Do you ever feel like you’re being gamed? I remember back in the 1970s. The media lived in the pockets of the pro-aborts. Trying to get a fair shake for the babies was harder than selling ice at the North Pole. Pro-aborts got pages of press filled with horror stories about illegal coat-hanger abortions despite the fact that most “back alley” abortionists were doctors and were very careful not to botch the abortion: they would lose their licenses.
Milan Vuitch in D.C., whose case led to legalizing abortion in the nation’s capitol, merely moved his shingle from his basement to a D.C. office building after the city legalized the killing. The press portrayed him as a pioneer and savior of women. They never reported his quip to rescuers in 1977 (I was one of them, chained to a table in his chop shop) that he’d abort black babies for free. Not true of course. He expected cash up front. No checks, no credit cards. Happily, we saved a black baby girl that day who was born on the fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Talk about an affirmation from God!
While the press treated butchers like Vuitch with kid gloves, pro-lifers got the cold shoulder and the invisible ink. In addition to a fawning media, however, pro-aborts also had rich liberals like Norman Lear and his People for the American Way shilling for killing. Lear offered cash incentives to Hollywood writers to make abortion acceptable.
Community organizer Saul Alinsky
So you had Maude (Lear was the producer of the popular TV series) describing her positive pregnancy test with a big laugh line when she said, “The rabbit died.” There was more concern over the rabbit than Maude’s subsequently murdered baby! Everywhere you turned, the media had another soft soap story glamorizing abortion and dehumanizing the baby as a “fetus” or “a blob of protoplasm.” Most people didn’t even recognize they were being gamed by an industry hot for the sexual revolution that saw the baby as a complication to be eliminated, the final solution to the problem. Of course today, the baby is also a rich source for organ farming with body parts sold to the highest bidder. The exposé by the Center for Medical Progress reveals just how similar Planned Parenthood is to a butcher shop offering choice cuts.
But let’s shift gears to the latest version of the Game of Life and Death. The question has gone from “When does life begin?” to “When does life end?” For years pro-abortionists claimed no one really knew when life begins, but now the gamesters supposedly have no problem deciding when life ends. Only the unsophisticated and ignorant would quibble with their definition. The average person if asked, “How do you know if someone is dead?” would probably answer, “When a person stops breathing, his heart stops beating, and he turns cold, blue and stiff.”
Even that is problematic and people have been buried alive. In the 18th and 19th centuries during cholera epidemics bodies of the infected were buried quickly to control the ravaging disease. Fear of being buried alive led to development of “safety coffins” with bells to alert those above ground that the “dead” person was still, in fact, alive. The canonization for Thomas a Kempis, author of The Imitation of Christ, never moved forward because when Church officials exhumed his body as part of the process, they found scratch marks on the underside lid of the coffin indicating he was buried alive. They could not be certain he didn’t despair in the last moments of his life.
Until recent years there was no serious argument over when death occurred. The average man’s definition was the norm. But then came technology that allows vital organs to be “harvested.” The big problem was that vital organs begin to decompose within minutes of true death making them useless for transplantation. So new terminology was needed to declare a person “dead” when he still had a beating heart, circulation, and respiration feeding oxygen to his cells. Voila! “Brain-death.”
But is “brain-death” true death or just a case of “semantic gymnastics” like that described in the California Journal of Medicine in 1970 to justify abortion by the “curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death.”? At that time, word games were used to kill the baby in the womb; now it’s to kill the useless and potential organ donors.
Getting down to basics, what will you see if you go into the room of a “brain-dead” person? Someone hooked up to a monitor that measures heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. He will be on a ventilator to aid breathing. The ventilator is a tool to help the living not the dead. Yes, it will keep the patient alive because without oxygen you die. But if the body is already dead there will be no respiration, a process which “takes oxygen out of the inhaled air in exchange for carbon dioxide exhaled out of the body.” You can hook a ventilator up to a cadaver and force air into the lungs, but it won’t breathe!
Community organizer Barack Obama explains Alinskyian power acquisition
Next, if you sit down next to the patient and take his hand, you will notice it’s warm and flexible. You can feel the pulse as the blood circulates through his body. If you look around, you’ll notice an IV keeping the body hydrated. There may be a nasogastric feeding tube to provide nutrition. The patient will probably be catheterized and urine will be collecting in a bag. Bowel movements continue, so the patient will be wearing a diaper.
Does that sound like the description of a dead body? The patient is unconscious and may be severely brain damaged, but he’s alive.” If you take him off the ventilator and he stops breathing, of course he will die unless he can breathe on his own, but that may mean he wasn’t given enough time to recover. Christopher Reeve could never breathe on his own after his accident and was on a ventilator from 1995 until his death in 2004. His portable ventilator let him continue working and directing films! It was merely a medical tool.
Certainly, as Catholics, we know that the soul animates the body. Once the soul leaves the body, it’s an empty shell. Anyone who has seen a dead body (I’ve been present at the death of both my parents and my father-in-law.) knows it can’t be confused with a living body and looks nothing like the “brain-dead” patient I just described. While no vital organs can be used from a cadaver, tissues, corneas, etc. can be donated, after no circulation for an extended period of time, to benefit the still living person.
But if body functions continue, the soul must be present. No one knows exactly when the soul leaves the body. In the Hail Mary we ask Our Blessed Mother to pray for us “now and the hour of our death.” Not the second, not the minute, but the HOUR. If the heart is beating and the patient is breathing, there is certainly reason to believe the soul is still present. The correct ethical position is “When in doubt, don’t!” In other words, give life the benefit of the doubt. There is a reason that, when organs are harvested, the beating heart is often taken last, because the heart is needed to circulate the blood to the kidneys, liver, intestine, etc. to keep these organs oxygenated and healthy until they are dissected and excised.
Recently, the Nevada Supreme Court overturned a lower court that ruled St. Mary Regional Medical Center in Reno could remove life support from Aden Hailu. Last April, Aden, a college student, went into a coma following laparoscopic surgery to remove her appendix. She was declared “brain-dead” by doctors at St. Mary’s despite having brain activity. After the lower court ruled for the hospital, the family appealed. The Supreme Court heard evidence from other doctors including Dr. Brian Callister.
According to the transcript, Dr. Callister, “explained that typically, someone kept alive by a ventilator shows other signs of deterioration, such as organ failures or necrosis of the hands and feet, that Hailu does not exhibit.” In other words, Aden isn’t dead, but alive with ventilator support.
One of the most significant facts brought out in the Nevada Supreme Court decision is the inconsistent guidelines for what constitutes “brain-death.” There is no uniform definition of brain functioning (function or functions of the entire brain) and there is much disagreement in the medical community as to what constitutes “brain-death” and whether it’s legitimate. Most legislation on “brain-death” includes a landmine defining “brain-death” and then adding “in accordance with accepted medical standards” or words to that effect. But what exactly are “accepted medical standards?”
For some it is to recommend abortion if a baby in the womb is sick or handicapped. The judges in Nevada clearly recognized that there is no consensus about “brain-death,” and they rightly overturned the lower court decision and kept the restraining order in place. Now the challenge for Aden’s family is to find a doctor and hospital that will accept and treat her appropriately. St. Mary’s neglect (they refused a tracheostomy, a feeding tube, and thyroid hormone which are mandatory for a brain-damaged individual) has undoubtedly made her situation more precarious.
Jahi McMath whose case I mentioned in a previous article, Abortion to Euthanasia: Pushing the Unwanted Over the Cliff, is also back in the news. In October, a California court ruled that Jahi who was declared dead by a California coroner on January 3, 2014 can present evidence that she is alive and has standing to sue Children’s Hospital Oakland. From the amended legal complaint filed for Jahi, we find that a neurologist with triple board certifications “in Pediatrics, Neurology (with special competence in Child Neurology), and Electroencephalography…[and] a sub-specialty in brain death…[who] has published and lectured extensively on the topic, both nationally and internationally” is testifying on Jahi’s behalf that she is not brain dead. In fact, many months after “death” Jahi began her first menstrual cycle. As the doctor affirms in the complaint, “There is no precedent in the medical literature of a brain dead body developing the onset of menarche and thelarche.”
“Brain-death” is a fraud. If a person’s brain is irreparably injured a ventilator cannot keep the body from beginning to deteriorate. If the patient is near death, he can die with or without the ventilator. A ventilator is to breathing what a pacemaker is to the heart – a medical aid. Both can preserve the life of the living person who will eventually die with or without the medical device.
