When Utilitarianism Designs a Healthcare System…

[With permission from Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum.]

Ezekiel Emanuel, the architect of President Obama’s signature health care legislation, has penned a provocative piece published in The Atlantic and entitled Why I Hope to Die at 75. In this essay he argues that people over the age of 75 are a drain on society and it would serve the common good if they would just die sooner rather than later. He is very clear that he is not advocating for euthanasia or assisted suicide. But what he is doing is laying the groundwork for age-based rationing of health care.

It must be understood that Dr. Emanuel is a utilitarianist.  He believes that the value of a person lies in his contribution to the economic structure of a society. Non-contributors are worth less than those who are economically productive and are therefore entitled to less of the community resources, including health care.

Nurse_in_geriatryEmanuel argues that age associated declines in mental-processing speed and creativity make older individuals a burden. He notes that most great scientists, writers, composers, and artists have made their most significant contributions by the time they are in their late forties or early fifties. He declares that it is a rare individual who still has the intellectual capacity to produce great work past the age of 75, so we should stop striving for longevity at that point and refuse all life-prolonging medical care.

It is quite disturbing to read his cold assessment of those with even the most minor disabilities associated with age. He has no respect for the elderly enjoying their golden years and pursuing avocations instead of professional excellence:

The American immortal, once a vital figure in his or her profession and community, is happy to cultivate avocational interests, to take up bird watching, bicycle riding, pottery, and the like. And then, as walking becomes harder and the pain of arthritis limits the fingers’ mobility, life comes to center around sitting in the den reading or listening to books on tape and doing crossword puzzles. And then …

Of course, many of us would counter his arguments with a discussion of the non-economic benefits the elderly provide. I have had the good fortune to know several centenarians in my lifetime. They provided a window to the past that could not be captured in any history textbook. I think of my relationships with several of my grandparents and great-grandparents who lived well past the age of 75 and know that my life was immeasurably enriched by these encounters with my elders, even when they were challenged by infirmities and disabilities. I hope to similarly influence my own grandchildren.

Ezekiel Emanuel discounts any value to familial relationships. In fact he states, “Our living too long places real emotional weights on our progeny…there is much less pressure to conform to parental expectations and demands after they are gone.” His further explanation of this reveals a prideful, self-centered motivation. He is concerned that if he lives past the age of 75, he will be remembered as a burden instead of as someone who was vibrant and a joy to be around.

After laying out his arguments for why life after age 75 is just not worth living, Emanuel goes on to outline the health care policy implications of his position. After the age of 75 he advocates for virtually no health care. No screening tests, no treatment for cancer, no flu shots, no antibiotics. Palliative care to keep the elderly comfortable is all that he sees as reasonable.

Here is where Emanuel errs most dramatically. He is judging the patient as to his worthiness for treatment, instead of judging the treatment as to its worthiness for the patient. There is no question that there are many medical tests and treatments that are not appropriate for patients over the age of 75. Following cholesterol levels, screening mammograms in asymptomatic women, screening colonoscopies for colon cancer are all tests that can be discontinued by this age. However, the reason is not that patients over the age of 75 are not valuable enough to receive this medical care. It is that the burden these tests impose on the elderly is not justified by the expected benefit of these tests. Decisions about the appropriateness of any medical test or intervention need to be made on an individual basis, taking into account the specific burden to benefit analysis for a given treatment in a given patient. Arbitrarily declaring that all those over the age of 75 are unworthy of anything but palliative medical care is unjust ageism.

Caring for an elderly relative can present physical, emotional, and financial challenges. But facing these challenges is an opportunity for great spiritual growth. We are better people and create a better society when we generously love and care for those with infirmities and disabilities. Through their lives, the elderly generously offer us the opportunity to cultivate virtue. As Pope Francis said, “A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.”

Emanuel explicitly rejects such thinking as existential nonsense:

Many of us have suppressed, actively or passively, thinking about God, heaven and hell, and whether we return to the worms. We are agnostics or atheists, or just don’t think about whether there is a God and why she should care at all about mere mortals. We also avoid constantly thinking about the purpose of our lives and the mark we will leave. Is making money, chasing the dream, all worth it? Indeed, most of us have found a way to live our lives comfortably without acknowledging, much less answering, these big questions on a regular basis. We have gotten into a productive routine that helps us ignore them.

I actually feel sorry for Ezekiel Emanuel that he cannot see the value of human life in any terms other than economic productivity. How sad that he does not cherish the rich dimensions the elderly add to our lives. We learn from their experiences, their faith, and, yes, even their suffering. The question before us in American health care policy is whether or not we will value each human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death and treat each individual according to his individual needs. Or, will we follow the utilitarian approach and declare whole classes of the population as economically unproductive and therefore unworthy of medical care?

