When it comes to end of life decisions, the state does not love you

Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America.  The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine.  The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.

Old woman walking away

Put another way, this man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money.  Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle to grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves.  The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions.  The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.

I, being a good liberal back in the day, enthusiastically endorsed what he had to say.  Clearly, euthanasia was a dreadful idea in America, where money was God, and people would be tempted to slip arsenic into their dying child’s broth in order to save the college fund for the next kid in line.

Buried under debt

History has revealed that this Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members.  Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life.  People have hearts and souls.  They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

It’s very different in socialist states, where euthanasia is the name of the game, often without the patient’s, or her family’s, agreement.  In England, thousands of terminally ill people were hastened to their deaths by the Liverpool Care Pathway.  It was meant to be a national hospice program that provided palliative care to the terminally ill in their final days.  What ended up happening, of course, when the National Health Service started running out of money is that thousands (even tens of thousands) of elderly patients who were terminally ill, but weren’t anywhere near death’s door, were hastened to their deaths.  They had become too expensive or just too difficult to manage.

Loving care for sick child

It turns out that, twenty-odd years ago, when I heard that Dutchman speak, he had failed to consider two pertinent facts:  First, socialist states invariably run out of money once they finally destroy their productive class; and second, the state has neither heart nor soul.  To you, Patient X is your beloved mother, or brother, or child.  To the state, Patient X is an unnecessary cost to an already strained system.

What frightens me is that, in Obama’s America, even before socialized medicine takes over, we might be losing the heart and soul that distinguishes individuals from the state.  The Anchoress found at Salon an article in which Mary Elizabeth Williams, who supports abortion, finally comes out and said it:  So what if abortion ends life? It’s almost refreshing to see this kind of honesty about one side of a divisive issue:

Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.

[snip]

And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.

The Anchoress slices and dices the whole argument, but I found this point particularly compelling:

A point of order, please: One may certainly sacrifice one’s own life for another. That is what makes it a sacrifice. Sacrificing “another’s” life is not a sacrifice, unless that other person actually (like Jesus Christ or a soldier who has volunteered to serve, or a mother like this one) says, “yes, I will be sacrificed for the sake of others.”

Absent that permission, though, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s just an expedient, and wasteful killing.

In fact, the notion that someone else’s life is “worth sacrificing” for the furtherance of one’s own situation — the mindset that can advance that thinking — is precisely one that deserves the name “diabolical.”

Although both the Salon article and the Anchoress’ rebuttal focus on the beginning of life, the whole article is unnerving about life’s end too.  The writer’s approach to human beings — we must sacrifice innocent lives for the greater good — has the same stark utilitarian logic found in the heartless and soulless socialist state that readily puts humans on a death pathway because they’re too expensive to care for.

Twenty years ago, I wrongly thought that a state’s magisterial power and wealth would be more pro-life than the human ties that bind people together.  I’m now scared that, twenty years hence, both states and humans will cheerfully dispatch any expenses or inconveniences.  And yes, it can happen here.  It happened in Germany, it happened in the Soviet Union, it happened in Turkey, it happened in Cambodia, it happened in Rwanda….

Cambodian victims

Whether one believes that the Bible is God’s handiwork or man’s, it is a book of inestimable wisdom about humankind’s strengths and foibles.  The constant exhortations to life stand as a reminder that man wears his civilization very lightly and that, beneath it, there is animal savagery, without any sense of morals, ethic, justice, or love.  It would be interesting to see what that long ago Dutchman, or the representations of the National Health Service, or even Mary Elizabeth Williams would say about the Biblical injunction to “choose life.

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Comments

  1. Mike Devx says

    Book quotes Mary Elizabeth Williams who said: I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.
     
    And the Anchoress is exactly right: Williams’ use of “a life worth sacrificing” is diabolical in its misuse of the word sacrifice.  And notice in those words how reluctant she is to actually acknowledge that the fetus is, indeed, life.  And she couldn’t bring herself to say “human life”.  How very ugly it is.
     
    Also notice that the woman makes no distinction between choosing an abortion of convenience *every time* no matter how far the pregnancy has progressed.  Seven months along?   
     
    I am conflicted over the issue of the health of the mother.  If it’s a question merely of a health inconvenience, I don’t agree with the abortion.  But if it were a question of severe health complications, I’d want it left up to the doctor and the parents.
     
    Perhaps I am a moral coward, but I’ll be a lot more comfortable with severe restrictions on abortion once the male contraceptive pill goes on the market.  

