Bowling for Death Panels: Euthanasia Group
Behind "End-of-Life" Counseling
Although President Obama and liberal Congressional Democrats have
denounced claims that the health care reform establishes "death
panels," it does not help reassure the American public that the
nation's foremost pro-euthanasia group is actively pushing "end-of-life
counseling" as a centerpiece of health-care reforms.
Compassion & Choices, a rebranding of the former Hemlock Society,
aggressively lobbies to legalize euthanasia as a "human right" by means
of legislation and the judicial system. But the group has revealed that
it is a major player behind incorporating a measure (sec. 1233) of the
"American Affordable Choices Act of 2009" (HR 3200) that would pay
doctors and medical professionals to offer "end-of-life" consultations
every five years with elderly patients or those suffering from chronic
or terminal illnesses.
"As Congress debates health insurance reform, Compassion & Choices
is leading the charge to make end-of-life choice a centerpiece of any
program that emerges," the euthanasia society declares on its website.
"We are working hard to reach our goal to make end-of-life choice a
centerpiece of national health insurance reform."
An e-mail alert sent by the organization's president Barbara Lee Coombs
asked members to join in a telephone call-in with President Obama and
faith-based groups asking them to "please encourage him to be vocal and
steadfast in his support of the voluntary end-of-life consultation
provision for Medicare patients" if they had the opportunity to ask the
President a question.
"Compassion & Choices was the number one organization behind
pushing for assisted suicide in Washington State. They've made no
secret that this is something they would like to replicate on a
national scale," said Dan Kennedy, CEO of Human Life Washington in an
e-mail to LifeSiteNews.com.
Since Oregon passed laws legalizing physician assisted suicide in 1997,
two other states have also legalized assisted suicide: Washington and
Montana through the efforts of Compassion & Choices. In Montana,
the euthanasia-promoting group had assisted suicide foisted on the
state through the edict of a district court; however Montana physicians
and the Montana Medical Association refused to participate, saying
killing their patients violated physician ethics rooted in the
Although the White House and its allies in Congress have insisted that
talk about sec. 1233 of HR 3200 would lead to "death panels" - a term
coined by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to frame how involving
government bureaucracy in health care would lead to low-quality care or
denied care - has no foundation in fact; but the reality is that
euthanasia advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) had a powerful impact
upon shaping the legislation, which Compassion & Choices has
"I'm certain that they see themselves as the go-to community
organization that would partner with the Federal government in end of
life counseling," said Kennedy. "Given that the President has made some
disturbing statements on end of life economics, and has listened to
their input on health care legislation, we can't pretend we don't know
what the end-game is."
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an advocate of Oregon's assisted suicide law,
wrote the "Life Sustaining Treatment Preferences Act of 2009" (HR
1898), which is considered the primary source of the "advance care
planning" sec. 1233 of the health-care reform bill, HR 3200. Both bills
incorporate what the euthanasia-promoting Compassion & Choices
calls a "Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment" (POLST) and pay
physicians to initiate conversations with their patients about "the
reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the
individual and the individual's family and the reasons why such an
order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual
Such advance orders not only include the establishment of living wills,
and health-care proxies, but they also delineate for medical
professionals under what conditions a patient would wish to refuse
treatment, including cardiac or pulmonary resuscitation, going to the
hospital, using anti-biotics, and even when to continue "the use of
artificially administered nutrition and hydration."
A number of analysts, and not all conservative, have expressed concern
that sec. 1233 could lead to senior citizens being pressured into
accepting lower quality care from a doctor who is reimbursed to talk
with a patient about refusing treatment.
In fact Obama himself has emphasized cutting medical costs through
end-of-life counseling. In an April New York Times interview, Obama
mentioned how the "chronically ill and those toward the end of their
lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health
care bill out here." Obama stated that the nation must have "a very
difficult democratic conversation" about dealing with those costs and
advocated the creation of "some independent group that can give you
guidance" on the matter.
Such an independent group under HR 3200 would be a board for
"Comparative Effectiveness Research" established under the executive
branch, and independent of Congressional oversight. But the White House
is pushing for the creation of an Independent Medical Advisory
Committee, also under the sole direction of the President, that would
have the power to completely rewrite Medicare reimbursements without
input from Congress.
According to a new NBC News poll, Americans have become increasingly
alarmed about the proposed government involvement in the health-care of
their loved ones. About 45 percent believe that the government will
likely decide when to stop care for the elderly, while 50 percent say
it is not likely. 54 percent of respondents also believe the government
reforms will lead to a government takeover of health care, while 39
However, Americans could have a greater cause for alarm to know that
not only are euthanasia groups promoting this aspect of health-care
reform, but that the Obama Administration has already included them as
a resource for "end-of-life counseling" in its Veterans Affairs
Contact: Peter J. Smith
Date: August 20, 2009
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coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
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human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
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