Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Guest Post: Dr. Michael Aiello re: Euthanasia

January 23rd, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

On January 19, 2015, LifeSiteNews reported a story from the that a woman had been euthanized by lethal injection due to the ringing in her ears (“severe tinnitus.”)  Staff at invited Dr. Michael Aiello, Past President of the Rochester, NY Catholic Physician’s Guild and Past President of the Catholic Medical Association, to write a Guest Post on the occasion of this horrific euthanasia.  With 42 years of abortion gone by, euthanasia is one issue in which Catholics should be out front today, teaching the value of life.   

Dr. Aiello wrote:

“A special clinic in The Netherlands, established to help people to kill themselves, when their own physicians oppose “assisted suicide, was recently “reprimanded” for euthanizing a 47 year old woman because of her chronic tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  An independent commission, monitoring how Dutch euthanasia rules are applied, said the patient should have undergone “further psychiatric evaluation.”  But past cases of inappropriate conduct concerning euthanasia have had few consequences; e.g. a physician who killed a disabled baby received a 3 week suspended sentence.

Those who are sick rightfully deserve respect and should be provided with appropriate care.  Chronic tinnitus can be debilitating.  It can disrupt concentration, sleep patterns and participation in social activities, leading to depression and anxiety.  Tinnitus tends to be more persistent and disturbing if the patient obsesses about it.  Fortunately there are treatments that can remove or diminish the symptoms.  Counseling can be used to alter negative behaviors and thought patterns, when emotional distress becomes as troublesome as the symptoms themselves.

Every human life is a special and unique gift, created in the image and likeness of God.  We are called to respect and protect human life because of its inherent dignity and sacredness. Although we have been entrusted with life, we do not have absolute power over it — we only have stewardship.  To respect the dignity of the individual we must provide the sick with adequate pain relief, symptom management, compassion, acceptance, love, and physical, emotional and spiritual care.

The Catholic Church teaches that suffering, illness and dying is an opportunity to become close to Christ, who suffered immensely on the cross.  We may never deliberately and directly cause the death of an innocent person.  Such an action contradicts Natural Law, and violates the Fifth Commandment: ’Thou Shall Not Kill.’  A temptation exists to value life only by its usefulness and quality.  Regardless, human life is always to be valued and protected.  The case in the Netherlands exposes the true intentions of advocates of the “right to die” movement.  Originally touted as a means only to end the life of the terrninally ill, its use has been expanded to kill people with chronic illnesses and even children not in danger of death.

Depression is a powerful symptom clouding the reason and confusing the patient.  Individuals suffering from chronic illness and those approaching death are often overcome by it but depression can be treated, allowing peace and tranquility.  But when dealing with the culture of death, it is much easier and less expensive to simply kill a patient, rather than taking the time and effort to discover and treat the underlying symptoms.  The failure to adequately prosecute offending physicians indicates the weak and vulnerable have few advocates in the legal and medical professions and on the slippery slope of assisted suicide.

As America loses its moral backbone and its Judeo-Christian heritage, be prepared for similar occurrences.  Medical care is becoming more expensive and, as the population ages, there will be fewer able bodied individuals to pay for it.  The elderly and those with chronic illnesses will be denied appropriate care and will be encouraged to end their lives for the “benefit of society.”  Catholics must be prepared to oppose the culture of death and become informed patient advocates when end of life issues and chronic debilitation illnesses affect family and loved ones.

Thank you and God bless.

Guest Poster:  

Michael Aiello, MD”



One Response to “Guest Post: Dr. Michael Aiello re: Euthanasia”

  1. christian says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Michael Aiello M.D.’s comments.

    In terms of the elderly, I would like to make a correlation between Social Security and Health Insurance.

    I have heard people refer to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. Initially, I think there was the thought that a certain percentage of people who were consistently paying into the Social Security System would not live long enough to collect Social Security. I also think there was the thought that people would not live that long. There has been a greater percentage of people who have contributed to Social Security who have lived to collect Social Security payments, and a greater percentage of these people who have lived to a longer age.

    On top of this, you have people collecting Social Security benefits who have never contributed to the Social Security System. Along, with the rate of unemployment and lack of money in the System, those who work, will probably have to work longer to be able to collect Social Security payments.
    The bottom line is, those who have worked hard all their lives wonder if there will be Social Security for them when they retire.

    This same type of issue of a Ponzi scheme is prevalent among Health Insurance Companies. The Health Insurance Companies, which people pay into as well as employers, count on a certain percentage of people within the working age, and their spouse and children, not needing extensive medical treatment including medications, procedures, diagnostic tests, surgeries, therapies, special treatments, or hospitalizations. They expect people in those age groups to be fairly healthy and be needing very little of their services. So when people are fairly healthy, and they and their employers pay into an HMO which would cover most, if not all the expenses previously stated in terms of medical treatment, the greater percentage of those people will probably not need it, or use it that much.

    But after those people retire and get older, and develop more health problems due to the aging process, and need that type of coverage the most, (which they previously had), they don’t have it.

    I have seen it in specialist offices. Years ago, when I was in an orthopaedist office, I witnessed the encounter of this elderly man in the orthopaedist office with the office staff in reference to his wife. This elderly man had to pay out pocket for previous x-rays and have them sent to the specialist, and he was then told that he and his wife had to pay the orthopaedist out of pocket in full for her visits and any treatment she received, as their health insurance wouldn’t cover it. The elderly man was concerned for his wife as there was an issue with her hip. The elderly man himself had issues walking and struggled with a cane to enter and exit out of the office. I felt so bad, seeing and hearing this. The elderly couple were probably living on a fixed income, yet they had to pay all of these expenses out of pocket. Although I was by no means rich, as a younger, employed adult, I would have probably been more able to pay all those out of pocket costs over the elderly couple, yet my expenses were paid in full by my Health Insurance -HMO.

    I have seen incidents with my own elderly father where there is not the same coverage, or there are more out of pocket expenses.

    Currently, I was told by an elderly man who needed eye surgery as a necessary intervention to save his eyesight, that he was told by the eye surgeon performing the surgery that he had to have all the money upfront and pay for the surgery on the day of the surgery, or the surgery would be cancelled. This man needed both eyes done, so he had to come up with all the money for the eye surgery in full, twice.

    It’s a travesty that older Americans are given a difficult time with getting components of healthcare and healthcare costs approved after they have worked hard all their life and contributed to society.

    There will be people who will argue both ways why Social Security and Health Insurance is, or is not, a Ponzi scheme. Those who state it is not a Ponzi scheme will cite that there is “something real” involved. But in broader terms, they both fit a Ponzi scheme.

    Our secular society does not tend to honor our older Americans and their contributions. We have a “youth-obsessed” society. People of all ages should be honored and given dignity.

    I think Dr. Michael Aiello M.D.’s assertion that euthanasia may be seen in the future for getting rid of the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, as America loses its backbone and its Judeo-Christian heritage, is a very relevant concern. Remember, our country’s financial system is built on capitalism and those at the top, including Health Insurance/HMO’s, want to be assured of a profit.

    It will be our responsibility and accountability as Catholic Christians to stand up and fight for the rights, dignity and respect of all persons in any stage of life.

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