Wickham (2008) and Whitlock (2014): Backdoor Euthanasia -- Nothing Has Changed
The Beheading of St. John the Baptist,
August 29, 2022

Friends of LifeTree,

In the wake of a two year COVID vaccination mandate program and during an ongoing speaking tour by Dr.Ira Byock in August and September, 2022, I thought it was time to review the low profile wing of the euthanasia movement by reminding people of what happened in the early 2000s in North Carolina.

By 2008 I knew something big was happening to our society. In January, 2008 I present my first summary of the situation to the pro-life council in Wilmington, NC. On this particular day I concluded by saying "Money, wordsmithing, and gentle brainwashing are molding the people of America to accept, abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other forms of imposed death. All are connected. We cannot fight only one; we must fight them all!!" Little did I know how difficult it would be to explain to people what has been happening under the radar.

In April, 2014 Ione Whitlock offered a comprehensive presentation on the evolution of Health Care's Trojan Horse to a conference in Wooster, OH sponsored by the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance and Wayne/Homes Right to LIfe. https://belburyreview.org/5-things-you-should-know-about-palliative-care/#.Yw0McX3MI4g Her powerpoint presentation is a must read! You will not regret the time you spend to understand her description of who is funding this, what their strategies are, and who are the individuals and organizations involved.

What was true then is true today, only much worse! Now the public is dealing with a health disaster caused by the COVID vaccine and a global elite intent on moving us into a 4th Industrial Revolution. Now there will be more opportunities for these people to draw on their plans to hasten our death and we will need to be even more vigilant to resist the pressures!!!

Unfortunately, the stealth euthanasia that we spoke about in 2008 and 2014 is still hidden for the most part. But here is what you will learn from reading this email -- you will learn that the vehicle these people use to hasten death legally is today's palliative care!

One of their key leaders is Dr. Ira Byock who was former head of the American Association of Palliative Medicine and helped repackage Choice in Dying as "Partnership for Caring." (See Ione's Healthcare's Trojan Horse speech given in Ohio and also see what Ione posted a few months later about Ira Byock in another brilliant summary article http://belburyreview.org/scripting-the-conversation/#.Yw0VBH3MI4g)

Byock is presently speaking across the country at religious gatherings. He is a leader of the death cadre that has been spreading the virus of passive euthanasia for several decades, i.e. withholding-withdrawing proper medical care and over medicating with pain medications including the use of risky treatments which may worsen symptoms such as psychedelics. Byock's pubmed article on this topic is at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29356590/.

This week Dr. Byock is in the middle of a five week speaking engagement sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Next month he is scheduled to speak on Sept 15 at the First Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. If your pastor suggests Byock come to your parish or congregation, resist! Make your voice known to those where it matters about the agenda of misinformation going out to faithful church goers. Resist. Educate your pastor!

To summarize, the real gem in this letter to all of you on the LifeTree elist is this link to that very important talk on the death collaborators given by master of End Of Life research Ione Whitlock on April 25, 2014 in Wooster, OH. Save this link. Read it. Study it. You will be amazed at what the Ira Byocks of this world have been doing to make legal and acceptable the hastening of death since the 1980s.

(copyright Ione Whitlock, April 25, 2014)

The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us,

Elizabeth D. Wickham, PhD
Executive Director, LifeTree

(copyright Elizabeth D. Wickham on Jan. 19, 2008 to the New Hanover Pro-Life Council, Wilmington, NC)

I wish to thank Bev for inviting me to speak to you on this cold winter day.   And thank you all for coming!   I wish to speak to you about a new battlefront for pro-lifers that has just begun.   Like the cold it will penetrate nearly every family here.   The work of LifeTree has evolved over the course of 11 years and we now find ourselves speaking out about a topic that is remote from the minds of most pro-lifers.

In a nutshell, the bioethics and right to die organizations have collaborated in a foundation funded, decades long, social engineering project to change the way we think about hastening death.   The forced deaths of Karen Quinlan in 1976, Nancy Cruzan in 1990, Hugh Finn in 1998 and Terri Schiavo in 2005 are manifestations of this wide-spread program.

The level of public outcry over Terri’s death came as a surprise to the right to die activists.    The Hastings Center, a futilitarian bioethics’ think tank, confirmed that Terri’s death did not go as smoothly as its advocates thought it would.   In their Fall, 2005 Special Supplement titled “Improving End of Life Care:  Why Has it Been So Difficult?” The Hastings Center writes:  “What progress has been made is now in danger of being undone.    The framework of principles for legitimate decision-making at the end of life built by the courts, the legislatures, and in the professional and ethical literature has NOT been embraced – indeed, it has been rejected, at least in large part – by increasingly powerful and vocal minorities; and political support for this framework, as well as intellectual justifications, seems to be eroding.”     In other words, we who protested the imposed death of Terri Schiavo were a threat.   Bioethics think tanks and right-to-die activists have spent decades reinventing medical ethics and reinterpreting the Constitution to include a right to impose death – to euthanize.   In April, 2005, that framework was rejected.

