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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Prescription for Death vs A Passion for Life

  Pro-Life Canadian Doctors Want to Inform Patients How to Kill Themselves in Canada

by Susan Fox

Tora Hutchison in her '70s
The doctors conferred. My mother was dying, they concluded.

It was left to me to talk to her. “Mother, the doctors say you have sepsis and kidney failure. They say that kidney failure is a comfortable way to die, and they wondered if you wanted to just let go? ”

To let go and do what? Why die, of course, comfortably die. The doctors were suggesting she stop fighting for her life.

Tora Hutchison was only 82 years old, and death wasn’t on her schedule.

“That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my entire life!” she almost shouted. She said it in the same tone of voice she used when saying, “You haven’t got the sense that God gave a goose!”

So the game was on. My mother was going to fight for her life. We would shift her to a better hospital in a bigger city, and she would have her second leg removed so she might have life. She was in this position because her doctors – out of false pity – had dillied and dallied and delayed the amputation of her second leg for a solid year. Now she was dying from it.

My grandmother had her period every month she was pregnant with my mother, and the joke among my goofy Scandinavian family was that Mom hit the floor when she was born because Grandma didn’t know she was pregnant! This happened in 1919.

But mother lived, a premature baby, she said, because grandmother was a good mother, and she, too, loved life. She passed that trait to her daughter and granddaughter, Mother and me. Grandma was a U.S. immigrant from Finland. Grandpa was the same from Norway. Neither of them could speak a single word of the same language when they got married.

Now almost 100 years after Tora’s birth comes the Supreme Court of Canada legalizing euthanasia on Feb. 6, 2015, to take effect one year later. In the 1960s, Tora, seeing abortion was about to be legalized, predicted “Euthanasia will be next.” Did she realize she would be swept up in the right to die business? She, who fought for life, her entire life?

Angel of Death Comes for Canada 
As I write this, death has already come for Canadians. Since Feb. 6, 2016, they are legally free to go to their doctor and ask to be put to death. This puts Canadian physicians, who still retain a conscience, into a quandary. How can you write a prescription for death when God said, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”?


Canadian physicians with consciences  wrote up “The Proposal” to the Canadian Medical Association.  It was offered by the Christian Medical and Dental Society with the support of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies and Canadian Physicians for Life.

In it, they developed a “safe” approach to saving their consciences and staying out of jail. They could not in good conscience refer a patient to be euthanized, but they could, in fact, inform them that they might self-refer themselves. Patients are autonomous agents, after all, and able to make their own choices.

In the physician’s defense, they propose to try and “cure” the patient first of whatever is causing him to choose death.

But what is the difference between referring and informing someone about euthanasia? Catholic Theologian in Training, Lawrence Fox, who grew up on the rough streets of 
Tora's Son-in-Law Lawrence Fox
Baltimore, answered the question. “You tell them you can’t condone stealing, but you’d be happy to tell them where nobody’s looking!”

“I fear that these Canadian associations, despite their earnest desire to resist doctor-abetted suicide, have succumbed to defeatism. “The Proposal” expresses a willingness to engage in what I understand to be formal co-operation with a patient’s request for abetted suicide,” said Canadian Witness for Life Mary Wagner, whose letter regarding euthanasia appeared in this blog Jan. 30, 2016. 

She herself has not chosen the easy way out of this dilemma with respect to abortion. She sits in the Vanier Centre for Women, a maximum-security prison for women located outside Toronto, Canada. Her Crime? 

She gives voice to the
Voice of the Voiceless Mary Wagner

child who cannot speak for himself. She uses her freedom to plead gently with a mother awaiting an abortion for the life of her child. And then under Canada’s insane “law,” she goes to jail!  

However, Canadian Douglas Farrow, writing for the respected First Things magazine questioned if Mary was confused: Does she have the “a full grasp of the principles, circumstances, and strategies in question?” Is she “entirely fair to these associations?” the McGill University theologian inquired.  To be fair to the professor himself, he is as admirable a pro-family martyr himself as is Mary Wagner. He is outspoken against the new Canadian euthanasia “law” and he has stood up for traditional marriage and against the blurring of the distinctions between the sexes.  

However, I think he is wrong if he meant that one could morally inform someone about their right to kill themselves, while not referring them to be killed.

