Ignorance Emboldens the Culture of Death

January 12, 2016 09:00 AM

Americans have grown numb to the idea that, when a loved one is suffering, it is incumbent upon those who surround him to pour out themselves in an unselfish way so that the person feels love, even in the midst of his anguish. Today’s attitudes preclude this Christ-like behavior. To get back to a culture of life, we must revive the commitment needed to express a dedication to treating our fellow human beings with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Two recent stories exemplify this. The first involves the love of a father for his very ill son. The headlines tell the story about a dad who saved his son’s life with a three-hour armed hospital standoff. You may ask why this loving father was pushed to such limits. The answer is that—in his opinion—he took the action he needed to save his son from imposed death.

George Pickering III suffered a massive stroke and was pronounced “brain dead” while in the hospital. The healthcare facility staff at Tomball Regional Medical Center in Houston, Texas, ordered his life support progressively shut off in a fatal procedure they call a “terminal wean.” Terminal wean means that slowly but methodically George would die as pain medication would be increased while life support would decrease. The decision was made that George’s life was not worthy of living. The media reported that because “the father of the patient was aggressive and inebriated, hospital staff appointed Pickering’s ex-wife and his other son to make decisions for George III, and had alerted an organ donor organization as to his imminent death.”

When Pickering heard of the decision regarding his son, he felt compelled to act. According to the West Texas News, “As he rushed to the hospital with a gun, he staged a siege to save his son. ‘During that three hours, George squeezed my hand three or four times on command,’ said Pickering.” Police charged George with aggravated assault using a deadly weapon—a crime for which he served nearly a year.

But the story does not end there. George Pickering III recovered completely, and during a recent interview with the father and son we learned that both of them know the law was broken but

they hold that the circumstances demanded drastic action. “There was a law broken,” said George III. “But it was broken for all the right reasons. I’m here now because of it.” Indeed, George III would likely have died if his father had not interfered in the doctor’s plan to withdraw treatment. “It’s the duty of a parent to protect your children,” George III continued, “and that’s all he [George’s father] did.”

We know that violence can never be tolerated, yet at the same time we know that the unconditional love of a parent for a child would give impetus to the type of action George Pickering felt was necessary to save his son from imposed death. It must also be understood that actively pursuing the death of a patient whose life is at risk rather than meting out proper justice is also an act of violence. Neither of these acts of violence fit with the culture of life we should all live.

Killing is always wrong, no matter what the argument.

This brings us to the second case, also in Texas, which involves a man named David Christopher Dunn. Mr. Dunn died an unnecessary death, as Texas Right to Life noted in its statement at the time of his death:

December 23, 2015: This morning, Texas Right to Life mourns the passing of 46-year-old Chris Dunn. One month after Houston Methodist Hospital determined that Chris’ life was not worth living and that his condition was not even worth diagnosing or treating, Chris succumbed to his illness. We commend Chris’s mother, Evelyn, and the other family members who labored tirelessly to protect Chris from death imposed by the hospital and legally sanctioned by the draconian Texas Advance Directives Act. Through Chris’s illness and disability, Evelyn never lost sight of the value of Chris’s life. Texas Right to Life is honored to have played some small role in comforting Chris and Evelyn as they endured this tragic circumstance.

The great sadness in this case is that Dunn died needlessly, as wise attorneys like Kassi Marks have made clear.

Our obligation is to teach truth with love and dedication to principles needed to build a culture of life. One step in that much needed education is American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program’s unit study for high schools students entitled Euthanasia: An Introduction. This great teaching tool will give students the understanding they need to fight the culture of death and be warriors for life.

It is our challenge as pro-life Americans to provide the education needed to turn ignorance into understanding. That is the solution needed to end the culture of death. We must not curse the darkness; we must shed light.


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Ask yourself: “How can I build the culture of life today?” Browse our website at ALL.org. We provide articles and inspiration that will equip you for the mission.

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