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Health Care Reform bill sets up elderly to be pressured to refuse care

If you read the accounts of women who have given birth to children with Downs syndrome you will soon realize that our culture has moved from the idea of an option to abort these children to the idea of a duty to abort these children.

The end-of-life counseling in the current health care reform bill has the potential to do the same thing to the elderly. The option to refuse care will evolve into a duty to refuse care. Read more here.

Comments

Rosemary Bogdan said…
Even bringing up the subject of refusing care suggests to the elderly person that their life is perhaps not worth living in the state it's in. I felt very defensive of my father when he was on the respirator and they were trying to wean him off. When a doctor asked him if he wanted it turned back on if he needed it I remember the look on my father's face. He said, "Well, I wouldn't have much choice, would I?" I think it was just beginning to dawn on him that there were people (not us!) who thought he might be better off dead. I tried to counteract the harm by later telling him how much he meant to us and how much we loved him, on a respirator or not. I am always VERY suspicious of "end-of-life counseling." I am not sure it can be done in any way without conveying to the elderly that maybe they shouldn't live any more. It's sickening.
Denise said…
Rosemary,

I think the approach to end-of-life counseling advocated in this bill and in many living wills is entirely wrong. Every person should have a health care surrogate with whom he/she has discussed values and principles that should govern end-of-life decisions. Then every treatment decision must be evaluated as to whether it is proportionate or disproportionate care. Does the benefit anticipated from the intervention justify the burden the intervention imposes? For example, some people would prefer to be pain free and unconscious, while others would want to endure more discomfort for he opportunity to be more aware of their surroundings. What is proportionate and what is disproportionate must be made from the perspective of the patient or the patient's surrogate. When treatment is found to be disproportionate, it is not because the patient is judged to be better off dead, but rather that the treatment imposes to great a burden for the level of benefit it provides. Judge the treatment, not the value of the patient's life.

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