This is what he said in “Letter From a Toronto Jail”: “I’m not sure that Mary is entirely fair to these associations, or that she has a full grasp of the principles, circumstances, and
McGill University Professor Douglas Farrow
writes against same sex "marriage." 
strategies in question, though I won’t try to offer my own analysis of the Proposal. I will only note, in case you are wondering, that it does draw a clear line in the sand between
informing the patient of all legal options and referring the patient for an option that, while legal, is most certainly immoral. It roundly condemns the latter as cooperation with evil, while Mary’s letter condemns the former as well.”

Now Mary Wagner, myself and Professor Farrow are all Christians. In fact, Mary reminded us of that fact in her Letter from A Toronto Jail concerning The Proposal: We are Christians. We know that God will not abandon us, even in death. No matter the circumstance, we are called to witness to the risen Lord with our lives.”

 As such we recognize a form of discernment, which is called putting on the Mind of Christ. His thinking can be found in Scripture and the Teachings of the Catholic Church. And in fact I am often dismayed how many times Christians forget to read the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 in order to sort out their moral dilemmas.

Imagine Jesus going throughout all of Galilee, teaching and healing the sick and exorcising demons. Seeing He was followed by multitudes, he went up a high mountain and sat down.

Then He began to teach the people. The thinking in these chapters of the Bible are the summary of the whole Old and New Testament, but believe me, few people in Jesus’ day were ready for this thinking, and scant few Christians today pay attention to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve grown indifferent to God’s manner of thinking. It is so alien to our own.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.” (Matt 5:13) And today here we are --- Christians who are no longer tasty. We have lost our flavor.


“You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (Idiot), shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” It isn't just murder that can put us in danger of the Barbecue Pit.  If we call the driver engaging in dangerous moves on the freeway a “fool,” we also step closer to the fiery pit.  Anger is not pro-life, Jesus tells us.  

You have heard that it was said to them of old: “Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5: 27-28)  We can’t even look with lust in our hearts? We thought we were being so good, even faithful to our wives because we didn't act on our lusts. 

Christ identifies in the Sermon on the Mount that sin originates in the mind and the heart. So how can you explain to a patient how they can arrange their own death? To tell them euthanasia services are available and they can self-refer would be to suggest to a vulnerable person that they could choose to die. And then, have you not in effect invited the person to examine the option of self-murder, to in effect choose death? One step closer to the Barbecue Pit.


I suppose that Professor Farrow when he asked if Mary had understood the principles, circumstances, and strategies in question,” he was expecting that we would all agree that it is a good thing to keep a vast number of Canadian physicians out of prison.  But in fact, if a large group of pro-life physicians went to prison, wouldn’t it be all that is necessary to bring down the tyranny of the Canadian government and end the murder of innocents?   

As Christians, are we not required to civilly disobey unjust laws even to the point of prison or death? The 16 Carmelite Martyrs of Compi├Ęgne daily offered themselves as victims to divine justice for the restoration of peace to France and the
 church for two long years during the tyranny of the French Revolution. God accepted their sacrifice. Each and every one of the 16 Carmelite nuns was beheaded. The terror of the French Revolution ended a few days after their collective sacrifice.


“Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection,” wrote the prophet Pope Saint John Paul II in the Gospel of Life.

“Human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence,” he concluded.

This Canadian law – euthanasia and abortion –are contrary to right reason, and therefore they constitute an unjust act of violence. And should the Canadian people in good conscience find comfortable accommodation with laws that commit violence against them?

Or another way for the Christian to answer the question is, “Am I called to love the Lord my God with my whole heart ... or just part? Do I love my neighbor as myself, or do I love him as much as I love my dog?”

“The Court's attempt to bully Canadians into accepting suicide under certain conditions in no way justifies suicide, or any form of co-operation with its process. Again, as our government tramples on justice, are we not called, in our dialogue and encounters with others to reaffirm that every human life is sacred, not counting the cost to ourselves but trusting in God and listening to him?” Mary Wagner concluded.

Yes! One thousand times, Yes! We cannot cooperate in any way with the unjust law that forces physicians to terminate human life! We cannot inform. We cannot refer. And we cannot kill. Jesus told the multitudes on the mountain, He did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it! He came so we could live a life of deep virtue, a form of happiness far surpassing that of the Pharisees or the scribes, the best people of Jesus’ time!  

