Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

"Death Panels," a question

Do some of our elderly citizens already feel pressured about not wasting scarce resources and money? Do they sometimes feel that their children are upset when they live long enough to deplete their assets so the children don’t get what they had hoped as an inheritance? Do they sometimes, already, feel that hospitals and doctors gently suggest that it’s selfish of them to want hip replacements at 75 and heart surgery at 80? Some certainly fear that will be the case, reasonably or not. But do they feel some that pressure already?

Discussions - 4 Comments

Leon Kass is brilliant on how these dynamics work out in practice--see any of his bioethics essays, especially his introduction to a book on Dutch euthanasia laws. (I'll look around for the publication information.) See also the liberal WaPo editorial writer Charles Lane here:

The deterant to having these procedures at an ederly age should be that every releative I've had to do them has never come home. After spending a degrading six months or so dwindling away at a "rehabilitation" center they die from the staph infections and complications from the procedures. I don't think they paid significant amounts out of pocket for the knee replacement or the heart valve surgery that both went well then they could not recover due to infections and the fact that rehabilitation at that age is almost impossible unless you are a congressman or otherwise rich and famous....just from what I have seen. I don't doubt that some are able to recover, but the doctors who have promoted these procedures are often unrealalistic in my opinion about the benifits.

The book with the Kass foreword I had in mind in Comment #1 is Carlos Gomez, MD, Regulating Death: Euthanasia and the Case of the Netherlands (1991). Though dated, the argument is still worth considering. If anyone knows of a good update, please post, thanks.

I can't answer this question (I'm not elderly) but I'm very grateful to see it posed.

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