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“Thank you for your work to help those who are in need of keeping their God-given right to life and dignity to the end.” – JF
“I received the magazine you sent to me last week.
It is excellent and a very nice display. You are definitely making a difference and educating others!”

- Donor from Rhode Island
“I really enjoy and find informative the HALO newsletter about life-affirming health care perspectives, the encroaching "right to die" movement, culture of death, legislative updates and more. You have a great newsletter and website. So glad I found HALO as a link on a pro-life website that introduced me to your work and mission.”  - HP, Donor from Florida

from the desk of the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR



July 2020

In this month’s newsletter we explore the inhumanity of denying life-sustaining treatment and basic care to those who need it.

In the couple of years preceding my mom’s death at age 87, I accompanied her on many visits to doctors. Whether she was visiting her primary care doctor or a specialist, the experience was always the same. When I brought up new symptoms that mom had been exhibiting or shared my observations, I heard one of two responses – “Your mom has lived a good, long life and you need to let her go” or “The symptoms your mom is exhibiting are normal for someone of her age.” I am not talking about minor aches and pains. In Mom’s last 18 months of life, she experienced significant heart arrhythmia, fainting spells, memory loss, and balance issues. No doctor seemed interested in treating her or in identifying the root causes of her health problems. It became apparent that they simply wanted to send her home to die because she was old.

After watching what happened to my mom, I am deeply passionate that no one should be denied basic medical care. Last week, I had cause to remember this 
when I interviewed Mary Kellett, Executive Director of Prenatal Partners for Life. Mary’s son Peter was born with a condition called Trisomy 18. The doctors did not comprehend his value, but the incredible love Peter gave and received taught his family much about life. Listen to Mary as she describes the joy Peter brought to everyone around him, and the tragedy that ensued from a medical culture that did not value him. This is the heart-warming and heart-breaking account of a six-and-a-half-year life well lived, and a legacy that lives on.
 



Mary explained during our discussion that it is not uncommon for hospitals or even clinics to have a medical futility policy. Medical futility policies are based on the premise that life-sustaining treatment can be withheld or withdrawn, against patients’ or families’ wishes, based on arbitrary “quality of life” and/or “cost-benefit” judgments. In many cases, it is the patient’s life that is deemed futile (i.e., useless)—not the treatment. For additional information on medical futility policies, read HALO’s “Medical Futility—What Does It Mean?” fact sheet.

Another example of medical futility is a Texas statute known as “the 10-day law.” According to this law, a hospital committee can decide to withdraw treatment, for any reason, including the subjective assessment of “quality of life.” The hospital can remove treatment, even life-sustaining treatment (ventilator, dialysis, oxygen, antibiotics, etc.) against a patient’s/family’s wishes and they are not allowed to appeal the decision. For more information about this unconscionable law, 
please see Texas Right to Life’s recent virtual conference where Emily Cook, General Counsel, discusses the ramifications of this law and describes specific cases in which she and others have intervened to save lives.

Without a major change in medical training, attitudes, and laws, more and more of us will be at risk when we seek care. Therefore, it is vitally important that all of us learn how to be advocates for ourselves and others. As Dr. Howard Koh, formerly the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, has stated, “Advocacy is the engine for change, and the beauty of it is that it can begin with just one person.”


A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER: MEDICAL DISCRIMINATION




A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER:
MEDICAL DISCRIMINATION

By M.A., Medical Technician
July 2020

It was a shocking experience. Sue was in her early 70's. She ate each meal. When she began stumbling in the dining room, the management said, "We need to get hospice to talk to the family." The hospice staff convinced Sue's family that she was declining, that it was "her time." She lay in bed, helpless, being pumped with morphine, and died within four days. I have asked myself repeatedly why she had to die. She was still eating and drinking, but others chose to end her life simply because she stumbled!

This Month's Feature




HER DOCTOR AVOIDED THE WORD “STARVATION”

By Rosie G.
July 2020

This case exposes why every person should be extremely careful about the wording of their healthcare advance directive and choosing the person they want to make medical decisions for them in a critical situation. For information about advance directives, read "The Best Advance Directive" in Making a Difference.

My mother-in-law Helen, over a period of years, had a series of mini strokes without any permanent mental or physical damage. Then, about 10 years ago, she suffered a massive stroke which left her with limited abilities of speech and mobility and other disabilities. Her loving husband was by her side and her eight living children were called home to spend time with her.

Helen had a Living Will expressing she would not want extraordinary treatment if she were ever in this type of condition. Due to difficulty swallowing, it was apparent that she could not continue to safely eat in the ordinary manner. Her doctor said that, to receive nourishment, she would need a feeding tube. He negatively presented the information regarding inserting and living with a feeding tube, as though it were extraordinary means, an inconvenience for all involved, and probably not the way she would want to live. Without a feeding tube, he said she would slowly and peacefully lose consciousness over the next few days and would have a painless death. He did not use the word “starvation.”