We are living in difficult and challenging times where the culture of life and the culture of death are in continuous hand-to-hand combat. Those who stand for life often fight not only the enemy, like Planned Parenthood and the euthanasia lobby, but also Catholic bioethicists who justify moral evils with hair-splitting semantics. The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia is on board with “brain-death” and organ donation, and, in fact, they call those who dispute their opinion “irresponsible.” But, as the Nevada Supreme Court illustrates, the definition of “brain-death” is uncertain and shifting. Many declared “brain-dead” continue to live like Aden and Jahi.
Mercedes Wilson, President of Family of the Americas, recently wrote this response to a comment at Crisis Magazine claiming Pope John Paul II approved of brain death:
"His Holiness, Saint John Paul II agreed with the position held by Dr. Paul Byrne. He asked us, personally, to organize a Conference on the subject of "brain-death" at the Pontifical Academy of Science in the Vatican…. We were forced by the internal enemies within the Vatican to have equal numbers, pro and con. This took place in February, 2005. The week His Holiness was coming to present his position to us, he became seriously ill, but he had already written his statement which was read only to the participants. After his death, the Academy was "ordered" not to publish the proceedings. We then decided to publish them ourselves…. You do not need to be a neurologist, in fact, you do not even need to be a physician to recognize when someone is alive or dead!...this LIE is promoted exclusively to protect the billion dollar business of organ transplantation. They are eager to receive approval from the Catholic Church and get more Catholic hospitals to destroy human life before… TRUE death.
“One last point: Think of the brain injured pregnant mother that transplant surgeons keep on the ventilator so that the baby can live a few ‘months’ longer in the mother's womb. The killer surgeons are just waiting for the baby to be old enough to live outside her womb. They then perform a C-section and immediately afterwards they remove her organs for transplantation. Why? Oh, because she has been dead for months they claim. It is a mystery that she has been keeping her baby alive with the help of a ventilator and…when the baby is born, the poor mother produces MILK for her baby! Don't you know…that for the mother to produce milk means that her prolactin levels in the brain must be working! Therefore, even her brain is NOT DEAD, it is still functioning! Our German and Japanese physicians who attended our Pontifical Academy of Science conference, confirmed that they have been saving 60-70% of ‘brain injured’ patients in their countries.”
Dr. William Brennan in his book, Dehumanizing the Vulnerable
, portrays how language is used against disfavored groups. He calls it the “semantics of oppression” and writes that “The extreme lies and deceptions emanating from this deadly serious game of verbal engineering and manipulation take on enhanced credibility when its most influential players are highly regarded individuals….Contrary to popular belief, although despicable language is often primarily associated with crazed individuals or mobs in the streets, it is far more likely to emanate from highly educated respectable circles.”
And that’s the Game of Life and Death in a nutshell. There are big rewards for the game players in the abortion industry and even bigger prizes for those in the organ transplantation industry. Both groups hide behind the language of compassion, but a compassion that involves deliberately killing one person for the benefit of another. It’s a deadly game indeed!
1 The Truth about Back Alley Abortions,
2 Just Dying to Get Out, from Snopes, online at http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp
3 Safety Coffin, Wikipedia, online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_coffin
5 A New Ethic for Medicine and Society, editorial from California Medicine, September 1970. PDF available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1501546/pdf/califmed00141-0097.pdf
6 To Breathe is to Live: The ventilator assists breathing, pamphlet produced by American Life League, available at http://www.all.org/to-breathe-is-to-live/
7 Nevada Supreme Court decision, FANUEL GEBREYES, Appellant, vs.PRIME HEALTHCARE SERVICES, LLC, D/B/A ST. MARY'S REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, November 16, 2015, p.8.
8 Mary Ann Kreitzer, Abortion to Euthanasia: Pushing the Unwanted Over the Cliff, The Truth vo. 20 No. 2 Summer, 2015, p. 1.
9 Wesley J. Smith, Jahi Family: Examining Neurologist Finds She’s Alive, National Review, Nov. 8, 2015, online at http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/426750/jahi-family-examining-neurolgist-finds-shes-alive-wesley-j-smith
10 Mercedes Arzu Wilson, private email to the author, November 21, 2015.
11 Dr. William Brennan, Ph.D., When Word Games Take Lives, Loyola University Press, Chicago, IL, 1995, p. 9.