Patients deemed “terminally ill” by the state of Oregon are getting the sense that death is cheaper than saving their lives. Since Oregon offers a state-run health care plan, those who are terminally ill have been told that their treatments have been denied, but that they would be covered for assisted suicide.
Fox News aired a series called “America’s Future,” which is looking at the challenges we face in the 21st Century. One series featured a man from Oregon, who was denied chemotherapy treatment and was offered physician assisted suicide instead.
“Oregon doesn’t cover life-prolonging treatment unless there is better than a 5 percent chance it will help the patients live for five more years but it covers doctor-assisted suicide, defining it as a means of providing comfort, no different from hospice care or pain medication.
“It’s chilling when you think about it,” said Dr. William Toffler, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. “It absolutely conveys to the patient that continued living isn’t worthwhile.”
According to KATU, another cancer patient from Oregon shares a similar story, as she was being denied coverage for Tarceva, a powerful chemotherapy drug. Oregon’s health care plan offered her physician assisted suicide as well.
Since Oregon’s health care plan was created 15 years ago, this was prior to the advent of new life saving medicines. Instead of prolonging the life of a terminally ill cancer patient, Oregon is now sentencing them to death by denying coverage. If President Obama’s health care plan is passed, this will be the same message that millions across the country could be hearing.
You all will be proud whenever you hear Semper Paratus, said our boot camp company commander, Boatswain Mate Chief Clarence Ward Hollowell. Thats the Coast Guards song. Chief Hollowell wanted to instill some pride of service into some of us less than stellar boots back in 1969.
Today, August 4, 2009, is the Coast Guards 219th birthday. Since its founding by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in the administration of President George Washington, the little Coast Guard has distinguished itself in many ways.
The lyrics to the Coast Guard song tell a story: Through surf and storm and howling gale/High shall our purpose be. The motto of the Coast GuardSemper Paratusmeans always ready. It was given to the service by a newspaper, The New Orleans Bee, in the 1830s.
How appropriate. In addition to the churches that raced to relieve New Orleans after the Katrina hurricane in 2005, the Coast Guard was early on scene. In fact, its one of the few federal agencies that nobody is mad at.
Two birthdays ago, the Coast Guard historian, Dr. Scott Price, issued a remarkable press release. In its more than two centuries of service to the nation, this small armed forcewhose ranks are less than the N.Y.P.D.is credited with saving more than 1 million human lives. The entire nation, including those of us who served in the Coast Guard, can be proud of that achievement.
Its hard to imagine that a government that is proud to announceand rightly proudthat it has saved one million endangered human lives could seriously be contemplating a health care plan that would force us all to pay for the destruction of human lives through abortion and possibly through assisted suicide. Who could be proud of that?
It was January, 1998, nearly 12 years ago, and a terrible time for our country. Bill Bennett was invited to address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. Bennett appeared just days after the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal had splashed all over the front pages of the Washington Post.
Clinton had no friends among the CPAC attendees. Out in the hotel exhibit area, some of the tables were hawking crude, rude bumper stickers and tee shirts, all poking fun at the embattled Philanderer-in-Chief.
Bennett looked unusually stern. He grasped the podium and scowled out at the audience.
Whats all this levity, he demanded. Does anyone here think this thing is funny? This is NOT funny. Its a tragedy. And our children are going to be paying for this tragedy.
Bennetts demeanor quickly sobered any merrymakers in the crowd. He seemed like a tough assistant principal called in to read the riot act to a bunch of unruly sophomore boys in Study Hall.
I never admired Bill Bennett more than I did on that day. Its one thing to tell your political adversaries how wrong they are. It takes real courage, real character to blow the whistle on your political friends. Bennett stood tall on that day.
Our children are, in fact, still paying for most deplorable episode in our history. One of my brilliant foreign students, a young Austrian, told me during a White House tour last summer that the first time he ever heard of the Oval Office was when Bill Clinton disgraced it. How terrible for America.