Helen was unable to express herself. However, when praying the rosary at her bedside, she quietly joined in with us on the Hail Mary prayers. Her loving husband felt torn because he did not want to deprive her of nourishment, but if he allowed them to put in the feeding tube, he feared he would be going against his wife’s previous wishes. Most of her children helped him decide, convincing him that she would not want to live under these limited conditions. My husband tried to explain that a feeding tube was not extraordinary means; that it would be inhumane to allow their mother to starve to death, but to no avail. He then called in the local Catholic priest who explained to the family that not providing her with a means of nourishment would go against what the Church teaches about the dignity of life. He added that nourishment, even by feeding tube, was not extraordinary means, but in fact humane and necessary. My father-in-law, a practicing Catholic who respected the priest’s input, then allowed the procedure to insert the feeding tube, even though most family members were not convinced this was the right thing to do. During this time, my mother-in-law also developed pneumonia, but was not being treated for it because the medical team interpreted her Living Will to mean that life-preserving treatment was not allowed.

With little change in her condition, Helen was eventually transferred to a nursing home. After a period of weeks there, my husband was notified by his stepfather (Helen’s husband) that the decision was made to remove the feeding tube. Shortly thereafter, she passed away.

HALO note: For more information about medical decisions concerning nutrition and hydration, as well as other kinds of medical treatment and care,
read 
Life-Affirming Principles for Medical Decision-Making.

AT 39, I HAD A MASSIVE STROKE.
THE DOCTORS TOLD MY FAMILY I WOULD DIE.

July 2020
HALO's Mission Statement is based on age-old Judeo-Christian principles, in particular on the commandments "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" and "You shall not murder." We welcome members and partners of all faiths and no faith who agree with our Mission Statement and who desire to promote, protect, and advocate for the rights of the medically vulnerable.

Margaret Beck, a Catholic, testifies to God's power and love as she tells her personal story of physical and spiritual recovery.
At 39, I had a massive stroke. The doctors told my family I would die, or if by some miracle survived, I would be a vegetable. (How can a human being ever be a vegetable?). My family all prayed diligently and one night, as my mom prayed at my bedside, she received a sign from the Lord that I would be alright. After 3 1/2 weeks in a medically induced coma, I woke up and began a long road to recovery. God hears all our prayers.
A few months later, one day in prayer, I had a good talk with God. I told Him how proud I was of all I had accomplished, especially in His service. His response is ingrained in my heart; "Without me, you can do nothing." Then He filled me with His love and grace, leading me back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after 17 years, and revealing His great mercy.
He helped me fall in love with Him in the Holy Eucharist, leading me to pro-life activism and weekly Eucharistic adoration. Then He did the same beautiful transformation with our oldest daughter, diagnosed with a rare cancer. He transformed her heart in the 3 years until her death. She became a witness by her great faith, strength and trust.
Margaret Beck

COVID-19 PATIENT WITH DISABILITY
STARVED BY TEXAS DOCTOR

July 2020

The following report from Texas Right to Life is a chilling example of the dehumanization of vulnerable patients that is happening right under our noses. This story will open your eyes to the threats to life that have taken root in our healthcare system. Please share this with everyone you know. We must reteach people how to respect and defend human life, and make it personal. Whatever hurts my brother or sister, my fellow human being, hurts me.

Read: Quadriplegic COVID-19 Patient Starved by Texas Doctor because of his Disability

HALO Recommends


Crescendo – Added July 2020

Crescendo is a 15-minute pro-life short film which is based on a true story of a famous person in history who was nearly aborted.

While Crescendo is a short film, it packs a very powerful punch. This film takes place in Germany in the 17th century. The central character, Maria, is a young pregnant woman who struggles with her marriage. Her husband is a drunk, beats her repeatedly and cheats on her. Maria decides she doesn’t want to bring a child into a miserable world and determines she must abort her child. Things don’t go as she planned, however, and her choice changes the world.

While this is a pro-life film focusing on abortion, it’s message is even bigger. This film is about the beauty of the human person and reminds us that each of us is irreplaceable.


Review by Anne O’Meara
Photo: Movie to Movement

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HALO MISSION STATEMENT


The mission of the Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization is to promote, protect, and advocate for the rights of the medically vulnerable through direct patient and family interactions; through community education and awareness programs; and through promotion and development of concrete *"life-affirming healthcare"* alternatives for those facing the grave consequences of healthcare rationing and unethical practices, especially those at risk of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
*"Life-affirming healthcare" is defined as medical care in which the paramount principle is the sanctity of life, which means that the life and safety of each person come first and each person receives medical care across their lifespan based on their need for care and never with an intention to hasten death, regardless of their abilities or perceived "quality of life."

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