ObamaCare and the Right to Life: Elderly Patients May Face Pressure to Die
By ROBIN ROHR
National Catholic Register, Aug. 9-22
WASHINGTON — As the pro-life movement fights to keep abortion out of the health-care reform bill, an undercover attack on the elderly may be taking place unnoticed.
At issue is a provision that calls for end-of-life counseling of senior citizens every five years. That counseling can include topics such as how to decline nutrition and hydration, antibiotics and basic care treatments for specific conditions such as flu or pneumonia, and how to choose palliative and hospice care for the terminally ill.
“I’ve read about a third of HR 3200 and the counseling parts are designed to encourage euthanasia,” claimed Dr. Katherine Schlaerth, an associate professor of family medicine at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. “Seniors will be counseled every five years, and more often if they get sicker.”
Schlaerth, who emphasized that she does not speak for Loma Linda University, said that a frail, elderly, ill and depressed patient or that patient’s family “may easily agree to withhold antibiotics or fluid without realizing the full implication.”
“Patients who have a worsening of their chronic condition, but who may not even be pre-terminal, are included in this strong-arm counseling, and their respect for authority figures could pave the way for agreement with cessation of care not in their interest at all,” Schlaerth said.
“Health-care providers, meanwhile, may be forced to give counseling directly opposed to their religious or moral beliefs.”
Key lawmakers are in agreement with Schlaerth. “Section 1233 encourages health-care providers to provide their Medicare patients with counseling on ‘the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration’ and other end-of-life treatments and may place seniors in situations where they feel pressure to sign an end-of-life directive they would not otherwise sign,” said the House Republican leader, John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the Republican Policy Committee chairman, Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., in a July 23 statement. “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.”
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