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March 27, 1998     The Message
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March 27, 1998

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12 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Officials urge reversal on suicide PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS)  Two Catholic leaders in Oregon have called on state legislators "to review and reverse" a state health commission decision to cover physician-assisted suicide in the state health plan for the poor. Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland and Robert J. Castagna, .executive director of the Oregon Catholic Conference, called the decision a "tragic action." Their remarks were in an opinion piece published March 15 in The Oregonian daily newspaper. "No unjust act can stand the scrutiny of the judgment of history," they warned. hat could be more discriminatory... [than] that the public is willing to help pay for their deaths rather than their continued medical care? The Oregon Health Services Commission, an appointed body, agreed by a 10-1 vote Feb. 26 to make the prescription drugs required for physician-assisted suicide a covered "medical service' for the 320,000 poor residents currently enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan. Archbishop Vlazny and Castagna noted that about 25,000 of these enrollees are over the age of 65. "For the first time in U.S. history, a public body has embraced physician-assisted suicide as part of a pub- licly funded health plan," they said, and pointed out that commission members are not responsible to voters. The Catholic officials said the commission decision was based on the rationale that denying "this 'health service' to the poor would be discriminatory." But they argued the opposite, saying that physician- assisted suicide is not a health service but a license to kill. Adding it to a health plan for the poor, they said, is "the ultimate act of discrimination" against them. They said the Oregon Catholic Conference, which is the public policy arm of the state's bish- ops, based its conclusion on "the right of every individual to health care and to liv- ing in dignity from conception until nat- ural death." "What could be more discriminatory to a class of poor people, dependent upon a public health program," they asked, "than to suggest to them that the public is willing to help pay for their deaths rather than their continued medical care?" The archbishop and conference head said that, because the state plan for the poor is "a Medicaid rationing plan that sets priorities for 745 "health services' of which 578 are funded," it already dis- criminates against the poor. "Managed care creates a conflict of interest for health care providers," they wrote. "A provider's conflict  between advocacy for the patient's best interests and financial self-interest  is aggravat- ed by the introduction of physician- assisted suicide. "It will always be less expensive for a provider to prescribe a lethal overdose of drugs than to continue treatment or care," they charged. Archbishop Vlazny and Castagna noted that advocates and service providers for the poor who testified before the com- mission all opposed adding physician- assisted suicide to the health plan. And, they said, "Not one poor person asked for assisted sui- cide to be added to the plan." They said the commission apparently acted "on its own preconceived notion of what is good for the poor." And because the health plan is funded exclusively with state tax dollars, they added, the commission's decision involves every taxpayer and "compels each of us to pay for an act to which many Oregon citizens object in good conscience." In a column in the March 13 edition of Catholic Sen- tinel, Portland's archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Vlazny said the commission's action is a tragedy for The biological valve Couples need to know that conception of a child requires more than good sperm and a good egg. The third essential and least familiar element is cervical " News and Commentary By SOOZI SCHELLER Contributing Writer mucus. Over the last 37 years, scientists like Doctors John and Lynn Billings of Australia, Pro- fessor Erik Odeblad of Sweden and Dr. Thomas J. Hilgers of the United States have conducted extensive research to establish the essential role of cervical mucus in human fertili. The cervix is the neck-like part of the uterus, which acts as a charmel between the womb and the external world. The cervix produces a fertile mucus under the influence of the hormone estrogen. As estrogen increases, so does the production of fertile mucus. This mucus creates a remarkably favorable environ- ment for sperm survival and transport through the cervical Catholic doctor helps cancer patients' children, too HO CHI MINH CITY, Viet- nam (CNS)  Dr. Pierre le Phu Thinh not only treats patients at a cancer center in Ho Chi Minh City, he also set up a remedial program to help their children stay in school. "My job is not only treating cancer patients physically, but also keeping their morale high," he said. Patients' morale in the terminal stage is very low, "and among their relatives, morale is en lower," he added. po.: ........ ...... drugs for assisted sui WASHINGTON (CNS)  About two assisted suicide and euthanasia, In March, Wirthlin Worldwide sioned to conduct the poll by tee. With 3,000 chapters in 50 states life group, Wirthlin refused to answer the question. announced it could suspend the doctor who helps patients die. isters physicians td prescribe mon painkillers and the barbiturat that ed suicides. the living, as well as for the dying. "We become a corrupt, ily self-centered society we the poor more readily and he wrote. The archbishop also said nity must work even harder and loving care to all terminally ill families and friends." He stressed the need for all Catholic health care providers, pice care and pastoral care to those Many patients at the center come from the provinces, and their children often must accom- pany them, the 50-year-old Catholic doctor said. He spoke to UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand. To help the children, Thinh has set up literacy and remedial classes with the help of some 10 other doctors who contribute 50,000-100,000 dong (U.S. $4 - $8) each toward keeping the classes functioning. canal, allowing sperm to reach the fallopian tubes where con- ception usually takes place. The peak day of estrogen correlates with the release of the egg and also with the peak day of fertile mucus production. Thus fertile mucus opens the biological valve, allowing the sperm to reach the eggs at the time they are released. When the estrogen level falls after an egg is released, cervical mucus production drops too. A different type of mucus is then present in the cervical canal and i. acts as a barrier to sperm pen- etration. This other mucus not only blocks sperm penetration but creates an environment hos- tile to sperm survival. Thus the cervix or biological valve is closed and conception does not occur. Without fertile mucus the record biological valve remains closed. Women Since sperm can not travel tions and have through, conception does not disorders such . occur, ovarian The cervical mucus that opens and the biological valve has three more distinct, easy-to-recognize char- acteristics. Because this cervical this irffornaati0a! mucus is simple to identify, the Natural Family Planning Prac- For titioner can help couples in any call one reproductive category to recog- St. nize their days of fertility and infertility. Women with regular Planning and irregular cycles use NFP. (812) Breast feeding and pre- menopausal women use NFP. Health Further, because the cervical mucus and other signs noted reflect the hormonal activities in The the woman's body, these obser- as, NFP rations become an important (812) ST.MA Health and medical news / from a Cathol!c / perspect,ve,s Health Ca Serwces ,