“Me, Myself and I”


*12 Bible Verses that Demolish the Osteens’ Prosperity Gospel

In contrast to ‘the everything is wonderful’ preachers, I re-present to you Dr. Kennedy

Whether or not you are an Osteen fan, you should check this out: http://www.churchpop.com/2014/09/08/joel-osteens-prosperity-gospel-demolished-bible


Excerpt from an article by Antonio Socci:

According to the Church’s Magisterium, the foundation of peace is the defense of the values of human life and the rights of man. These values are threatened by totalitarianisms and fundamentalisms. Today though, also by a “dictatorship of relativism” which is spreading among the political elite and intellectuals of the West and causes disorientation in the peoples. Subsequently they are without direction, confused even in their good sentiments. This can be seen nowadays in the news stories and in the [changed] habits [of people].

This week, for example, the massacre of three Italian nuns in Burundi was acknowledged in general indifference, contrasted against the National tragedy, still ongoing, of the accidental death of a bear in Trentino. It is a collective phenomenon which is more shocking if you compare it to the general lukewarm reaction to the massacres of thousands of human beings (mainly Christians ) occurring right now in different parts of the world.

On the other hand, we have seen a progressive devaluation of human life for decades now, primarily – which is even graver – in State laws. They began first in the totalitarian states and the democratic ones followed suit.

Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI understood clearly this poisoned legacy from the 20th century and they linked it inextricably to the themes of war and peace.

Along with the pontiffs, Mother Theresa of Calcutta – who lived her entire life in the existential peripheries – repeated for years that, “abortion was the worst threat to peace in the world.” If we take a look at statistics it is difficult to say she was wrong: 50 million abortions every year – a number of victims equal to those of the Second World War. In the space of thirty years at least a billion lives have been swept away (as well as mothers wounded through this practice by the indifference of the world). The Church up until Benedict XVI, faced with such a massive slaughter, had cried out forcefully so as to awaken minds and hearts. She also had always claimed vigorously the right to religious liberty in totalitarian or fundamentalist regimes.


“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” Mother Teresa – National Prayer Breakfast

“We are talking of peace. These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child – I will not forget you – I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible – but even if she could forget – I will not forget you. And today the greatest means – the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here – our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child – what is left for me to kill you and you kill me – there is nothing between.” Mother Teresa – Nobel Lecture

“America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones. The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! … Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.”
Pope John Paul II USA departure ceremony on 9/19/87

PRI Saves Baby from “Therapeutic Abortion Protocol” in Peru

Through the grace of God, PRI has saved the life of an unborn child in Peru who was slated to be aborted for so-called “therapeutic” reasons.

Doctors in a Peruvian hospital had decided to give a woman with breast cancer an abortion, claiming that the abortion was necessary to save her life. In fact, they were primarily worried that their plans to put the woman on chemotherapy would cause the child to be born with birth defects. Rather than undertake alternative treatment, they decided to simply do away with the child.

Problem solved, right?  Wrong. Peru’s Therapeutic Abortion Protocol was never intended to be used to justify an abortion where the mother’s life was not in immediate danger.

When PRI heard about the doctors’ deadly plans, we quickly intervened.

Carlos Polo, the president of PRI in Latin America, first called the head of the cancer department who wanted the abortion performed, and told him that this would be a violation of the law. When the doctor balked, we upped the ante. Using our connections in the Peruvian legal system and government, we brought in an attorney and a legislator to talk to the doctor. These managed to persuade the unwilling oncologist and his colleagues to call off the abortion by threatening them with criminal prosecution.

The abortion that the doctors were originally bent upon was never medically necessary. The mother is currently receiving alternate treatment for her cancer in the form of chemotherapy that does not harm her unborn child. Mother and child are doing well.

Here we have a perfect example of how the pro-abortion movement uses Therapeutic Abortion Protocols to push for ever more abortions. In this case, it was used as an excuse to pressure parents into agreeing to an abortion that was neither medically necessary nor legally permitted. Worldwide, the “health of the mother” exception to many pro-life laws is one of the principal justifications for executing unborn children. It becomes in effect, a license to kill.

Until recently, Peruvian doctors would never have dared to propose performing an abortion under these or any other circumstances. The right to life was protected from conception by the Peruvian constitution.

But the “therapeutic abortion protocol” adopted in Peru this past June has blurred the lines. Doctors are now allowed to perform abortions when “it is the only means to save the mother’s life or to prevent serious and permanent damage to the mother’s health.”

Some doctors are taking this exception to be the new rule, and are performing so-called “therapeutic abortions” under a wider and wider array of circumstances. Unless this trend is stopped, abortion on demand is just around the corner.

