Death, the GOP, and the Politics of Health Care Reform


Fear is what the far right is. Fear is what they do. The
same people who bring you fear and misinformation about sexuality education, contraception,
family planning and abortion are once again stirring up fear about death.

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

There is no better way to stir up fear than to talk about
death — unless you combine talk about government and death. Most people don’t
want to think about death.  The far right
tried this in 1998 and 1999 in Congress when the party that touts "states’
rights" tried to overturn the popular will of voters who twice passed Oregon’s
Death with Dignity law. The far right tried it twice in the federal courts,
ultimately losing a 2006 Supreme Court case in a 6-3 decision allowing Oregon’s
now 12-year-old Death with Dignity law to stand. Last year Washington voters
made their Death with Dignity law the top vote getter in the state, at 59%,
besting even President Barack Obama.

The last time the far right stirred up public fear about
death they used extraordinary means to prevent a husband from carrying out his
wife’s wishes not to be left in a persistent vegetative state, intervening in a
family’s personal and private life decision. 
Remember Terri Schiavo?  The GOP
lost their House majority after voters saw how they exploited that situation,
so for Sarah Palin and others to be scaring people now about a "death panel" in
health care reform legislation demonstrates they care less about dying people
than they do about cheap political manipulations.

Voters are consistently rejecting far right efforts to stir
up fear about death, and at every turn embracing policies that put more control
in the hands of terminally ill people by demanding improvements to end-of-life
care.

The proposed health care reform allows Medicare to cover a
consultation about end-of-life wishes so that individuals and families – if
they want to – can make these very personal and private life decisions and put them in writing while they are
of sound mind and body. Terri Schiavo had only told her husband, never written
her wishes down, thus opening the door for political exploitation.

Fascinating how the far right can cry foul both when Ms.
Schiavo’s wishes were not in writing,
and also when efforts to get them in
writing for more people are proposed
.  Most everyone agreed the silver lining of the
Schiavo publicity was more people got Advance Directives, Living Wills, and in
other ways communicated their wishes to loved ones when they were not faced
with an emergency or incapable of communicating.

When was the last time you were in the hospital for anything
and weren’t asked to fill out forms about your end-of-life wishes "just in
case"? While unnerving contemplating your death while awaiting an outpatient
procedure, it makes sense. When was the last time you visited a friend or
relative who was close to death without being relieved to learn they had
clearly expressed their wishes to the doctors, whatever they might be.
Supporting the dying person and honoring their wishes is the goal of all major
efforts to improve end-of-life care, and of every friend or family member at a
dying person’s bedside.

No surprise, the same people who routinely promote
misinformation and scare tactics about abortion, contraception and sexuality
education are also behind this latest effort to scare you at the end-of-life in
order to derail serious health care reform. The Institute for Southern Studies
reports that anti-choice
Rep. Sonny Isakson (R-GA) was the architect of the bogus "death panel"

intended to scare people.  Perhaps that’s
why fellow Georgia Republican Congressman Jack Kingston knew it was a "scare
tactic" as he told Bill Maher.

Why is it that in life’s most personal and private moments –
sexuality, conception, birth and the dying process, the party that says it governs least always governs
most?  Why does the party of rugged
individualists like Sarah Palin never trust individual women to make reproductive
health decisions, and why now, do they distrust all of us to know what is best
for us and our families when it comes to our death?

Sort of makes you wonder, if they will lie to you about sex,
birth and death, what won’t they lie to you about?

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To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • invalid-0

    People don’t care about health care! What Americans are worried about is whether or not the President is legally President and why Obama has no birth certificate! What is he hiding? God bless the Republicans who are holding BO’s feet to the fire on this! THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT!

  • invalid-0

    Conservatives who oppose all the freedoms you assert are not afraid of death, they are afraid of a god who will strike them dead and damn them to hell for disobeying him. No amount of reason can erase that fear. Only a flash of true enlightenment can prompt a denouncement of the false gods they follow, which sadly sometimes only arrives in the days and moments before… death.

  • invalid-0

    Many of them appear to be otherwise deluded, too.

  • invalid-0

    Sarah Palin for the love of God – quit blogging all day and pick up a book and educate yourself.

  • invalid-0

    The reason people rushed out and filed advance directives after the death of Terri Schiavo is because before the court ordered her starved and dehydrated to death in the absence of any such request by her, we believed our Constitutional right to life was intact.

    .

    Upon the death of Terri Schiavo, we were all made aware that if we wish to exercise our right to life, we must now beg for our lives in writing. Until recently, this was not the case. Our right to life was absolute, and not dependent on legal pleadings.

    .

    I, for one, held out during the litigation over Terri Schiavo’s right to life. I hoped the judicial branch would be forced to adhere to The Constitution. If that had been accomplished, there would be no need for anyone to put a request for the right to life in writing. When it failed, and Terri Schiavo was killed, an advance directive became the best chance for any of us to secure what was once recognized as a God given right.

    .

    I have no faith that my advance directive will be followed any closer than The Constitution, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.

    .

    Advance directives used to be only for those who wished to relinquish the right to life. They were rare, because almost no one wishes to relinquish the right to life.

    .

    “Compassion and Choices,” better known as The Hemlock Society hoped to increase the number of suicides and euthanasia with the advancement of advance directives. They were successful, but not to the degree they had hoped. That’s why they now push for nonconsensual euthanasia, such as that of of Terri Schiavo.