LifeTree began researching the euthanasia groups in 2003 after a bill to ban assisted suicide was introduced in the General Assembly.   The bill was a concern to us because it contained several safe harbor exceptions that would have legalized certain forms of euthanasia.

It is not surprising that LifeTree, along with others in the pro-life community, are seeing increased right-to-die activity at the state level.  After two 1997 Supreme Court decisions on assisted suicide (Vacco v Quill and Washington v Glucksberg) upheld and confirmed the right of STATES to legislate whether or not to ban assisted suicide, the focus of euthanasia groups has been, and still is, at the state level.    These Supreme Court decisions made a history changing conclusion that there were DISTINCTIONS between assisted suicide and, for example, withholding or withdrawing life sustaining treatment (including food and water).    The Court said these distinctions were “important”, “logical”, and “rational.”  Since then, it is constitutionally permitted for states to allow competent persons to refuse life-sustaining treatments including food and water while banning assisted suicide.    Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry noted that with these decisions the Supreme Court “also validated the concept of ‘double effect’ openly acknowledging that death hastened by increased palliative measures does not constitute prohibited conduct so long as the INTENT is relief of pain and suffering.”    Prof. Russell Hittinger in a 1997 First Things article anticipated that the decisions, while on the surface opposing assisted suicide, at the same time opened the door to assisted suicide on a state by state basis.

Essentially there are two euthanasia groups – the “candid radicals” and the “back door euthanizers”.   Both groups work with legislatures and in the courts.    The “candid radicals” celebrate the Oregon Death With Dignity Act of 1994 that legalized physician assisted suicide using lethal doses of medication.   Their organizations include the former Hemlock Society (End of Life Choices) and Compassion in Dying Federation -- now combined and called Compassion and Choices -- all primarily based along the West Coast.  This group was a radical spinoff of the original euthanasia movement.   They honestly and openly endorse active euthanasia and say they support physician assisted suicide.

In contrast, the modern-day descendents of the old 1930s euthanasia movement continue their gradualist approach to changing our culture.   These “back door euthanasia” advocates are readily identified by their reflexive defense of the Cruzan, Finn and Schiavo deaths;  their repetitive citation of the 1997 Supreme Court decisions that narrowed the definition of assisted suicide (as I have just mentioned);  their determined advance of living wills; and their acceptance of futile care theory.   In general, they are staunch defenders of a supposed “Constitutional right to refuse life-sustaining treatment” (including the right to deny non-dying persons food and water).

This “back door” group got its start in the 1930s as the “Euthanasia Society of America,” patterned after a British organization.   In the 1970s and 1980s, it became known as Society for the Right to Die and Concern for the Dying; in the 1990s the name changed to Choice in Dying; and by 2000 they were called Partnership for Caring/Last Acts.    Now their programs are carried on in national hospice and palliative care organizations – i.e. the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.     Some “back door euthanasia” supporters will tell you that they oppose assisted suicide.   Nevertheless, they supported euthanasia – imposed death – in the case of Terri Schiavo.  More often, they say they “take no position” on assisted-suicide, and that they neither support nor oppose the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.   However, by choosing not to oppose the Act, they have effectively chosen to permit the act.

In the remaining minutes let me concentrate on this second group which has been hard at work changing our medical and social culture to one that is accepting of imposed death.

The underlying assumptions of this group are oft repeated to us.   We hear that the US is a death-denying society.   Their theme of sustainable medicine argues that as Americans grow older and demand more life-prolonging technology, medical resources will become increasingly scarce and expensive.   They argue that quality of life trumps sanctity of life.   They argue that life prolonging technology can and should be shunned if it does not improve the patient’s quality of life.    They encourage the use of living wills to protect the right to limiting treatment, but do not argue for the protection of the right to normal, full treatment.

