His lecture was the first of a series of addresses promoted by the Link Society to be held throughout the winter season. The Rev. F. W. Kershaw was chairman, and prominent among the audience was Canon`J. Murray, R.D., a number of other priests, and Councillors Mrs. Gibbons and N. Griffin.
Dr. tO'Donovan first recounted to his audience the aims and ideals of the euthanasia movement by reading extracts from pamphlets published by the people responsible for the promotion of the movement. These include the names of prominent personalities in both religious and medical spheres of life, most prominent amongst them being the late Lord Moyniham of Leeds—" certainly one of the greatest surgeons in European medicine," said the lecturer.
Continuing, Dr. O'Donovan said that he was a medical practitioner of many years' standing, and he had seen people die many times, but. he said, " I would ask you to believe that hospitals are not palaces of pain, and that beds are not islands of agony.
" There is pain in the hospitals. and there is agony in hospitals, but that pain and agony is mostly .surrounding the curable diseases.
Natural Painless Death
" When you begin to die and when most of your organs are functioning poorly it is ridiculous to suggest that death is surrounded by agony. Most of us depart from life as we come into life, effortlessly and almost unconsciously."
Speaking of the sufferings of death, the lecturer said : "Who suffers? If I see a man die I suffer, but I don't feel his mental agony; still, I am hurt when you die, and the relatives by your bedside suffer too."
The euthanasia movement, he went on, would be introduced as a Bill in the House of Lords, and when it did it would form a topic for national discussion. Probably there would he a few parish priests up and down the country opposing the Bill and saying that it was wrong, but anything new was always attractive, especially to the young. Thus there was the prospect of the powers of England putting this revolutionary movement before young people, opposed only by a few middle-aged priests.
Support from Prejudice "I have no doubt that the parish priests will prevail in their own churches," said the speaker, " but what about those outside? I can almost see pious Protestants condoning it, if only it is because the ' Roman ' Church condemns it.
" Our friends say you must control life at its entry and at its end. But the newspapers, have told you lately what far-seeing men have said for many years, that the balance of population is changing. Schools are now to let and the prolific children of unwise Catholics are now wanted to fill the empty places in the schools built by wiser people for children who don't exist. But the fact remains that the population is changing, and now we have more and more old people and fewer and fewer young people.
" In fact, the amount of suffering and the number of useless lives was growing larger and required wise handling and more efIIdent relief . . . " said Dr. Donovan.
" And this movement is stated by a religious man to be 'not contrary to the teachings of Christ and the principles of Christianity.' "
The Sick Would Flee From Their Executioners
As an example to the probable cases in which euthanasia would be considered justifiable, Dr. O'Donovan quoted cancer, tuberculosis and aneurism.
" Would not a cancerous man who laves his life," he said, "evade hospitals and medical aid ill the earlier and probably curable stages of the disease because he feared that if cancer were discovered he would he offered euthanasia and not recovery?"
Continuing, Dr. O'Donovan stated that divorce was permitted by the law of England. Hence the breaking of the marriage bond was not illegal, and in all classes of society many people were living together with their second or third husband or wife without any qualms of conscience, because they knew that the law found no fault with them.
Divorce a Precedent
" The public left the established religion of England and has now gone into nonconformity en masse; and the public now shows many signs of taking the same step with regard to medicine.
" You will find that strange healing cults are growing up. and amongst the rush, Christian Science is spreading as speedily as it did in its home in America. So there is quite a trend away from the medical profession to these strange cults; a trend with far greater speed than that with which the public changed their religion at the Reformation.
Doctors Still Life-Savers
" For a long time you may believe that my profession will resist this propaganda," said the lecturer, who stated that he would conclude on a note of suggestion to the Catholic public.
" When medical questions are discussed in the Council chambers," he said, " insist that you get the advice of your bedside doctor. By Act of Parliament there should be constant consultation in every area between practising physicians and those responsible for the administration of medicine, but because practising physicians are not business-like and don't attend meetings regularly, the administrator tends to brush them aside and carries on to advise his own council by his own illuminations."
Therefore they should insist that no medical action be taken in the councils without first consulting the practising doctor.
The Catholic Responsibility
" What a responsibility upon you Catholics," went on Dr. O'Donovan.
" The only organised people with any uniform ideas on this matter at all. You are the only organised Church in the country that gives a uniformed answer. If any Church in this country is the established Church, it is you. But what a responsibility you have to save the country."
Dr. O'Donovan, in concluding, suggested that Catholic parents should consider more seriously putting their children into the medical profession.
" All through history," he said, " from the time of St. Luke there has been a Christian thread running through medicine:He hoped that the thread would be maintained.
The Rev. F. W. Kershaw proposed a vote of thanks to the lecturer, which was seconded by Mr. Ambrose Rocca.