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In these special days leading up to Easter, I’ve been struck by a blog post by US Christian apologist and evangelist, Josh McDowell.

Josh has written over 150 books, and they’re still selling well. One that many parents have found particularly useful is Straight Talk with Your Kids about Sex.   

And here is what he said on his blog (edited):

I don’t know why the Easter Bunny gets so much press at Easter.

I’m pretty sure he’s not real.🙂                      

Okay, I’m kidding! But I do want to make this point: Easter isn’t about chocolate and coloured egg hunts.

Easter, friends, is about the personal, life-changing relationship God wants to have with each of us. No chocolate treat that you and I can receive or give this Easter has a smidgen of the sweetness of that amazing gift.

You may not know this about me, but I once totally doubted God and the truthfulness of Christ’s deity. In fact, right after college, I set out to prove that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of distorted and unreliable records of historical and mythical events. Simply put, if I could prove that the Bible wasn’t a reliable document of history, then I could show that everything it says about God and the Christian faith is in question.

I really wanted to do that. Because God’s existence did not fit with how I saw the world. Having absolutely no doubts that my worldview was correct, I assumed that discrediting God and the Bible was going to be delightfully easy. So I travelled all over Europe, seeking out historical manuscripts and knowledgeable scholars to not only validate my view — but to do so beyond any shadow of doubt.

Here’s the egg-on-my-face: eventually I had to admit that the evidence for Christ being exactly who He said He is, was overwhelming. I couldn’t deny or ignore it. I had to adjust my worldview to align with this truth.

I fully get that each of us views life through the lens of our personally constructed worldview. Some of us acquire our perspective through secular influences such as Darwinism, Postmodernism, or even Enlightenment philosophy. Some of us simply accept as truth whatever we’re taught by our parents, friends or educators (not to mention social media)!

But I will say, boldly, that a true worldview explains the world as it actually is. Not as we choose to see it.

A delightful young man I met at a conference is attached to the idea that “God” is simply a massive energy force. So a “personal” relationship, he insists, is neither possible nor intended.

Hmmm… I’ll agree that God is supernatural energy. But impersonal? No way. An “energy force” can’t compare to the very personal, hands-on God I’ve come to know over the last 50 years.

My friend can’t yet see the value of Jesus’ sacrifice, nor the sweet joy we Christians have because of Jesus’ resurrection. So I asked him to do me a favour: to at least question the validity of his worldview. 

“Who knows,” he conceded, as we warmly shook hands in parting. “I might change my mind one day. In part because you were willing to discuss this so amicably with me.”

The resurrection story is the most amazing story ever. But if we don’t share the Good News with an attitude of love and respect and grace — we lose the opportunity to have influence. This Easter, let’s model the sweetness of Jesus!

Wise words. And they apply equally well to our dealings with civic leaders like MPs. No matter how upset we feel about their actions, we need to remember: “love, respect and grace”.

Peter Downie - National Director

FamilyVoice Australia

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An Australian nurse who refered to herself as the "angel of death" lost her nursing license on March 19 but will unlikely face criminal charges.

On March 10, the Queensland (Australia) Civil And Administrative Tribunal of the nursing and midwifery board of australia, in the Bannister case decided to:

disqualify her from applying for registration as a health practitioner for a period of two years from the date of this decision, and

prohibit, under the National Law s 196(4), from providing any health service for a period of two years from the date of this decision.

An article by Lydia Lynch published in the Brisbane Times stated:

Maura Kathryn Bannister, 60, administered an unprescribed dose of morphine to an elderly and frail family friend who was receiving palliative care at home after a fall.

Knowing the woman had already taken one dose or morphine that morning, Ms Bannister then gave another dose “greater than that prescribed, without any direction from the general practitioner to do so”.

“Thereafter she did not render or arrange medical assistance for the lady, who passed away later that morning,” the findings read.

Lynch reports that Bannister referred to herself as the "angel of death" and stated that she was proud of what she had done.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (August 3, 2017) published a Netherlands study titled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.

The study indicates that in 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 terminations of life without request) in the Netherlands. The Netherlands euthanasia law did not prevent 431 terminations of life without request.

The euthanasia lobby will argue that legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide will regulate and prevent these types of deaths, but in fact it normalizes it as an acceptable medical practise and makes it impossible to prevent or even censure someone who carries out similar acts.

Alex Schadenberg is Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

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I have written about the Washington State assisted suicide expansion bill (HB 1141) and the assisted suicide lobby's push to legalize assisted suicide in more US States, but the California assisted suicide expansion bill (SB 380), among other concerns, attacks conscience rights for medical professionals and institutions.

The current California assisted suicide law does not require medical professionals who oppose participation with killing their patients to refer their patients to a physician who is willing to prescribe their patients lethal drugs for assisted suicide.

SB 380 requires that anyone who requests lethal drugs from a physician who opposes assisted suicide, that the physician must be immediately refer that patient to a physician or facility willing to kill. SB 380 states: 

failure to refer upon the individual’s request to another health care provider or health care facility that is willing to provide the information, is considered a failure to obtain informed consent for subsequent medical treatments.

SB 380 also changes the definition of participation for health care facilities. The original law allowed health care facilities that object to assisted suicide to prohibit their employees from participating in assisted suicide. SB 380 changes the term participation to prescribing, meaning that an objecting facility cannot prohibit their employees from participating in the assisted suicide death of their patients, they can only prohibit their employees from prescribing the lethal drugs.

