Open Letter to a Female Judge
(note: this letter was written several years before the writer had to deal with this issue in her personal life.)
Dear Judge G:
I decided to write to you instead of discussing this with you in person, because I don't want to confront you. I believe that you were a little upset with me for discussing the abortion issue with you the last time we were together. I apologize for any pain I may have caused you. If at any point as you read this letter, you find it painful to continue reading, please lay the letter aside and continue later.
I choose to associate with you because I am drawn to your wisdom. I believe that you can help me very much in developing my thinking, and the discussions we have in which we disagree are very helpful in this regard. Since I write on critical political, social, and religious issues, this development is vitally important to me, and it is the reason why I want to continue to associate with you. In addition, I would like to offer any wisdom I may have that will make your life better. I owe you a great debt, and I want to repay.
I brought up the life issues because I want to take advantage of your insight. I expect to develop my thinking considerably as a result, so if you are willing to bear with me, it will be of great benefit to me. Since I intend to continue to devote my talents to influencing society, and have shown in the past that I have the ability to exert considerable influence through my pen, I hope that you will believe it worthwhile to help me in this endeavor. If it is simply too painful for you to discuss, I will understand, but I hope that you will read my letter at some point, before you decide not to discuss it further with me. It is rare to find a person who disagrees with me on these issues who is levelheaded enough to give me the kind of discussion I need.
Because of my background and beliefs, the abortion issue is urgent to me, but that was not the reason why I brought it up. It is the reason why I have a hard time not being intense about it. The reason why I brought it up is because I am concerned about the issue of the way incapacitated people are treated, and I see the abortion issue as relevant. I planned to tie it in. We didn't have enough time for me to do that, especially because I wanted to deal with each issue you raised in the abortion debate, and I didn't want to ignore those issues, but respond to them.
I brought up this whole line of discussion because from my perspective, no workable solution to the disenfranchisement of the disabled can be achieved unless these issues are addressed. It doesn't matter whether you believe that we deprive the disabled of the ability to decide when they want to die, or whether you believe we deprive the disabled of the right to decide what dress to wear in the morning, when to get up, and what to eat. The right to make all of these decisions must be protected. If we do not find a meaningful way for people to decide they are finished with life, then we are not likely to respect their right to decide those smaller issues, either. The whole thing is about refusing to respect anybody but the strong. In this letter, I want to get into considerable detail on the decision to die, because it is very complex, and I believe you probably have not had the privilege of getting the kind of background I have. (Among other things, I have read widely the philosophers on both sides of this question. I believe that reading their writings is the next best thing to living with them and absorbing their thought processes.) But simply because of lack of time on your part, you can easily be victimized by the popular media, and very frankly, they have sold us a bill of goods. So I will try to present a number of significant points quickly, so that you will not have to read the many volumes I have read to learn the same basic points.
Before discussing anything else, I feel it is most important to talk about the issues you raised in regard to your mother. You have a deep love for your mother, and that makes me feel very drawn to you. I believe strongly in mothers and children being close. And I can see that her loving concern for others rubbed off on you. You are a credit to her. I want to make it clear that my own inclination is to feel deeply for anybody who suffers. I am deeply sorry about the suffering she went through. Because of my work on the life issues, I am quite familiar with the many aspects of the issue you raised. I didn't know your mother, and I didn't know the circumstances, so I can only talk in more general terms. I will not represent that anything I am about to say would have eased your mother's suffering, but I will state that there is a great possibility that her case was mishandled, and that if it had been handled correctly, she and you would not have had the horrible experience you both did.
First of all, I do not know when all of this took place, but in recent years, there have been great advances in dealing with the problems you raised. I will try to bring up each fact of which I am aware.
I want to begin by talking about why you believe your mother wanted to die. You haven't explained the reason for this, so I have nothing really to go on. But I think that someone was negligent because he or she failed to address the reason why. I don't mean you, but some professional who was involved in your mother's case. Because she was such a caring person, it would seem like she had something to live for, but she must have suffered some deep wound to have given up on life. First of all, I want to express my deep sorrow that no one reached out to her in this way. If I had been there, I would have. It hurts to think that no one did. I hope you do not feel guilty for not having dealt successfully with this. I believe that you tried, but that you were not successful for some reason beyond your control. If at any time you want to discuss this so that you can heal any wounds you experienced from this situation, please let me know.
