Seeds bearing life, seeds bearing death

“Ah, dear friend, when something happens in life, do you ever think of the moment that caused it, the seed from which it grew? How can I explain it…? Imagine a field being sowed and all the promise that’s contained in a grain of wheat, all the future harvests… Well, it’s exactly the same in life”.

I don’t know why exactly, but these words brought to mind two very sad events of the recent past. They were events, each of which had the character of both fruit and of the seeds of fruit which in their turn produce more fruit – and more seeds. One event was bitter-sweet, the other filled with a bitterness devoid of any sweetness.

The words themselves come from one of the novels of Iréne Némirovsky, Fire in the Blood, which like all her novels, are pathos-laden explorations of human nature and flesh and blood human beings, each revealing the follies, weakness, and wisdom of our kind – wisdom sometimes induced by our follies and our weakness.

The recent events brought to mind were the sad stories of two people afflicted with terminal illness – the one being young Brittany Maynard on the West Coast of America, the other, even younger, being 17-year-old Donal Walsh who lived in Co. Kerry, on the West Coast of Ireland. They both died but did so in starkly different ways. Their respective deaths were the fruit of seeds sown and being sown in our culture, seeds whose fruits determine our vision of the very purpose and meaning of life itself.

Young Donal Walsh’s story is now known by everyone across the land in which he lived. Afflicted with cancer as a child he fought a successful battle with it for years. Eventually, however, the prognosis emerged that his condition was terminal. This happened at a time when Ireland in general, and Donal’s home place in particular, seemed to be inflicted with an epidemic of suicide, and more shockingly suicide among young people in their teens and early twenties. Donal was shocked and dismayed by this. Here he was, in love with life but asked by God – and this is the way he saw it – to leave this life. He did not want to leave it and he was appalled by those who not only took their own lives but in doing so inflicted pain and suffering on those who loved them. He went public with his thoughts on the local radio station. The story was picked up by a national newspaper and eventually he appeared on prime-time weekend television to put his case for life. There is no way of knowing how many lives he may have saved but there is no question but that his idealism, his love of live and his heroic confrontation of his illness inspired his country and his own generation.

On May 12, 2013, Donal moved on to his final journey and reached “God’s Highest Mountain” – as he called it – climbing it with a great phrase on his lips and spoken to the priest who gave him the last sacramental rights in the following conversation:

Donal: “Father, Father, what is it like on the other side?”

Fr. Padraig  “ Donal I’m not sure but I can tell you that it will be a much better place because you are there. Donal, why? Are you afraid?”

Donal “No Father, just a little nervous!”

Following his death his parents have continued his work. Donal fundraised tirelessly for the hospital where his illness was treated. His family has now had the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation set up in order to bring forward his causes of providing age appropriate teenage facilities in hospital and hospice centres as well as promoting his anti-suicide message.

Donal Walsh’s life, his story, is not just a memory. It is a tangible legacy, a seed which gave life and continues to give a harvest of joy, faith and optimism to the young people of his country and to the world.

How different the sad a bitter emptiness of poor Brittany Maynard’s story. The bleak pagan ideology which infected her spirit has reaped – and will continue to reap – a devastating legacy, the legacy of the culture of death. Where did this great evil come from? How did this great evil once again, after two thousand years, gain the foothold it held in the ancient world. It was not her illness which took Bettany Maynard’s life from her. Her apparently voluntary act was the bitter fruit of the corrupting seed which now lives within our body politic and which will continue to snuff out many more lives, of the young and not so young, until the spirit of Donal Walsh vanquishes it.

Twenty-nine year-old Brittany, ended her life on 1 November 2014 in Oregon. Having been told in April that she had less than six months to live, Maynard and her husband relocated to Oregon, one of three US states that allows assisted suicide.

The false reasoning of the demons which led Brittany Maynard to her death are well documented but not so well understood.

Kevin Yuill wrote earlier this month about this sad case in “Many will say that no one should judge Maynard for her decision, that it was her life and her choice, and that no one could understand the kind of suffering she had gone through. Such objections are misplaced. Brittany Maynard wanted us all to judge her situation, to approve of her action. It was Maynard herself who decided to go public with her suicide. She approached Compassion & Choices, the well-funded proponent of the legalisation of assisted suicide in the United States, and offered to tell her story in order to support legalisation. The result was a slickly produced video that has been viewed by nearly 11 million people. Maynard positioned her suicide as part of the campaign to legalise assisted suicide; we were invited to judge.”

A potent seed indeed, widely sown, and with inevitable and dreadful consequences.

