Hospice Patients Alliance: Patient Advocates


"What is Really Wrong with the National Right to Life Committee"

(Part two)

by Ron Panzer
November 21, 2011 (updated Nov. 25, 2011)


Yes, that is still, not a question. But questioning the motives of the National Right to Life Committee ("NRLC") has elicited some comments. Similar to the outrage felt by some individuals when we point out the abuses committed by some hospice and palliative care organizations, it is apparently not "in the interest" of the pro-life movement to question what is going on at NRLC. We are not supposed to "cause division" within the pro-life ranks.

It seems to me that healthy debate within the pro-life community can bring out more effective methods of advocacy than doing nothing. If questioning the NRLC raises a ruckus, then so be it. I'd rather that in the pursuit of the truth and in the sincere pursuit of safety for the vulnerable. We're not here to protect NRLC. We're here to protect life.

Those who know pro-life history, know as I pointed out, that "fighting euthanasia back then was pushing for hospice." Well, if that meant pushing for hospice without monitoring what was occurring in the industry, then that was a mistake. Clearly, it was a huge mistake if we consider the infiltration of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization by euthanasia proponents, and especially if we consider that in this nation, hospice's acknowledged "founder" was Yale University Dean of Nursing, Florence Wald, RN, ... pro-euthanasia, pro-assisted suicide advocate. Florence Wald, RN, along with other like-minded euthanasia proponents, steered the industry in a direction that completely subverted NRLC's expectation that hospice was, and would continue to be, a safe alternative to euthanasia.

Backdooring euthanasia into society through hospice and end-of-life care was a strategic move that NRLC has ignored for over 20 years. Frank J. Mongillo III, M.D. wrote so truly in 2008 that "hospice has become abortion for the elderly."

He is not the only physician who knows this truth. Other pro-life leaders have alerted the public: Elizabeth Wickham, PhD, Exec. Dir. of the Lifetree organization, has written in her excellent article, "Repacking Death as Life," "we must arm ourselves with the truth so that we are able to reject every effort to impose death."

How could NRLC not know about this transformation of the hospice industry? They couldn't. They know. So, NRLC's unquestioning support for everything that the hospice and palliative care industry promotes and practices today is unacceptable. It is a betrayal of its mission and the missions of all the state right-to-life affiliates of NRLC, because NRLC sets the tone of the debate and sets the battle plan for many of the state affiliates.

NRLC is said to be an ally of other individuals and groups working in the pro-life movement. We would hope that were true. But when it comes to end-of-life issues and the hospice and palliative care killings (not happening in all hospices), NRLC hasn't even shown up at the battlefield. They're like a general who is in charge of the battle plan and doesn't send one soldier to the field. Those waiting on the field are left without its "soldiers" of life and the vulnerable are left defenseless.

NRLC does mention the danger of assisted-suicide or euthanasia in hospitals and nursing homes. Why the deliberate and very specific omission of hospice being used to hasten death, when that is, by far, the largest arena for imposed death? Why completely fail to mention that hospice has been intentionally transformed into something antithetical to what it is supposed to be?

NRLC has demonstrated blind allegiance to the hospice industry, and has failed to alert the public to what is being done through terminal/palliative sedation in the name of hospice or palliative care, to impose death. We could go on to mention numerous other methods used in end-of-life care to impose death but we've done that elsewhere already.

NRLC has chosen to be an ally of the hospice industry and has failed to be an ally of those victimized by the industry.

How is that possible? How can it be explained? We would like to assume the best of intentions on the part of those at NRLC, and we have for many years, but there comes a time, after more than a decade of waiting, when after hearing from so many anguished families, even from patients themselves pleading for help, we must look at the reality. NRLC has abandoned its own stated mission to protect the right to life at the end-of-life. It is clear that there are many hospice-industry members and supporters within NRLC. This would not be a problem had hospice and palliative care remained a place to care for those who are truly dying without hastening death in any manner. Unfortunately, things have changed in the end-of-life care industry. Hospice and palliative care, in many locations, has become an ending-of-life service, based upon secular bioethics which justifies this ending-of-life to relieve suffering at the end-of-life.