  2. Libby says

    It was recently reported that NHS hospitals received monetary bonuses based on the number of patients put on the Liverpool Care Pathway (above and beyond the savings for the care not provided)- the state is  effectively encouraging euthanasia. Really sick.
    While being honest, I think what Williams fails to acknowledge is that after you declare that some lives have more value than others there’s the messy part about determining who then gets to assign this value. Seems there are a lot of people willing to step into this role. Is the mother really the boss? What about when the insurer or the state (hello, Death Panels) decides that some treatments for defective children are not worth the cost? Or families that pressure a mother to abort an unwanted female child? Or in China with its one child policy? Maybe the reason that people like Williams who were so adamant about personal “choice” have decided to “move beyond the pro-choice & pro-life labels” is because they’re preparing for the time when these choices are made by unidentified bureaucrats based on nothing more than the latest budget or the values of the current party/HHS Secretary/panel of health experts in power.
     

  3. JKB says

    Yes, we are all so civilized.  Not like the baseness of generations past.  Why we don’t even need a constitution.  The ideas so deeply ingrained in us as they are.  Or for that matter religious morality because we are inherently moral.  
     
     There was a time 100 years ago when these very same ideas were of fashion.  Only then they had not thrown off God or so worshipful of the state.  Here is a description of how that all feel apart one warm August
     
    In the last week in July the men and women of the populous civilized countries of Europe were leading their usual ordered lives, busy and yet soft, lives carried on with comfort and luxury, with appliances for ease and pleasure such as never before were known, lives led in a routine which to most people seemed part of the natural order of things, something which could not be disturbed by shocks such as the world knew of old. A fortnight later hell yawned under the feet of these hard-working or pleasure-seeking men and women, and woe smote them as it smote the peoples we read of in the Old Testament or in the histories of the Middle Ages. Through the rents in our smiling surface of civilization the volcanic fires beneath gleamed red in the gloom. 
     
    What occurred in Europe is on a giant scale like the disaster to the Titanic. One moment the great ship was speeding across the ocean, equipped with every device for comfort, safety, and luxury. The men in her stoke-hold and steerage were more comfortable than the most luxurious travellers of a century ago. The people in her first-class cabins enjoyed every luxury that a luxurious city life could demand and were screened not only from danger but from the least discomfort or annoyance. Suddenly, in one awful and shattering moment, death smote the floating host, so busy with work and play. They were in that moment shot back through immeasurable ages. At one stroke they were hurled from a life of effortless ease back into elemental disaster; to disaster in which baseness showed naked, and heroism burned like a flame of light. 
    –Theodore Roosevelt, America and the World War, 1915

  4. Caped Crusader says

    When the dominant ruling political party eagerly boos God and mocks His rules, all moral restraint has been removed. The Progressives are eager practitioners of a death cult. These younger generations, who have so eagerly embraced this philosophy, do not realize they are the future recipients of these deaths, since there are so many of them, and there will be ever increasing pressure to eliminate those “not needed” in order to meet the budget. Let’s see how eagerly these self admiring generations embrace death when it is their time to “participate”.
     
    Once unleashed this philosophy always engulfs those who had no idea it ultimately would involve them. Over 50 years ago I read Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich,if my memory is correct. He related how he became involved initially. He was from a well to do family and owned a nice Mercedes Benz. They needed a driver to pick up this up and coming new politician by the name of Adolph Hitler at he airport. He agreed to go to the airport and be the chauffeur for the day. Hitler “took a shine” to him and since he offered the possibility of very good future employment in an era when there was none, he joined the ranks. He realized they were basically a comic opera and felt they would never be able to find people to do their dirty deeds. He found later he was wrong and there would always be those who will do anything for a steady job and the right price, no matter the deed.
     
     

  5. Tonestaple says

    I recall reading an article written a while after the Netherlands had instituted early killing of adults.  (Euthanasia is too pretty a word.)  Even then doctors would push someone along just because they needed the bed or the patient was just inconvenient.  When everyone belongs to the state, the truth in any collectivist society no matter how warmly and fuzzily the socialism is portrayed, the state is not going to have any compunction in acting to benefit the state.  Just like all bureaucracies, the mission of the state, or even the smaller medical care bureaucracy, becomes the perpetuation of the bureaucracy’s existence, not the existence of its subjects.

  6. Libby says

    Tonestaple, per the Groningen Protocol (since 2005), doctors killing babies born with disabilities or terminal conditions is legal in the Netherlands, too.

  7. says

    Oh I’m sure we can make a deal and Leftists will be able to co habitate with the rest of us in a mutually beneficial relationship. We scratch their backs, and they’ll look out for us too. All it takes is for you to sign your name on this contract here: in blood.
     
    It’ll all work out, don’t worry. There’s nothing on this planet that cannot be handled with the Deal.
     
     

  8. JKB says

    Tonestaple,
     
    Bureaucrats are people, normally regular good people.  Bureaucracies on the hand are evil.  Not Devil worship evil, malevolent evil, just people, lots of people, all working toward some benign idea and also for their own benefit but without accountability for the real world impact of their actions beyond what is measured, but collectively evil none the less.  As the individuals do not consider themselves evil, they will act harshly and vigorously to avoid having to see that they’ve collectively done evil regardless of their individual intent.  
     