I want to go on by addressing the issue of cancer and cancer pain. The medical profession has systematically ignored any alternatives to standard allopathic treatment for many years. But I have had considerable experience with alternatives. I do not know if your mother would have chosen an alternative, but I blame the medical profession for not investigating and utilizing the alternatives so that people in her position will not be faced with the choice between the deadly allopathic treatments (which are the primary cause of pain in cancer) and what is perceived as quackery. I first learned about Laetrile, which is one of the most notable treatments, over twenty-five years ago. A friend of mine had cancer in her neck, and was later told that she would have to have a leg amputated, or she would die. She went to Mexico instead, and had Laetrile treatment. She is still alive and well today. I believe the fact that she had cancer in such widely different places would indicate that the cancer had metastasized. After hearing of my friend's case, I began to investigate Laetrile, and I learned why it works. Not long after, I learned that another friend had been diagnosed with bone cancer. I have learned that this is a very difficult cancer to deal with for many reasons. I knew she had cancer because I saw lesions on her body, so the cancer was not confined to the bones. I gave my friend a bag of apricot pits (these are rich in Laetrile) and she ate them over a period of time. This was about fifteen years ago. Her cancer cleared up, and I talked to her just two weeks ago. She is well. Several years ago, I had a dog which was diagnosed with bone cancer by the vet. By the time we realized he had a problem, it was too late for standard veterinary treatment. We put him on apricot pits and Vitamin A, as well as some other herbs. We knew it was too late to save his life, but our treatment controlled his pain. He ate willingly, and wagged his tail when he saw me. He was uncomfortable, but not in deep pain until the final day of his life. I think the deep pain lasted a few hours and then he became unconscious. I was with him at the end, and it was peaceful. Recently I observed that another dog with the same genetic background had lesions, and we put her on apricot pits and Vitamin A immediately. All but one lesion cleared up. Her appetite is excellent, and she is full of energy. I have learned that Laetrile is not the only worthwhile remedy. My original friend also used the Electrolytic Regeneration Program (which I have personally used for other conditions), and it worked excellently. I find that periodically the medical profession, which pooh-poohs the natural methods, makes a discovery that supports the theories behind these treatments. The latest incident was a newscast just this week. So the first point I want to make about this is that the medical profession is negligent in exploring alternatives, and because of this, cancer patients who use medical treatment suffer needlessly. The bottom line is that the surgery, chemical burning, and radiation burning that are used are more painful than the cancer itself, and that the natural methods ease the pain, even if it is too late to reverse the course of the disease.
The next issue I want to address is cancer pain from another angle. I did quite a bit of research into the question of euthanasia, and during the course of this investigation, I learned that there are ways to control pain from any terminal disease that allow the patient to remain alert but pain free. Most commonly the best way to deal with this is to calculate the dosage of pain medication very, very precisely (something the medical profession is not willing to do), and to administer the medication BEFORE the pain becomes an issue. This is commonly done in hospices. There are two kinds of hospices: those run by pro-life people, and those run by people who do not value human life. In the former, pain control is routine. In the latter, patients are neglected and put into positions where they will become psychologically dysfunctional and seek immediate death. So the mere fact that a person is in a hospice is no guarantee that he or she will be given helpful treatment. Hospices must be checked as carefully as rest homes. In a hospice run by pro-life people, the wishes of the patent are respected in this way: if the patient wants to discontinue treatment that will prolong his life, it is permitted. One of the false issus that anti-life people sometimes raise is that pro-life people will try to prolong life at any cost. This is not true. Anti-life people try to muddy the waters of the debate by bad rhetoric, and by lying about what pro-life people do. I have to try to set the record straight. Please read carefully so that I can correct some of the lies. Unless you have a clear picture of what is really going on, because there is no way that any person can use reason and common sense to evaluate the situation until she has the facts.
