07.31.2009 0

Obamacare: The Lefts Mor(t)al High Ground

  • On: 08/31/2009 09:23:33
  • In: Health Care
  • By Victor Morawski

    Barack Obama has apparently now been advised to shift the ground in the debate over health care reform, to get it away from discussions about specific provisions in the pending legislation (whether it will force us to unplug grandma or use our tax dollars to pay for others’ abortions) and get it onto a far loftier moral high ground.

    This he did last weekend in a conference call to liberal clergy, urging them to endorse universal health care because of what he has decided is all part of the biblical injunction to “be our brother’s keeper.”

    Ostensibly, many moral theories inform liberal thinking on health care reform. Yet, like different legs that all support the same table, these theories (Neo-Marxism, Liberation Theology, Utilitarianism, Rawl’s Theory of Justice) make mall Obamacare apologists insist upon one moral imperative: The government must provide basic health services to all – as long as government alone has the power to determine who “all” includes.

    The President’s key health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, made this point very clearly when he argued in 1996 in the bioethics journal The Hastings Center Report that certain health services “should be considered basic and should be socially guaranteed.” But, then came the stinger: These, he averred, are those which enable our active and continued participation as productive members of society.

    On the other hand, he continues, “services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed.”

    Students with learning disabilities, for example, who can be helped to read and reason by specific health care services should be provided them as “basic,” Emanuel charitably allows. But, those who suffer from dementia (i.e., the elderly), and are therefore rarely if ever “participating citizens,” should not be guaranteed government health care assistance. For them, apparently, it’s time for the death panel.

    While Emanuel has recently tried to distance himself from those 1996 views, his recent interview with the Washington Times gainsays his denials. In that revealing interview, he never says that now he thinks it is morally wrong for the government to refuse health services to a demented patient. He merely claims that now he is more optimistic that if costs can be controlled, such rationing may rarely be needed.

    But if they cannot be controlled, he makes clear, then his whole “complete lives system” – providing health care only to those government determines are “participating citizens” – will be waiting in the wings ready to be brought in to govern rationing decisions.

    Now, the truth is, this entire process of rationing health care strictly to “participating citizens” is nothing new. Indeed, the following passage explicates the approach with unmistakable clarity:

    “It is better and more humane to prevent great misery than to pity the unfortunates later and burden the people’s community with their care. Everywhere in nature, safety measures are aimed at the good of the whole. Is it not in fact the task of the human spirit to recognize these natural laws and bring them to expression in humane ways? That is what we believe.”

    “The vast expansion of the health care system, the generous promotion of physical exercise, the systematic housing program, show us how much effort is needed to promote healthy blood. The sociopolitical and economic measures of recent years are aimed at keeping productive people healthy and cheerful.

    That passage, by the way, is taken directly from a booklet entitled, Handbuch für die Schulung in der HJ. It was mandatory reading for Hitler Youth leaders.

    So much for the Obama Administration’s moral high ground.

    Victor Morawski is a professor at Coppin State University and a Liberty Features Syndicated Writer.

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