SB 380 also allows physicians to waive the 15 day waiting period.

The US assisted suicide lobby are promoting assisted suicide by expanding the existing assisted suicide laws to make it easier to obtain lethal drugs and expand eligibility, while also promoting the legalization of assisted suicide in more states.

Alex Schadenberg is Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

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Last year I published the article: Do euthanasia drugs cause a painful death? The article was based on research on autopsies of people who died by lethal injection in capital punishment.  

The research indicated that lethal injection usually results in death by pulmonary edema (similar to drowning). This research is important because the same and similar drugs are used for euthanasia.

After publishing the article a physician, who opposes MAiD [Medical Assistance in Dying], told me that these drugs rarely cause death by pulmonary edema.

On September 21 I read a report by Noah Caldwell, Ailsa Chang and Jolie Myers that was published by NPR which further outlined the research from the autopsies of people who died by capital punishment. The report explains:

It was 2016, and the autopsy reports had been given to him (Dr Joel Zivot) by lawyers representing inmates on death row. He had received simple instructions: Interpret the levels of an anesthetic in the blood to determine whether the inmates were conscious during their execution. As an anesthesiologist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Zivot specialized in reading these levels. But as he looked beyond the toxicology reports, something else caught his eye. The lungs were way too heavy.

He checked another autopsy. Again, heavy lungs. The average human lung weighs about 450 grams. Many of these lungs weighed twice that, sometimes more. His best guess was that they were filled with fluid — but he needed a second opinion. 
His colleague Mark Edgar, an anatomical pathologist at Emory, agreed to help. Zivot didn't mention the lungs at all, to see if Edgar would catch the same aberrations. He did. And he confirmed that Zivot's hunch had been correct — the lungs were filled with a mixture of blood and plasma and other fluids. 
It was a severe form of a condition called pulmonary edema, which can induce the feeling of suffocation or drowning. 
Maybe it was a fluke? Zivot and Edgar needed more autopsies to be sure. Lawyers in other states shared autopsies of former clients who had been executed. The evidence explained why multiple inmates in recent years had gasped for air after their executions began.

Eventually, Zivot and Edgar found pulmonary edema occurring in about three-quarters of more than three dozen autopsy reports they gathered.

When selling euthanasia to legislators and voters (New Zealand referendum) the euthanasia lobby claim that death by lethal injection is a quick and painless death. This research is important because people often support euthanasia based on fear of a painful death.

The NPR article continued:

"The autopsy findings were quite striking and unambiguous," says Zivot. He had imagined that lethal injection induced a quick death and would leave an inmate's body pristine, or at least close to it. But the autopsies told another story. 
"I began to see a picture that was more consistent with a slower death," he says. "A death of organ failure, of a dramatic nature that I recognized would be associated with suffering." 
In some cases, there was even froth and foam in the airways: "Frothy fluid present in the lower airways," read one report. 
The froth was a clue: It meant that the inmates were still alive and trying to breathe as their lungs filled with fluid, because froth could form only if air was still passing through the lungs. It also meant that the pulmonary edema was being caused by the first drug given during a lethal injection, since the second drug, a paralytic, stops the inmate's breathing altogether.

Euthanasia and capital punishment both use a three drug system. The first drug is to anesthetize; the second paralyzes; the third stops the heart. Dr Zivot's asked the question:

"How do we ask an inmate whether or not they experience their own death as cruel?"

This question also applies to euthanasia.

In response to the question that these drugs rarely cause death by pulmonary edema, Zivot's has extended his research to 200 autopsy reports with 84% of those reports indicating signs of pulmonary edema. 

The autopsies were on deaths by capital punishment and not euthanasia, nonetheless, the drugs and protocols to cause death are the same or similar to euthanasia.

The article continued:

Philippe Camus, a pulmonologist in Dijon, France ... has spent decades studying and compiling the various ways that drugs can negatively affect the lungs. He says that when a high dose of drugs is rapidly injected into the body, it pushes a concentrated "front" through the bloodstream. Doses vary slightly by states, but many inmates receive 500 milligrams of midazolam; for comparison, in a hospital setting patients may receive 1 or 2 milligrams.

"The quicker the injection, the denser the front, and the higher the risk of causing damage," Camus says.

Specifically, that concentrated front of drugs damages the thin barrier between blood vessels and air sacs in the lungs. Jeffrey Sippel, a pulmonologist who reviewed autopsies obtained by NPR, likens this phenomenon to a river flooding its banks.

"Water is supposed to be in the river, and the banks are supposed to be dry," he says. In this case, the dry banks are the lungs' air sacs, and the river is a network of capillaries; in healthy lungs, they are separated by a thin membrane. "When there is pulmonary edema, that normal relationship is awry. There's water on the banks where it doesn't belong."

When that membrane breaks, fluid from the capillaries enters the air sacs, impeding one's ability to breathe.

"It would be a feeling of drowning, a feeling of suffocation — a feeling of panic, imminent doom," says Sippel.

Based on the autopsy research from capital punishment deaths, death by lethal injection is usually caused by pulmonary edema, which is similar to drowning.

Covering the inhumane symptoms associated with dying by euthanasia with drugs to anesthetize; and drugs to paralyze does not change the nature of the death.

Furthermore, people have the right to know before consenting to euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg is Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition