UK Doctors and Judges Sentence Another Innocent Baby Boy to Death


Update (6:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Despite ongoing efforts by Italian and Vatican diplomats to secure Alfie’s release, the hospital has removed the boy’s ventilator, and his hospital room has been surrounded by police officers. The English judge appears obstinately committed to his decision that Alfie’s life is not worth living, notwithstanding video published by LifeSiteNews earlier today showing that the toddler is “lively and alert.”


Update (2:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship in hopes that English authorities will release him for treatment at a hospital in Rome with ties to the Vatican. His doctors, resolute in their efforts to prevent the boy from receiving treatment elsewhere, planned to remove him from his ventilator today. The big question right now is whether the English are as determined to murder Italian citizens as they are to murder their own?


29789950_2042672899282211_9078872337536778240_nI am angry and upset that, for the second time in less than a year, the English legal and medical systems are conspiring to condemn a sick baby boy to death against the instructions of his parents.

Alfie Evans, who is now 23 months old, was taken to an English hospital in December 2016 to be treated for a lung infection. Some time later, he slipped into a coma. Doctors have been unable to diagnose Alfie’s malady, although they assume he has a mitochondrial disorder.

In February, the High Court in London agreed with doctors that the boy should be removed from life support, and the UK Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision. “Alfie’s brain had been so corrupted by mitochondrial disease that his life was futile,” the judge wrote in the decision. Alfie’s parents, on the other hand, want to take Alfie to an Italian hospital with ties to the Vatican for treatment.

Whether Alfie will be given the opportunity to receive treatment in Italy is still to be seen. The inappropriately named European Court of Human Rights rejected the family’s request to seek treatment elsewhere, and the hospital plans to remove life support today.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 9.20.28 PMThe ongoing case brings to mind Charlie Gard, who was murdered under similar circumstances by doctors and judges last summer. Gard’s parents brought him to a London hospital in October 2016 for breathing problems when he was three months old. Gard was subsequently diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. In January 2017, he had seizures and fell into a coma. Claiming that the seizures had caused irreversible brain damage, Charlie’s doctors petitioned an English judge to grant them the ability to end his life, despite the ongoing discussions between his parents and an American doctor who was willing to administer an experimental treatment that might have saved Charlie’s life. Hospital officials prevailed in court (just like with Alfie, the European Court of Human Rights refused to hear Charlie’s case) and removed Charlie from life support last July.

Justice Francis, the High Court judge who heard Charlie’s case, ruled that “it is in Charlie’s best interests” for the hospital “to permit Charlie to die with dignity.” In his ruling, Justice Francis rejected the objections of those who ask why courts should make these decisions and override the rights of parents:

“The duty with which I am now charged is to decide, according to well laid down legal principles, what is in Charlie’s best interests. Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process; why can the parents not make this decision on their own? The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

It is morally reprehensible for a judge to claim the power to decide whose lives are worth living and whose lives are not. Furthermore, it can only be described as a blatant infringement on parental rights when doctors and judges attempt to override decisions by parents regarding medical treatment for their children.

For the historically literate, Alfie and Charlie’s cases conjure up images of Nazi Germany, where doctors routinely euthanized the “unfit,” whose lives, in the eyes of politicians and doctors, weren’t “worth” living.

Lest we forget, physicians take an oath to “do no harm.” Although doctors shouldn’t be forced to provide care with which they personally or professionally disagree, they have no right to prevent parents from taking their children to another medical provider for treatment that may potentially prolong or improve the quality of life.

While the doctors involved in these two cases clearly overstepped their professional prerogative, they could not implement their murderous schemes without the legal support provided by English law and judges. Any government that presumes it has the power of life and death over its innocent citizens is tyrannical and monstrous. Any government that violates the natural right of parents to make medical decisions for their children is illegitimate, acting without authority, and flaunting the natural order, God’s law, and His design for human society.

Pray for little Alfie and his parents, both of whom are in their early twenties. Pray for the English authorities to repent and change direction. And pray that the American people will wake up and recover the conviction that life is sacred, lest our nation follow in England’s footsteps.

Marriage Rates Decline, Concerning Social Scientists

The percentage of single adults reached a new record high in 2016, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau. But social scientists say the precipitous decline in marriage rates over the last four decades has resulted in negative consequences for individuals, families, and communities alike.

Only 59 percent of men and 69 percent of women under 35 years old have ever married. In 1976, 88 percent of men and 95 percent of women had married before turning 35 years old.

Young adults aren’t forgoing romantic relationships entirely, however. The number of young adults cohabitating with their boyfriends or girlfriends has increased by more than 1,200 percent during the same period.

