Shades of Zarathustra: The New York Times maps dying woman whose brain may live on

Shades of Zarathustra: The New York Times maps dying woman whose brain may live on

Last weekend, a giant New York Times story came out that combined elements of "The Matrix" and “That Hideous Strength” (the C.S. Lewis classic) with a dollop of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old Oregon woman who ended her life last year rather than suffer the final months of a brain cancer known as a glioblastoma. GetReligion covered the media circus about this last November, which involved Brittany's media campaign to serve as a poster child for euthanasia.

This time, we have a story again about a 20-something woman with the same kind of brain cancer who chose to preserve her brain. She died in early 2013.

Only now is the Times revealing how it followed this woman about in her final months as she explored the use of her brain for a futurist fantasy where even science fiction writers rarely tread. Although the science involved spans the next few centuries, what the woman wanted is as old as Adam and Eve: To live forever.

In the moments just before Kim Suozzi died of cancer at age 23, it fell to her boyfriend, Josh Schisler, to follow through with the plan to freeze her brain.
As her pulse monitor sounded its alarm and her breath grew ragged, he fumbled for his phone. Fighting the emotion that threatened to paralyze him, he alerted the cryonics team waiting nearby and called the hospice nurses to come pronounce her dead. Any delay would jeopardize the chance to maybe, someday, resurrect her mind.
It was impossible to know on that cloudless Arizona morning in January 2013 which fragments of Kim’s identity might survive, if any.

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How quickly will journalists grant O'Malley that 'Pope Francis Democrat' label?

How quickly will journalists grant O'Malley that 'Pope Francis Democrat' label?

If Martin O'Malley hired an army of public-relations pros he could not have produced a better White House campaign slogan than the one offered by Religion News service the other day in an online headline about the former Maryland governor. This short news-you-can-use feature was part of its ongoing series offering background on the religious views of various candidates. It proclaimed:

5 faith facts about Martin O’Malley: ‘A Pope Francis Democrat’

Some folks in pews on the cultural and doctrinal right may want to contrast the tone of that with this selection from another RNS digital newsletter:

Southern Baptist bruiser:
5 faith facts about Sen. Lindsey Graham: religious right spear carrier

The RNS mini-feature -- as is the norm with this handy series -- did contain some direct links to information about O'Malley, while editorially stressing that he is, well, read this:

He’s a pray-every-morning, church-every-Sunday (St. Francis of Assisi in Baltimore) believer who sent all four of his kids to Catholic schools. Democratic Party activist and author Jonathan Miller called him, “the rare progressive to frame his strongly felt policy positions in the language of faith.

And toward the end there is this:

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Dying children don't rate religious viewpoints

Belgium is on the map these days, and not for its waffles or Brussels sprouts. It’s for passing a law allowing children to have themselves killed. Euthanasia is already legal there, but in mid-February the nation extended the “privilege” to children. As you might expect, there’s been much hand-wringing over the matter, such as on CNN or at ABC News.

The journalists there sought out educators, pediatricians and medical researchers. Naturally.

You know whom they didn’t ask? You got it: religious leaders. The ones who have dealt with issues of life and death, and beyond, since before the written word was invented.

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Schiavo redux

A French court has ordered a Reims hospital to provide nutrition and hydration to 38-year old quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, who has been in a state of minimal consciousness (en état de conscience minimale) for five years following a motorcycle accident. Last Thursday a tribunal administratif overruled the wishes of the hospital, Lambert’s wife and some of his siblings who wanted to cut off intravenous feeding. The court sided with his parents and his other siblings, who as observant Catholics, objected to euthanizing him. Le Monde reports the Lambert case will reopen the contentious debate about euthanasia, the value of life and human dignity in France.

The Lambert case has a number of parallels with Terri Schiavo saga in America: a spouse ready to move on vs. Catholic parents not ready to let go; no clear statement of the patient’s wishes, conflicting medical terminology of persistent vegetative state v. minimal consciousness; political intervention by Congress and partisan debates in the French parliament; and a high profile role played by Catholic bishops. While it is early days yet, the most striking difference is the different decisions reached by the courts.

In Florida the courts came down on the side of death, even though the presumption of the law is in favor of life, while in France they have chosen life, even though euthanasia is legal. The hospital authorities can now appeal against the decision before France’s Constitutional Council. The French press reports the Lambert case comes amidst a growing social and political debate over legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia. President Francois Hollande this week entered into the fray, saying he favored the legalization of euthanasia, but covered his bases by saying it was appropriate only under strict government scrutiny.

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Removing religious voices from 'right to die' debate

The Court of Appeal for England and Wales has upheld the blanket ban on euthanasia and assisted suicide, holding there is no “right to die” under British and European Community law. The court in Nicklinson & Anor, R (on the application of) v A Primary Care Trust [2013] EWCA Civ 961 held there was no legal, moral or social need to rethink Parliament’s prohibition on euthanasia.

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Child euthanasia in the European press

A front page story in the Monday edition of the Brussels’s daily De Morgen on a Belgian Senate committee’s deliberations on whether the country’s laws should be extended to permit the euthanasia of children and dementia patients has created a buzz on pro-life and political websites.

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Normalizing nihilism: Euthanasia and the Daily Mirror

A story in Thursday’s Daily Mirror about the first English patient suffering from dementia to have traveled to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich to kill himself by physician assisted suicide has prompted several “me too” stories in the British press.

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Secular-sacred union between Washington state hospitals

Suffice it to say that your GetReligionistas frequently receive emails that sound something like this:

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