kaylee-wallace-disturbing-coverage-and.html & http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2009/04/canadian-association-for-community.html

Terri Schiavo, Florida: Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network (concerns her stories as well as others who have faced and are facing similar situations)

Perspectives on the Texas Futile Care Law and Euthanasia

OrthodoxWhat is futility?  by the Orthodox Christian bioethicist Dr. H. Tristam Engelhardt

Roman  Catholic:  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2004/march/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20040320_congress-fiamc_en.html  as well as  http://www.ncpd.org/policy/church/ncpd/statements/futilecare 

Stephen Drake, who publishes the weblog Not Dead Yet:  http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/search/label/futile%20care

Wesley J. Smith: http://www.wellsphere.com/wesley-j-smith/101665/bio is in the vanguard of the movement to prevent the legalization of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide and an opponent of the futile care theory. He does his homework. Here are some of his articles: First Things: Wesley J. Smith 

An Orthodox Christian Commentary by Christopher HuckabayDeath with Piety is Death with Dignity,” http://www.pravmir.com/article_362.html

Finally, a reprint of the 1994 Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archidiocese’ Statement on Euthanasia:

WHEREAS all human beings who are in a condition of medical dependency because of illness, age, or for some other reason, must be provided with the basic amenities of food, water, cleanliness, warmth and relief from pain. These can never be considered as “extraordinary” measures in the context of medical treatment, and,WHEREAS Christians do not fear bodily death but rather consider it as a Passover between earthly life and the life of the Kingdom. Therefore, all such medical treatments that prolong the dying process while offering no benefit to the individual (with the exception of those ordinary measures previously stated) may, in good conscience, be refused by the individual or those acting on his or her behalf. In some instances, even food and water may become, in the last hours of life when the body may be unable to accept them, a burden from which the sufferer should be delivered: however, these are individual circumstances which should always be judged in a Christian context, and,

WHEREAS the taking of a human life, however understandable the motive, is a serious sin directly and repeatedly forbidden by God. Even where it seems an act of mercy, such as an attempt to alleviate suffering, without sincere repentance, it will surely lead to a loss of God’s Kingdom. As Christians we acknowledge that we do not always recognize God’s will and why things happen as they do in our world. However, we have, as the followers of Christ, promised to place our trust in Him and His love for us and all mankind. This trust includes the patient acceptance of those burdens which may seem, at the time, to be unbearable.

BE IT RESOLVED that this Archdiocese, in accordance with the Tradition and theology of the Orthodox Church condemns all forms of euthanasia or “mercy killing.”

St. Alexei intercedes

St. Alexei

St. Alexei

From the website of Father Nektarios Serfes: a 1998 letter from a woman with a disability with the account of her miraculous healing through the intercessions of the Royal Martyr Tsarevich Alexis. She had asked for his prayers for six months before the acute pain subsided. And then, in the letter, she recounts how she was continuing to ask the Saint’s prayers for a six year old child with cancer and his family. She writes. “How strong the innocent are with God, as Dostoevsky wrote in The Brothers Karamozov!” Here is the letter on Fr. Nektarios’ webpage: http://www.serfes.org/royal/miracle2.htm

Later, Elizabeth posted this comment to Arms Open Wide:

Hello there, my Orthodox friends! This is the writer of that letter to Archimandrite Nektarios, Elizabeth, who converted to the true faith nine years ago, and continue to be encouraged by the example of the Tsarevich-Martyr Alexei.

I rejoice in what I feel to be true, that the child’s relics have been found as if to encourage us in these bewildering, difficult times. In the akathist written to him, this precious saint Alexei Nikolaevich is called ‘a star lighting the way to the Second Coming of Christ.’ As Fr. Seraphim Rose often said:

It’s later than you think!

Holy Martyred Tsarevich Alexei, pray to God for us!

– Elizabeth

For the  Wikipedia article on St. Alexei’s life, click on:

Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia – Wikipedia, the free …

And here is  a poem written on his behalf:

A Little Sunshine – For The Royal Child Martyr Tsarevich Alexis

Reprinted, with additions,  from December 2007

Having an abortion has an effect on a woman’s mental health

be80f-lilliana-1st-bday

Lilliana’s first birthday

The ability of parents to learn of defects in their unborn children through modern technology has greatly accelerated the rate at which these children with disabilities have had their lives end before they began by abortion. In addition, the mothers who have their children aborted, according to a number of studies, are also at increased risk of the mental health disabilities.