Why, Yuill asks, was her action regrettable? Because it is based on an unreal understanding of death. As Kevin Fitzpatrick,of Not Dead Yet, – who spoke movingly earlier this year at Ireland’s Pro Life Campaign’s annual conference in Dublin, –  an organisation of disabled people opposed to legalising assisted suicide, noted perceptively, death is the end of all the possibilities of life. To be dead is more disabling than any injury or disease. Fitzpatrick remarks that ‘[w]e have lost our sense of “terrible beauty”’, whereby even in the depths of suffering and horror ‘there can still be something there for us to find profound, even beautiful’. Suicide is disturbing because it cuts short the possibility for human interaction, for participation in one another’s lives.

There is no doubt but that a great battle is raging out there for the minds and hearts of all the members of our race, the human race. It is the battle between those who aspire to the spirit of noble heroes like Donal Walsh and those who would lure wounded human beings to the false, pernicious and inhuman vision by which Brittany Maynard was betrayed.

“Ah, dear friend, when something happens in life, do you ever think of the moment that caused it, the seed from which it grew?” By thinking clearly about the seeds which are sown among us we can sometimes distinguish the good from the bad and then act courageously in consequence.

Folly and deceit in hot pursuit of abortion on demand

The folly and the duplicity behind the drive of the Irish pro-abortion machine is well and truly exposed in an article by a lawyer and psychiatrist in today’s Irish Times, so much so that one just wants to cry out to them, “why don’t you just come clean and tell us that your demand for legislation to allow abortion on the grounds of threatened suicide is because this is the surest way to get abortion on demand.” This is what is very clear from Enda Hayden’s article and if the other Enda (Kenny, Ireland’s prime minister) cannot see the trap he is being walked into by his socialist deputy, Eamon Gilmore, then he is either very stupid or pretending to be stupid.

Hayden states, after reviewing all the professional expertise on the matter, that “even following comprehensive assessment and reassessment by highly experienced and competent psychiatrists, it is not possible to confirm, on balance of probabilities, that threats of suicide due to an unwanted pregnancy will lead to completed suicide. Any perceived real and substantial threat to the life of the pregnant mother, by suicide, is not a permanent state, but rather a crisis that will resolve and is amenable to intervention.”

Furthermore, an added fallacious element in the pro-abortionists campaign is expose by Hayden when he observes that the clinical realities he explores in his article do not lend themselves to restrictions imposed by any statute providing for threat of suicide as a ground for abortion. For example, he points out, if threat of suicide in pregnancy were to be accepted as posing a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, why should any time limit apply in respect of abortion if the spirit of such statutory provision is to save the life of the mother?

“If a time limit were to be imposed on provision of abortion in such circumstances, how would this accord due recognition to the time required for comprehensive multifactorial assessment including assessment of response to treatment interventions? Should statutory provision for assessment of response to treatment be dispensed with in order to expedite and simplify matters?

“Assuming statutory provision for a second opinion by a suitably qualified professional in respect of the suicidality assessment process, what implications might this have for compliance with time limits, assuming such were to be provided for by statute? In the event of a “psychiatric emergency”, would the opinion of just one medical practitioner that abortion is immediately necessary to save the life of the mother suffice in order to procure an abortion?

“What is the legal capacity of a pregnant mother to provide informed consent to an abortion in situations where she is emotionally overwhelmed to the extent that her judgment is impaired, and how is this addressed and over what time period? This is not a theoretical question but a common clinical reality for psychiatrists treating patients with a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder, a diagnosis particularly associated with risk of crises during pregnancy. The absence of informed consent is fertile ground for litigation.”

All of which goes to place a huge question-mark over the work of the so-called “expert” group on which the Irish State is now basing its legislation. That group, if it had been expert in any way, would have analysed all these things and would have questioned the entirely spurious Irish Supreme Court judgement on the “X” case which set this suicide threat up as an unquestioned medical principle – without any medical evidence to back it up.

But the truth is – and this would probably be exposed if any media organisation interested in the truth took the trouble to query its deliberations under freedom of information legislation – that this expert group was a tool of a government and its Health Service Executive which wanted, by hook or by crook, to get legislation for abortion on demand on Ireland’s statute books, ignoring its own formal terms of reference to ensure that it gave its masters the results they wanted.

If you want to weigh up suicide risks read this


Context: the Irish parliament’s proposal to legislate for abortion on the basis of the risk of an expectant mother committing suicide.
The real-life story of Oscar winner, Rita Moreno (West Side Story), recounted in her autobiography and reported in today’s Daily Telegraph, show where the real risks of suicide lie.

