Matt C. Abbott
Pro-lifers to protest speaker at L.A. cathedral
By Matt C. Abbott
February 4, 2020

A doctor who has voiced his support for Planned Parenthood (click here for the proof) is scheduled to speak at a Feb. 7, 2020 "Caring for the Whole Person" conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

In addition, the doctor's views on hospice and palliative care are deeply concerning to certain pro-life leaders, one of whom is organizing a protest outside the cathedral the day of the conference.

Ron Panzer, president of Hospice Patients Alliance, wrote in an email:
    Ira Byock, M.D. is one of the most influential hospice and palliative care physicians in the country, having been involved in the hospice industry for over 40 years. He is a self-described secular humanist who rejects the sanctity of life, supports Planned Parenthood and abortion 'rights' as well as gay marriage and socialized medicine.

    In the late 1990s, Byock merged Choice in Dying (the successor to the Euthanasia Society of America) into Partnership for Caring, a hospice-lobbying organization. This transition effectively established the covert euthanasia movement in America, disguised as life-affirming hospice care.

    However, it was quite the opposite.

    Byock wrote Dying Well in 1997 and explicitly endorsed the misuse of terminal sedation as a method of keeping a patient sedated into death. Thousands of hospice professionals have since adopted this method of imposing death upon the unsuspecting elderly, disabled, and chronically-ill who are increasingly being coerced into hospice after admission to the acute hospital care setting. Horrified physicians and surgeons have told me that their hospital patients who are not terminal are being intimidated into agreeing to hospice admission and then have died shortly thereafter.

    We [Hospice Patients Alliance] are organizing a protest outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to educate the attendees and the public. The Catholic Church, from the Vatican on down, is promoting palliative care and hospice globally without acknowledging the serious abuses and actual medical killings in hospice – or even that there is a need for reform in the industry. For the Church to ally itself with Byock is a disgrace and an affront to anyone who cares about the life-affirming mission of authentic health care and hospice care specifically.
As of the time this column was submitted for posting, neither the Archdiocese of Los Angeles nor Byock himself responded to emails from me pointing out and asking about his support for Planned Parenthood and gay marriage. His name is still listed on the archdiocese's website advertising the conference.

Judie Brown, president of American Life League, wrote in an email:
    American Life League is profoundly concerned about the apparent alliance that has been forged between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Ira Byock, MD. Though Byock is welcome in the Vatican, the truth about him is that from the early days of the so-called choice in dying movement, he has been working to forge an alliance between the once respectable hospice movement and the newer palliative care discipline. Both have become tools of the right to die marketers who care more about the economy of health care than they do about respect for the dignity of the human person, including those who are near death.

    Byock himself has said: 'Palliative care is a team-based approach to care for people who are facing life-limiting illness and their families, and we focus on people's comfort and quality of life, decision-making often in difficult circumstances such as we're talking about now and follow them through the end of life.'

    'Life-limiting' is a subjective term, as is 'quality of life.' The Vatican's Declaration on Euthanasia states: 'The pleas of gravely ill people who sometimes ask for death are not to be understood as implying a true desire for euthanasia; in fact, it is almost always a case of an anguished plea for help and love. What a sick person needs, besides medical care, is love, the human and supernatural warmth with which the sick person can and ought to be surrounded by all those close to him or her, parents and children, doctors and nurses.'

    Caring for the whole person requires a sound spiritual foundation based on the undeniable fact that God decides when death occurs – and He does not need helpers to hasten death.
Julie Grimstad, president of Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization (HALO), wrote in an email:
    It is unfathomable to me why Dr. Ira Byock would be considered an acceptable speaker at a Catholic conference. But to have the apparent endorsement of the archbishop of L.A. is a scandal. Byock, a palliative care physician, supports VSED (voluntarily stopping eating and drinking) and terminal sedation, with the intention to cause death, as 'alternatives for patients, families, and clinicians who are morally opposed to physician-assisted suicide.' (Source)

    His stance is utterly contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, which defines euthanasia is 'an act or an omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering' and teaches that this this is a 'murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2277)

    Catholic leaders, instead of endorsing speakers who lead people to make grave moral errors in judgment about matters of life and death, must clearly teach the truth. Every human life is inviolable from the first moment of his or her creation to the moment of natural death in God's time; and each one of us has a moral responsibility to protect and preserve our own life as well as the lives of our fellow human beings.

    (Pro-lifers interested in attending this Friday's protest in L.A. can email me. I'll pass along your information to Ron Panzer.)
© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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