Monday, September 22, 2008

Could Euthanasia come to Britain?

From Hot Air:

In yet another revealing moment for nationalized health care, a highly respected British ethicist said that dementia sufferers should get euthanized in order to preserve resources for healthier people. Baroness Warnock, described as “Britain’s leading moral philosopher”, said that the government should license people to be “put down” and stop being a drain on society:
The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are "wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves. …

Lady Warnock said: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.
As Ed Morrissey points out, this is one obvious and natural end result of "free" national health care. If care isn't rationed through price by the free market, it has to be rationed in some other way. (I know "rationing" sounds like some sort of scary word, but it's just a basic economic concept--the supply and price of goods and services is affected by the demand.) You just can't give unlimited care to everyone in the country--there aren't enough doctors, hospitals, nurses. You have to make choices about how to distribute the care, and you end up with LONG waiting lists and denials of service. When this isn't enough, the government starts thinking about how to cut further, and one choice is to make less care available to old, very sick people.

Note that the article starts out talking about allowing people the option to choose euthanasia, but Warnock soon starts talking about people with dementia, who by definition wouldn't have the capacity to make that kind of choice for themselves. So, who makes the choice? Family? Doctors? A government bureaucrat in the health care system?

If you believe every human life is precious and sacred, this trend should be a big concern.

And that's not even mentioning that "free" health care isn't free at all. If the Democrats succeed in enacting some sort of nationalized health insurance system, believe me, we will pay for it big time in taxes. If the experiences of places like Britain and Canada are any indication, we'll also pay in time--weeks and months spent waiting to get approval to get a doctor's appointment, see a specialist, etc. (I know this happens to some extent in the US too, mostly driven by insurance companies, but from everything I have read it is far worse in countries with socialized medicine.) You might have to pay extra money in addition to your taxes to get care outside of the system--for people in the UK, this includes "medical vacations" to places like India to get medical care, and a LOT of Canadians cross the border into the US for treatment. Finally, the whole world will pay a price because research into new drugs and procedures will be reduced, with no free-market incentive to spur innovation.

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