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As physician-assisted suicide continues to gain acceptance in the next phase of our Culture of Death, the Church stands firmly in its way. Or does it? In tonight's In-Depth Report, Church Militant's Paul Murano reports on a program in the Los Angeles archdiocese that may contradict Church doctrine.
The nation's largest archdiocese is tackling end-of-life issues with an online course titled "Caring for the Whole Person." The problem is, one instructor believes the whole person can be denied life-sustaining care.
Dr. Ira Byock, author and advocate of palliative care: "We can acknowledge we are a diverse society and that there are some things we are not going to agree about."
In a recent article for LifeNews.com, Bobby Schindler called out the archdiocese of Los Angeles for hiring Byock to instruct the faithful on health care issues. Byock is a self-described secular humanist who supports so-called gay rights, abortion and Planned Parenthood.
He also has a history of advocating for terminal sedation and voluntary stopping of eating and drinking in hospice, both of which the Church condemns.
Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, professor and medical ethicist: "Trying to make the patient dead. That's what I mean by killing. It's traditionally justified only in cases of self-defense or rescue."
Schindler's sister Terri Schiavo died in 2005 by State-enforced euthanasia in a high-profile case that gripped the nation.
Bobby Schindler, president, Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network: "Terri was not dying. Terri had a profound brain injury, and our family wanted to care for her just the way she was."
Byock had defended the withholding of nutrition and hydration from Schiavo. It took two agonizing weeks for it to finally kill her.
Byock wrote about the Schiavo case, "It troubles me that they now consider the thoughtful discontinuation of artificial nutrition and hydration ... as 'killing.'"
Such "discontinuation," however, is euthanasia by omission and murder, the Catholic Church says.
Schindler informed Church Militant how feeding tubes had been reclassified. "As far back as the early 1980s, bioethicists like Daniel Callahan saw the feeding tube as a serious hurdle, openly stating that changing its classification from 'basic care' to 'medical treatment' would be the only effective way to make certain that a large number of biologically tenacious patients actually die," Schindler said. "Eventually, Callahan's view became widely accepted."
Hence, hospitals saw no ethical obligation to administer them.
Daniel Callahan, ethicist and former editor of Commonweal Magazine: "Is it really progress to keep a lot of old people indefinitely alive expensively? Or indefinitely alive?"
Pope John Paul II confirmed Church teaching of feeding tubes as ordinary basic care, and received one himself near the end of his life in 2005.
"Allowing Dr. Byock to instruct Catholics brings scandal to the Universal Church," Schindler told Church Militant.
It remains unclear why Los Angeles archbishop José Gómez is permitting Byock to train the faithful on end-of-life issues. Church Militant reached out numerous times to the archdiocese of Los Angeles for explanation or comment, but received no response.