The Killing Fields

deathAbsolute moral standards are becoming passé and everything is being relativized on its head. What is evil is now good; what is dark is now light; and he who is sick, old or defenseless is now worthless. All of which makes it clear that freedom’s not just another word for nothing left to lose. In the era of futility of care guidelines, if you lose the freedom to make your own medical decisions, you may very well have lost everything.”   Dr. Lawrence R. Huntoon, MD, PhD

The debate over physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, the right to die, and death with dignity, have taken on a new life  with ObamaCare.  Marching in close quarters  with these angels of death are those that feel it would be in society’s best interest to create a duty to die.

In Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder, author Wesley J. Smith notes that “something frightening is happening to American medical ethics.” And he’s right. Did you ever think you would see a time when Doctors would override a patient’s and or family’s wishes by putting a DNR on a nursing home patient’s chart, or would order feeding tubes to be disconnected on the cognitively disabled, or ration medical care by age?  Can’t happen you say!   Recently, the Oregon Department of Health declared assisted suicide to be a form of “comfort care” which is covered under their Medicaid rationing agenda.

The duty to die has been debated for years in professional discourse as a moral obligation on the disabled, the elderly, or severely ill patients so that they would not become an emotional or financial imposition on their loved ones.   John Hardwig in the Hastings Center Report claims that “a duty to die” becomes even greater as you age.   “To have reached the age of, say, seventy-five or eighty years without being ready to die is in itself a moral failing, the sign of a life out of touch with life’s basic realities.” One of the United Kingdom’s leading bioethicists, Baroness Warnock told a reporter at the UK Independent in 2008, “if you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives, your family’s lives, and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”

In order to legalize the murder of patients whom government bureaucrats have determined to have “lives not worthy of living,” there are some on the far left who believe we should just redefine death to include those people who technically aren’t dead yet, for the “greater good” of course.  These not worth of life patients would be assigned Futile Care, allowing doctors, government bureaucrats and hospital bioethicists to legally refuse medical treatment.   Futile care, aka Medical futility” which has been on the bioethics movement’s agenda for more than ten years, is not a concept to be taken lightly.

To date, no country has actually enacted a “duty to die” requirement on its citizens but that should not make us sanguine. To the contrary, it has already been launched through back-door policies that permit doctors to refuse so-called futile treatment.  Let’s be clear about this point! Futile care treatments aren’t refused because they don’t work; they are denied because they keep patients alive.

Knowing what government is capable of under Medicare and Medicaid, we can only imagine what bureaucracies under ObamaCare will achieve. Ethics is apparently not the limiting factor for many doctors considering government futility of care guidelines. Many are just waiting for the government to put their stamp of approval on assisted suicide or physician administered euthanasia.

Dr. Leo Alexander, an eminent psychiatrist and Chief US Medical Consultant at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, in his classic 1949 New England Journal of Medicine article described how German physicians became willing accomplices with the Nazis in Ktenology, “the science of killing.”   This was done for the “good” of German society and the improvement of the “health” of the German nation.

Under the utilitarian ethics of rational allocation of resources and the “benefit of society,” Hitler issued his first order for euthanasia on September 1, 1939. Yet, the road to active euthanasia had been paved before the Nazis came to power. German physicians in the Weimar Republic, as early as 1931, had openly held discussions about the sterilization of undesirables and euthanasia of the chronically mentally ill. So when Hitler came to power, groups with humanitarian sounding names were set up for “health” programs under deceptively euphemistic terms. Even before the “final solution” had been implemented 275,000 German citizens had been put to death for the “good” of Germany.

Dr. Alexander wrote in his book, “from the small beginnings” the values of an entire society may be subverted, and “it is the first seemingly innocent step away from principle that frequently decides a life of crime.   Corrosion begins in microscopic proportions.”

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