Who Decides to End a Life?

Saving Christopher Dunn

Remember when those who worried about “death panels” were mocked? Well, it’s no joking matter now.

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John Stonestreet

Imagine you’re the mom or dad of a 46-year-old former sheriff’s deputy who’s been in the hospital for two months after a non-cancerous mass was found on his pancreas. Imagine further that your son is on a ventilator but can still interact with you and make his wishes known via movements of his hands or head. Imagine that in these interactions your son has clearly said he wants to live. Then consider your son had no health insurance when he went to the hospital, and now, a hospital “ethics committee” has decided it’s time to pull the plug, because further treatment is not “in the best interest of the patient.”

Unfortunately, this is not a bad dream for Evelyn Kelly, who’s fighting desperately to save the life of her son, Christopher Dunn.

Dunn is at Houston Methodist Hospital. Under the Texas Advanced Directives Act, Houston Methodist has decided to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. His mother is taking the hospital to court, saying the law is unconstitutional. “They want to kill my son,” Mrs. Kelly says. They say there is nothing else they can do for him, but I don’t believe that. When they found out that Chris did not have insurance, they said they were done.”

The Act, which was signed into law in 1999 by then-Governor George W. Bush, allows hospitals to withdraw life-sustaining treatments if an ethics committee agrees that further treatment is futile. Their only responsibility to the family is a written ten-day notice. The ethics committee for Houston Methodist gave its imprimatur earlier this fall, and the hospital defended itself by saying, “Houston Methodist is a faith-based, values-centered organization that strives to make the best choices for all our patients. End-of-life decisions are never easy, but Texas law is clear about our hospital’s responsibility in these cases.”

It’s hard to see how euthanizing Christopher Dunn is the best choice for Christopher Dunn! In fact, in a video distributed by Texas Right to Life, Christopher Dunn clearly indicates he wants to live. The organization is also circulating an online petition that in part says, “We demand that this secret and unaccountable decision-making by a bureaucratic committee—obviously motivated by its own financial interest—be reversed immediately so that Christopher Dunn can continue to live.” Come to our website to see this video and sign this petition.

And there are others shocked by the hospital’s violation of the Hippocratic Oath who have also joined the fight. Prominent disability rights activist Mark Pickup, who is chronically ill with degenerative multiple sclerosis, is asking Texas Governor Greg Abbott to intervene so Christopher can be placed in another facility. As Pickup notes, “The Governor can commute death sentences of murderers on death row. Surely he must be able to commute the death sentence imposed on a helpless man by the terrible Texas Advanced Directives Act!” Well, you’d think so.

daily_commentary_12_22_15But we must ask ourselves, how did it even come to this point, where people have to appeal to governors and so-called “hospital ethics committees” to keep hospitals from killing their patients? You know, Chuck Colson saw all this coming. He knew that turning over healthcare choices to the government would mean a bureaucratic panel—potentially more interested in cutting costs than saving lives—would be given the power over life and death.

As Chuck once said, “the only medical choices I’m interested in are the ones I make in consultation with my doctor and my family. Not with a government commissioner with tight budgets.’”

While U. S. citizens differ on the best way forward on providing healthcare for the nation, the fact is we should all agree that a hospital forcing a patient in its care to die is very, very wrong. Please come to our website for details on how to stand for Christopher Dunn’s life, and against a kind of death panel that, if unchecked, threatens all of us. And please, do it today.

Further Reading and Information
Who Decides to End a Life?: Saving Christopher Dunn

Here's something we can be proactive about when it comes to pro-life issues. Click here to get  information about signing the petition to save the life of Christopher Dunn.

Further Reading and Information

'They're playing God': Texas mom sues hospital for deciding to end life-sustaining treatment for her son
Jonah Hicap | Christianity Today | December 12, 2015

Texas 'Death Panel' Rules Conscious Patient Must Die
Petition | ActRight

Houston, Texas Hospital Trying to Euthanize Disabled Patient Against His Will
Mark Pickup | lifenews.com | December 9, 2015

Family fights Texas law allowing providers to end life-sustaining care
Lisa Schencker | modernhealthcare.com | November 29, 2015

Apply Heat
Chuck Colson | BreakPoint.org | August 10, 2009


What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is to actively kill a patient but it includes more just lethal injections as commonly seen at a Vet's office.
Euthanasia means 'easy or good death'. It is the act of ending the life of an animal or willing patient suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition (rather vague). This is usually done by means such as lethal injection but does not mean only by such means. It is also known as 'mercy killing' (taking note of the second word here).
Now considering that Mr. Dunn is not willing to be euthanized and the decision is being made by people other than Mr. Dunn who is conscious and disagrees with them ask yourself the question is it right, because the easy answer is usually not the right answer. What we see here is when cost is placed into the equation on whether to give life or death to a person then we are actively placing a price on the person's life.
Finding the answer as to why Mr. Dunn is unable to breath for himself is a question that must be answered and then finding the means for him to regain that capability is what should be sought. It is not the easy answer but it is right and far, far better than just ending his life for convenience.
Removing futile treatment is not euthanasia
We need to be careful not to make withdrawal of treatment the same as "killing" or "euthanizing." If we make them the same (the active intent to end a life), then we commit ourselves to providing every possible life-sustaining medical intervention, at any cost, to every single person, in order to avoid "killing" them. Removing treatment that is unnecessarily prolonging suffering, or is futile, is a routine practice in medicine and is also ethical in principle.
Christopher Dunn
One of the articles says that the hospital doesn't know what's wrong, but that the tumor is non-cancerous. Why don't they remove it? or try to determine the cause of the breathing problem?
Is it Euthanizing?
Isn't euthanizing defined as actively killing a patient, such as lethal injection? Taking someone off a ventilator, or "pulling the plug" isn't euthanasia. If a family wants to keep a loved alive, then they should be able to do so. But then you must address the issue brought up by the person who left the above comments. It may seem cold and heartless to imply that human life has a monetary value, but for argument sake, what if it cost a state's entire budget to keep someone alive on a ventilator? Would it be wrong to "pull the plug" then? Would it be wrong to not "pull the plug" since then the state gov't would not be able to do its legitimate function? At least as Christians we have comfort in both life and death. My heart and prayers go out to those who have to make such decisions.
Who pays?
I am very much pro-life. No questions about that. It's easy for us to sign a petition to keep providing care for Christopher. But who pays? Are we demanding that the hospital pay? That the 'government' pay (by demanding money from others at the wrong end of a gun)? Or are those who sign the petition volunteering to pay?