There are many reasons to oppose socialism. There are many reasons to oppose euthanasia. But when a society has socialized health care, all the conditions are in place to create a perfect environment for euthanasia.
To become public policy, euthanasia needs two things: an ideology and a mechanism. A radical ideology, however malevolent, is impotent without a mechanism.
Government is the perfect mechanism because government is inherently coercive. It has the brute force to impose its will on the unwilling.
Under a private enterprise system the customer has, at least in principle, the final say. I say “in principle” because the customer still needs to be vigilant. The customer has something the heath care provider needs, which is money. The customer can also sue in case of medical malpractice.
To the extent that a society moves away from this to a national, single-payer system, the patient loses control. For, in socialized medicine, the health care provider is paid no matter what.
In addition, government sets the policy. It decides who will live and who will die. And the patient has no legal remedy because he or she can’t sue the government. The patient or the patient’s family can’t seek relief from the courts because the courts are the government. The courts will side with government policy.
It is no coincidence that the countries where euthanasia is either public policy or on the way to becoming public policy — countries like England, Belgium, Holland, Australia, Switzerland, and Canada — are countries that have a post-Christian ideology empowered by a tradition of socialism.
They may not call it “socialism” in some narrow historical sense, but when a society has a national, single-payer health care system, that’s socialized medicine.
And we are very close to having that in the United States. The Terri Schiavo case was a case of involuntary euthanasia by court order. And when the Florida legislature passed “Terri’s Law,” the Florida courts struck it down.
Euthanasia is already legal in Oregon. And there is an underground culture of euthanasia among such health care providers as Kaiser and MUSC.
The bioethics community has been captured by the euthanasia community — represented by the likes of the infamous Peter Singer. (See article athttp://www.worldmag.com/subscriber/displayarticle.cfm?id=9987.)
For an excellent information-clearing house on euthanasia and related issues, go to http://www.wesleyjsmith.com.
The 2004 platform for the Democratic party was a road map for socialized medicine. Among other things, it advocated the following:
We will strengthen Medicaid for our families and expand the children’s health program created under President Clinton so no child goes without medical care. … We will expand coverage for low-income adults through existing federal-state health care programs. And we will provide all Americans with access to the same coverage that members of Congress give themselves … We will lift a financial burden on families, businesses, and the self-employed by picking up the tab for the highest-cost medical cases … We will ensure that seniors across the country, particularly in small-town and rural America, no longer suffer from geographic discrimination … We will also work to ensure that people with HIV and AIDS have the care they need … Cultural and language barriers remain a particular problem for immigrant communities … We will push the boundaries of science in search of new medical therapies and cures … Stem cell therapy offers hope to more than 100 million Americans who have serious illnesses — from Alzheimer’s to heart disease to juvenile diabetes to Parkinson’s. We will pursue this research under the strictest ethical guidelines, but …
Remember that Kerry only lost by a few million votes. And, in order to stay politically competitive, Republican politicians often get into a bidding war with the Democrats over which party will dole out more government goodies.
Of course, neither party calls this “socialized” medicine. After the Hillarycare debacle, they prefer to pursue a stealthy incremental strategy, but you can see where this is headed.
Both parties also talk about a patient’s bill of rights and equal access — but this is in direct tension with the economics of socialized medicine. Dumping everyone into the same pool is a form of income redistribution in which, so goes the theory, those who can afford health care subsidize those who cannot.
Mind you, it doesn’t work out that way in practice. The rich can afford to hire tax attorneys who shield their income. Remember Teresa Heinz-Kerry? A multi-billionaire in a low-income tax bracket?
So what you inevitably end up with is the rationing of medical services. You can see this in England and Canada. You can see this in HMOs. The end result is social Darwinism applied to medicine. The fittest edge out the most vulnerable. And euthanasia is dirt-cheap.