BLOGThe Cost of Death Continues to Drop

By James Arnold Posted on: | October 26, 2016

Way back in August, we noted that the cost of life-ending drugs was covered by insurance companies in Oregon.

Now, California joins Oregon in subsidizing death. The rest of the story is somehow even worse than that.

From Catholic News Agency:

"Stephanie Packer cherishes every moment with her husband and four children. Living with a terminal illness in Orange, California, her goal is 'to do everything I can to have one more second with my kids.'

"When assisted suicide legislation was officially passed in California in 2016, Packer experienced the ultimate slap in the face: her insurance company denied the coverage of critical chemotherapy treatment that her doctors recommended for her condition.

"Her insurance would, however, cover end-of-life drugs for just $1.20."

The insurance company offers to cover end-of-life drugs, but will not cover life-preserving chemotherapy. Aside from the obvious concerns about an insurance company offering to end the life of a patient who may be costing them money, the fact that life is undervalued in our culture is becoming more and more insidious. You purchase health insurance to, you know, cover yourself in the event of a terrible disease and now are faced with the choice of out-of-pocket expenses or ending your life. What else is this than an affront to the sanctity of life and a grim emblem of our culture of death?

When we make death cheap, it becomes falsely attractive to those who cannot afford top-of-the-line health care. When those same folks purchase health insurance, they (rightly) expect to receive help on their health needs. When that insurance turns out to be a death warrant, we give up the peace that comes with knowing our health needs will be covered in the face of tragedy.

That cost is too high, even at $1.20 for death pills.

On the other side of the country, Washington D.C.'s own push for physician-prescribed death is causing outrage. Why?

From Relevant Magazine:

"Today, the council of Washington D.C. is voting on a highly controversial euthanasia bill—one that some in the black community say is disproportionately 'aimed at old black people.'

[...]

"Those against it cite fears for the low-income, black senior citizens of the District—fears that they will be coerced into choosing death to reduce the government's bill of healthcare."

When you hear stories like Stephanie’s, such fears quickly become justified.

And what about the social impacts of the culture of death?

In The Netherlands, there is a proposal to allow "assisted suicide for generally healthy elders who feel like they have already 'completed life.'"

As The New York Times notes, the proposal "does not even cite a minimum age." In addition, some have (rightly) suggested that this sort of law could allow the government to act "as an enabler for the death of people who are lonely or depressed." When you encourage a culture of death through the legal framework, you only encourage folks to end their lives due to various social fears ("burdening their families" or loneliness or depression). This fails even the "best case scenario" of offering physician-prescribed death to those with terminal illnesses.

After all, there are better options than allowing (or forcing!) physicians to end the lives of their patients.

Here’s an argument against allowing doctors to end the lives of their patients, as recounted by Ryan T. Anderson:

"Allowing doctors to prescribe deadly drugs to assist in the suicides of their patients is not simply a one-off interaction between two consenting adults. Changing the laws that govern how doctors operate will change the entire ecosystem of medicine. It will change how doctors relate to their patients and how much patients can trust their doctors.

"Ultimately, it will change how society views the weak and the marginalized and affect our family relationships. It will change how we view our elders and our duties toward them.

[...]

"D.C.’s proposed assisted-suicide law is ripe for abuse. A family member or friend who might benefit financially from the death of a patient may act as a witness that the patient is voluntarily requesting the lethal prescription, and doctors who support the ideology of death can judge patients to be 'qualified' under the law — even if they’ve never before met the patient (or the patient’s family). Finally, it sets no safeguards whatsoever to ensure voluntariness or competence — or to guard against coercion — at the time the deadly drug is administered."

The description of the obvious faults in the proposed law here is accurate, but it is hardly unique. Every law we've seen so far is rife with these sorts of problems. There is a reason for this: The likelihood of abuse is a feature of the desire to allow doctors to act as executioners, not a bug.

Anderson strongly concludes:

"Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. They are to eliminate illness and disease but never eliminate their patients."

This is the reason that these laws have room for abuse; they are centered around the idea that doctors must act as arbiters of life and death, rather than practitioners of medicine.

Here's a novel idea: Let's let doctors be doctors, rather than forcing them to participate in the killing of their patients.


Healthcare Professionals Should Never Be Forced to Act Against Their Conscience

The government should never force a healthcare professional to violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine. That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has created a FREE legal manual for medical professionals that explains the laws that protect their right to practice medicine according to their conscience, and what to do if that right is ever threatened. 


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James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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