In Oregon, Paying People To Die

Fr. Neuhaus always pointed out that in our culture of death, the "right" to an abhorrent "choice" always becomes the mandate. Case in point.

opponents say the legislation introduced in Oregon - the first state in America to allow doctor-assisted suicide - simply does not work. And it's not just the experience of lumberjack Mr Prueitt that supports their argument.

They point to the fact that although the rules require those handed the lethal prescriptions to have a life expectancy of only six months, some who subsequently decide not to kill themselves have gone on to survive for a year-and-a-half more. Or even longer.

Critics warn that because many doctors refuse to participate, patients end up shopping around for the handful of physicians willing to prescribe.

It makes it all the more likely the person who is writing the prescription will neither know the patient nor provide an impartial assessment of them.

It is also said that those suffering from depression, a condition that can impair decision-making, are rarely excluded from the process as they should be.

All those are the usual arguments against assisted suicide/"death with dignity" --that and the fact that "6 months to live" is a guess, not a prophecy, and many, many folks with such a prognosis outlive it.

But here's the truly offensive thing:

perhaps most worrying of all, say critics, is the trend for other treatment to be denied to those who are terminally ill. Instead of being given the medicines that might prolong their lives, they are being offered £30 to cover the cost of drugs that will end their days in a matter of hours.

The law removes the incentive to provide proper care --so those who insist on killing themselves ruin the system for those of us who choose otherwise.

It is something that came to blight 64-year-old Barbara Wagner's last days. Diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, the former bus driver vowed to fight the disease so she could spend as long as possible with her family.

Even after her doctor warned last year that she had less than six months left, she refused to give up, pinning all her hopes on a new life-prolonging treatment.

But her request, at the beginning of last year, for the £2,500-a-month drug was refused by Oregon's state-run health plan as being too expensive. Instead, she was offered lethal medication to end her life.

'It was horrible,' Barbara told reporters. 'I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills we will help you get them from a doctor and we will stand there and watch you die - but we won't give you the medicine to live.

'I told them: "Who do you think you are to say that you will pay for my dying, but you won't pay for me to possibly live longer?"

'I am opposed to the assisted suicide law. I haven't considered it, even at my lowest ebb.'

Hearing of her plight, pharmaceutical company Genentech decided to give her the drug, Tarceva, free for one year. Barbara died in October last year and her family believes the added stress of her brush with the state hastened her end.

'She felt totally betrayed,' her ex-husband Dennis, 65, said this week. 'It comes down to the buck. It's not about compassion and understanding. The bottom line is that it is all about money and Barbara fell into the middle of it.'

This story comes from the Daily Mail, which took it up because other nations are starting to use Oregon as a model for their own suicidal tendencies. Learning death from the Americans. I couldn't be more proud.

Which brings me to this, posted by various FB friends.

In fairness, although the quick clip sounds as if the President is looking the lady right in the eye and saying her mother should have received pain medication rather than life-saving surgery (and this is why the clip's gone viral), I don't think that's what he's saying. I think he's only claiming his plan will make necessary treatments more available by cutting waste.

However, while he's innocent of that barbarity, his comment still reveals a disturbing mindset, in that he takes a personal question, "what about this case" and responds by talking about what "we, as a culture" will decide. That is precisely my objection to nationalized health care --it's simply government rationing, where medical decisions are made in a sense by majority vote. "We, as a culture" better not be deciding anything about me, as a patient.