Sunday, October 30, 2016

Save the Pharmacists!!

I've heard/read/seen a lot of homilies, blog posts, Facebook commentaries, articles, etc. on Proposition 106 in the last month.  But I'm a little disappointed that I'm not sure anything of what's out there is addressing those on the fence, those who are leaning towards for, those who need the message.  Everything I've heard is a rah-rah pep talk for those who are already on board.  So, I don't want to belabor the point because I'm not sure that anyone who will see this fits the former category, but I offer my three main thoughts on the issue.  They may not convince anyone to look at things in a new way, but I offer them anyway because others haven't.

1. It's a slippery slope, my friend.  It is not so far a leap to say that "right to die" will very quickly become "duty to die."  It's not possibility, it's fact.  Countries and states that have already passed legislation allowing physician-assisted suicide have moved far beyond simply offering a choice that they claim is a right.  Terminally ill individuals are now being told that their health insurance will pay for their life-ending medications, but not for their life-prolonging medications.  It's health insurance, created and designed to help pay for health.  Why does nobody see this as a mockery of healthcare?  Why is it suddenly okay for physicians, who used to take an oath of "do no harm," who used to make healing a priority, whose very name is derived from a word meaning "the art of healing," to facilitate the taking of life?  I guess that's a tangent from my initial point that there is nothing to stop physician-assisted suicide from becoming insurance-mandated suicide.  It's cheaper to kill someone than it is to keep them alive.  I learned this in my high-school law class when debating the economics of the death penalty.  But that doesn't mean that death is the best option, nor that it is a decision that is ours to make, much less a decision our insurance company gets to make.

2.  There is value in the suffering.  I intentionally said "the suffering" because I want to make a two-fold argument.  There is value in the act of suffering and there is value in the suffering individual.  We as a society have disgustingly put the value of comfort above all else.  This is apparent in the holocaust of abortion, in the relativistic blindness that dictates that if we all leave each other alone in our bubbles we can all live in harmony, in the materialistic nature of the new "American dream", in the movements within churches to put appearance before substance (people squirming in pews because truth is spoken is an atrocity to be avoided at all costs), and I could go on.  But we were not made for comfort.  And there is value when we are uncomfortable.  It teaches us to reach outside of ourselves, to seek community, to seek goodness and truth and beauty as consolation, to learn our own capabilities, to prioritize, to express gratitude for the things that are going well.  It is human to feel sorrow, to feel pain, to feel doubt.  When did allowing a human being to feel less human become the goal?  When did living an authentically human life lose value?  And when did the person wanting to live an authentically human life lose value?  The individual who is suffering is not lost.  Presenting physician-assisted suicide even as an option sends the message that they have lost value, lost hope, lost meaning.  Many who choose physician-assisted suicide do so because they are lonely and afraid.  That isn't a result of their disease.  It's a result of the society who has abandoned them.  They deserve better than that.  Our society has long been a bandaid society-- choose the quickest, easiest, cheapest fix and move on.  Nevermind the root cause of the malady.  Please ignore that the reason that someone might be choosing suicide is because their family has abandoned them and they don't want to be a "burden". (#sarcasticfont)  That's not a desire to die.  That's a fear of living because the only option we've given them is living poorly.  It would be too difficult to meet the mental, spiritual, and emotional needs of this person, so we bandaid the physical needs.  Has it really been so long since we watched one of the world's most heroic men suffer in the public eye and show us the value in that suffering that we would prefer to sweep it under the rug?  St. John Paul II, please pray for our country and the lost souls that are guiding it.

3. I'm selfish.  Yes, that's my third argument.  In all the discussions about Proposition 106, I have yet to hear anyone mention what happens when a pharmacist objects to filling a fatal prescription as a matter of conscience.  The actual language of the proposition says "deliver the written a licensed pharmacist who shall (italics mine) dispense the medical aid-in-dying medication."  Sorry, what?!?  I don't work in retail pharmacy, and I'm grateful for that.  But I do have still have a sliver of my religious liberty left after 8 years of executive, legislative, and judicial attack.  And I don't like the idea that I may one day be forced to dispense the medication that I know, without a doubt, will be used to end someone's life.  I'm grateful that my fellow pharmacists and my administration have been supportive of my conscientious objection to dispensing Plan B (because, yes, even in a children's hospital, you can't get away from it).  But let's be honest, I don't trust our current government, much less the one that will be put into place if a certain anti-Catholic candidate takes over our country, to protect that last sliver of my religious freedom.  It will be gone before the election dust has settled.  If you don't have a stake in this culture-shifting legislation, think of those who do, and remember that those affected are not limited to the dying (and their penny-pinching insurance companies).

Like I said, I'm not certain that any of that is convincing, but I felt it needed to be said, even if the only people who read it are of the same mind.  One final caveat: I know I mentioned insurance companies a few times, and I know that millions of dollars every year are spent on life-prolonging but not life-saving therapies.  If that's your argument for 106, if you're willing to put a dollar amount on a living soul, then I'm not sure I'm ready to hear your rebuttal.

I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.