“Confusion and disinformation”. This, according to the president of Pro-life Italy, Toni Brandi, is the strategy of a “media campaign orchestrated by the Radical Party” to push the European Parliament to approve the law on the so-called “Anticipated Declarations about Treatment”, or living will. The meeting promoted by the foreign press with the Canadian nurse Kristina Hodgetts represented the occasion to take the stock on the legislative process and to bring the witness of those who, in their professional experience, practiced the passive euthanasia on ill persons through the interruption of feeding and hydration.
But before the story, in some aspects dramatic, of Hodgetts, there was a speech by the secretary of the foreign press, the English Warde Christopher Jones, who moderate the discussion, and told what happened to him at the end of last year. “My brother called me from London and told me to get there immediately because our mother was very ill. The day after a doctor approached me and explained me that we could accelerate the end to avoid her to suffer. My brother and I told him to wait, to not do anything. I would like that doctor to see now my mother that perfectly recovered and at the age of 84 still drives and works for a charity organization. But I want to emphasize – he concluded – that at that time we did not realize what was happening”.
Stories of death
Kristina is married, she has three daughters and she started to work as a nurse in the Canadian army. She was in Saudi with the security forces then she worked in an emergency room and in the intensive care “where we were busy saving lives, we had no time for anything else. Now everything has changed, we should ask ourselves what is the will of the patient, there are huge legal responsibilities“. Finally, she was nursing coordinator in a nursing home. Here, she told, “we used to receive orders by doctors for palliative care, that is the administration of morphine and the suspension of food and water. In this way, we would have accelerated the death for dehydration“. Palliative care is obviously a euphemism, because the real cares are quite another thing. It was a real death machine, to which the nurse participated in good faith until she faced the case of an aged woman for whom had been provided the suspension of the therapies. But the woman, the day after improved and so “one of my colleagues told me to go and take new orders, we do not want that she comes ‘back’, we want her to die. So I did. It was a Friday. Usually a patient in those conditions dies within 72 hours. But the Monday after the woman was still alive”. Simply, she was sucking water from a sponge that someone gave her to wet her cracked lips. She was holding on to life, with all her forces. “We started to wonder about what we were doing – continued Hodgetts – there were no signs of an imminent death. But the daughter who was also a nurse, did not want us to nourish and hydrate her. It took her nine days of a terrible agony in order to die”.
The Turning Point
Shortly after a similar case shook the nurse even more: “A woman, named Kelly, was hospitalized, accompanied by her daughter Kate. The brother who was the guardian of the mother, decided on the suspension of nutrition and hydration, despite she only suffered a small stroke. The sister did not agree but she could not do anything. It was terrible.” Kristina was part of the Commission that was responsible for preparing the procedures “that always resolved into two results: or the DNR (do not reanimate order) or dehydration. I expressed my opinion and I was dismissed“. A year and a half after the Hodgetts found herself “on the other side: I got stricken by a deep inoperable ictus. I remained in a coma for 11 days but my husband did not let me die like Mrs Kelly. The evening before his birthday my daughter was approached by a nurse who told her to be prepared for the worst. In reality, the closeness of my family made the difference. When I recovered I became vice president of the Coalition for the prevention of euthanasia. Where the so-called ‘sweet death’ is legal is a massacre. We walk on an inclined plane on which we risk of going beyond the limits, of becoming accomplices of acts that in the past we would have judged as unspeakable. You cannot approve a law that removes the fundamental right to life and freedom“.
Kristina Hodgetts reiterated that “there are no cases where euthanasia is licit” even if she said she understand that there may be ill persons who make this choice: “In my professional experience there were patients who asked to die – she told by answering a question of in Terris – but it is usually easy to convince them that it is not the best solution. When one takes care about all the pain of the ill person, which is not only physical but also psychological, social and spiritual, it is easier to decide for life. Often we tackle the pain by increasing the doses of the drugs but there are other aspects to which we must give more convincing responses in order to treat patients much better”.
Brandi: “It is not compassion”
“What is behind the euthanasia, compassion? No – urged the president of Pro Life – there are the profits of the Clinics who practice it, the savings of the health care system and of the insurance companies and a eugenic mentality for which the terminally ill, old or disabled person should be deleted because it is a cost and does not produce. Unfortunately, supporters of euthanasia exploit pathetic cases of those who suffer and should be helped to seek the approval of the living will. But it is absurd to entrust our life in the long term to a piece of paper. Dying of hunger and thirst after a terrible agony of many days is absurd. And in fact these are irrevocable choices because they are taken in advance while perspectives can change. Life does not belong only to us. The State has the duty of assisting the terminally ill persons. The reality – he concluded – is that they want people to believe that pain is the main problem: it is not true, the point is not to feel abandoned“.