I read an interesting article today written by Associated Press reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. In it, he discussed the facts surrounding the elder care portion of the Obama healthcare bill. Much of this latest hoopla began when former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin wrote on her facebook page that the bill had "death panels" that would call for the killing of the sick, the elderly, and the unborn or mentally challenged child.
In the bill, Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon calls for Medicare to pay doctors for offering voluntary counseling, every five years to the elderly, about end of life matters. It would bring doctors into the discussion about living wills, power of attorney, and other issues that are currently discussed with the family attorney. No monies would be paid and the bill does not advocate assisted suicide.
In spite of this, The National Right To Life Committee opposes the bill saying stronger language is needed to ensure that an older person would not willingly or unwillingly give up their rights to medical treatment in the event that they are confused about their options or depressed when being counseled.
It is on this point that I agree. Complex legal language is hard for anyone to understand and if someone is confused or feels depressed on the day he or she is receiving counseling, they may decide (in the heat of the moment) to give up their right to treatment.
Likewise, many people from our parent's generation never question their doctor's decisions, preferring instead to give them total control over their bodies. While I respect the training and judgement of most physicians, I am afraid that many older patients would be willing to hand over life and death decisions simply because they are afraid or feel unable to make them.
As Christians we tend to view life and death as a decision that can only be made by God, but all too often medical science has a different point of view. In the case of my own father, he was told by doctors that he would die in 3 months when he was diagnosed with Cancer in 1986. The doctors didn't want to give him treatment, saying he was terminal and it wouldn't help, but my mother demanded it, he wanted it, and fortunately he got it. The chemotherapy allowed my dad to live for another year. Had the decision been left entirely up to the medical community we would have lost 9 precious months with my dad. Fortunately, it was during this nine months that my father found his salvation.
I agree with the National Right to Life Committee that the wording on this provision in the bill needs to be changed, because all life is precious and all Americans have the right to fight to live. I will say however, that in spite of my general approval of Sarah Palin, calling the provision a "death panel" does nothing to advance the discussion on both sides of the issue.
How sad that something as precious as our right to life has become a football for the politicians to toss around. It's not about who wins the 2012 election and it's not about the cost of caring for our elderly who have worked so hard to fight for us. If we're going to pay for millions of illegal citizens to live in this country then we need to pony up for those who have lived and died to preserve our freedoms and our choices.
No, it's not about politics. It's about God and his "sole" right to determine when the end will be for the lives He's created. Instead of seeking outside counsel about whether we should live or die, we need to pray for His guidance when confronting our own health issues. If we do this, I'm sure we'll realize, that God's,(not the doctors) is the only counsel we'll need.