The latest effort at condom-pushing in Congressthe so-called Ryan-DeLauro billis being touted by TIME and other media outlets as the historic compromise that will solve the problem of abortion in America. It will bring peace in our time in the culture wars, TIME and the bills pushers believe.
Well, it wont. With the passage of a dozen years, however, we might use the tawdry Clinton-Lewinsky story to teach an important lesson: condom programs dont work.
The idea behind condom-pushing is that if enough young people are educated enough, informed enough, and have enough access to condoms, they will faithfully and effectively use them to prevent unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, and all other STDs.
Advocates of condom-pushing are forever treating us like the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live. Get real, they yell at us. They tell us over and over again that it is only Americas puritanical sexual mores that prevent our young people from getting the information and equipment they need. We are the ones who are woefully impractical and need to get with it, they try to convince the American people.
So lets do a reality test of our own. Suppose we have a President who is not only an Ivy League graduate but also a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford. Is that smart enough? And suppose he has access to all the condoms in the world. In fact, he has appointed Tim Wirth to be his Under Secretary of State. Tim keeps a supply of condoms in a silver bowl on his desk. Our leader has only to snap his fingers or press a button to have Tim come running with his silver bowl. Talk about access. As for information about condom use and effectiveness? Suppose our Chief Executive actually sends messages to Congress every year for a nearly decade touting condoms and appropriating billions of tax dollars for their distribution and use? Is thatenough information?
Yet suppose further that a 21-year old intern comes into the office of our Commander-in-Chief, bearing pizza and snapping the thong of her underwear. What then becomes of all that education, access and information? Poof! Bill Clinton never even thought about using them.
Its not that unusual for me to have fellow worshipers come up to me after church, over coffee. Normally, however, we swap family stories, talk about children, grandchildren, hobbies, and common interests in our town. Yesterday, however, two friends sought me out with some urgency.
My first friend of the coffee hour was in anguish over his daughters decision to live the gay lifestyle. He and his wife had raised two daughters in their loving Christian home. Their younger daughter married and has blessed them with grandchildren. Their elder daughter pursued an academic career. He described this daughter as a brilliant scholar, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at a major university. But he and his wife are heartbroken over their daughters decision not only to live in a lesbian relationship with another woman, but also her plan to change her sex. Their daughter is beginning hormone treatments soon. Distraught over their daughters choices, he appealed to me for help.
I referred him to PFOXParents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays. There, my sorrowful friend would learn that parents can give unconditional love to their childreneven as they hold out hope they will exit the gay lifestyle.
My friend was especially concerned that his lesbian daughter would take the extra stepsex change surgeryseeking to alter forever her sexual identity. Will gender reassignment surgery be covered under President Obamas health care takeover, he asked, explaining that his daughter does not currently have the money to cover such expenses. I told him I cannot see how such surgery would not be included in the Obama plan. And if the President or Congress does not include it, activist judges surely will. He pleaded for consideration of parents. Our wills give our entire estate to the two daughters we gave birth to he said poignantly. Now, we will have only one daughter. Where are our rights?
A second friend teaches ethics at a local university. He was especially concerned about end-of-life decisions. He understands that President Obamas takeover will require seniors to meet with doctors to discuss their end-of-life plans. That troubles him.
It will be too easy, he says, for these conferences to translate as government pressure for euthanasia. If the government cash-for-clunkers program runs out of money in just one week, what assurances can we have that government health care will not similarly be cash-strapped in short order? I told this friend that I did not believe that the bills currently being considered would require that this counseling be done by a physician. It is just as likely that the counselors will be government bureaucrats trained to this purpose.
These conversations on a humid Sunday morning are remarkable. Ive been attending the same worship services for thirteen years and never have these conversations over coffee attained such urgency, such intensity.
Americans should have such conversations nowbefore Congress returns. And they should share their deep misgivings with their elected representatives during the August recess. If our Members of Congress wont read the bills theyre voting on, its our duty to read them for themand to cry out loud and long about the troubling things we find in those measures. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, wrote Thomas Jefferson. That was never more true than now.