Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in Lancaster will welcome Respect Life Month by bringing in a Catholic doctor to speak against physician-assisted suicide as part of its Faith Enrichment Speaker Series.
Dr. Gloria Roetzer will present "DNR to Physician-Assisted Suicide: How Did We Get Here?" at the Laverack Avenue church on Monday, Oct. 16. The diocesan office of Respect Life Activities recommended Roetzer in honor of Respect Life Month promoted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Roetzer recently retired from 20 years at the Williamsville Pediatric Center to open her own practice, Trinity Pediatrics in Cheektowaga. She received a Pro-Vita Award from the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities earlier this year.
Her talk will explain the roots of physician-assisted suicide, including the stories of Karen Ann Quinlan and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and continue up the current state where the idea of medical professionals hastening death is being accepted.
"Studies have shown if you have a (Do Not Resuscitate order) on your charts people think you don't want to live anymore," Roetzer said.
Quinlan kicked off the right-to-die attitude after slipping into a coma in 1976. Her parents asked that she be taken off a respirator. Nearly 10 years later, her parents asked that no "extraordinary measures" be taken when she developed pneumonia. With no hope of recovery, her parents wanted her to die "with grace and dignity." The Quinlan incident led the Supreme Court to set several medical precedents with the 1976 court case. Kevorkian, who earned the nickname "Dr. Death," aided an estimated 130 patients in ending their lives.
Roetzer will conclude the talk with the Church's teaching on what is morally and ethically right in terms of feeding and providing fluids.
"It's OK to provide fluids and nourishment, but we don't have to do heroic measures when we know that they're terminal. But that's not the same as hastening their death or assisting the death just to relieve their suffering," she said.
As current president of the Catholic Medical Association, Roetzer attends conferences where she gets a Catholic perspective on moral and ethical issues in health care. The Catholic Medical Association is an international organization with 100 local guilds. The national association has an annual conference.
"The local guilds try to have different things that will discuss ethical issues, dilemmas we might have. (We're) trying to serve our patients, but always keeping our faith at the forefront so that we're not crossing any lines," she said.
Roetzer, a pediatrician, became involved 10 years ago after attending a conference on "Spirituality and the Development of the Child."
"There was a lot of information I received there that you don't receive in medical school or in your training. There are things you don't hear from other sources, so that's my source," she said. "There are a couple of speakers who talk about the side effects, the bad side effects of being on birth control, which you don't hear in medical school. There are studies from the World Health Organization, but we still don't hear about that in the United States. Those are in other countries. People present that information at the national conference so that the local guilds can take that back to their areas and disseminate the information."
The Buffalo-born and educated pediatrician founded Trinity Pediatrics "to talk about my faith," she said. "I can talk about vaccines that were developed using aborted fetuses, which most docs don't tell their patients, don't tell the parents. So, they're uninformed. To me, that's informed consent. If you let them know that, they may not want that. Especially the people I know who are Catholic, it makes a difference to them. I like to make sure they know."
Our Lady of Pompeii began the second year of its Faith Enrichment Speaker Series in September. It will run until May.
"What we're trying to do is invite people from the larger community as well as our own parish," explained Sister Joyce King, CSSF, pastoral associate at Our Lady of Pompeii. "We do a lot of publicity in the area and beyond our area so that we can offer things that maybe other parishes aren't offering at this time, so we're inviting people from beyond the Lancaster/Depew area. In a lot of ways it's good because we're meeting a lot of people. We're getting to know people from other parishes. They're getting to know are people and getting familiar with our church and our ministry center. It's a nice opportunity for fellowship and meeting more people."
The evening will begin at 7 p.m. A free will offer will be accepted. Other speakers for the Faith Enrichment series include Deacon Greg Feary, who will speak on "The Jesus Prayer-Prayer of the Heart," on Mon., Nov. 13; Sister Mary Lucette Kinecki, CSSF, with "Advent Anticipation," on Mon., Dec. 11; and Deacon Dave Rotteram on "Exploring the Caves of the Dead Sea" on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018.