Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Death panel

A working definition from Wikipedia:

"Death panel" is a political term that originated during the 2009 debate about federal health care legislation to cover the uninsured in the United States. Sarah Palin, former Republican Governor of Alaska, coined the term when she charged that proposed legislation would create a "death panel" of bureaucrats who would decide whether Americans—such as her elderly parents or children with Down syndrome—were "worthy of medical care". Palin's claim has been referred to as the "death panel myth", as nothing in any proposed legislation would have led to individuals being judged to see if they were worthy of health care.

Do death panels exist? Maybe or maybe not in the United States.

However, death panels evidently exist in another democratic and "free" nation: the United Kingdom. At least if the cases of Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans are allowed to bear witness.

It wasn't up to Charlie's parents and currently it's not up to Alfie's parents to have the final say in what's best for their child. Their parents didn't get to decide if their children are "worthy of health care". Rather, it's up to their (presumably NHS employed or closely affiliated) physicians and the government of the United Kingdom to have the final decision as to whether these children are "worthy of health care".

See the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom's decision about Alfie Evans. The court document ends with these unintentionally chilling words:

There will be no further stay of the Court of Appeal's order. The hospital must be free to do what has been determined to be in Alfie's best interests. That is the law in this country.

To emphasize, it's not Alfie's parents who "must be free" to do what's in Alfie's best interests. No, it's the "hospital" that "must be free" to do what's in Alfie's best interests, in turn fully backed by "the law in this country".

If the government is the ultimate source and provider of health care for the people, then why couldn't the government likewise be the ultimate arbiter of who is and who isn't "worthy of health care"? What's stopping the government?

The government giveth, the government taketh away. Blessed be the autonomy of the government! For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. BTW, Italy has apparently granted Alfie Italian citizenship and offered him asylum. However, Alfie's British physicians have apparently refused to allow Alfie to be moved because it's too dangerous to transfer him.

    Too dangerous for whom? For Alfie's parents or medical staff? Surely not. No more than anyone else flying from London to Rome.

    Too dangerous for Alfie? At the risk of stating the obvious, if the only other option is Alfie's death, then why not let Alfie be transferred even if it's at great danger to his life? The former is guaranteed death, the latter arguably gives him a chance (however bleak) at life.