||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Medical Killing As A Solution To Our Social Problems
By: Dale Recinella
In a recent decision, Gonzales v. Carhart, the U.S. Supreme Court showed that it could take a courageous stand for life.
The five-vote Catholic majority (Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts, Scalia, and Alito) ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is constitutional. The act prohibits the horrendous practice, in later stages of pregnancy, of partially delivering the living child and then killing it. This “medical” act of killing is apparently accomplished by crushing the child’s head or sucking its brains out during delivery.
The Court noted that the primary difference between this now banned form of abortion (intact dilation and extraction) and the most common method of abortion, used in the first trimester of pregnancy (a typical dilation and extraction), is that in the latter case the child “is usually ripped apart as it is removed, and the doctor may make ten to fifteen passes to remove it in its entirety.” This latter method is still legal.
While the success in banning partial-birth abortion is by no means a small one, it is clearly only a first step. The fact that the practice of medically ripping a child apart in ten to fifteen passes is still considered a constitutional right in our nation indicates there is still a lot of work to be done. And the work needs to be done quickly.
Medical killing as a proposed solution to social problems is on the front burner in too many places. The pending release of Dr. Kervorkian, known as Dr. Death, from a short prison term for assisting patient suicides, has spawned polls and sound-bites about the role of doctors in helping to kill their patients.
In California pending legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide is being touted as the test case for public acceptance. Not surprisingly, the supporters of the bill claim they are supporting the patient’s “right to choose.” When did God delegate the choice of time, place and circumstances of death to us?
The frontline nationwide for beating down the moral and ethical barrier against physicians being involved in killing people appears to be lethal injection, capital punishment. One botched execution after another, with a protracted and horrendous one occurring recently in Ohio, has pro-death penalty camps screaming for doctors to be allowed to assist in killing people. Such voices claim that physician involvement is necessary because non-medical personnel keep botching the killing. Without doctors’ involvement, they fear, the death penalty might stop being used.
Is it possible that those who are clamoring for physician involvement in capital punishment do not realize that they are setting the stage to unleash the misuse of our medical profession on our aging population?
Have we become so hardened of heart by ignoring the medical dismemberment of our children in the womb, that turning hospitals into a place for poisoning people to death only merits a shrug?
Over and over and over, the common value omitted in these discussions is the value of the God-given gift of human life. Our late Pope John Paul II did not omit it. He prophetically saw the need for a radical stance in the face of the culture of death, and saw ending the use of the death penalty as a critical component in that stance.
“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made … for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”
First published: The Florida Catholic, July 23, 2007
© 2007 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
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Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed