Kassi Dee Marks
Well, it’s not the beginning of a Holy Season without a new attack on Texas Right to Life (and those that opposed HB 1444/SB 303 last session) by the Texas Catholic Conference.
In December Executive Director, Jeffrey R. Patterson, wrote on this matter and Bishop Gracida handily addressed it. https://abyssum.org/2014/01/05/scandal-the-texas-bishops-through-their-texas-catholic-conference-have-attacked-the-leading-prolife-organization-in-texas-the-texas-right-to-life/
It seems there was an attempt to sour Christmas; now Lent. I suppose during the Easter Season they will have something new and horrid to say on this matter. This latest letter, however, bears the electronic signatures of Cardinal Dinardo and Archbishop Garcia-Siller. How unfortunate!
There is so much wrong with this letter, but a few things occurred to me immediately. It refers to “unnecessarily prolong[ing] a patient’s death…” as a reason to withdraw care. Such is an awkwardly worded statement that literally makes no sense. The definition of prolong is “to extend the duration of,” but we cannot extend the duration of death. Once you die it’s done; this earthly life is over. It seems to me that what they are saying is that they don’t want to unnecessarily prolong a patient’s life.
The whole letter, like everything else the TCC has done on this issue, is focused on how soon we can withdraw care so one can die. It uses the term “dignity” again veering very closely to arguing for “death with dignity.” This sickens me to my core. From the beginning of the HB 1444/SB 303 battle, there were references to “dignity” and I noted then that:
When you lose control of the language, you are well on your way to losing the battle and even the soul of the movement. When representatives of the Texas Catholic Conference are making statements like: “The Texas Catholic Conference advocates advance directives reform legislation that recognizes the dignity of a natural death. Human intervention that would deliberately cause, hasten, or unnecessarily prolong the patient’s death violates the dignity of the human person.” This is very close to just saying, “We favor death with dignity.” This is a concept we in the pro-life movement have heretofore rejected. I am sorry to see that change.
The question in my mind remains: Why does the result they claim to seek – conscience protection for doctors who do not wish to continue “futile” medical care – have to come by way of terminating the life of the patient rather than just allowing a change of medical personnel or facility? It’s “overkill” in its most literal sense. If I no longer want to work with a particular firm, I do not have to quit the practice of law entirely. I just change firms. One does not shoot oneself in the head to cure a headache. To avoid treating a patient against a particular doctor’s conscience does not require killing the patient. This point must be made. Then they want to limit the time you have to find alternative medical care, that is, to give the patient a firm “deadline.” Another very literal use of the term.
The letter ends with: “We remain committed to our unwavering celebration of the preciousness of life and our compassion for patients and families when God is clearly calling a loved one home.”
How presumptuous to claim to know the mind of God in such a matters concerning others! And every time with every patient? Here they are clearly advocating for the medical personnel to play the role of God and discern for you what God wants for you. Never mind that withdrawal of care ensures death and leaves little room for God – or the beliefs of the patient or family as to what God wants from them to be practiced.
Then I have wondered during all of this: Where is the principle of subsidiarity? Who is best able to make those decisions? A doctor/facility or a family and their loved ones? The Encyclical cited does not in any way give that decision making power to anyone other than the patient. There is no moral basis in Catholic theology for this. Indeed, two other Vatican documents address this matter and still provide no theological cover for what is advocated here: https://abyssum.org/2013/04/30/appellate-attorney-kasie-dee-marks-comments-on-the-circular-firing-squad-of-the-supporters-of-sb-303/
The TCC is a constant test for me. On April 22 I will celebrate my 14th year as a Catholic. It is good that my knowledge of these actions by the TCC come now rather than at the beginning of my Catholic journey.
Let us pray for each other and these issues during this most Holy Season.
Kassi Dee Patrick Marks, JD