One of the dirtiest tricks in the pro-abortion arsenal is their penchant for exploiting the urgent need to protect the lives and health of mothers by using this to justify aborting their unborn children. First, laws and regulations instituting abortion for reasons of health are established. Then, exceptions permitting abortion to ensure “the health of the mother” are expanded in practice until they become the norm, and abortion on demand becomes the order of the day.

Some call this health care. We call it homicide. And we intend to stop it whenever and wherever we can.

Auxiliary Bishop Christian Bishop Riesbeck’s comments during Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in conjunction with the National March for Life in Ottawa.

The B.C. Catholic
By Deborah Gyapong

When Ottawa’s new auxiliary bishop, Christian Riesbeck, became the pastor of a parish in Houston, Tex., he soon faced a difficult pastoral challenge: the pregnancy of a young lady.

The mother and aunt of the girl, who was barely 13 years old, approached him and “asked if an exception could be made in her case because of her age. They wanted to abort the child,” he said in a homily at the Prolife Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral May 8, in conjunction with the National March for Life.

“I wanted to cry,” Bishop Riesbeck said. “I tried to be as compassionate as I could, helping her acknowledge the child in her womb and encouraging her to love that child and allow the child to see the light of day. I promised her the help she needed in her situation.”

Since Bishop Riesbeck was new to the Houston diocese, the Companions of the Cross priest “had to scramble to find out what was available so I could direct her to the right place for help.”

Bishop Riesbeck said this experience made him realize the parish needed to do more to help young women. He and his parishioners decided to start a Project Gabriel [The Gabriel Project] outreach for women and families facing crisis pregnancies. They installed two big signs on the property in English and in Spanish with a contact number.

“Thanks be to God we received a lot of ‘business,'” said the bishop, “and the whole parish got on board. We had many drives for baby food, diapers, cribs. There was always a generous response from the parishioners, and we were doing our part to help pregnant women in need.”

Bishop Riesbeck challenged the view put forward by abortion supporters that respect for women meant giving them a “choice” to “kill their babies and subject themselves to harmful physical and psychological effects.”

“This does not respect women,” he said. “If we really respect them, we will come to their assistance if they are in a difficult situation, and see to it that they have what they need to give life to their child.”

“If a woman is in a crisis pregnancy, let’s help her by eliminating the crisis, not by eliminating the pregnancy,” he said. “Most women who procure abortions do not do so because of ‘freedom of choice,’ but rather because they feel they have no freedom and no choice.”

“They feel trapped, abandoned, desperate, afraid, and pressured, and sadly, they feel that there is no one they can turn to except the abortionist,” the bishop said.

He expressed gratitude to the various individuals and groups in the prolife movement who provide services, who lobby and run educational organizations.

“We also need to affirm the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, who stand with their ‘I regret my abortion’ signs, and the Feminists for Life and those who make the compelling argument that women deserve better than abortion,” Bishop Riesbeck said. “These are the people that the pro-choice or pro-abortion advocates fear most in their own attempts to present the image of abortion as positive and pro-woman.”

“As the Church, we need to be compassionate with those who are contemplating an abortion and reach out to those who have had abortions,” he said. “To them we say, ‘The doors of the Church are open.'”

“We will never reject or condemn or cast them out,” he said. “We welcome them back to the peace, the mercy, the forgiveness of Christ. To be pro-life means to be pro-woman.”

“It doesn’t mean that we love the babies and we forget about the mothers,” he said. “We love them both. We protect them both. We welcome and care for them both.”

“But we also need to proclaim the truth in love. Abortion kills a child. It harms women and it wounds families,” he said. “This is why we are not afraid to boldly defend the dignity and life of every human person at every stage of development, especially the unborn.”

“We should never get discouraged. Every child saved is a victory worthy of gratitude,” he said. “We don’t always see the fruits of our efforts, but if we are following God’s will and the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are making a difference and allowing God to use us as His instruments.”

Personal Message from the host of this site:

How could anyone be more important than a child, even while still within his or her mother’s womb? How can we not assist a child-bearing mother in need?

The Gabriel Project is a national parish-based pregnancy assistance resource. Our concerns go beyond being assured that a child’s life has been spared or that a mom has been provided with initial baby items. A Gabriel Project parish’s concerns go beyond serving its own parishioners and its parish’s boundaries. We seek to serve all pregnant mothers in need regardless of their personal situation, the size of their family, their age or their baby’s gestational stage.

I have attempted to express my sentiments in these regards with the following writings:

I could never tire of expounding on the magnificence of service this ministry offers to pregnant mothers in need – in the Name of Christ Jesus, through Whom all life is created.

I have been so blessed to be able to participate in this special ministry, thanks be to God.

Fredi D’Alessio (initial coordinator for The Gabriel Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco)

In the video below, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone presents The Gabriel Project in his Annual Appeal. The Gabriel Project segment begins at 1:24 and ends at 4:56 minutes.