Several years ago, LifeTree witnessed these state-level right-to-die tactics first-hand.    As I mentioned, a bill was introduced in the legislature in 2001-02 and reintroduced in 2003-04 (S145) that supposedly banned assisted suicide.   However, it contained four dangerous safe harbor exceptions to the definition of assisted suicide including these two exceptions that reflect the 1997 Supreme Court decisions –   1) The withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining procedures or compliance with any other State of federal law authorizing withdrawal or refusal of medical treatments or procedures and the  2) The administering, prescribing or dispensing of medications or procedures, by or at the direction of a licensed health care professional, for the purpose of alleviating another person’s  pain or discomfort, even if the medication or procedure may increase the risk of death as long as the medication or procedure is not also intentionally administered, prescribed or dispensed for the purpose of causing death or the purpose of assisting in causing death for any reason.

LifeTree argued at the NC General Assembly for changes in the language to eliminate these loopholes.   After several revisions, when the language mirrored the Michigan statute drafted to stop Dr. Kevorkian, we supported this bill.   However, at that point the bill died in committee and we were told that hospice and other professional organizations opposed it.  Interestingly, the Summer, 2003 newsletter of the right to die Oregon Death With Dignity Center wrote:   “In NC, a broad coalition led by The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care has come together to oppose a bill that would outlaw physician assisted suicide…Advocates for patients’ rights immediately expressed concern that the bill would chill pain care for the terminally ill.   The coalition has successfully stopped the bill from getting a hearing.”

Last year a bill with similar goals passed and was signed into law.  This bill titled “Advance Directives/Health Care Power of Attorney” greatly improves the odds that incidences of passive euthanasia will increase in North Carolina.   Enacted  in October this new law expands the scope for use of living wills by adding broader language and a NEW triggering condition -- advance dementia which to a ‘high degree of medical certainty’ is not reversible.”

This law also introduces a new form into the NC health care system:  MOST (Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment).     As with living wills, the MOST form requires that the patient or surrogate anticipate future medical conditions, and make general decisions as to his/her preferences for treatment.   However, unlike living wills, this form instantly converts “preferences” into directives with the power of “physician’s orders.”  The MOST form on bright pink paper is a part of the patient’s medical records.   It must be displayed in a prominent place of the patient’s home and shown to emergency responders.

The MOST form is formatted with a series of boxes to check for a broad range of non-treatments including 1) do not attempt resuscitation, 2) comfort measures  (which includes do not use intubation or mechanical ventilation, do not transfer to hospital unless comfort needs cannot be met in current location, avoid intensive care), 3) no antibiotics, 4) no IV fluids , 5) no feeding tube.   Amazingly, the law does not require a licensed physician’s signature and it can be signed by a patient’s representative from a long list including “someone with an established relationship”.

MOST is a version of POLST (Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment), a type of “progressive advance directive” that was devised by right-to-die advocates in Oregon in the early 1990s.  Currently, over 95% of those in nursing homes in that state have a POLST form.   Now the Oregon Health and Science University taking POLST to the next level by building a computer registry of POLST patients in the Portland area.    Oregon’s model is making its way into the rest of the country.

Why is North Carolina one of the first states to set into law the MOST/POLST form?   One answer might be that by the end of the 1990s NC had a record number of regional bioethics networks.   It is these networks that have worked to set up end-of-life coalitions at the local level.     Foundation funding has gone heavily to NC.   For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation granted The Carolina Center for Hospice and End of Life Care in Cary, NC $450,000 during 1999-2002 to establish a statewide coalition, the NC End-of Life Care Coalition.   A grant report including the list of members is available at www.rwjf.org/reports/grr/038474.htm. and reveals how the movement has become normalized and mainstreamed.

Looking again at the national level, we note that many of the leaders “back door euthanasia” proponents are now key players in the field of palliative care medicine.    Palliative care educators are training and certifying doctors and nurses to introduce palliative care (as opposed to curative treatments) early in the disease/illness trajectory, support the withdrawal of food and water coupled with total sedation, and are promoting palliative care as a cost cutting measure.    The palliative care movement is heavily funded by George Soros’ Project on Death in America (PDIA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.    Through concerted efforts of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) at Mt. Sinai Center of Medicine in New York the number of hospital-based palliative care programs has doubled between 2000 and 2005 and over 3,100 health professionals have been taught CAPC’s methods and ethics.

In conclusion, most people do not realize that the end-of-life battle is much more than a campaign to stop Dr. Kevorkian and the legalization of physician assisted suicide.   The same strategies used by abortion proponents are being utilized in this end of life transformation.   Money, wordsmithing, and gentle brainwashing are molding the people of America to accept abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other forms of imposed death.  All are connected.  We cannot fight only one; we must fight them all!

Elizabeth D. Wickham, PhD, Executive Director, LifeTree, Inc   Speech delivered to the New Hanover Pro-Life Council, January 19, 2008, Wilmington, NC