In the traditional Judeo-Christian understanding of human life upon which American society is based, the centrality and importance of the individual is key. However, with changes in the law looming just around the corner, that commonly accepted understanding is about to be discarded in favor of the collectivist notion of ‘the good of society,’ according to two prominent physicians writing today in the American Thinker.
Such ethics endanger individual human life if it is determined that the individual’s need to live is trumped by the greater needs of the society as a whole, such as the need to contain the costs of healthcare.
Dr. Jerome Arnett, M.D., a pulmonologist in Helvetia, West Virginia, and Dr John Dale Dunn, M.D., a specialist in Emergency Medicine in Brownwood, Texas, believe that ObamaCare represents a grave danger to the notion that physicians are bound by their duty, first and foremost, to the individual patient.
The physicians maintain that the new ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’, also known as ‘ObamaCare,’ will turn medical ethics upside-down, making the needs of the individual patient subservient to ‘the greater good of society’ with its emphasis on cost-effectiveness, rationing, and ‘end of life’ decisions based upon the arbitrary rulings of a centralized healthcare bureaucracy.
But why? The claims of reduced healthcare costs under such a model seem to be greatly exaggerated by proponents. For example, ObamaCare will create…
…more than 100 new health care bureaucracies, a large increase in taxes, and new government expenses of $500 billion. Most importantly, however, it will create an incentive and penalty regime for health care institutions and professionals that will compromise traditional professional medical ethics.
An objective and thorough analysis of the costs of socialized medicine will reveal that claims of vast savings to the economy are dubious at the very least. All of the advanced industrialized nations of Europe, for example, that have some form of socialized medicine are on the brink of economic collapse, and the culprit has been identified as costly social programs, such as government-controlled medicine.
Thus, the impetus for the push toward socialized medicine is clearly not cost-savings. The goal is something much more sinister–the destruction of a free society in lieu of collectivism in which the needs of the individual are always subservient to the so-called ‘collective needs of the society as a whole,’ which invariably turns out to be a euphemism for the needs of the centralized government bureaucracy.
The move away from the centrality of the individual to an emphasis on the collective represents an ominous shift in values that holds broad ramifications for medical ethics, according to Arnett and Dunn. And the two doctors have identified the source of such a view of ethics.
Joseph Fletcher has been studied by countless college and graduate school students for several generations. He had devised a system of ethics to which he referred as ‘situational.’ The crux of Fletcher’s ethics when applied to healthcare is described by Arnett and Dunn:
Fletcher was an Episcopal priest-turned-atheist philosopher and writer, and then the first professor of medical ethics at the University of Virginia. He was not alone in his advocacy of eugenics, euthanasia, and a proper consideration of the “qualities” of “human hood.” Fletcher emphasized that quality is more important than length of life. He even wrote of distinguishing “truly human beings,” measured in terms of their cognition and quality of life, from their lesser brothers and sisters.
The broad influence of Fletcher and many others like him in the ‘bioethics’ movement can be seen in individuals such as Obama’s appointees to provide oversight to Medicare, Medicaid, and Medical Ethics, Dr. Don Berwick and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, both of whom espouse Fletcher’s ideas. Emanuel in particular is famous for his proposal that a rating system be devised to determine a patient’s ‘quality of life,’ which would be used to decide whether or not that patient would receive medical care.
It is precisely the mindset of Fletcher, Berwick, and Emanuel that led to the horrors of medical experimentation on those deemed to be ‘less than fully human’ by the Germans in the 1930s and 40s. With no strong moral and ethical foundation that holds each individual human life to be sacred, what is to prevent ObamaCare from replicating some if not all of the horrors associated with Dr. Josef Mengele of the SS?
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