I need to digress for precisely that reason. First of all, I want to make it clear that I do NOT question the motives of the vast majority of people who support either abortion or euthanasia. When I speak of anti-life people, I am really talking about a small number of people who do not respect human life at all, and think that we would all be better off dead. They won't usually tell people this is where they are coming from, but unfortunately most of the leadership of the movement that opposes the pro-life efforts falls into this category. I think this is primarily because most people of good will who support abortion or euthanasia do not have the impetus to take leadership positions. The slogan "right to choose" is both the strength and weakness of the movement that employs it. It is a strength because freedom of choice is a value that most Americans currently hold. It is a weakness because people who support this movement because of this thinking are not particularly inclined to get active; they apply the right to choose to pro-life people as well, and if pro-life people want to choose to fight these issues, this is acceptable to them. They lack the hard-core commitment necessary to fill a leadership role. This is not true of all of the leaders, but it is true of enough so that the movement is badly distorted by the leaders who genuinely want to kill as many human beings as possible. Another problem that the movement has is that many of the people involved see suffering as totally unacceptable. I think these people also have good motives, but their outlook is unrealistic. Suffering is our lot in life. It is the price of being alive. I am suffering very, very much right now, but I am far from ready to stop living, or to give up. I would fight anybody who suggested that I should. But there is a certain mentality that says that I should probably give up and die, because my suffering is too great. That is a decision for me alone to make. I recognize every person's right to make that decision for himself. I will explain why I believe that no person has a right to get anybody to help him end his own suffering, and why I believe that it will destroy society as we know it, turning it into something none of us would want to live through. I think Margaret Mead said it, but I am not sure, and I can only paraphrase what she said. She said essentially that we cannot allow people to sit in judgment over which innocent person should live and which should die, because that kind of power corrupts a society. Three other notable quotations should be mentioned here. The first was said by, among others, George Santayana. He said, "Those who do not remember the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." The lesson we are forgetting here is the Nazi Holocaust. My reason for opposing abortion and euthanasia is twofold: first of all, because it takes the lives of innocent people, and causes great suffering in the survivors, and secondly, it creates a society in which justice ceases to exist. I want to take considerable time to explain this; it is critically important. I will start by drawing your attention to a third and fourth quote.
This is a dialog which took place at the Nuremburg war crimes trials after the end of WWII. One of the defendants addressed the judge: "I never knew it would come to this. You must believe me. YOU MUST BELIEVE ME." The judge responded, "It came to this the first time you condemned an innocent man to die." He was absolutely correct. I am also reminded of a quote which again I must paraphrase. It also grows out of the Holocaust. It runs something like this: When they came for the Jews, I did not speak up because I wasn't a Jew. When they came for the Christians, I did not speak up because I wasn't a Christian. When they came for the elderly, I didn't speak up because I wasn't elderly. When they came for the handicapped, I didn't speak up because I wasn't handicapped. When they came for the trade unionists, I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak up.
You have been a judge for many years. I want to ask you to consider a matter. We have spoken about being big on personal responsibility, responsibility for one's actions. You know that the government has a responsibility to protect us from criminals. You couldn't do your job if you didn't believe this. If someone is brought before you for arraignment on murder, you don't think in terms of that person having the right to choose to have murdered his victim. I think you are fully aware of the consequences to a society that ever adopted that policy. We have seen from history what happens when we ignore murder and allow it to go on, merely because the victim was not at that point in time a contributing member of society. Your own history on the bench clearly demonstrates that you support the helpless, the downtrodden, the victim of the strong. I believe that the problem with many people with your outlook is that often they do not face some of the victims because they are trying too hard to help other victims. When the rights of two victims conflict, which one do you protect? This is a dilemma that I think few people deal with successfully. I mentioned the problem of the false dichotomy. One of the ways anti-life people promote their agenda is by creating these false dichotomies. The abortion issue is a very good example of this.
In one sense, there is not conflict of interest between a mother and her unborn child, ever. Perceived conflicts are a result of cloudy thinking. The reason I say this is because abortion is very dangerous for mothers. This is true even when done by the most competent doctor imaginable under the best of conditions. I have had the privilege of learning the facts. The facts are these: even in the first trimester, properly performed medical abortion permanently damages one third of all women. This is a statistic that cannot be favorably altered. It doesn't matter what method is used. I will give you just two examples of this, but bear in mind that I can give you hundreds. The first example concerns itself with a research paper by Margaret and Arthur Wynn, two pro-choice writers from England. They surveyed the medical literature of many countries where abortion is legal and performed by doctors. Their paper is entitled, "Some Consequences of Induced Abortion to Children Born Subseqently." They found that the overall rate of permanent damage to women from first trimester surgical abortion performed under medically optimum conditions was 35%. There was a breakdown of this which went into considerable detail. (I have already mentioned that the death rate to women from one complication alone, hemorrhage, is 1/3000 of all women receiving abortions. This does not take into account any of the other complications resulting in death.) The second example is important because surgical abortion is being replaced by chemical means. It is now known that a woman who disrupts her pregnancy in the first trimester multiplies her chances of getting breast cancer by an astronomical figure. This is because of the way in which the hormone balance is disrupted by ending the pregnancy. During the first trimester, hormones that result in cell proliferation are very prominent. They cause breast tissue to grow. But later in pregnancy, this process comes to a halt, and the woman is protected. The act of breastfeeding her child actually lowers her risk. But if this transformation never takes place, the hormones that resulted in cell proliferation are never dealt with, nor are the cells that they caused to grow. Eventually, they become active again, and the woman develops breast cancer. I know these facts both from the medical literature, and from my understanding of the mechanism by which cancer works generally, which is why Laetrile is effective. You may suggest that the necessary mechanism for stopping this can be provided by medical science. My personal experience causes me to know that this will never happen. I almost died myself because of such attempts. A woman's body is too delicately balanced, and the moment you start to interfere to that extent, there WILL be consequences. Safety of abortion is NOT an issue, and anybody who tells you that keeping it legal will keep it safe is either lying, or does not know the facts.