    In socialized medicine, there will be no plan to kill old people.  It will just be individuals avoiding the whole.  Doctors will send patients who are close expecting others to make final determinations, even sending some back to treatment.  Perhaps budgets will push the doc to use this as a tactic to avoid some budget or care metric.  Those on the hospice side will simply assume the doctor has sent the patient for palliative care and never give survival another consideration.  Each doing what they see as the most caring and, even loving, in the system, but collectively many will die earlier than necessary.  

  9. Spartacus says

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
    I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
    Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
    And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
    And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
    And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.‘”
    – Matthew 25:35-40
     
    They know not what they do.

  10. Spartacus says

    Speaking before a small audience, Vice President Biden opened the floor for Q&A.  The first question concerned euthanasia, which drew a chuckle from the vice president.  “Look,” he said, “I keep getting this question, and I don’t know why.  I mean, youth is a fantastic time in anyone’s life, whether they grow up in Asia, or some other country.  You know, my father was a coal miner in Wales, and his adult life was one of back-breaking labor.  And he said to me, ‘Joe, you gotta enjoy your youth while it lasts.’  And I believe that.  And so, you know, youth in Asia, or youth in Youngstown, it doesn’t matter… it’s a big f***in’ deal no matter where you are.”

  11. lee says

    Who decides whose life is not worth living? Was Mark O’Brien’s life “not worth living”? He lived fifty years, forty-four of those paralyzed from the neck down? Mentally disabled? People with Downs are among the nicest, sweetest, happiest, most mild-tempered people you will ever meet. Just people who want to be “euthanized”? So basically just people who suffer from depression… (Many terminally ill people manage to keep amazingly good spirits despited their illness and their pain; many terminally ill or severly injured people who “just want to die” are suffering from depression on top of everything else.)
     
    … Or those who have no advocate for keeping them alive. People who have no family, or whose family are a bunch of ungrateful serpents’ teeth… (For some people, that may be deserving, but that it is still no reason to condone euthanasia. Slight humor, there.)
     
     

  12. zombie says

     
    Euthanasia ia already here in America. Except it’s operating under the radar.
     
    I wrote about this very topic a while ago in my essay called <a href=”http://pjmedia.com/zombie/2011/02/21/death-channels/?singlepage=true” target=”_blank”>Death Channels</a>.

    In it, while recounting a personal story about my experience with “end-of-life care,” I discover that it is standard practice to accelerate patients’ deaths in America (if the patient has filled out an “Advance Health Care Directive,” that is).
    This is one of the biggest scandals in our society at the moment, and no one is talking about it.
    Read the essay for the full story, but in short: If a doctor gives up on you and deems you a candidate for “palliative care,” and if you have filled out an “Advance Health Care Directive” (which they pressure you to fill out) specifying that you don’t want to be hooked up to tubes for years as a human vegetable, then they almost invariably will start pumping you full of morphine. While this is purportedly to alleviate pain (the “palliative” part of the care), it has two important “side effects” which are in fact not side effects at all but rather the main reasons why morphine is used: First, it slows down your rate and breathing, so while it may ameliorate pain it actually prevents you from ever getting better or “making a comeback”; and second, it knocks you out so that you can’t complain or change your mind.
    If you briefly awake or come-to out of your drugged haze and mumble something, this is invariably interpreted as an expression of more pain, and they then up your morphine dosage until you’re incapable of communicating.
    Simultaneously, the directives usually stipulate that you receive no food or hydration while dying, so you can’t possibly last for more than a week or two while on morphine, even if you started out perfectly healthy.
    So, while you are lying there desperately desiccated and starving, any utterance or complaint you make through the morphine haze is inevitably used as a justification to give you more morphine, until you die.
    The horrifying truth is that people sent to palliative care almost never die of the disease from which they are suffering. Instead, they usually die of dehydration and/or cardiac arrest brought about by overdoses of opiates.
    Without this acceleration of fatality, people very likely would last for many weeks or months in “palliative care.” But one you’ve gotten that classification, your final days are nothing but a financial burden, and the faster you kick the bucket, the better for the bottom line.
    This is happening RIGHT NOW in hospitals all across America and has been happening for years. It will only get worse under Obamacare. It is not deemed to be “euthanasia,” but that’s exactly what it is.

     
     

  13. says

    “This is happening RIGHT NOW in hospitals all across America and has been happening for years. It will only get worse under Obamacare. It is not deemed to be “euthanasia,” but that’s exactly what it is.”
     
    The Left comes up with some surprisingly efficient and smart methods. It’s just not what many might consider humane.
     
