Identifying the Person as the Problem: Euthanasia for Mental Illness

It was a practice that is foreign to most us today: The victim was executed for a crime committed against her. In the case of sexual defilement in which the woman was the victim, the woman was stoned to death in order to keep her uncleanliness out of the tribe. It seems barbaric to our modern-day sensitivities.

But, what if a woman wants to be punished for something done to her? What if she sees herself as too defiled to enter into the community? What if she thinks she should be killed?

Today victims of child sexual crimes and sexual assault are not put in jail or executed for being dirty. The Enlightenment brought with it the idea of autonomy, and with autonomy comes personal responsibility. The just response to sex crimes is to have the perpetrator tried and convicted in a court of law. However, in our modern world, the community’s responsibility toward the victim is a bit hazy. Dealing with the aftermath of sexual crimes, in particular, tends to be private and personal.

The Dutch Euthanasia Commission granted a 29-year-old woman permission to die by physician-assisted suicide. She suffered from post-traumatic stress from childhood sexual abuse that occurred from age 5 to 15. Among her mental health co-morbidities (because people with PTSD tend to express several types of symptoms), she had what was deemed “untreatable” anorexia due to depression and anxiety.

The Psychological Damage of Sex Crimes

In the up-coming issue of Salvo (Issue 37), I wrote the Casualty Report on sex trafficking. In doing the research for this report, one of the key ways that traffickers and pimps maintain control of their victims is by making them feel worthless. By shaming their victims through abusive and degrading tactics, the victim will not only lose her will to fight back, but she will lose hope for a way out. This is how pimps “train their victims.” Once the cycle of shame has begun, the victim will stay in the abusive relationship because she doesn’t believe she deserves better. Even once she is out of the abusive situation, she will often engage in self-harm as a way to cope with her deep-seated sense of worthlessness.

In his book Shame Interrupted Ed Welch says that “any sexual violation brings shame on the victim…it should be bring shame on the perpetrator” (Welch, 14). Shame is something far deeper and more intense than guilt. It is dehumanizing. Welch defines shame as

[Y]ou were disgraced because you acted less than human, you were treated as if you were less than human, or you were associated with something less than human, and there are witnesses. (Welch, 2)

The 29-year-old woman was treated as something less than human for most of her childhood. When she was approved for physician-assisted suicide, she was treated as less than human then, too.

PTSD Is NOT Incurable

In an op-ed for TIME online, Joan Cook, a trauma psychiatrist, says that “No provider anywhere should ever tell a trauma survivor that their condition is incurable.” She points out that treatment can be hard and it can take a long time, but it is not incurable.

In a Huffington Post article by Jenni Schaefer, author and survivor of sexual abuse, she attests that she was not competent to make a rational and informed decision about physician-assisted suicide while in the throes of her mental illness. The feelings of hopelessness, she says, are part of the illness.

In The Netherlands, one of the criteria for approval for physician-assisted suicide is that the patient must be competent to make the decision. How can she be both rational and competent and have an “incurable” mental illness?

Jenni’s mentor and PTSD expert, Dr. Tim Brewton, said that it is the obligation of the therapist to instill hope. He says that from a clinical perspective,

I do not believe in ever giving up on an individual’s potential for recovery. In fact, I think it is the duty of a doctor or therapist to instill hope of improvement, particularly in a young person. One very important lesson that I have learned over the years is that I can never predict who will improve and who will not. I have been proven wrong too many times, and we cannot see the future. It is better to be present in the moment with patients and to do one’s best to help them sit with their discomfort and move forward in all ways possible.

Shame consumes a person until the person is completely gone. Welch points out that the deep logic of anorexia, which the woman suffered from, is that the person feels unworthy and deserves nothing, so she gives herself nothing and perhaps she can just disappear (Welch, 28). This woman felt unworthy of life and the Dutch Euthanasia Commission agreed with her.

Autonomy and Compassion

Sexual crimes violate the person, not only physically, but also mentally. It is the ultimate expression of treating another as an inhuman piece of meat, a means to an end. If the victim survives the attack, she is not free; she is in mental bondage. Her autonomy has been stripped from her. Killing her is not honoring her freedom to choose when and how she will die. It is honoring the perpetrator’s original intent, which is to consume and discard.

Our enlightened and progressive culture has a habit of “solving” the problem by getting rid of the person, whether it is the unborn, the disabled, or the mentally ill. The problem of suffering is solved by eliminating the sufferer. This is sanitized by calling it “compassionate” and justified by invoking autonomy. If Western countries, like The Netherlands, really do value freedom and autonomy, then true freedom means helping the victim out of her mental bondage by showing her the love and dignity that she doesn’t think she deserves.

Note: After writing this post, I came across this column by Clare Allen in The Guardian, (“The label ‘incurable’ is not a justification for ending a life”). In it, she makes several observations about mental illness and euthanasia including a point that should be more obvious than it apparently is: “It seems to me that anyone who has lived through 10 years of sexual abuse may benefit more from being listened to than labelled.”

Designed for Sex

A good article from the Touchstone magazine website by J. Budziszewski, who has also been interviewed in Salvo. I recommend both to you.