After her relationship with (Elvis) Presley ended, she discovered she was pregnant with (Marlon) Brando’s child. “To my shock and horror, Marlon immediately arranged for an abortion,” she writes. It was this episode, she says, that prompted her suicide attempt at Brando’s home.
“I went to bed to die,” she writes. “This wasn’t a revenge suicide, but a consolation, an escape-from-pain death.”
Moreno was rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped and her therapist begged her and Brando – who died in 2004 – never to see one another again.

Irish legislation on abortion could be psychiatrists’ “nightmare”

The Chairman of the Irish Association of Suicideology has said that legislation based on the X Case – as proposed to the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government in Ireland – would create a ‘logistical nightmare’ for psychiatrists if implemented. Dr Justin Brophy, a consultant psychiatrist with Wicklow Mental Health Service said this in an interview with an Irish language newspaper, Gaelscéal.

The proposal for this has come from an expert set up by the Government to propose options to it for meeting an obligation placed on it by the European Court of Human Rights to clarify the country’s law on abortion. This group has been described as flawed in its composition by pro-life activists in Ireland.

Part of the complaint about the expert group’s work is that it is alleged to have misrepresented the judgement of the ECHR judgement. The Court did not oblige the Irish Government to legislate for any form of abortion in Ireland; it simply obliged it to “clarify” its laws with regard to the position of pregnant women who might be demanding abortions. The group has proposed options for legislation to the government which prolife people say will inevitably lead to abortion on demand because of its acceptance of the terms of the X case admitting threats of suicide as a definition of a threat to the life of the mother.

Dr Brophy said that medical judgements can be wrong and psychiatrists will be on a “hiding to nothing” if asked to adjudicate in these cases. He added if a law were passed allowing for abortion on the terms of the X case that there would be public outrage if a pregnant woman took her own life after a being refused an abortion based on a psychiatrists view that she was not suicidal.” Suicidal intent, he said, is an ‘easily fabricated’ condition.

Meanwhile, public protests against the stated intent of the Government to legislate on this matter and the perception that it will do so on the basis of the X case is mounting. Catholic Church leaders are also giving very clear indications that its voice will be heard giving a very clear account of Catholic moral teaching on the issue.

In their statement issued yesterday the bishops said:

A society that believes the right to life is the most fundamental of all rights cannot ignore the fact that abortion is first and foremost a moral issue.

As a society we have a particular responsibility to ensure this right is upheld on behalf of those who are defenceless, voiceless or vulnerable.  This includes our duty as a society to defend and promote the equal right to life of a pregnant mother and the innocent and defenceless child in her womb when the life of either of these persons is at risk.

By virtue of their common humanity the life of a mother and her unborn baby are both sacred.  They have an equal right to life.  The Catholic Church has never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother.  Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are morally permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby.

Abortion, understood as the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby, is gravely immoral in all circumstances.  This is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby.

Current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction in practice. This has been an important factor in ensuring that Irish hospitals are among the safest and best in the world in terms of medical care for both a mother and her unborn baby during pregnancy.  As a country this is something we should cherish, promote and protect.

The Report of the Expert Group on the Judgement in A, B and C v Ireland has put forward options that could end the practice of making this vital ethical distinction in Irish hospitals. Of the four options presented by the Report, three involve abortion – the direct and intentional killing of an unborn child.  This can never be morally justified.  The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights does not oblige the Irish Government to legislate for abortion.

Other aspects of the Report also give rise to concerns.  These include, but are not limited to the fact that:

The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights permits options on this matter of fundamental moral, social and constitutional importance that are not offered by this Report.  This includes the option of introducing a constitutional prohibition on abortion or another form of constitutional amendment to reverse the ‘X-case’ judgement.

The Report provides no ethical analysis of the options available, even though this is first and foremost a moral issue and consideration of the ethical dimension was included in the Terms of Reference.

The Report takes no account of the risks involved in trying to legislate for so-called ‘limited abortion’ within the context of the ‘X-case’ judgement.  The ‘X-case’ judgement includes the threat of suicide as grounds for an abortion.  International experience shows that allowing abortion on the grounds of mental health effectively opens the floodgates for abortion.

The Report also identifies Guidelines as an option.  It notes that Guidelines can help to ensure consistency in the delivery of medical treatment.  If Guidelines can provide greater clarity as to when life-saving treatment may be provided to a pregnant mother or her unborn child within the existing legislative framework, and where the direct and intentional killing of either person continues to be excluded, then such ethically sound Guidelines may offer a way forward.

A matter of this importance deserves sufficient time for a calm, rational and informed debate to take place before any decision about the options offered by the Expert Group Report are taken.  All involved, especially public representatives, must consider the profound moral questions that arise in responding to this Report. Abortion is gravely immoral in all circumstances, no matter how ‘limited’ access to abortion may be.