Politics & Policy

Offered Assisted Suicide in Place of Treatment

The news media usually ignore assisted suicide abuses because it goes against their Brittany Maynard meme of normalizing the lethal act.

True to form, most major outlets have–so far–failed to report on this story: A Nevada doctor is claiming he tried to transfer ill patients to California and Oregon for treatment, but the insurance company offered assisted suicide instead.

A few more conservative publications have reported this important story. From the Washington Times story:

Brian Callister, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Nevada, said he tried to transfer two patients to California and Oregon for procedures not performed at his hospital. Representatives from two different insurance companies denied those transfer requests by phone, he said.

“And in both cases, the insurance medical director said to me, ‘Brian, we’re not going to cover that procedure or the transfer, but would you consider assisted suicide?’ ” Dr. Callister told The Washington Times.

The phone calls took place last year within the span of a month, Mr. Callister said. He said he did nothing to prompt the suggestion in either case.

The patients were not terminal, but “would have become terminal without the procedures.”

This is wholly to be expected. It costs a few thousand dollars for an assisted suicide, but perhaps hundreds of thousands to provide patients treatment and interventions so they don’t want it. The economic gravitational force is obvious.

This isn’t a first, either. Oregon refused to pay for life-extending chemotherapy for Medicaid cancer patients Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, offering assisted suicide instead in crass letters denying coverage.

And it is in keeping with the “unspoken argument” written about by Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry in Permission to Die (Humphry’s emphasis).

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, as long as it is the voluntary wish of the mentally competent terminally and incurably ill adult.

There will likely come a time when PAS becomes a commonplace occurrence for individuals who want to die and feel it is the right thing to do by their loved ones.

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 people with only a short time left would free resources for others. Hundreds of billions of dollars could benefit those patients who not only can be cured but who want to live. (Emphasis in the text.)

There you have it. But don’t expect the media to allow this story to prevent their constantly pushing the “no abuses” fallacy.

Assisted suicide masks as compassion. But it ends up in abandonment.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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