That is the sort of happiness Tora knew. She wasn’t pretty. She wore frumpy clothes, but she embraced a life of suffering and holiness when she converted to Catholicism in 1953. And in 2001, she stubbornly refused to die when the doctors were ready for her to give up.

Are you interested in the end of her story? Well once she reached the big city doctor, it was too late. He did not dilly nor dally, but he flatly refused to do the amputation necessary to save her life.  

And I was given two more beautiful weeks in the company of my mother, my dearest friend, before she died on Friday, June 29, 2001, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul during the hour of Divine Mercy.

My mother herself was blinded during the last three weeks of her life from the things going wrong in her body. The doctors were unsuccessful at instituting kidney dialysis, although they tried. But through this, she savored life completely. She was a salty Catholic!
 Now many will say what happiness can anyone have in two weeks of suffering and death? Many, who want to avoid just such an end, favor euthanasia. But they don’t recognize true happiness. Hers was the happiness of doing what is right, loving God with her whole heart, and loving her neighbor as Christ has loved us.

In the car on the way to the hospital, my husband and I prayed the Rosary. She was very sick, but she said with joy – as if she was a long ways away from us, “Why you are praying the Rosary for me!”

I left her in the hospital room with a tape playing. A song on the Holy Eucharist written and sung by Catholic artist Simonetta  was playing. When I returned to the room, my mother had one big long tear coming from one eye. She loved. She was happy. The name "Tora" is Norwegian for teardrop. Tears are salty. 

I brought in herbs from my garden, and she teased me, “You didn’t want to garden when you were young.” But she smelled the herbs with intense enjoyment. Blind, she taught me that we don’t deny the enjoyment of our senses, but Christ purifies them.

God accepted her sacrifice. In her last hour of her life, realization dawned. On her face she wore such a poignant look of joy and sadness. Yes, she again shed the one tear. In those last moments, she seemed to realize what she had always said to me, “Isn’t life good? And then you die.”

But don’t let anyone push you out the door before it is time.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)



THIS IS MARY WAGNER'S LETTER FROM PRISON,  Euthanasia in Canada: "An Opportunity to Bear Witness to Christ." 









4 comments:

  1. Though TORA was physically helpless, she followed her master teacher Jesus to her last moment of her life. She became the Salt of The Earth-the last Treasure! The Salty tear drop! For her Precious daughter and many of her readers to Contemplate!

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  2. Thank you Philomina! Thanks for appreciating my mother. God bless you. Susan

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  3. Susan ,also your hsband, Lawrence. This is so complex a personal reality. It's very difficult to come to grips with all the tragedy & reality. It all is so very shocking, morally,& actually. This is life with so much sadness & uncertainty. Choices that would be so difficult. Life over death is what we pray for. Sometimes the suffering makes one think to end it all. Christ had only the choice to stay bodily nailed to a tree; his cros we owed adebt we could'nt pay. Jesus asked if the bitter cup cud pass him. It could not. CHRIST PAID OUR DEBT.yes our sins were forgiven, The Original sin of our 1st parents. We were told by Jesus so many time,we are to pick up our cross & follow Him.Jesus was & is our Salvation. The gift of Heaven, but it comes with our acceptance of our willingness to follow instruction.On earth we are subject to much grief, pain, loss of loved one. & to know of suffering of others, we always want to know why, & it's never *really known to us.so we pray, receive the sacraments, & keep the words of Our Lord; It is a complex study, but the closer we stay to our Lord the better we are. The Apostles even had a problem with it all. They lived with our Lord and they did'nt understand untill filled with The Holy Spirit. Upon seeing the risen Christ. All then strong enough to do the will of our Lord. So yes; there is a special process we must go through & endure. This is not for us to fully understand. In our limited mind of these things we must trust God. We do have terrible things,things we can't begin to understand. This is when our faith must be strong. It's difficult to understand all you have endured. Choices that had to be made. Sadness endured. Our lives are ?'s answered by God. I was amazed of all that took place in your family, and your faith to get through. Hope not to many misses, still waiting for pen. My prayers are with you. Ivorysnow3567

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  4. I had the great privilege of getting to know Tora just a little in person, and even more through stories about her. She was a delight. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace

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