Social scientists have found that individuals who delay marriage or cohabitate miss out on numerous benefits that follow from tying the knot. Marriage causes men to become more productive, increasing their success at work and improving their financial well-being. Their wives are more likely to have a fulfilling sex life and are less likely to become victims of sexual assault. Married men and women are emotionally, psychologically, and physically healthier than their unmarried peers.

Children also benefit from growing up in a household where both parents are married. Such children are statistically less likely to have behavioral problems, experience poverty, or suffer abuse. They are also more likely to do better in school and have healthy families of their own when they grow up.

The trends outlined in the Census Bureau report are concerning. Healthy communities are the product of healthy marriages, and healthy marriages promote individual contentment and fulfillment. Therefore, we must always work to ensure that we encourage marriage, thereby strengthening individuals, families, and communities.


This article was originally written for the Indiana Family Institute.


 

Public School Employee Threatened With Discipline After Offering to Pray for Coworkers

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Private expression of religious faith is under attack in public schools.

Toni Richardson, who works with special needs children at a Maine high school, was approached by school officials for allegedly violating the First Amendment and the “separation of church and state.”

What misdeeds had she committed? She had told a Christian coworker that she was praying for him or her and used phrases including “That’s such a blessing.”

After learning of these supposedly grave violations, school officials told Richardson that telling other teachers “‘I will pray for you’, and ‘you were in my prayers’ is not acceptable—even if that other person attends the same church as you.” She was informed that continuing to “use phrases that integrate private and public beliefs when in public schools” would result in “discipline or dismissal in the future.”

Thankfully, our friends at First Liberty accepted Richardson’s case and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on her behalf. School officials have since backed off their original claim that Richardson must give up her First Amendment right to free religious expression when she enters school each morning. In an updated memo, they now affirm that “comments such as ‘God Bless You’ or ‘I am praying for you’ are permissible when made to co-workers outside of the hearing of students.”

The Constitution protects a person’s right to express their faith. Public school teachers shouldn’t be forced to pretend as if they aren’t Christians at their workplace. Unfortunately, more and more Christians are finding themselves in the crosshairs of school officials who are armed with a dangerous misinterpretation of the First Amendment and ignorance of the true meaning of “separation of church and state.”

The founding fathers who framed the U.S. Constitution believed that our nation’s schools should teach the Bible and Christian morality. Prayer and Bible classes were once common in public schools. Yet our school system, aided by the Supreme Court, has strayed from this founding conviction.

We’ve not only forgotten the central importance of teaching the Bible and Christian morality to the next generation so that they may faithfully fulfill their obligations as free citizens, but we’ve also begun targeting Christians within the public school system.

Fortunately, Richardson is no longer at risk of losing her job for showing Christian love and care to her coworkers, a privilege many other Christians in public schools currently lack.


This article was originally written for the Indiana Family Institute.


 

A “Fragile Superhero” Shows the Inherent Value of Children With Disabilities

KadenHave you heard about “fragile superhero” Kaden Casebolt? 

Kaden is a five-year-old boy born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a very rare disease that makes a person’s bones extraordinarily brittle.

Meeting with Kaden’s mom while she was still pregnant, doctors recommended she get an abortion. They informed the expectant mother there was a 95% chance her son wouldn’t survive birth. But even if he did, doctors said he wouldn’t survive long after.

Kaden’s mom declined to abort her preborn son. In an interview with BBC3 this summer, she says she made the right decision. 

Although Kaden has had over 40 broken bones requiring frequent surgeries, he “loves life.” Kaden is fascinated by superheroes, and he enjoys playing with his superhero action figures. He’s particularly fond of Superman, who impresses Kaden with his flying skills and suit.

“I think Kaden loves superheroes so much because he feels like he is one,” his mom said. “He’s already overcome so much, and he can still do the impossible.”

The doctors who recommended abortion were wrong, something Kaden’s mom says is evident in her son’s happiness and great potential.

“I’m very glad that I didn’t listen to the doctors who told me that he wouldn’t live, or walk, or do anything,” Kaden’s mom said. “If I did listen to them, then I wouldn’t have a strong little boy doing everything they said he couldn’t do.”

Every person deserves a chance at life. But too many preborn children with disabilities are aborted and denied the opportunity to live happy lives.

Thankfully for Kaden, he has parents who understood the infinite value of their son. They chose life.



This article was originally written for the Indiana Family Institute.


 

Why We Must Keep Fighting for Life

3DE361EE00000578-4644268-The_10_month_old_boy_also_has_brain_damage-a-46_1498586584367Western society has truly become a “culture of death.” Three recent news stories illustrate this unfortunate development:

1. Charlie Gard is a ten-month-old with a rare genetic disorder that has put him in a coma. An American doctor offered the family a potentially life-saving experimental treatment for Charlie, and the family soon raised over $1.6 million to cover the expenses.