Designed for Sex
What We Lose When We Forget What Sex Is For

Midnight. Shelly is getting herself drunk so that she can bring herself to go home with the strange man seated next to her at the bar. One o’clock. Steven is busy downloading pornographic images of children from Internet bulletin boards. Two o’clock. Marjorie, who used to spend every Friday night in bed with a different man, has been binging and purging since eleven. Three o’clock. Pablo stares through the darkness at the ceiling, wondering how to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion. Four o’clock. After partying all night, Jesse takes another man home, not mentioning that he tests positive for an incurable STD. Five o’clock. Lisa is in the bathroom, cutting herself delicately with a razor. This isn’t what my generation expected when it invented the sexual revolution. The game isn’t fun anymore. Even some of the diehard proponents of that enslaving liberation have begun to show signs of fatigue and confusion.

Naomi Wolf, in her book Promiscuities, reports that when she lost her own virginity at age 15, there was “something important missing.” Apparently, the thing missing was the very sense that anything could be important. In her book Last Night in Paradise, Katie Roiphe poignantly wonders what could be wrong with freedom: “It’s not the absence of rules exactly, the dizzying sense that we can do whatever we want, but the sudden realization that nothing we do matters.”

Desperate to find a way to make it matter, some young male homosexuals court death, deliberately seeking out men with deadly infections as partners; this is called “bug chasing.” At the opposite extreme, some of those who languish in the shadow of the revolution toy with the idea of abstinence—but an abstinence that arises less from purity or principle than from boredom, fear, and disgust. In Hollywood, of all places, it has become fashionable to talk up Buddhism, a doctrine that finds the cure of suffering in the ending of desire, and the cure of desire in annihilation.

Speaking of exhaustion, let me tell you about my students. In the ’80s, if I suggested in class that there might be any problem with sexual liberation, they said that everything was fine—what was I talking about? Now if I raise questions, many of them speak differently. Although they still live like libertines, it’s getting old. They are beginning to sound like the children of third-generation Maoists.

My generation may have ordered the sexual revolution; theirs is paying the price. I am not speaking only of the medical price of sexual promiscuity. To be sure, those consequences are ruinous: At the beginning of the revolution, most physicians had to worry about only two or three sexually transmitted diseases, and now it is more like two or three dozen. But I am not speaking only of broken bodies. I am speaking, for example, of broken childhoods. . . . Read the rest.

Reflections On Memorial Day 2016

iStock_000025141308_Smallby Michael Avramovich

Memorial Day is the most solemn of our national holidays.  The solemn tribute began in 1866 when three Christian women from Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers there, and at the same time laid flowers on the graves of the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery.  At the insistence of his wife, General John Logan, then Army Chief of Staff, issued an official order shortly thereafter proclaiming Memorial Day an annual day of remembrance for our nation’s war dead.

From the days of the Revolution, through the struggles of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the present War on Terror, the strength of our nation is in the spirit of its men and women who fought and died for a nation determined to know its ancient liberty.  There have been 4,435 combat deaths in the Revolutionary War, 2,260 in the War of 1812, 1,733 in the Mexican War, 140,415 on the Union side in the Civil War, 74.524 on the Confederate, 385 in the Spanish-American War, 53,513 in World War I, 292,131 in World War II, 33,667 in the Korea War, 47,393 in the Vietnam War and 148 in the Persian Gulf War.  Over 4,491 have died as a direct result of hostile action in Iraq since March 19, 2003, with 2,357 more in Afghanistan.  Most recently, there have been a number of combat deaths in Operation Inherent Resolve, the military intervention against ISIS. The loss of life to American military men and women in all of our nation’s wars exceeds 1,354,600.

On the first few days after D-Day in June 1944, 6,603 Americans died in combat; 4,000 alone on the first day.  Iwo Jima, lying midway between Guam and Japan, is less than five miles long.  On that island, Japanese troops were ordered to dig in the mountain fortress and to die to the last man.  The assault on Iwo Jima was the fiercest landing fight the world has ever seen.  The Japanese kept up an incessant rain of death upon the attacking American troops on the beaches.  Navy and Marine casualties exceeded 22,000; the Japanese counted more than 20,000 dead. On the sacred soil of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the battlefield was a sea of carnage.  In three days of fighting, Confederate losses were 3,900 killed, and 24,000 wounded and missing; Union losses were 3,100 killed, and 20,000 wounded or missing.  Those soldiers listed as missing simply vanished, ground up in battle disappearing into the soil.  In November 1863, several months after the battle of Gettysburg, its military cemetery was dedicated, at which President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.

