BLOGThe Weekly Digest: 8-24-16

By James Arnold Posted on: | August 24, 2016
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On to the news.
Learning From Assisted Suicide Advocates


Over at Public Discourse, Ashton Ellis offers a few lessons from the sudden expansion of support for physician-prescribed death.

Ellis is primarily looking at California and the work by assisted suicide advocate group Compassion & Choices.

Ellis's first lesson? Grassroots pressure works. Ellis points to Huntington Hospital, which approved an amendment to its internal rules to read as follows:

"Huntington Hospital has chosen not to participate in the act, and therefore no Huntington Hospital employees, independent contractors, or other persons or entities that work at or with Huntington Hospital may participate in activities under the act while on the premises of Huntington Hospital, or while acting within the scope of any employment or contractual relationship with Huntington Hospital."

That was in May. Ellis brings us forward:

"Fast forward to August. [Compassion & Choices' California State Director Matt] Whitaker is now emailing to share the good news that Huntington Hospital is not only allowing its doctors to participate in assisted suicides, it 'took the unprecedented step of purchasing a full page ad in the LA Times to celebrate the move!' Lest readers mistake who is responsible for the shift, Whitaker elaborates. 'It’s important to understand that Huntington did not come to this decision on their own. It was outspoken supporters of [assisted suicide] that made their disappointment in Huntington’s initial decision known. They called, emailed and submitted op-eds on the subject—and their pressure worked!'"

The group's efforts to get folks on the ground to call, e-mail, and write op-eds for local papers added up to the sort of pressure that Huntington Hospital felt impossible to ignore. That's a powerful lesson: Get local folks working for you, and you'll have more influence than many national organizations.

The second lesson? Working with professionals to reach clients:

"Consider C&C’s 'Doc2Doc' program. It offers a twenty-four-hour hotline for physicians wanting to navigate an assisted suicide law. It provides links to compliance forms and an unlimited number of free consultations. It disseminates talking points and even tutorials on other types of 'patient-controlled death,' such as VSED, or Voluntarily Stop Eating and Drinking. Most people would call this starving to death.

"Then there is the 'Good to Go' toolkit for advanced health-care directives. It is an ideal resource for estate-planning attorneys desiring prearranged checklists and templates. A Values Worksheet lists several common questions about quality-of-life and treatment options, rated along a spectrum. The toolkit has several documents that can be attached to an advanced directive, such as a Dementia Provision, a Transfer Order from a non-assisted-suicide hospital, and a Hospital Visitation Form that gives preference to non-family members (presumably in favor of people who support C&C’s agenda)."

In other words, if you only work towards influencing organizations at the administrative level, and not the professionals themselves, you won't experience the effect for which you hope. You have to have public support for grassroots efforts, and you have to have professional support to see implementation.

To expand on this: No organization is capable of doing all of the above with only people employed by the organization. For the work of any organization to be both effective and long-term, it needs to bring different types of groups together into one coordinated alliance. Almost any project you can conceive of is too large to accomplish without the help of people on the ground, people already in the profession, and people who tirelessly work to support all of the above.

We would do well to learn from those with which we disagree when those folks are achieving some degree of success.

Read the rest of the piece here.

On the Danger of "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria"

That phrase, which 4thWaveNow (a blog launched by a "mother of a teenage girl who suddenly announced she was a 'trans man' after a few weeks of total immersion in YouTube transition vlogs") seems to have coined, is the subject of today's discussion.

Over at National Review, David French has the terrifying story:

"When thinking about transgender issues, you can choose to believe either the Left’s comforting lie or the messy — and sometimes quite sad and scary — truth. Here’s the comforting lie: that there are a certain class of people who live in 'a state of emotional distress' because their sex 'assigned at birth' conflicts with their 'gender identity.' For these people it is the height of cruelty to ask them to live according to their 'assigned' sex. So, when even children demonstrate the allegedly objective criteria of 'consistence, insistence, and persistence,' then they can and often should begin the process of transitioning to a new gender."

That comforting lie, as French calls it, is becoming more and more prevalent. Doctors seem afraid to suggest any diagnosis other than "gender dysphoria" and any treatment other than "life-altering drugs and surgeries."

Unfortunately, that doesn't change the truth. French continues:

"The truth, however, is stubborn. Human experience simply doesn’t conform to ideological models, and the far worse damage is done when we try to impose radical ideology onto the complexities of individual, troubled lives. In reality, people are far more vulnerable to suggestion and fashion than the Left lets on. Rather than affirming an immutable identity, our culture is ratifying and rendering permanent what often amounts to little more than a troubled youthful phase — one that is subject to all the whims of fashion that mark any other cultural trend.

"Let’s be clear: The vast majority of kids who experience a period of discomfort with their biological sexual identity eventually desist. Indeed, the number may well be over 90 percent. In other words, kids who are growing and learning about life and themselves sometimes endure a period of confusion. This should shock exactly no one. What is shocking, however, is the insistence that this period of confusion should be treated as a period of confirmation — and that medical intervention is the logical and tolerant next course."

This shouldn't be as complicated as it is: Even if you think that there is a time when "transitioning" is the medical response, it is wildly clear from the data that too much of a sudden conformity to a new ideology is going on. Doctors are not diagnosing properly, for fear of accusations of bigotry. "Do no harm" takes another hit.

As with all things related to children, this harms far more than just the child:

"We’re not far from the day when a child will be taken from a loving home simply because the parents refuse to believe that their little girl is actually a little boy. We’re already living in the days when telling your girl child that she shouldn’t undergo treatments that will render her infertile and painfully mutilated is deemed to be intolerant. And we refuse to believe that such behaviors are at all influenced by peer groups or social trends. Instead, your daughter is simply 'trans,' just as she is either black or white."

If gender ideology becomes the primary cultural orthodoxy, then there is little reason to believe that a parent who wishes to acknowledge their child's biological gender over-and-against the child's new stated "gender" will be regarded as anything but a bigot at best and an unfit parent at worst. That's frightening stuff. But it is also cruel. This sort of confusion does not need to be "treated" by surgery and body-altering medication; compassion and therapy are the responsibility of the parents and the medical community.

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James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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