Lifenews.com published online an article detailing a study which connects having an abortion with later mental health problems for the woman involved: New Study Shows Direct Link Between Abortion and Mental Health Problems To access:  http://www.lifenews.com/nat4617.html

see also http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/168/10/1253

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has published a number of responses to earlier studies by this research group. Here are two; one against the credibility of the research, and one which not only supports it, but also lists other studies which also give evidence of this connection.

Here is the response by Dr. Brenda Major challenging the research behind these claims: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/168/10/1257

And here is the response to Dr. Major, supporting the claims, by Annie D. Banno: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/169/2/101-d#R1-8

Picture from FAMILIES OF KIDS WITH DISABILITIES; OUR LIVES ARE ENRICHED http://catholicnewslive.com/story/36928

From an Orthodox Christian perspective, the spiritual (mental, emotional, physical) damage incurred by having an abortion is strongly attested from very early in the Holy Apostolic Tradition.

see http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/abortion.aspx )

See also this imperative issued on the Self-ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America‘s website in regard to the Freedom of Choice Act: http://www.antiochian.org/node/18696

An Orthodox Christian Understanding of Euthanasia & A Disability Rights Toolkit for Advocacy Against the Legalization of Assisted Suicide

The issue of Euthanasia may enter our lives at any time, even suddenly, as both we ourselves and our loved ones and friends are all mortal. We will die, perhaps sooner, perhaps later. And in the USA and western society in general there are strong pressures to see great suffering and choose to end it. Father Joseph Woodill, a college professor and an Orthodox Christian Parish Priest,  speaks to this matter: 

Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and the Pursuit of Death with Dignity, by Fr. Joseph Woodill — About Father Joseph Woodill — Also by Father Joseph Woodill

Disability Rights Toolkit for Advocacy Against Legalization of Assisted Suicide 

The weblog Not Dead Yet provides an action kit for opposing national and state law proposals which facilitate assisted suicide. It consists of seven sections:

  1. Why disability advocacy groups oppose legalizing assisted suicide
  2. Educating and organizing disability opposition
  3. Meeting with legislators and policy leaders
  4. Testifying at hearings
  5. Working with the media
  6. Conducting direct actions – leafleting, rallying
  7. Working in coalition

An Excerpt:

When speaking with a reporter, who may be focused on an individual story of someone who favors legalizing assisted suicide, remember two key points:

  • If you only consider an individual, assisted suicide laws might seem OK—but we must look broadly across society, at all the people who stand to be harmed. And there are many!
  • If assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted, or even proposed, that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone.

Hopefully, you will have the chance to go into greater depth with reporters about the significant dangers, risks, and harms that concern us. Assisted suicide is a unique issue that breaks typical ideological boundaries and requires us to consider those potentially most vulnerable in our society—those who bear risks that are not well understood by the general public. E.g.:

  • There’s a deadly mix between our profit-driven health care system and legalizing assisted suicide, which will be the cheapest so-called treatment. In insurers deny, or even merely delay, expensive live-saving treatment, the person will be steered toward assisted suicide. Will insurers do the right thing, or the cheap thing? Direct coercion is not even necessary.
  • A similar thing happens to people with disabilities, who have often been denied treatment and care that we need, because our lives are undervalued, or people think we’re better off dead. Our community is keenly aware of these dangers.
  • Elder abuse, and abuse of people with disabilities, are a rising problem. Where assisted suicide is legal, an heir (someone who stands to inherit from the patient) or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug — no witnesses are required at the death, so who would know
  • Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and  lose good years of their lives.
  • Financial and emotional pressures can also make people choose death.
  • There are no real safeguards; for example, for people with depression and psychiatric disability. Michael Freeland, with a 40-year history of major depression, got lethal drugs in Oregon. Do we want death on demand for anyone, regardless of the risk?
  • For anyone dying in discomfort, palliative sedation is legal in all 50 states, providing comfort from pain at the time of death. The patient is sedated to the point where the discomfort is relieved while the dying process takes place. Thus, today there is a legal solution to any remaining painful and uncomfortable deaths; one that does not raise the very serious hazards of legalizing assisted suicide.
  • Assisted suicide bills are defeated when people learn the facts. In 2014, they failed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. 

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