Saturday, August 15, 2009

Senate Drops End-of-Life Provision

Posted by Tom McFeely
Friday, August 14, 2009 11:30 AM

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks at a health-care reform town hall. (
One down, a much bigger one to go.

That’s how Catholics might characterize yesterday’s move by the Senate Finance Committee to drop a provision that would have allowed taxpayer funding of doctor-patient end-of-life discussions from its version of the health-care reform bill.

“Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the provision had been dropped from consideration because it could be misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly,” Associated Press reported yesterday.

Sen. Grassley’s statement can be read here.

The provision to fund end-of-life discussions is included in the version of the bill that has been passed by three committees in the House of Representatives. If the move by the Senate signals the permanent demise of this proposal from the health-care reform package, it’s good news. Critics of the provision warned, with good reason, that it could open the door to pressure for doctor-assisted suicide for patients suffering from serious illnesses that would be costly to treat.

The willingness of Senate Democrats to give ground on this issue gives reason to hope that the health-care reform bill also can be amended to address the biggest pro-life concern about the bill as it’s currently drafted: The inclusion of a mandate for taxpayer funding of abortion services.

Read more here.

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