"Right to life" doesn't just mean protecting unborn babies, newly born or children, it means "respect for human personhood" at all stages of life. So, NRLC must step into the ring and act to protect those elderly, disabled and chronically-ill who are being snuffed out within the rogue hospice or palliative care setting. It doesn't mean condemning all hospice or palliative care services. It means recognizing and alerting the public that the industry is not absolutely pristine and pure, but that there is a mixture of providers out there, some good, and some dangerous to the vulnerable. Just like any niche within health care, hospice has its problems, and the NRLC needs to be promoting reform and renewal of the industry so that good end-of-life care actually is provided.

Hospice Patients Alliance's mission is focused on promoting excellence at the end-of-life and to promote the human rights of all within the hospice or palliative care setting. We are patient advocates as well as advocates for those who work with those at the end-of-life. Our mission is limited to this area. We are working to stop the invisible holocaust.

NRLC's mission statement is not limited to eliminating the practice of killing babies. It is not limited to the beginning of life. Its mission is stated to be the promotion of the right to life for all, including those at the end-of-life. Are we not to question its leadership after waiting decades for it to stop "driving while asleep at the wheel?" Is it really inappropriate to question its motives for refusing to address the largest threat to the right to life of those elderly, disabled and chronically-ill? Is NRLC "untouchable?" ... just like the entire hospice industry is supposed to be? Is the NRLC of today, as pro-life as it once was?

How many times have we heard, "how dare you question hospice and its 'angelic' nurses?" Well, we've repeatedly affirmed the original mission of hospice as envisioned by Dame Cicely Saunders, the mission expected by patients and families who sign up with hospice: to relieve suffering at the end-of-life while allowing a natural death in its own timing, neither attempting to cure the incurable nor hastening death. And again, we have the greatest respect for those who labor with love and professionalism in the end-of-life care arena.

However, who can explain NRLC's utter silence on the issue for decades?

When there has been a huge well-financed effort to transform hospice and palliative care into a death-delivering vehicle, by numerous pro-euthanasia organizations with big funding, how can NRLC ignore it?

When there's a battle being waged, you can't win if you don't show up!

NRLC has not shown up for this battle at all. We're not asking for much. Adding some words to its website, alerting the public ... these things don't take money. They take a willingness to admit the truth openly. It is not enough to say that good hospice and palliative care is the best alternative to assisted-suicide or euthanasia.

The evil of imposed deaths, involuntary deaths, occurring predominantly in hospice and palliative care settings must be exposed, confronted and stopped. Yet just as the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization has been infiltrated by the euthanasia proponents, NRLC has been infiltrated by hospice supporters who may, just may, be "ok" with what is going on in the hospice industry, even today. How by any stretch of the imagination can we explain their utter silence in the face of these imposed deaths? Is it possible the NRLC is infiltrated by some who are not as pro-life as we would hope? but are secretly approving the misuse of terminal/palliative sedation to impose death? Hard even for me to believe, but just as the Girl Scouts of America have become something quite other than they once were and are now aligned with the values best-expressed by Planned Parenthood, NRLC acts as if it were aligned with those in control of the hospice industry, who we know are euthanasia proponents.

People were shocked when we questioned the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization ("NHPCO"), but we proved they are the legal and corporate heirs of the Euthanasia Society of America. There is no question about it. It is very likely that some members in the NRLC are not what one expects of a pro-life organization member. If euthanasia proponents ever wanted to nullify the efforts of a pro-life organization (and that is exactly what they would want to do), what better way than to become members of the pro-life organization and make sure it never really did anything effective in stopping society's acceptance of this Third Way of medical killing?

It is quite easy to see that there may be overlap between the NHPCO's membership (euthanasia-flavored hospice) and the NRLC members or leaders. When it comes to those trusted to be advocates for the defenseless, to those who have for decades touted their dedication to be such advocates, NRLC's silence in the face of this evil amounts to complicity. When it comes to protecting the vulnerable at the end-of-life or protecting the hospice industry, NRLC's leaders have chosen to protect the industry, not the vulnerable. That is not pro-life.

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