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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Will Obamacare Boost Assisted Suicide?



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I rarely agree with assisted suicide proponents. But an article in Salon may be onto something–that the passage of the Affordable Care Act could boost assisted suicide legalization. From the article:

Currently only three states have Death With Dignity laws – a surprisingly low number given that there isn’t a one among the other 47 in which somebody isn’t dying right now. Could the Affordable Care Act change that? Peg Sandeen, executive director of the National Death With Dignity Center, speculates: “I think the ACA is going to change how we access healthcare and that change is going to come slowly. What I hope it means is that people have access to a wide span of options across the health spectrum.”

In other words, that is the plan!

Assisted suicide is not only about so-called “death with dignity”–a gooey euphemism swallowed whole by the reporter–but despite the article’s spin to the contrary, ultimately about saving money.

Do you remember Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup? Both were on Medicaid and terminally ill with cancer. Their doctors prescribed life-extending chemotherapy. But Oregon’s death panel rationers refused to pay for their prescriptions. Both received letters telling them not to worry, while the state wouldn’t pay to extend their lives, it would readily fund their assisted suicides.

 Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry told us this was coming, writing in Freedom to Die:

A rational argument can be made for allowing PAS [physician-assisted suicide] in order to offset the amount society and family spend on the ill…There is no contradicting the fact that since the largest medical expenses are incurred in the final days and weeks of life, the hastened demise of of people with only a short time left would free resources for others. 

Vermont–which has an unfunded single payer healthcare plan and legal assisted suicide–may also be looking to doctor-prescribed death–coupled with health care rationing–to pay for it.

The assisted suicide advocacy organization, the euphemistically named Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) was deeply involved–by the group’s own account–in drafting portions of the Obamacare legislation.

So, could Obamacare lead to greater assisted suicide?  You betcha. 



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