  • invalid-0

    The reason people rushed out and filed advance directives after the death of Terri Schiavo is because before the court ordered her starved and dehydrated to death in the absence of any such request by her, we believed our Constitutional right to life was intact.

    Oh really? And here I thought it was because her husband decided that she should be disconnected—you know, the way spouses make important decisions for their partners when the latter are incapacitated and have not made their wishes known in advance. (Terry’s husband was no saint, but he was well within his rights as her spouse.)

    Upon the death of Terri Schiavo, we were all made aware that if we wish to exercise our right to life, we must now beg for our lives in writing. Until recently, this was not the case. Our right to life was absolute, and not dependent on legal pleadings.

    I’m quite amused that you believe Terry had anything resembling a “life” left. Do you have any understanding of what “persistent vegetative state” means? Do you at all remember how much brain tissue she was found to have left when they performed the autopsy?

    “Compassion and Choices,” better known as The Hemlock Society hoped to increase the number of suicides and euthanasia with the advancement of advance directives. They were successful, but not to the degree they had hoped. That’s why they now push for nonconsensual euthanasia, such as that of of Terri Schiavo.

    Ignorance is not your friend.

  • invalid-0

    I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL 2042 WHEN THE GOP WILL FINALLY DISAPPEAR!

    From the Wall Street Journal-

    Strong minority support helped Mr. Obama’s campaign win swing states such as Ohio and pick off Republican redoubts including Virginia, Nevada and Indiana, according to an analysis of poll and Census data by William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who blended the Census data on voter turnout with poll data from Voter News Service.

    The data are the latest to highlight the demographic conundrum facing the Republican Party, which in 2008 lost several red states to Mr. Obama largely because it couldn’t compete among minority voters. This demographic challenge isn’t going away, as non-Hispanic whites are expected to account for less than 50% of the U.S. population by 2042.

    To be sure, Mr. Obama’s victory also relied on white voters: In 19 states including California, New York and Massachusetts, a majority of white voters cast ballots for Mr. Obama.

    “Democrats are getting the growing parts of the population: Young people, minorities and states people are moving to,” Mr. Frey said.

  • mea

    Right to Life? I assert my right to a life that is not like a cucumber!!!!!! My daughter is a RN in a Cardiac ICU unit. They frequently have patients who are critical and have pretty much no chance of regaining any consciousness. Unfortunately most of them have not made an advanced directive and their grieving families want everything done to try to keep them alive, even when told they will not regain consciousness or breathe on their own. That is why it is a good idea for people and their families to talk to their doctors as they get older. their health may change and they may change their minds about what they want for decisions to be made about them.

  • progo35

    Once again, I found this analysis of the GOP’s involvement in the Advance Directive Issue shallow and uninformed. For years, the disability community, largely liberal/Democratic, has been trying to get laws like Oregon’s Death with Dignity law overturned because such laws amount to discrmination against the handicapped. Thus, disability rights organizations were right there with the “far right” trying to overturn the Death with Dignity law in the late 1990s and 2006. But, RH, like every other media outlet, doesn’t feel it’s important to mention this. It’s much easier to cap the debate in terms of the “clear thinking left vs. the nutjob right.” Someday, somehow, the disability community will complete the evolution of civil rights in this country and cause people to understand that this issue has been exploited by the left and the right at the disabled community’s expense, and that the disabled community has been coming at this issue from the perspective of personal freedom and human rights all along.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • crowepps

    I can’t see how it is ‘discriminating against’ the disabled to allow them to make their OWN decisions just like everybody else – isn’t that pretty much the definition of ‘personal freedom’ and ‘human rights’? Certainly your insistence that regardless of what they personally want, you know best and will insist on keeping them alive no matter what they desire is not only the antithesis of ‘personal freedom’ but incredibly patronizing as well as outrageously intrusive. If you truly believe disabled people deserve ‘human dignity’ then why treat them like children who need someone else to make decisions on their behalf?

    These issues once again captured the world’s attention when Piergiorgio Welby, an Italian poet and a long-time advocate for euthanasia, composed an eloquent letter to the President of Italy pleading to be allowed to die. "I love life, Mr President," he wrote. But after 40 years of battling muscular dystrophy and nine years attached to a ventilator, Welby was losing his capacity to speak or to eat. He concluded his letter with the words: "What is left to me is no longer a life. It is an unbearable torture." He then asked to be allowed to have his ventilator removed. That request, honoured on a regular basis in hospitals across the world, caused uproar in Italy. His plea was denounced by critics as a demand for suicide or euthanasia. After a doctor defied an Italian court ruling and switched off the ventilator the Diocese of Rome denied Welby a Catholic funeral. Church officials said his "will to end his life was known, as it had been repeated and publicly affirmed, in contrast to Catholic doctrine".

     

    Earlier, the judge ruled that while Welby had a constitutional right to be free of unwanted medical treatment, Italy’s medical code "requires doctors to maintain the life of a patient". "Physicians", she wrote, "even when faced with the request of the patient, must not carry out … treatments aimed at causing death." The judge concluded her opinion with the observation that Italy’s penal code outlaws the "homicide of a consenting person and helping [someone] to commit suicide".

     

    http://povcrystal.blogspot.com/2007/01/piergiorgio-welby.html