Hospice Patients Alliance: Patient Advocates

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

(Part one)

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

That is not a question (for anyone who might be surprised).

Most people in our nation would readily identify the National Right to Life Committee ("NRLC") as the most prominent pro-life organization in America. It's the oldest and largest pro-life organization in the country. With a budget of over $9 million annually, it is at the forefront in the news coverage of the fight for life. But whose lives? Anyone would expect that they would be fighting to protect all lives from imposed death, either through abortion, assisted-suicide, euthanasia or other methods of imposing death.

I ask: Is the NRLC truly pro-life? Or has it become a revenue-producing machine without a conscience?

Is the NRLC really fighting to protect all lives? Are they fighting to protect the lives of the disabled, elderly and chronically ill who are admitted into hospices and hastened to their deaths? Well, it might appear that they are. Some would think they do that. I dont' think so, and I'll show you why it is clear they don't.

In the most famous example of an imposed in-your-face hospice killing in our recent history, the case of Terri Schindler Schiavo, the NRLC doesn't even mention that the hospice CEO, Mary Labyak, and its chairman of the board, euthanasia proponent and attorney, George Felos, manipulated Terri so that the killing could take place at Woodside Hospice, part of the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast. The NRLC doesn't mention that this manipulation of Terri Schiavo from the nursing home into the hospice was (and is) part of an agenda to transform hospice into a place where the severely disabled, elderly and terminally ill can be hastened to their death, bypassing laws against euthanasia and assisted-suicide.

What is striking about the NRLC is that with a $9 million budget, they also (as of November 21, 2011) don't even mention the phrase "terminal sedation," "palliative sedation," "permanent sedation" or "total sedation," which all designate the same practice being misused to permanently sedate a patient while the patient is intentionally dehydrated to death. It's known as the "Third Way" or "Third Path" to impose death (the "first" and "second" ways of imposing death being euthanasia outright and assisted-suicide). There's not one reference in the entire NRLC website to the most widely practiced method of killing adults in America!

Everyone interested in the topic knows that official assisted-suicides account for very few actual deaths in this country. According to the Oregon Public Health Division, approximately 65 individuals died through lethal prescriptions provided by physicians in 2010. While each death is a terrible tragedy, is 65 deaths per year what the proponents of Oregon's Death with Dignity Law had in mind? Clearly not!

Of course, there are some idealistic individuals who think this is "just right," and find nothing striking about the numbers. If it was so important to be able to kill yourself with a legal, lethal medication, why haven't more people killed themselves? All this talk, and all the millions spent on getting the law passed and basically, a handful have killed themselves, and even among those, there are questions about how "voluntary" or appropriate all the deaths have been. It is well-known that many of those seeking assisted-suicide can be depressed or in need of psychological care.

The real goal of legalization of physician-assisted suicide is the expansion to legalizing euthanasia. In fact, when the lethal prescription fails to kill the patient, a physician (or other) must step in and "finish the job" to kill off that individual. Known as "failed assisted suicides," the NRLC recognizes that assisted suicide must, with certainty, involve direct action by someone to kill the patient when the prescribed medication does not do the job.

The NRLC does much to oppose abortion, legalization of assisted-suicide and euthanasia. But again, it does absolutely nothing to expose the hospice intended killings and doesn't even mention them at all. When I contacted the NRLC's ethics department several years ago, they stated they work for changes to the laws and were not interested in the actual killings already occurring in the hospice setting.

Their position is analogous to someone standing on the corner of a war-torn city while planes were in the process of dropping bombs on the populace, and asking people running by, "would you sign this petition to outlaw bombs and war?" How many people would stop? And even if some did sign the petition, what good would it do? The people were already being decimated with bodies laying all around and buildings crumbling all around.

Hospice as an industry has been infiltrated by the euthanasia proponents. And while there are a limited number of hospices that still adhere to the type of standards the public expects when a loved one enters hospice, the majority today in 2011, clearly do not. Most hospices today are for-profit, fraud is widespread, and killing off the evidence of fraud (a non-terminal patient) is the surest way of putting federal investigators off the trail ... "the patient died, so they must have been terminal." Of course, the research shows many are not terminal, yet they die anyway. Not terminal, but they die? Obviously, they are hastened to their death.

And we know that terminal sedation is the most widely practiced method of imposing death in hospice. Over and over again we hear from families whose loved ones are killed in this way: they are sedated, fluids are withheld and they die of dehydration in a few days to two weeks time. Of course, there are other methods, but this terminal sedation is used most widely. Why? Because it skirts the laws in every state prohibiting euthanasia.

