NRL News

What’s Airing on Pro-Life Perspective Today? “Withholding Food and Fluids,” Part One.

by | Oct 15, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

NRLC President Carol Tobias    

It is both no consolation and also scary that pro-lifers were warning as far back as the 1980s that we were moving in the direction of legally sanctioning death by starvation and dehydration, the very fate that Terri Schiavo suffered in 2005.

National Right to Life President and Pro-Life Perspective Host Carol Tobias opens the week by discussing what NRLC Executive Director David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., wrote in 1997 for “Life Cycle,” a publication of Wisconsin Right to Life.  Over the next few days, we will share with you some of Dr. O’Steen’s prophetic observations,” Mrs. Tobias tells us at

For example, Dr. O’Steen wrote about Paul Brophy, who died on October 24, 1986. Mr. Brophy was not terminally ill but was in what was diagnosed to be a “persistent vegetative state.”  His death “was one of the first cases in the United States of court-sanctioned euthanasia of an incompetent patient by starvation and dehydration.  His death prepared the way for an epidemic of starvation and dehydration deaths, estimated in 1987 as already in the hundreds by the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled.”

Since his death, the pool of intended victims has widened to include patients with increasingly greater mental awareness, Mrs. Tobias explains. “The range of care withheld has expanded to include even feeding by mouth, vividly illustrated when the physician in the Ione Bayer case was court-ordered to stop feeding Mrs. Bayer by mouth.”

Dr. O’Steen made many astute observations that Mrs. Tobias will share with her audience this week. For today let concludes with this:

“It’s obvious that the real targets of euthanasia today are those most at risk.  It is not the patients whose deaths are imminent or even those who are terminally ill.  It is the patients who are very debilitated or very old, whose prospects for improvement are not good, yet who are likely to live for an indeterminate period of time if given the most basic care and treatment, food and fluids.  Such patients – deemed to have a ‘poor quality of life’ – are precisely the candidates for euthanasia by starvation and dehydration because they are not dying, or are not dying soon enough, in the opinion of some.

“Clearly a significant line has been crossed.  The issue has changed from the withdrawal of medical treatment, without which a patient will probably, but not always certainly, die, to the denial of food and fluids, without which a patient is certain to die. The current practice of euthanasia by starvation and dehydration has become reality without the public fully realizing the true nature of this practice, or the fundamental change it signifies in our culture’s treatment of those unable to care for themselves. This is of course, precisely how proponents of denying food and fluids to certain patients had to accomplish their goal, since society-at-large would have initially found the notion of directly killing either terminally or non-terminally ill patients abhorrent.

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Categories: Euthanasia