    It’s always interesting to see how evil operates, in a different manner than serial killers and mass murderers. They always have something going for them. They always have some kind of unique motivation. An islamic heaven. A world free of inferior races. World peace or a green planet. Something. It’s always something. Strangely enough, out in the shadows on the peripheries of these activities, I will often see somebody making billions off of it, sort of like Soros.
     

  14. says

     
    DO NOT sign a “living will”, or any “Advance Health Care Directive” the hospital or your doctor wants you to sign.  Instead, go here:
     
     http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/index.html
     
    and download “The Will to Live”.  You’ll have to name someone you trust to make your decisions for you, but if you don’t, your loved ones will have no legal standing when you can’t clearly communicate your wishes, and the “ethics committee” or whatever your hospital uses will make the decisions for you – even if your relatives and friends tell them that you would not have wanted whatever it is they’re doing to you.
     
    THE WILL TO LIVE protects your own life and the lives of your family members when you cannot speak for yourselves

    Names someone you trust to safeguard your life when you cannot speak for yourself as your “health care agent”
    Names backup agents if your first choice can’t serve
    Describes the treatment you do and do not want to guide your health care agent and physicians
    Protects your family and health care agent from pressure from health care providers and others by allowing them to prove what you really did want
    Relieves the agony of decision making for them by making your wishes clear

      This is not a joke….make copies and provide them to your doctors, the hospital you use, etc.  Give them to your agent and backups, and keep one in your purse or on your person.  You don’t want to be dehydrated because someone “lost” your instructions.

  15. theBuckWheat says

    This is so simple a child can understand it.
    Europe, under the Treaty of Lisbon, officially rejects capitalism and instead adopted a form of fascism (soft socialism) it calls “social market economy”.  
    When sufficient socialism is imposed on an economy, citizens on balance over their lives, cost the government more than they can produce.  The more citizens, the slower the economy grows until the economy goes into decline.  We see this at this very moment in Italy and Greece.
    By the very nature of free market capitalism, the more people who are engaged in the economy, the more wealth society can create.  
    Thus, socialist governments have subtle incentives to reduce and eliminate as many citizens as possible without destroying their ability to stay in power.  Old people who don’t vote and unborn children are very easy targets under these perverse economic incentives.
     
     

  16. Brinker says

    Given that the state has taken for itself the power to end, or to allow others to end without consequence, the lives of the innocent then what, precisely, is the relation of a citizen to said state?  I’ll suggest that it is not a relationship of a free person possessed of individual liberty to a sovereign whose power derives from his consent.  Rather, if our very lives may be terminated at the whim of the state and not as a result of some misdeed, then we are rather more like chattels. 
    In light of the present US sanction of abortion on demand, terminating lives nearest their very beginning, it should come as no surprise that Ezekiel Emmanuel, one of Barack Obama’s close advisers on matters of health care and an architect of the Affordable Care Act, exhibits a similar callous disregard of the value of our lives at later points.  In a preview of what we in the US can expect from the ACA, he has advocated most strongly for provisioning the most expensive care based upon the value of a person to the state with newborns and the elderly having little or no value and those early in their working years the most.  Be prepared America, Britain’s Liverpool Care Pathway won’t be a rounding error compared to what is about to happen here.
    And yes, I concur with and will say explicitly what the author has strongly implied: once the state takes unto itself the power over the life & death of the innocent it is a short step to tyranny and its attendant horrors.  Ask yourself: How valuable would the state find me during a global famine?  A natural disaster?  The aftermath of war? Would the elimination of my carbon footprint serve the “greater good” in the eyes of the elites?  It’s not merely a slippery slope, it’s one we have already descended; it’s just that the consequences of our choices are not yet apparent.

  17. MacG says

    Sacrifices without the consent of the sacrificee occurred in the Aztec world with great regularity amongst other tribes  even in other lands.  Usually these were the human spoils of war so it cost the Aztecs nothing in terms of sacrifice but it was still a sacrificed life. To whom and for whom was the sacrifice being made?
     
    Thou shall do no murder.  Not thou shall not kill.  This affords self defense.  I see for sure life of the mother as self defense.  Rape and incest can fall under this category as far as I am concerned.  Although I have a good friend who is the product of a date-rape (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) who is raising 4 kids of his own and his community is better off because he and his family are in it.
     
    I sincerely doubt that 55 million abortions were for these reasons.  I hear cries of there some who would bring us back to back alley abortions etc. but then we do not not have the same intense societal shame that we once had either so I figure that those would be reduced from the exaggerated 10000 women have died in such abortions during RvW.  Medicine is risky business.
     

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  1. Friday morning links…

    Hilarious climate science fail by the warmists at GRIST (and now CNN) Muslim Group Accuses Lego Of Raaaaacism Rotten to the Core: Obama’s War on Academic Standards Europe’s Dream Becomes Its Nightmare - The EU and a less imperialistic U.S….

  2. [...] When it comes to end of life decisions, the state does not love you Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America. The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine. The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances. [...]

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