Offering assisted suicide along with government-run health has become fashionable in European countries. In the Netherlands, it has become a problem, with doctors euthanizing babies without their parents’ consent and euthanizing the elderly and the sick against their wishes.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I actually think that the tougher issue around medical care — it’s a related one — is what you do around things like end-of-life care — [New York Times] Yes, where it’s $20,000 for an extra week of life.
THE PRESIDENT: Exactly. And I just recently went through this. I mean, I’ve told this story, maybe not publicly, but when my grandmother got very ill during the campaign, she got cancer; it was determined to be terminal. And about two or three weeks after her diagnosis she fell, broke her hip. It was determined that she might have had a mild stroke, which is what had precipitated the fall.
So now she’s in the hospital, and the doctor says, Look, you’ve got about — maybe you have three months, maybe you have six months, maybe you have nine months to live. Because of the weakness of your heart, if you have an operation on your hip there are certain risks that — you know, your heart can’t take it. On the other hand, if you just sit there with your hip like this, you’re just going to waste away and your quality of life will be terrible.
And she elected to get the hip replacement and was fine for about two weeks after the hip replacement, and then suddenly just — you know, things fell apart.
I don’t know how much that hip replacement cost. I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother. Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question. If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.
And it’s going to be hard for people who don’t have the option of paying for it.
THE PRESIDENT: So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?
I mean, 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.
So how do you — how do we deal with it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists.
Ethicists. For some reason that sounds like Orwellian doublespeak or the central of Fahrenheit 451, where firemen are paid to start fires instead of putting them out. I think that Obama’s idea of an ethicist is find someone who takes something completely unethical and couch it in nice terms that we can all understand. We will have real or imagined hard cases put before us and the obvious, nice answer is to kill grandma.
Are we going to do the same thing to the unwanted old that we do to unwanted babies? That is to say, are we going to kill lots of them off, and pretend that this is just fine?
I think so. The only question is how we will do it, and what we will call it.
Aborted babies are slaughtered by the tens of thousands, solely because they are inconvenient to young, busy people.
Old, ill parents are also going to become a major nuisance to the same generation, very soon indeed. Baby boomers are all secretly terrified that mum or dad will end up wasting away slowly in a care home, rapidly consuming the inheritance.
Attitudes towards the assisted suicides of conductor Sir Edward Downes and his wife Joan have highlighted society’s questionable views of the value of life
Could this be why the argument for legalising ‘assisted suicide’ is becoming so strident? We are offered lots of weepy hard cases, where terribly ill people are desperate to die and their relatives insist they should be able to help them without any risk of prosecution.
If the people involved are genuinely moved by compassion, what do they have to fear from an investigation and a fair trial? They will be acquitted, even if they are charged. Only those whose motives are suspect are at any risk.
This is why we are asked to admire the rather creepy suicide pact of Sir Edward and Lady Downes, as if it is some sort of act of heroism rather than a sad and squalid snuffing out of life in a Swiss back street.
These hard cases and emotional scenes are the equivalent of the old argument for abortion, that if you didn’t fully legalise it people would go to dangerous amateurs and die horribly. In fact, abortion in dire cases was legalised in 1938 after the famous trial of Dr Aleck Bourne, but that law didn’t offer a free pass to anyone who claimed vaguely that their mental health would be at risk if they carried the baby to term. It required serious evidence.