The patient is sedated to reduce their supposed anxiety, fluids are withheld to avoid the "horrible" and obviously unwanted aspiration pneumonia when the fluids go right into the patient's lungs. Of course, if they hadn't been sedated first when they poured the fluid down the patient's throat, the patient might not have "choked" and therefore been considered at risk for aspiration pneumonia. It's a common trick used in hospice to make sure the patient doesn't take in fluids. "... wouldn't want the patient to get aspiration pneumonia?" "he could die." "we wouldn't want that, would we?" so sincerely asks the hospice nurse. And without a feeding tube in place for many patients, death is certain. The ploy works: stop the fluids by guilt-tripping the family into avoiding providing them, and then the outcome is set. It would be certain death for you, me or anyone sedated and dehydrated over time.

It is striking that the NRLC makes no mention at all of these practices. How do we account for this lapse on their part? If they truly were pro-life, they would certainly address the most widely practiced form of killing adults in the United States. This method is practiced in hospices around the country. But the NRLC won't and hasn't addressed this epidemic of medical killing in hospice. There are certainly over 100,000 imposed deaths in hospices annually today. Even if there were only a few hundred (and there are certainly thousands of times that number) you would think they'd mention it. They spend an awful amount of time talking about assisted-suicide. Why not mention the practice that is actually killing patients all over the country?

It's almost a distraction to talk about assisted-suicide. "Hey, don't look at the man behind the curtain," yelled the so-called "Wizard of Oz." The obvious "pro-life" thing to do is to immediately expose what is going on in hospice, but they don't do it. They certainly know about these imposed deaths. Every patient advocacy and pro-life organization in the country has heard from families about these medical killings. They must have made a conscious choice not to mention the hospice killings and the transformation of the industry into something far different from what it was originally intended to be. Why?

The obvious, but terribly flawed reasoning is clear: they believed at one time that hospice or palliative care was the rightful alternative to euthanasia. If hospice or palliative care agencies were all truly providing care that allowed a natural death in its own timing, then that would be appropriate. And it is clear, some hospices are. However, it is not appropriate when these killings are actually occurring in terribly large numbers. Those who deny it are either perpetrators of the crimes, or well-meaning but ignorant individuals who have not studied the issue at all and who don't wish to admit this evil is spreading like a dark cloud over our nation.

Well, the NRLC certainly once believed that hospice or palliative care was the rightful alternative to assisted-suicide and euthanasia. But today, they absolutely know that the killings are occurring in hospices as well as hospitals and nursing homes. The incredibly well-publicized case of Terri Schiavo is just one of thousands of cases where imposed death occurs in hospice. The NRLC knows it.

If they know that hospice killings are occurring, and if they know that the industry is being used to promote the Third Way or "Third Path" method of killing, and if they know that terminal/palliative/total sedation is the most widely practiced method of killing the helpless patients, then there must be another explanation. It, too, is obvious. The NRLC has an annual budget over $9 million; it chooses not to expose the hospice killings or to utter even one word about the hospice industry as one of the most lethal agents in America today. They don't have even one mention of terminal or palliative sedation. Isn't it clear yet? Those who support NRLC still support hospice as "the rightful alternative to assisted-suicide and/or euthanasia!" Just like NRLC does. And many who are members and leaders of the NRLC are actively associated with hospice.

If NRLC were to effectively, truly expose the hospice killings and the transformation of the industry into something other than what most pro-life individuals assume it is, their donations would take a hit. And those members of NRLC who are actively involved with hospice would not allow it, and have not allowed it. Truth is, NRLC clearly cares more about its donations and its alliance with the hospice industry than it does about its supposed mission to protect life at any stage of life, even the vulnerable elderly, disabled and chronically-ill. So, support for and funding for hospice continues to grow daily. Support for NRLC and funding for NRLC continues among those who are pro-life. However, the hospice intended killings continue without a peep from the NRLC.

This is a wake-up call to the NRLC and the pro-life movement. It's time to deal with the realities that exist today, time to recognize the transformation of end-of-life care into ending-of-life care in many (but not all) hospices. How amazing to see the most widely practiced method of killing, this "Third Way" of killing completely ignored by the NRLC! As I said, it's like that guy standing on the corner during an actual wartime bombing, ... asking people to sign a petition, while ignoring the bombs falling from the sky. Theatre of the absurd!

And of course, as we've all heard, when you want to understand something that doesn't make sense at all, "follow the money."

Continued in Part Two ...

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