The Dispatch

Parsing the “T”

March 7, 2018 George Weigel 1

We’re dealing here with real psychological distress – “gender dysphoria” in the technical vocabulary – and that this and similar problems ought not be political […]

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British court denies parents’ appeal to save toddler’s life support

March 6, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

London, England, Mar 6, 2018 / 03:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday, London’s Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s decision to end life support for an ill 21-month-old boy, despite the parent’s wishes to continue treatment.

Justice Anthony Hayden of the High Court ordered two weeks ago that life support could be removed from Alfie Evans, who is stationed at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Hayden said that “continued ventilatory support is no longer in Alfie’s interests.”

Alfie is in a “semi-vegetable state” due to an unknown neurological degenerative condition. His parents want to transfer him to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome, to receive further diagnosis and treatment.

However, the Liverpool hospital where Alfie is currently said it considered further treatment to be “futile.”

“Our aim is always to try and reach an agreement with parents about the most appropriate care plan for their child. Unfortunately there are sometimes rare situations such as this where agreement cannot be reached and the treating team believe that continued active treatment is not in a child’s best interests,” said the hospital.  

Justice Eleanor King was one of the three judges who denied the appeal on March 6 and agreed with the High Court’s previous decision.

Justice Hayden “could not have done more to ensure the father and mother had every opportunity to express their views and have them taken into consideration,” she said, according to BBC.

She said the evidence showed that the child was “deeply comatose” and “to all intents and purposes unaware of his surroundings.”

Justice King applauded Tom Evans’ passionate “fight on with Alfie’s army,” but said the father had “no clear plan.”

Evans said afterward that he would challenge the case before the Supreme Court.

“At this moment, Alfie’s not ready so we’re not ready to let go,” he said, according to the BBC.

Head of Alfie’s parents’ legal team, Barrister Stephen Knafler QC, said the state’s decision wrongly hinders “parental choice.”

The court ruling echoes a similar case last year, when England’s courts ordered Charlie Gard to be taken off life support.

At 11 months old, Gard died in July 2017 after a months-long debate regarding his parents’ right to pursue further treatment. The parents had fundraised over $1.6 million to seek experimental treatments and had received offers from European and U.S. hospitals. However, courts rejected the request to transfer him for experimental therapy.

The case drew widespread attention and outcry. Dr. Melissa Moschella, a Catholic University of America philosophy professor, disagreed with the court’s decision, telling CNA that the United Nations “clearly indicates that the parents, not the state will have primarily responsibility.”

 “It seems to me completely wrongheaded that the state should be stepping in here when the decision that the parents are making is really aimed at the best interests of the child,” Moschella said in 2017.

“It’s not crazy, it’s not abusive, it’s not neglectful. It’s the decision of parents who want to, however they can, to give their very sick child a chance for life.”



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Bishops ask faithful to flood Congress with calls for Conscience Protection Act

March 6, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Mar 6, 2018 / 03:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement asking people to pray, call, and write to their Congressional representatives to urge the inclusion of the Conscience Protection Act in the government’s upcoming funding bill.

The statement, issued by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the conference’s pro-life committee, and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the religious liberty committee, urges Catholics to “flood” their members of Congress in support of the act.

“Increasing and fierce attacks on conscience rights regarding abortion cry out for an immediate remedy,” said the archbishops. “Nurses and other health care providers and institutions are being forced to choose between participating in abortions or leaving health care altogether.”

While the bishops’ conference is encouraging action each day until the bill is enacted, they are especially focusing on Monday, March 12 as a day of action. The funding deadline is March 23.

The Conscience Protection Act would protect physicians and nurses from being forced to engage in procedures that violate their conscience, such as abortion or sterilization.

It would also prevent employers from being forced to cover abortions in their health care plans if the procedure violates their conscience beliefs. Currently, three states–California, Oregon, and New York–require most or all insurance plans to cover abortion.

“Opponents and supporters of abortion should be able to agree that no one should be forced to participate in abortion,” reads the bishops’ statement. “Congress must remedy this problem by enacting the Conscience Protection Act now as part of the FY 2018 funding bill.”

Failure to pass this legislation could result in prejudice against pro-life or religious employees, said Dr. Michael Parker of the Catholic Medical Association.

“If it’s not enacted, it could lead to discrimination against these people – failure to work for certain employers or given access to certain programs,” he told CNA.

“For example, Vanderbilt University made all their nurse practitioners in their programs agree to participate in abortion procedures in order to be accepted into their program,” Parker said. There have also been several cases where nurses have faced the threat of losing their job if they would not assist in an abortion.

Parker warned that forcing someone to violate their conscience in this manner could result in additional issues later in life. Mandating someone who is against abortion to perform or assist with one could “cause them to have significant remorse,” or could possibly trigger psychological problems.

“[The Catholic Medical Association] has always been for a conscience protection law that protects the conscience rights of physicians, especially in performing elective procedures such as abortions, sterilizations, physician-assisted suicide – or even genital mutilation,” said Parker.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has also released a video as part of the promotional effort for next week’s advocacy:

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Pope prays for victims of devastating Papua New Guinea earthquake

March 6, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Porgera, Papua New Guinea, Mar 6, 2018 / 01:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is praying for all those affected by a major earthquake in Papua New Guinea this week, offering his condolences in a telegram on Tuesday.

The telegram, sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, expressed the Holy Father’s closeness in prayer to all those who are suffering in the southwestern Pacific nation.

“It was with great sadness that His Holiness Pope Francis learned of the tragic loss of life following the recent earthquake in Papua New Guinea,” the telegram said. “Commending the souls of the deceased to the mercy of Almighty God, he sends his heartfelt condolences to their families, and he assures all those affected by this disaster of his closeness in prayer.”

“Upon all those who mourn at this difficult time, and upon the emergency personnel involved in the important relief efforts, Pope Francis willingly invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.”

Early Monday morning, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake tore through a largely rural region of Papua New Guinea, about 50 miles south of Porgera.

According to the Red Cross, at least 67 people were killed in the earthquake, and hundreds more are believed to have been injured.

Tens of thousands are now in need in food, water and other necessities, and aid agencies say landslides and damage to main roads are delaying their ability to reach remote villages that were among the hardest hit by the quake.

“It’s very difficult to get accurate information because of damage to roads and the remoteness and ruggedness of the area, but it’s thought that 143,000 people have been affected and 17,000 displaced,” said Udaya Remi, the head of the Red Cross in Papua New Guinea, according to CNN.

Aftershocks as strong as 6.0-magnitude continue to shake the area, as local authorities have declared a state of emergency in the affected region.