Charlie’s story took a turn for the worse when his London hospital refused to permit his parents to take him across the Atlantic for treatment. His doctors believed that since he would likely be disabled if the treatment were successful, “it is in Charlie’s best interests to permit Charlie to die with dignity,” a sentiment echoed by a British judge after Charlie’s parents sued.

According to the judge, “Although the parents have parental responsibility [in making medical decisions for their children], overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

Charlie’s parents fought valiantly for the right to secure potentially life-saving treatment for their child, appealing the decision to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Justice was denied, however, when the ECHR refused to intervene earlier this week, allowing doctors to end Charlie’s life.

2. The parents of an Iowa boy (“Z.P.”) born with cerebral palsy successfully sued their doctor for failing to inform them that their baby would be born with the disability. They say they would have had their baby aborted if they had known about the disability.

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents. As James Silberman accurately notes, “If the right to kill unborn children exists, it follows that a doctor’s failure to inform the parents of an unborn child about the presence of an undesirable trait would indeed be a violation of that right.”

3. The Oregon Senate passed a bill (SB494) earlier this month that would have allowed nursing homes to starve disabled patients to death. The bill was introduced after Bill Harris sued the nursing home caring for his wife, Nora, who suffers from dementia. Harris wanted the nursing home to stop spoon feeding Nora.

Although Nora is dealing with advanced Alzheimer’s, she is still conscious and wants to eat. SB494 would have allowed the nursing home to withhold food and water from Nora until she starved to death.

Thankfully, the legislation recently failed in the House Judiciary Committee. Although the mere fact that the bill passed the Senate is remarkable and frightening, it is unsurprising, considering that Oregon was the first state to allow doctors to kill terminally ill patients who want to die.

Why We Must Keep Fighting

Human life is sacred. Every person, regardless of his or her disabilities or circumstances, has dignity and is inherently valuable.

Human life is beautiful. Anyone who has met the inspiring and beautiful people living with disabilities knows this to be true.

Those with disabilities offer so much to the world; most importantly, they provide the opportunity for society to grow in its compassion for the weak and vulnerable.

Those who have disabilities are no less human than you or me. Their humanity demands the same natural rights we all share, the most important of which is the right to live.

We have not been given the authority to decide whose lives are “worth living.” Abortion, euthanasia, and suicide are so destructive because these things demean human life.

Our shared humanity enjoins us to fight against these evils. We must defend the defenseless. We must speak for Charlie, Nora, and “Z.P.” We must not permit judges and legislators to change and manipulate our laws to allow for the murder of the innocent.

Who will defend the most vulnerable if we do not? I pray that we may never forget that their lives are immeasurably valuable, and I pray that more good people rise up to restrain the evil that has convinced far too many people that some lives are more valuable than others.

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito (Latin: Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it).


This article was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.


 

Would the Johnson Amendment Have Stopped the War for Independence and the Abolitionist Movement?

250px-First_Baptist_Meetinghouse,_Providence,_RIHad the Johnson Amendment been in effect prior to 1954, the American War for Independence and the abolitionist movement may have never happened.

The Johnson Amendment to the federal tax code prohibits nonprofit, tax-exempt entities from participating in, or intervening in, “any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” This prohibition includes “the publishing or distributing of statements” on behalf of candidates, legislation, or political parties.

The amendment was originally proposed by Texas Senator (and future President) Lyndon B. Johnson to silence and retaliate against the nonprofit political organizations that had been created to support his primary opponent. It was passed in 1954 by a unanimous voice vote without debate.

Although Congress never intended to include churches in the prohibition, “the I.R.S. has steadfastly maintained that any speech by churches that the IRS could construe as supporting or opposing candidates for government office, including sermons from the pulpit, can result in loss of tax exemption,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Johnson Amendment has had a chilling effect on American churches. Radical atheist organizations like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have mounted public relations campaigns to intimidate churches and pastors. Not only do they spread misinformation about what churches and pastors can/cannot do regarding political involvement, but they have also reported to the IRS those churches who refused to remain silent about issues relating to government.

However, American pulpits have not always been censored by the federal government. Before the enactment of the Johnson Amendment, churches and pastors used their moral authority to speak prophetically to members and the culture about political issues.

From colonial times until the twentieth century, American churches often used their trusted social position to proclaim the Bible’s truth about issues being debated in public.

