Friday, August 21, 2009

Jim Towey Demonstrates The Death Panel Threat Is Plainly Real

Statist Democrats and their Big Media allies have been in full attack mode since Sarah Palin used the term "death panel" to describe government panels that will be involved with advising patients on end-of-life decisions under their version of ObamaCare. They have whined about the use of the term "death panel" and have claimed that opponents are claiming that euthanasia is written into the bill. The Leftist-Liberal-Progressive-Socialist-Democrats have constructed straw men and have diverted the argument in order to avoid discussing the very real implications of government involvement in such personal decisions.

An editorial by Jim Towey in the Wall Street Journal illustrated this threat. He writes about the "Your Life, Your Choices" program introduced by the Clinton-era Veterans Administration, suspended by President Bush, and recently reinstated by President Barry Vladimir Hussein Soetero Obama.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran's health-care system that seems intent on his surrender.

I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update "Your Life, Your Choices" between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. And as you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as "Compassion and choices").

No Conservative leader has suggested the bills being discussed include the word "euthanasia." Nor are they saying that the panel will sit around a table and decide whether each individual lives or dies. Those are the straw men constructed by Leftist ideologues who do not want to discuss the very real implications of government-mandated boards. The VA program pushes folks who have manageable issues to believe they are hopeless burdens on their families. The fear, and a legitimate one at that, is that the boards established under these bills will be able to steer folks toward an early check out.

Mr. Towey is not an opponent of advance directives. In fact, he created the widely used "Five Wishes" program for assisting folks with end-of-life decision making. His work in this field makes him particularly qualified to analyze the possible ills of ObamaCare's provisions.

If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices." He should make sure in the future that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens.

Leftists and their Big Media cheerleaders do not want to have an honest discussion about the issue. The bill does not provide a lot of specific information, but it does open some very disturbing doors. That is part of the problem. We don't know what these end-of-life panels would look like. We do not know how they would present the information. The Left tries to use that vacuum in details to make the case that ObamaCare opponents are inventing bogeymen where none exist. In fact, it is this tabula rasa that rightfully scares thinking Americans.

We know that the VA is pushing our patriotic veterans through a program produced by the Hemlock Society. We know that in Oregon's state system, a board can offer to pay for euthanasia as they refuse to pay for care that they do not feel has a high enough probability for success. We know that Obama's health care advisors, including Tom Daschle and Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, are proponents of limiting the use of expensive treatments on elderly citizens because they don't have much left to offer society. We know that this is the one area of health care where the government could use its power to dramatically cut costs. We also know that rationing of care is the rule, not the exception in other countries that practice socialized medicine. We also know that, in the Senate, amendments to limit the ability of a government board to behave in this way were rejected by the Democrats.

Whether or not euthanasia or rationing are on the menu, the point is that government should not be in a position where they can influence the life and death decisions of citizens. Over 50 new bureacracies, most of which would be designed later, are included in the House bills. The American people are being told "trust us" by a class of people who are among the least trustworthy on the planet. Real America doesn't trust Congress, President Obama or the Big Government Media. Fear, intimidation, and misinformation will not silence a growing body of patriots.

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