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Obamacare: Will Seniors Have a Duty to Die? Print E-mail
By George J. Marlin   
Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The national health care debate has elicited President Obama’s pledge that the proposed $1.3 trillion, 1,018-page government health insurance program is “not going to mess” with anyone’s current coverage. But this does not ring true.

If Obamacare becomes law, expect Medicare – which represents 15 percent of the federal budget, consumes 11 percent of federal taxes, and has a future unfunded liability of at least $60 trillion (yes, trillion) – to be cut immediately.

According to Medicare expert Dr. Thomas Saving of Texas A&M, if the “federal income tax remains at the 50-year average of 10.89 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, the present value of all future federal income tax revenues from now to eternity is $99.3 trillion so that the Medicare debt of $61.6 trillion is 62 percent of all future federal tax receipts.” Since the feds will not spend that much money to meet this financial obligation, its only alternative is rationing health care for the elderly.

President Obama began to lay the groundwork for “messing” with Medicare when he publicly mused that perhaps his grandmother (who died last fall) should not have had a hip replacement in old age.

Obama’s top medical advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel’s brother) has called for denying treatment to senior citizens outright. “Unlike allocation by sex or race,” he recently wrote, “allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if twenty-five-year olds receive priority over sixty-five-year olds, everyone who is sixty-five years now was previously twenty-five years.” This amounts to a clever tap dance for throwing the elderly over the side.

Dr. Emanuel holds that health care should be denied to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.” In other words, his vision of health care reform assumes the government possesses the power to determine a citizen’s worth. Medical procedures would not be determined by doctors who are sworn to do no harm but by bean-counting state and federal bureaucrats. Take my word for it: the exercise of such power will lead to government-sanctioned euthanasia programs.

Don’t dismiss my prognostications as Orwellian fantasies – health care that rationalizes abandoning the elderly and infirmed has been kicking around for a long time.

Back in 1920, medical professor Alfred Hoche and law professor Rudolf Binding, in their work Release and Destruction of Lives Not Worth Living, argued for “allowable killing” of the physically unfit. “The right to live,” they claimed, “must be earned and justified not dogmatically assumed.” They insisted that eliminating the physically unfit was purely “healing treatment” or “healing work.”

Their pseudo medical and legal scholarship provided the justification for the Third Reich’s unparalleled euthanasia programs that were responsible for the death of millions of innocent people.

At the Nuremberg trials, chief American counsel Robert H. Jackson viewed the progression of German euthanasia this way:

A freedom-loving people will find in the records of the war crimes trials instruction as to the roads which lead to such a regime and the subtle first steps that must be avoided. . . .To begin with, it involved only the incurably sick, insane and mentally deficient patients of the institution. . . .But “euthanasia” taught the art of killing and accustomed those who directed and those who administered the death injections to the taking of human life. . . .Once any scruples and inhibitions about killing were overcome and the custom was established, there followed naturally an indifference as to what lives were taken…. If one is convinced that a person should be put out of the way because, from no fault of his own, he has ceased to be a social asset, it is not hard to satisfy the conscience that those who are willful enemies of the prevailing social order have no better right to exist.

Today, the Netherlands – whose people were victims of the Nazis – deny medical treatment to patients every day. Dutch courts have ignored Justice Jackson’s warning and have upheld even involuntary euthanasia or “termination of the patient without explicit request.” A doctor need only ask himself “if he would accept life if he were in the patient’s position” and if he knew (although not necessarily consulted) another doctor who would agree that under the given circumstances the patient’s life is not worth preserving or is a “limited life.” Traveling pools of doctors (known as the “Angels of Death” squads) are permitted to go out and employ euthanasia when a local physician or a family refuses the “treatment.” Euthanasia is sometimes performed without the knowledge of treating physicians, and some non-medical volunteers are allowed to give lethal injections. Twenty percent of the Netherlands annual deaths are due to doctor intervention.

In the United States there are health care reform proponents who are driven to transform American according to their current view of its best interests, and the means for the changes they would effect is raw federal power. They deny the intrinsic value of man and seek total control over him – a crude utilitarianism that tries to calculate the greatest good for the greatest number. The state, not God, thus decides who lives or dies.

This culture of death crowd would have us abandon the sick and the elderly to “contain costs.” Americans whose basic belief in the inalienable right to life, have an obligation to oppose Obamacare and to promote a culture of compassion, one that ensures that every person lives – every moment of life until natural death – with dignity.


George J. Marlin is the author of
The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact.

 
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Comments (35)Add Comment
0
...
written by Reader, July 29, 2009
When faith is weakened or destroyed, all that remains is efficiency.
0
...
written by Virginia Hoyns, July 29, 2009
Do we call this health care package "population thinning of the elderly"?
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Only a Dream?
written by Willie, July 29, 2009
What a wonderful country we live in! The new regime has now for some time jettisoned any concept of "first principles" and we are on our way to a perfect society. Gone are the defective babies, nursing homes, old hags in wheel chairs. We fight disease now by eliminating the patient. The doctor's only function is to apply the lethal drug. No need for expensive medical schools for that. Genetic engineering has helped customize babies Embryo failures are discarded. Ah! But I woke up. Only a dream
0
Rationing Health Care
written by Tom Borek, July 29, 2009
Encouraging the early death of the elderly or disabled is certainly immoral. The rationing of health care is, however, inevitable. Presently, it is rationed by ability to pay. I'd rather ration it by medical need without regard to age or income.
0
Comment
written by John McCaarthy, July 29, 2009
Thank you for this alert. We are reaching a point in this debate where we need to see the specifics of the bill so that our claims and cautionary concerns are based on hard facts, and not simply worries and fears.

John
0
Comment
written by Bradley, July 29, 2009
A National Review-style hatchet job: bad economic analysis, faulty logic and, most of all, a gross mischaracterization of Dr. Emanuel's views. While all of his opinions are not consistent with Catholic bioethics, Dr. Emanuel has publicly OPPOSED legalized euthansia and categorically rejects the Dutch model. In fact, he has written articles for Catholic websites! I suppose the author's view of "Catholic" health care is the status quo: let people of all ages drop dead from lack of coverage.
0
...
written by Deacon Sean Smith, July 29, 2009
I am in no way advocating euthanasia. That said, our ability to provide medical treatments and procedures, the science of it, has far outstripped our figuring out how to actually pay for it. When our social services were set up (Social Security, Medicare), I don't think it was ever imagined that science would be able to extend life as it has. And, as is typical with science, no one ever asked whether it would be a good thing.
0
Should have seen it comin
written by Nancy, July 29, 2009
We should have seen this coming. President Obama was very clear that he supported abortion and stem cell research. This showed, to me, that he has little sanctity for life. His plan is very frightening in that in this materialistic country, it may well pass !
0
A Second Look
written by Reader, July 29, 2009
I took a second look after reading the comment criticizing the points made in this post. It would be helpful, I believe, for those of us who oppose euthanasia to avoid incendiary words. Rationing expensive medical procedures does not equate abandoning the elderly. Supportive, loving, palliative care is not unmerciful. Hospice care must consist of caring and not killing, of course.
0
The elderly
written by Mrs. Rene O'Riordan, July 29, 2009
Help I became elderly two months ago!!! - Blessings - Rene
0
chill from the past
written by Jennifer B, July 29, 2009
My family left Germany in the early 1900s. My great aunt had autism, and the writing was on the wall. We must never allow something like Action T-4 to happen in this country. Two of my children have disabilities, and their lives are every bit as precious as my two who do not. I wouldn't trade one moment with my grandparents, my husband's parents, or my father for whatever nickels we might have saved on their care.
0
...
written by walter simons, July 29, 2009
I am constantly surprised that Catholics like Marlin feel no compulsion whatsoever to respect the truth in this debate. You completely misrepresent the plans currently under review, and ignore the real plight of people who cannot get the care they need. Shame on you.
0
Student
written by Achilles, July 29, 2009
Scarrrrrry! Thank you Mr. Marlin. For a longer in depth look at ideology that is the foundation for this "culture of death" read A Century of Horrors: Communism, Nazism, and the Uniqueness of the Shoah (Crosscurrents) by Alain Besancon.
0
student
written by Achilles, July 29, 2009
So Bradley, after projecting your thinking habits on Mr. Marlin's logicically sound essay, you take the word of Dr. Emanuel and the Obama administration as solid based on peripheal incidentals? Has there not been enough evidence for you of a canyon between the rhetoric of the Obama administration and reality to think a little deeper on these issues? Good luck to us all.
0
To Achilles
written by Bradley, July 29, 2009
"The proper policy, in my view, should be to affirm the status of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia as illegal." Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, www.catholiceducation.org

My point, Achilles, is not to provide a blanket endorsement of Obama's policies. I speak out against any policy that is inconsistent with Church teaching. Rather, it is to show that Mr. Marlin's essay is only logical because he has thoroughly distorted Dr. Emanuel's views.
0
Thanks
written by Bradley, July 29, 2009
Mr. Miner, Thanks for your agreeing to print, and your comments are duly noted. By the way, several weeks ago, in response to my query about TCT's silence on the announced Benedict-Obama meeting, you replied that it would be inappropriate to comment since the meeting had not yet taken place. Several weeks have now passed since the meeting. Do any of TCT's columnists have anything to say?
0
To Bradley
written by Brad Miner, July 29, 2009
We normally don't permit links to other sites within comments--it's too time consuming to follow up on each of them--but in the case of the CERC citation Bradley uses we'll make an exception. What you fail to metnion, Bradley, is that Dr. Emanuel wants de jure prohibition but de facto euthanasia. As he writes just after the sentence you quoted: "This does not mean we deny that in exceptional cases interventions are appropriate . . ."
0
Who fears the light?
written by Chris from Maryland, July 29, 2009
To Bradley, John McCarthy, all:

Comments #5 & 16 indicate why people defending the primacy of human life are wrong to cooperate with Barak Obama et al. 'Progressives' are trying to rush the bill through, and speaking 'double-speak' to get their way. "For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
0
...
written by DocJim, July 29, 2009
Well stated analysis of the reality of the push for "reforming health care" in the USA. The problems of deciding how to spend limited resources will not be simply solved by legislative fiat. It is a cultural problem and it will take years of discussion to come to a societal consensus. I hope that consensus does not become "comfort care" (morphine pills or drops) for all who are "too old" to meet the economic calculus. That seems to be the "simple" answer of the Chicago boys and others.
0
Student
written by Achilles, July 29, 2009
Thanks for the return comment Bradley, I didn't mean to imply that you have a "blanket endorsement" of Obama's platform, but I am saying there is a very strong theme of saying one thing and intending another in much of what the Obama admin puts forward. So, if Dr. Emanuel "wants de jure prohibition but de facto euthanasia" as Mr. Miner points out then Mr. Marlin has not distorted his position, only bypassed the false rhetoric. Ideology is the enemy.
0
...
written by Richard, July 30, 2009
Re: Comment # 5 "...we need to see the specifics of the bill..." Sorry John, we'll never see anything except the creation of a governmental agency empowered to "establish" policy. A faceless entity which is allowed to implement whatever it wants as with so many other "agencies" created by legislation.
0
YES
written by bill, July 30, 2009
Yes, Seniors must not be allowed to live past 59 1/2 years of age or they will begin taking from the SS dried-up pool of money that is now being re-allocated to cover other unrelated costs. The Corporotocracy enabled by big government has provided the mechanisms for this to occur through various means. How dare American persons reap the reward of sucking off the SS system they paid into all of their lives. It is their duty to bow down to big companies and die in the name of profit.
0
Dutch Euthanasia
written by Annette Janssen, July 30, 2009
My father-in-law was a victim of euthanasia in the Netherlands at age 76. Although sick, he was still bright and alert and enjoyed life. His doctors took him off a ventilator in the middle of the night and called us to say he was "dying." My husband arrived just in time for his father to die in his arms. The doctor said he had no vital signs, but he was alive when my husband held him. Later we learned that he died of a staph infection, something he would have been treated for in the US.
0
Mind yourselves
written by Scoff, July 31, 2009
People, start thinking for yourselves. Jesus threw money changers out of the Temple. Just because a fool named Marlin stamps the beloved name of Catholic on his BS writing doesn't mean it's true. Our Church needs to go after people like this. I challenge anyone here to get the bill and show me where it says what he alleges. Go. THINK PEOPLE! Doesn't anyone believe our health care needs reform!!??
0
Short of complete
written by Brad Miner, July 31, 2009
Dr. Emanuel in Lancet: "[T]he complete lives system requires only that citizens see a complete life, however defined, as an important good, and accept that fairness gives those short of a complete life stronger claims to scarce life-saving resources." The graph that accompanies his article shows that the claims of elderly patients are weak. Rationing is inevitable in Obamacare.
0
euthanasia now
written by dolores, August 02, 2009
When the poor reach the "doughnut hole" and can no longer afford their medication, are they not then condemed to die from their illness? Many people don't realize that the amount necessary to reach that point is based, not on what we pay, but what the pharmacy charges. Take a look at what is charged and you will find that many of the medications most widely used by senior citizens cost one or two hundred dollars. It adds up quickly.
0
...
written by Orthodox Catholic, August 03, 2009
Watch out America!!! We are becoming a totalitarian state and Obama wants to kill little babies and old people because they don't pay taxes. End Medicare and refund the tax dollars to us. Obama must be impeeched.
0
...
written by Absurd, August 04, 2009
There is no monetary value to human life. Period. If you look at Sec. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION, Scoff, page 424-434, it requires people as young as 50 to discuss end-of-life services and other such options. They use doctors and nurses to administer these consultations. The fact that choosing to end your life is even becoming mandatory to be DISCUSSED is directly against what America stands for the pursuit of LIFE, LIBERTY, and PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Have you read the bill???
0
Outrage
written by Joyce, August 05, 2009
At 61 I'm not that enthusiastic in living to a ripe old age, but I'll be damned if the gov't will have the say so as to when I die. I think some of you people sound too glib about the subject. Some of you much younger people out there aren't going to be young forever. What this healthcare reform has in store for seniors is an outrage! If this bill passes, your turn at being old will come soon enough, and I don't believe you want the gov't telling you when your time is to die.
0
...
written by Lucy, August 07, 2009
im a 67 year old woman...i think this is the mark of the beast.....if this happens we all may as well say...he is of the nazi world..i work in home health care...
0
...
written by Julie, August 08, 2009
Wow! Who doesn't recieve care in the U.S. that needs it? There are free clinics for children and the poor to recieve immunizations. I know 3 people recieving cancer treatments with no insurance and no means to pay. I have yet to meet a person who does not get critical care when needed. We feed, diaper and cloth anyone in this country who qualifies. What are we reforming? Why would anyone with half a brain want to go into medicine now! Way to go America!
0
...
written by George, August 10, 2009
To find this on a website called "The Catholic Thing" is truly sad. Catholics are called to social justice. This column is full of lies. Nowhere in any of the bills being considered now is there a plan to kill America's seniors. To claim so is disingenious. The plan merely includes reimbursment for completely legal services that are not currently included in Medicare: OPTIONAL consultation with physicians about end-of-life services, like hospice and advanced care directives.
0
...
written by skelly, August 22, 2009
Julie, if you make more than 200% of poverty line, you can't even get a free pap test at the Planned Parenthood in these parts. More than likely, your friends getting treated are on Medicaid, and they are poor. It is a shame that people who've never worked, are given a free ride, but hard workers without insurance have to beg a doctor to take their cases. We need a single payer universal health care, if only to keep as many workers as possible alive to pay for it all.
0
Free cancer centers?
written by skelly, August 22, 2009
Julie: Please tell us where the free cancer treatment centers are. God help all cancer sufferers without insurance in the US.
0
Politics and Reiligion
written by Meredith, January 01, 2010
The political right is exploiting Catholics and their religion to promote the myth that Obama wants to bump off the elderly. Where and when in all the legislative pieces, over 800 in all, has he ever promoted such a notion?
Don't be fooled this isn't the "Catholic Thing" this is the "Conservative Thing"

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