News Articles

LIFE DIGEST: Assisted-suicide movement advances; Australia issues Down ruling

WASHINGTON (BP)–Recent developments demonstrate the campaign to legalize physician-assisted suicide continues to make progress.

The evidence includes:

— A Montana district judge ruled Dec. 5 residents of the state have the right to assisted suicide.

— A member of the Scottish Parliament said Dec. 9 she plans to introduce legislation next year that would not only legalize the practice in her country but could make it a right for children 12 and younger, The Scotsman reported.

— An assisted suicide — this one performed in Switzerland — was televised for the first time in Great Britain Dec. 10, according to The New York Times.

“Like the proverbial boiling frog, we are slowly feeling the temperature rise in the assisted-suicide movement, but too few people seem bothered by the heat,” said C. Ben Mitchell, a professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago.

“Make no mistake about it, the legalization of assisted suicide isn’t about a patient’s right to a death free of pain. Patients already have that right, and it is exercised every day in hospitals all over the world,” he said, referring to pain management for dying patients. “Legalized medical killing is about the devolution of medicine from a caring profession aimed at the patient’s good to a consumer-driven commodity purchased from technologists in white coats.

“The only way to turn back the tide is to show that there is a better way,” said Mitchell, a consultant on biomedical and life issues for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Many Christian doctors, nurses and laypersons are modeling a compassionate countercultural alternative to assisted suicide by serving in palliative care and hospice.”

P.P. WORKER FIRED FOR COVER-UP — Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) has fired an employee of a Bloomington affiliate who was caught on video tape trying to cover up alleged child sexual abuse.

PPIN President Betty Cockrum announced Dec. 11 the firing of the unidentified health center assistant, saying she violated the organization’s rules on the reporting of abuse, the Associated Press reported.

The employee is shown via an undercover video camera telling a girl who identified herself as a 13-year-old impregnated by a 31-year-old man that she will not file a report. Such a report is required by state law. Later in the video, the PPIN employee tells her how to circumvent Indiana’s parental consent law and gives her the name and location of an Illinois abortion clinic.

The 13-year-old, who calls herself “Brianna” on the video secretly recorded during the summer, is actually Lila Rose, a 20-year-old student at UCLA and president of the pro-life organization Live Action. In 2007, Rose posed as a minor and gained video footage of a similar cover-up at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Los Angeles.

Live Action released the video only weeks after PPIN announced it was offering gift certificates that can be redeemed for its services, including abortions.

AUSTRALIA NIXES DOWN RULING — An Australian official has overturned a government agency’s decision to deny a German doctor’s request for permanent residency because his 13-year-old son has Down syndrome.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans issued the ruling Nov. 26, the same day on which a government board had upheld the original decision by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Evans’ action means Bernhard Moeller and his family will be able to remain in Australia after their temporary visa runs out in March 2010, according to CNN.

Moeller and his family moved to Australia two years ago for him to practice in a rural area of Victoria state that has a shortage of physicians. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship rejected Moeller’s application for permanent residency because his son Lukas “did not meet the health requirement,” according to the department. The rejection came because a medical official had determined Lukas’ condition “was likely to result in a significant and ongoing cost to the Australian community,” a department spokesman said.

‘LIFE PRIZES’ WINNERS — Five individuals and an organization have been named to receive the first “Life Prizes” for pro-life achievements.

The recipients, who will share the $600,000 in prize money, are:

— The American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

— Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

— Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, a network of more than 1,000 pregnancy resource centers.

— Kay Coles James, former Bush administration official and cofounder with her husband Charles of a pregnancy resource center and Black Americans for Life.

— Lila Rose, founder of the UCLA pro-life organization Live Action and leader of investigations that have uncovered Planned Parenthood’s cover-up of statutory rape cases.

— Jill Stanek, the nurse who exposed a Chicago hospital’s infanticide of babies who survived abortions that led to enactment of the federal Born-alive Infants Protection Act.

The prizes will be given by the Gerard Health Foundation at a Jan. 23 ceremony in Washington, D.C.

EGG DONORS, SURROGATES UP — Some American fertility clinics are reporting an upswing amid the faltering economy in women seeking to donate their eggs or be surrogate mothers.

“Whenever the employment rate is down, we get more calls,” said Robin von Halle, president of Alternative Reproductive Resources in Chicago, according to The Wall Street Journal. Calls from prospective egg donors have increased about 30 percent in recent weeks. “We’re even getting men offering up their wives. It’s pretty scary,” she said.

Egg donors typically earn from $3,000 to $8,000, but some agencies advertise much higher pay for women with particular traits.

IMPOSTER PLEADS GUILTY — The owner of a Southern California abortion chain has pleaded guilty to felony charges after she posed as a medical doctor in order to perform abortions.

Bertha Bugarin, 48, could receive a prison sentence of as many as nine years, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. She performed abortions on several women in February and March 2007, prosecutors said.
Tom Strode is Baptist Press Washington bureau chief.