Clearly, it would be in the best interests of the mother to allow her to carry her daughter to term, give birth, and then kill her. To be honest, I am not opposed to ANY method which preserves the life and health of the baby, but the anti-life people are actually seeking the death of the baby, and even when a baby manages to survive, they will take active means to kill even at that point. Before making my final point on the issue of abortion, let me suggest that the only reasonable solution to any unfortunate pregnancy is to protect the interests of BOTH victims. This IS possible. It may mean that the mother has some psychological needs that must be dealt with, but as a woman who almost submitted to abortion at one time, and suffered the aftermath of that, I can tell you that it is easier to deal with the psychological needs without the abortion than with it. It galls me that the media have lied about the efforts pro-life people make to help women deal with the practical problems and the psychological ones. The efforts are truly monumental, and highly successful. We need to support and make these efforts grow, not lie about the fact that they exist. If at any time you are willing, I will show you firsthand the nature and extent of these efforts. But remember, truth is truth, and even if no pro-life person ever lifted a finger to help a pregnant woman, it wouldn't change the basic issue, one which you clearly recognize: abortion is murder.
The final point I want to make is this: IF abortion is murder, then it must be stopped. End of argument. If we are ever to permit abortion as a society, then it must NOT be murder. You as a judge know full well what would happen to a society where we permitted people to choose to commit felonies anytime they felt like it. What makes abortion different? Is it because we cannot see the victims? If ever there was a small, helpless person who needs our protection, it would be the unborn. They don't vote. They don't organize protest marches. We cannot even hear them scream. Our measure of humanity is determined by our willingness to protect the most vulnerable among us. If we are to be truly consistent in our heart for the powerless, it MUST extend to the unborn. Clearly we have an OBLIGATION to help women find another solution, and all of this rhetoric that leaves her defenseless with her only choice being abortion is only the cause of more discrimination and more hardship for all women. Until we confront the forces that drive women to abortion and deal with them, and recognize what happens when we passively allow them to continue to exist, and victimize both women and children, female equality is a dead letter.
There is one final consideration. There is great pressure to legalize euthanasia precisely because its primary victims are widows who have no one to care for them. Many of these women have either had no children, or have failed to train their children in moral absolutes. In many cases, they are confused themselves, and may have engaged in abortion. The truth is, abortion sets up a woman to be abandoned when she is in need. The mere fact that there are loving relationships such as yours does not change this. People often seek euthanasia because they are depressed due to terminal illness. But the same people can be supported with love that says, "You are not a burden, and I will be there for you no matter what." If we address the depression, then a person with a terminal illness can often complete the processes of winding down her affairs, which most certainly includes her spiritual affairs. Depriving a person of the last months, weeks, or days of life when such a vital task has been left unfinished, it seems to me, would be the height of cruelty. If we do not understand this, we may be well-meaning enough, but that does not change the outcome.
As a judge, you have exercised your wisdom to make many difficult decisions. I believe that you have always tried to balance everyone's rights, and that in particular, you have stood for the rights of the downtrodden and the underdog consistently. The only way, it seems to me, that you can support abortion, is by forgetting the basis of the principles upon which you have based your career. For this reason, I urge you to rethink both the issues of abortion and euthanasia. In so doing, please apply the same standards you always have. I trust that you will see the issues of justice clearly, and will not abandon the most defenseless among us: the unborn, and women who are subject to euthanasia.
Background graciously provided by: