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Evansville, Indiana
April 17, 1998     The Message
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April 17, 1998

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2 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Seeking pain relief, not suicide help By JUDITH BANDY Catholic News Service DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) -- To fight against assisted suicide, we must work to stop needless suffering for the sick and dying, said Bishop John R. McGann of Rockville Centre, N.Y., during a symposium on health care ethics. Bishop McGann was the keynote speaker for a March 25-27 symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Bioethics Research Center at Loras College, a Dubuque Catholic college. "In the face of serious illness, it is natural to struggle with grief, anger and self-doubt," said the bishop, "but we must recognize that people who ask for help to com- mit suicide are almost always really longing for some- thing else; not death but relief from physical pain, depression and the social pain caused by isolation." Medical professionals report that virtually all termi- nally ill patients could have their pain adequately con- trolled with medications such as morphine that keep the patient awake, alert and reasonably free from pain. Yet studies report that only about 50 percent of those patients are receiving adequate pain management. "We Americans have struggled for over 200 years to build our society on ideals and traditions that call us to care for one another. But today voices are being raised that promote suicide rather than hope," he said. Bishop McGann added that some people see assisted suicide simply as an option that improves the nation's health care by adding a choice  to end-of-life decisions, but he sees it as letting U.S. society and its health care system replace better care for the dying with a quicker death. "This is the opposite of improving health care in America," he said. "We must strengthen, not weaken our nation's health care system." The bishop said that when the life of the person who is weak is put into the hands of one who is strong in society, "the sense of justice is lost and mutual trust, the basis of every authentic interpersonal relationship, is undermined at its root." As Catholics, "we reject the extreme that claims for ourselves the role of God and the extreme that denies our fundamental godliness," he said, explaining that the first extreme can lead to an effort to control all aspects of dying -- e'en to intentionally caused death, as in assisted suicide or euthanasia. He said the second extreme is one that can lead to abandoned dying -- sometimes taking the form of too much treatment and technology, where the patient is endlessly subjected to medical inter- ventions. "Other people are abandoned to too little medical care, especially those who are poor, immigrants who are denied health care, and an increasing number of the middle class who are underinsured or have no insurance at all." He urged the audience to advocate a middle ground a letting go with the true dignity that he said comes with adequate treatment of the physical, emotional, social and spiritual suffering of the dying person. "This very wide middle ground avoids the extremes: death is not directly caused and dying is not unneces- sarily prolonged," he said. He challenged institutions, clergy, religious and laity: To recommit themselves to be more present to the sick and dying. To work on improving health care, particularly palliative care. To redouble efforts at training and management. To expand parish and volunteer' hospice and respite services, To work closely with c to ensure availability of resources. :. He also emphasized the need to regarding end-of-life decisions working for laws that reflect the nity. ' : "No one individual or inst the bishop concluded. "But hope and comfort. Every one peace as we convey the message ..... alone." his is the opposite health care in Am The Bioethics Resource Center Loras College in 1987 to p and support services in heart er community. It offers lectures, workshops fessionals in health care and general public. It maintains a collection for community use, offers care facilities establish ethics Center director Janine Idziak told The paper of the Dubuque become a regional resource on t N FP-only physicians active in diocese Part llof !i .............................. A few years ago, when Flori- da Dr. Paul Hayes, obstetri- cian/gynecologist, decided to stop assisting his patients with contraception, his medical prac- tice unraveled. "Birth control is everything an obstetrics/gyne- NEWS AND COMMENTARY By SOOZI SCHELLER Contributing writer cologist does," said Dr. Hayes describing his plight. "Even the education revolves around using birth control to treat everything. I had to unlearn and 'relearn" this specialty based on respect for the integrity of a woman's reproductive system." Dr. Hayes eventually left Flori- da to go to the Pope Paul Vl Insti- tute for the Study of Human Repro- duction in Omaha, Neb., to begin the incorporation of Nat- ural Family Planning into his OB/GYN practice. At the prompting of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Dio- cese of Lincoln, Dr. Hayes went to Lincoln to practice medicine. There, he met family physicians, Drs. Tim Fischer and Ted Kryn, at a rosary prayer group. Even- tually their conversations shift- ed E-om religion to medicine and gradually they decided to form a new medical practice together. On May 1,1997, they opened the Holy Family Medical Specialties Memorial Hospital lends books The foUowing books are avail- able for loan from the Education Department at Memorial Hospi- tal and Heal C a Center in Jasper. If youare interested in any of these books, please call (8]2) 482-o636. B00hj by r00cn Noyes with Peggy MeUody R.N. "Beauty & Cancer is the first complete book designed to help overcome some of the fear, intimidation, and isolation women may feel during and after cancer therapies, by improving their appearance. This book provides informa- tion for looking great, while , the sideeffof chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery." Video also available. Getting Better by Anne C. Hat- grove PKD. Conversations with my-lf and other friends while healing from breast cancer. It's Always Something by Gilda Radner Gilda Radner's story of her experiemeswith ovarian cancer. The Race is Run One Step at a Time by N/racy Brinker My personal struggle--and everywoman's guide--to taking . ........ practice, which Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz blessed and dedi- cated. Their mission statement declares their commitment "to provide competent and afford- able services in the areas of fam- ily planning practice and obstet- rics/ecology in a way which sel("{6 actualize the healing love and tenderness of Jesus "Christ, the Divine Physician of the soul and body." "A lot of people were really thirsting for this," says Dr. Fish- er. The new NFP-only practice is thriving and two more family physicians have joined, Dr. Phil McNeely, last December, and Dr. Jerry Black, in July. "We have a national search in progress for another NFP-only OB/GYN, one more family physician and a physician assis- tant," reports Boever, the Holy Family Medical Specialties office manager. Part of the routine at Holy Family Medical Specialties includes weekly meetings for the doctors and staff and dioce- san lder Vicar General Msgr. Robert Vafa. They review the Ethics and Medics newsletter to discuss current issues that per- tain both to their medical prac- tice and their diocese. They welcome other interested physicians at these meetings. On the first Fridays of the month, they review the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services written by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, These Direc- tives offer clear statements of health care guidelines related to fertility and other issues. Dr. John R. Hoffman, a family prac- tice resident at St. Mary's Med- ical Center in Evansville draws attention to these same Direc- tives when he speaks publicly about Natural Family Planning before audiences of his peers. The recent announcement of the purchase of Welborn Baptist Hospital by St. Mary's Medical Center has brought attention to issues related to Catholic repro- ductive health services. Dr. Hoffman says he is happy to be involved in the discussion of NFP issues and the practice of Catholic medicine in Evansville. He firmly believes Catholic hospitals need physicians who practice enjoys i.',! areas ductive For one of th Family Mary's . 485-4110; te tion Hospital and in Jasper at (800) the Americas Vincennes at Nat in call 485-4265. . . ! viIIe to discuSS the teaching i local tion Guild. Contact at 485-4144 "'"t"'nO ST. M A medical news ,.om. C.,,o,,. Heal .r h perspective is a courtesy of Services