Imposing Death in a Government-run Hospital

A very dear friend of mine recently lost her husband to cancer. He and his wife had very little time to actually prepare for this event. He was diagnosed on May 18 and died only two months later. The sadness is overwhelming for his family, of course. The reality of how he was treated, however, is beyond shameful. I want to tell you this story because America is standing at the crossroads right now.

My friend’s wife explained to me, just yesterday, that a famous poem came to mind as she was reflecting on the abuse her husband suffered from nurses in a hospice run by the Veterans Health Administration. “The Hollow Men ,” by T. S. Eliot is the subject of ongoing analysis, but it is the final two lines of that poem, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper ,” that stuck in her mind. And as she related her experiences to me, it became a stark reminder that we do indeed live in a culture of death.

Can you imagine a nurse asking a man—in the final throes of cancer—what level of pain he is suffering, and then when he told her, hearing her tell him that what he described as his pain was “impossible”? Had his wife not been there, only God knows what this nurse might have done. She had obviously set herself up as an expert judge of whether someone else was actually experiencing excruciating pain.

And then there was the problem with his lungs, which kept filling up with fluid. While he was in the hospital, a tube inserted into his body to drain the lungs of fluid was cleaned frequently. But once he arrived at the hospice, the nurses explained to his wife that they do not clean those tubes and would not do so, because the doctor’s orders specified that the tube was not to be cleaned.

Again, had his wife not been at his side to intercede for him and demand that they clean that tube, he would have died earlier, suffocating due to the negligence of others.

It is always heartbreaking to be with a loved one as death approaches. But in this case, in addition to her sorrow over the death of her husband of 41 years, what she witnessed in that hospice will be indelibly imprinted on her memory as well.

My husband and I frequently spoke with her during those last heart-wrenching weeks of her husband’s life. Each time she explained that she could not leave his side and had to sleep in his room, my husband would suggest that she needed her own rest and should not sacrifice her own health. She always replied the same way: “He needs me. I must be there with him.”

Thank God she was! Having now heard her reasons, my husband clearly understands that when it comes to medical care for the elderly and those facing death, a new low has been reached on the scale of “cruel compassion.” And while it is not a unique experience, it could become a federally mandated one, if “Obamacare” becomes law. It’s all about cost cutting, after all!

This real-life account very poignantly illustrates why we at American Life League are doing all we can to sound the alarm, in cooperation with many other concerned Americans. The vultures are hovering, and we have little time to rally opposition to this assault on the vulnerable, the weak and the dying. Some may say that my words are alarmist and that no such threat exists. To them I would say, “Tell that to my friend who witnessed the preview first-hand, in a government-run facility!”

President Obama has an agenda, and sadly, it is not the one he publicly proclaims. You may recall hearing in the news, just a few days after our friend passed on, how the president discussed his grandmother’s death. He did not go into details, of course, but his words were unsettling, nonetheless. According to the Washington Post ,

Polls show that senior citizens are more skeptical about health-care reform than any other age group.

One woman asked Obama about "rumors" that under the proposed legislation, every American over age 65 would be visited by a government worker and "told to decide how they wish to die."

First, Obama joked that there aren’t enough government workers to undertake such a task. Then he got serious and personal, mentioning that his grandmother, who died shortly before Election Day last year, had a medical directive.

"It gave her some control ahead of time so that she could say, for example, if she had a terminal illness, did she want extraordinary measures even if, for example, her brainwaves were no longer functioning? Or did she want just to be left alone?" he said. "You know, that gives her some decision-making power over the process."

Obama ’s reference to a “medical directive” and the “control” his grandmother allegedly had are not a simple aside. They represent his convictions, as evidenced when he

suggested at a town hall event Wednesday night that one way to shave medical costs is to stop expensive and ultimately futile procedures performed on people who are about to die and don’t stand to gain from the extra care… He added: “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

Palliative care or painkillers, as he suggested, can be used for evil, as I have already pointed out in a previous column. Not a single one of us can control the fact that he or she will die, but it is important to remember that unprincipled “compassion” in the hands of those caring for someone at risk can cause premature death. Fiscal concerns about freeing up beds for younger patients, or saving a few dollars on medications or surgeries can have deadly results.

This is not just a problem that we might face in an Orwellian future. If you do not agree, visit the Life Tree web site and read the timeline entitled “Two Decades to an American Culture of Death.” It is all there, it is all documented and it is not a comedy. The people who espouse killing are deadly serious.

As the timeline preface states, you will learn

how a handful of progressive foundations and quasi-government agencies set out to provide equitable distribution of health care, and in the process, created a duty to die and a culture of death. And how they hope to secure their legacy . . .

Featuring the collaboration of: the Hastings Center, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), George Soros’ Project on Death in America (PDIA), Institute of Medicine (IOM), AARP, Choice in Dying, and a number of prestigious universities, to name only a few.

This is but one more reason why this fundamental question must be asked about the Obama healthcare reform initiative:

Does anyone think that a government as committed to abortion, contraception and sex instruction as this one is should be trusted to apply ethical principles to healthcare reform?

Imposed death may save money, in the view of some, but when I think about my friend’s husband, I realize even more clearly that the hollow men are in charge and, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, many a person’s life will end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

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  • c-kingsley

    The median life expectancy at many private hospice care facilities is shockingly low, I believe on the order of days. Be very careful of who your “caregiver” will be.