For example, pastors would frequently endorse or oppose specific candidates for public office, and they shared with their congregations whether a piece of legislation or a candidate’s positions were compatible with biblical principles. Pastors also commonly preached “Election Sermons,” which were given in the audience of public officials to exhort them to govern according to God’s truth and design for society.

Recognizing that a faithful exposition of God’s Word demanded that they preach about political issues, churches and pastors spoke into the civil arena and helped shape the American political debate for centuries. Perhaps this is no more apparent than the indispensable role churches played in the War for Independence, the abolition movement, and early civil rights movements.

John Adams, himself a central figure in the independence movement and the early republic, pointed to the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mayhew as having had a “great influence in the commencement” of the American War for Independence. Like many of his contemporaries, Mayhew preached and published sermons that seemed to “revive… animosity against tyranny in church and state.”

It was in church that early Americans learned of their inalienable rights and the proper jurisdiction and role of civil government. According to Adams, the Spirit of 1776 ripened, in part, because “the pulpits thundered!”

Leading up to the Civil War, churches also played a key role in the movement to abolish slavery. Quakers, Wesleyans, American Baptists, Congregationalists, and some Methodists stridently opposed the peculiar institution and mobilized political and social efforts against it, with their churches serving as the center of the action. Churches comprised many of the stops along the “Underground Railroad,” offering their sanctuaries as hiding places for those escaping slavery.

It is no wonder that the abolition of slavery came on the heels of the Second Great Awakening, an Evangelical religious revival during the early nineteenth century that stressed the importance of a personal relationship with Christ and propelled efforts to reform society according to biblical precepts.

Imagine if the Johnson Amendment had been around during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Would American churches have assumed their role as agents of social change in the movements for independence, abolition, and civil rights if their free speech had been muzzled by the federal government?

Churches and pastors have a biblical obligation to share biblical positions on political issues with their members and their communities. Throughout this nation’s history, churches have acted as champions of justice.

Although President Trump campaigned on “totally destroying” the Johnson Amendment, his religious liberty executive order last month failed to make any substantive changes to IRS policy. The ACLU called the executive order a “faux sop to religious conservatives” and an “elaborate photo-op” that “does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process.”

It is time to stop censoring the constitutionally protected religious speech of American pulpits. Pastors who preach and uphold the entirety of the Bible should no longer have to fear the IRS. Congress should not wait any longer to begin the process of repealing the Johnson Amendment.


This post was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.


 

Oregon Legislation Would Allow Nursing Homes to Starve Dementia Patients

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Nora Harris, 64, is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. Although she is conscious, she can no longer use utensils to eat and drink.

Under current Oregon state law, so long as Nora is conscious, her caretakers must offer her food and water and help her to eat and drink.

Bill Harris, Nora’s husband, believes that Nora would rather starve to death. He sued to stop the spoon-feeding last year but lost the case.

Oregon lawmakers are now considering legislation that would allow nursing homes and hospitals to starve and dehydrate patients like Nora.

Oregon Right to Life says SB494, which passed the Senate last week, “would allow the starving and dehydrating of patients who suffer from dementia or mental illness.” David Kilada, Oregon Right to Life’s political director, explained the legislation in a post on ORTL’s blog:

“SB 494 removes current safeguards which prohibit surrogates from withholding ordinary food and water from conscious patients with conditions that don’t allow them to make decisions about their own care. Currently, patients like Nora are given help with eating and drinking when they cannot do it themselves. This is not tube feeding or an IV—this is basic, non-medical care for conscious patients.

“The way these safeguards are removed is subtle. A cursory look at SB 494 might lead you to think it merely updates the law regarding advance directive. This is true, but there’s more. If the bill passes, it could allow a court to interpret a request on an advance directive to refuse tube feeding to also mean you don’t want to receive spoon feeding! SB 494 would also create a committee, appointed rather than elected, that can make future changes to the advance directive without approval from the Oregon Legislature. This could easily result in further erosion of patient rights.”

The patients who would be affected by SB494 aren’t comatose. They aren’t relying on ventilators, tube feeding, or an IV to stay alive. Instead, these patients are fully conscious and aware; they are simply unable to feed themselves.

Current Oregon administrative rules require that nursing homes offer their patients three meals and snacks each day. The facilities must also provide “assistance with eating (e.g., supervision of eating, cueing, or the use of special utensils).”

Patients can refuse to eat the food they are given, but Nora still expresses a desire to eat. SB494 would allow Nora’s nursing home to withhold food and water from her, even if she wants to eat and drink.

With its passage in the Senate, SB494 now moves to the House of Representatives. Oregon was the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1997 for terminally ill patients. Since then, a total of 1,127 patients have died from doctors giving them prescription medication to end their lives, according to a 2017 report by the Oregon Public Health Division.


This article was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.