Today, there are 120 national military cemeteries in our nation.  From Arlington, Virginia, on the Potomac to the Golden Gate in California, from St. Augustine, Florida, to Sitka, Alaska, as well as on many other burial grounds elsewhere around the world.  The war cemeteries in Normandy, one of which appears in the deeply powerful opening scene of the film “Saving Private Ryan,” holds the remains of 9,386 American soldiers. The cemetery of Meuse-Argonne in France contains more than 14,000 American military dead from World War I, the largest number interred in a single place in Europe. France has 11 American cemeteries, the most outside of the United States; Belgium has three, the United Kingdom and Italy, two, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, one. A number exist outside Europe; the oldest is the Mexico City National Cemetery, which dates from 1847, and is the burial site of nearly 750 unidentified American soldiers killed in the Mexican-American War, and later from the U.S. Civil War and Spanish-American War. Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines is the largest overseas cemetery, with more than 17,000 Americans who died in World War II’s Pacific Theatre. In 2003, former General Colin Powell, responding to a remark by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who had been critical of American “hard power,” said, “We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan, and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in.” More than 125,000 U.S. war dead are buried in these overseas resting places.

On this hallowed soil, as in the hearts of the American people, the memory of these gallant men and women, who made the supreme sacrifice, is enshrined forever.  In a letter written by President Lincoln to Mrs. Lydia Bixby in late November 1864, a widow who lost her five sons in the Civil War, the President wrote the following:

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

On this Memorial Day, as I have been reminding younger people, that amidst the travel, barbeques, and shopping, let us not forget to thank God that such brave men and women as they lived and died for our nation’s freedom. May God have mercy upon them, and may their memory be eternal.

The Summer 2016 Issue of Salvo

We’re excited to be presenting Salvo #37 to you soon! Along with our great regular contributors such as Hugh Ross, Terrell Clemmons, Denyse O’Leary, and Cameron Wybrow, we’re happy to be welcoming some new writers for us this time. Philosophy professor James S. Spiegel’s article is featured on the cover, and here’s an early look at the piece by well-known apologist Sean McDowellCollege Prep: How Can Students Stand Strong for Their Faith in College? We’ll be updating the website next Monday with new online content, so be sure to check back soon. Now’s a great time to subscribe—Makes a great gift too!

Salvo37

A New Video from Live Action Plus Salvo Articles on Abortion

This was posted yesterday by Live Action:

Salvo has interviewed Live Action’s founder Ms. Lila Rose a few times over the years, and I encourage you to look up more Live Action videos on youtube.

Salvo has covered the topic of abortion from many angles as well. See below.

Acting for Life
An Interview with Lila Rose

“. . . We’ve known about the trafficking of the body parts of children for years now, so it wasn’t surprising. But it’s always heartbreaking and deeply disturbing to see it and hear it again. Even after being involved in this movement for twelve years, it still moves me deeply when I have an encounter with the violence that’s done to children we’re trying to protect and the heartache it causes families, mothers, all of society. . . . “


The Big Kill
Abortion Is by Far the Deadliest Thing—Ever

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Harm’s Way
Men, Abortion & Hemingway

. . . despite the feminists’ attempts to silence men on the subject, abortion is, and always will be, a matter that concerns men as much as women. Every unborn child, whether aborted or carried to term, is the offspring of a father as well as a mother, and the mere presence of “it” presents a new “thing” in his life with which he must contend. From the moment he receives the news, he has a choice to make: Will he rise, like a man, to the momentous task his male activity has wrought? Or will he shrink back in search of some sideways escape? The choice he makes will have lifelong consequences for him. . . .


Look! A Baby!
The Argument Against Abortion

. . . The religious justifications of abortion are not based on revelation, and the “rationalist” justifications of abortion self-evidently cannot be. They are certainly not based on reason. So they are based on nothing at all, except perhaps will and power. . . .


A Buried Grief
Finally, There Is More Help for Women Hurt by Abortion

. . . According to Burke and others in the field whom I spoke with, typical manifestations of post-abortion trauma include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, nightmares, and difficulty with intimacy. Some reactions are delayed for years; others are immediate. “I think most women, if they knew it was going to impact them in such a negative way, would never, ever in a million years have chosen to have an abortion,” Burke told me. “Having a baby would have been a breeze compared to trying to deal with all the problems that were borne later.” . . .


Roe v. Women
Pro “Choice” Clearly Harms Those It Claims to Help

. . . To pit the rights of prospective mothers against the rights of their unborn children is to begin the discussion with a false presumption—namely, that the interests of the two parties are at odds with one another. They are not. To harm the child is to harm the mother, and vice versa. . . .


Death in Bangkok
Opposition to Abortion Is Not Just a Judeo-Christian Thing

. . . Thailand is a star performer in government-sponsored family planning. In the 1960s women had an average of about 6.5 children. Now the average is about 1.8 children. Contraception is widely available. So even if abortion is frowned upon as the destruction of unborn human life, the dynamics of a contraceptive lifestyle make it more and more likely that women will resort to it. There can be little doubt why the abortion mills thrive in the face of public disgust, religious denunciations, and the danger of police raids. . . .


Planned Parenthood
Where the Blood & Money Flow

. . . Blood aside, it’s hard to single out one offense from the many. There are the allegations of massive misuse of public funds—for example, charges of Medicaid fraud totaling (to date) close to $100 million. Or the charges of practicing suspicious medicine, such as giving clients false information about fetal development and mishandling prescription drugs. And then there is the recorded evidence of complicity in statutory rape1 and child sex trafficking,2 due to the failure to report suspected perpetrators as required by law. These activities are all shady enough to warrant comparing Planned Parenthood to the mafia. . . .