See also past Guest columns.

On medical decision-making Print
Guest column
Thursday, Oct. 06, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

Each fall, as we observe October, Respect Life Month, we are reminded of our obligation to combat the relentless attacks on all innocent human life.

Guest Column

Our experience throughout this past spring and summer indicates that in addition to the tragic killing of our preborn brothers and sisters, assaults on vulnerable elderly, sick, and disabled people are definitely on the rise, especially here in Wisconsin.

Providing advice, advocacy

Pro-Life Wisconsin is being enlisted to provide more and more materials, speakers, advice, and direct advocacy regarding end-of-life and medical decisions.

In the past eight months, we have distributed hundreds of our Protective Power of Attorney for Healthcare by mail, during hands-on workshops, and through our Web site.

Cardinal Burke’s leadership

It is always helpful to be led and supported in our efforts by respected clergy. One such shepherd is Wisconsin native Cardinal Raymond L. Burke. Cardinal Burke has consistently, forcefully called for the dignified treatment of all innocent human life.

In fact, on July 25 in Kansas City, before more than 300 people in the medical field, he stated, “No matter how much a life is diminished, no matter what suffering the person is undergoing, that life demands the greatest respect and care . . . It’s never right to snuff out a life because it’s in some way under heavy burden.”

I was pleasantly reminded of our Pro-Life Wisconsin motto “Defending God’s Plan” when I thought about Cardinal Burke’s additional words. “Human life is a gift to be accorded the highest respect and care from its beginning until natural death . . . we are not the creators of human life and must respect the plan of the author of life for us and for our world,” Cardinal Burke said.

Dangerous document

As successful as we are in alerting and motivating people to use our Pro-Life Wisconsin tools, death peddlers are foisting their own new weapon upon us. In fact, we are seeing in Wisconsin a dangerous document deceptively titled, “Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).” These POLST forms are being presented to patients who are viewed by caregivers as not worthy of life-sustaining care.

In other words, care, even minimal care is viewed as futile. When attached to a medical chart, POLST can act to limit the use of life-saving treatment, technology, and even ordinary care.

The POLST forms are presented to a vulnerable patient often at a time when the patient’s appointed advocate should be the one making decisions. Once the form is filled out and signed, it could override a patient’s own advance directive.

Pro-Life Wisconsin is working tirelessly with doctors, nurses, clergy, and lawyers, attempting to defeat this deadly experimental program that is cropping up in hospitals and nursing homes. We will keep you informed as we progress.

In the meantime, please fill out a Pro-Life Wisconsin Protective Power of Attorney for Health Care document and distribute our medical decision-making brochures. Warn everyone to refuse to fill out POLST forms if they are presented.

Cardinal Burke reminds us all, “Respect for the dignity of human life is the foundation for good order in our individual lives and our society.”

Peggy Hamill is state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin.