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Palin Firestorm Brings Fresh Scrutiny to ObamaCare “Death Panels”

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By Peter J. Smith

WASILLA, Alaska, August 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ignited a firestorm over the weekend by calling the health-care reforms pushed by President Barack Obama "downright evil" for proposals that could usher in rationing, and turn federal health boards into "death panels" that would decide whether the elderly and the disabled, like her infant Down's syndrome son, Trig, were "worthy of health-care." Palin's provocative statements, however, have brought fresh scrutiny of the dangers of the proposed "Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission," if it were to adopt guidelines of a "Complete Lives System" advocated by Obama's policy advisor on health care reform, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.

Many Americans have flocked to town-hall meetings to protest what they see as the imminent government-takeover of the health-care industry, which makes up one-sixth of the total American economy. But more and more Americans revolting at Congress's health-care reforms have expressed fears for the health-care of the elderly and disabled, whom they fear will be victims of rationing and even passive euthanasia by way of the "advance care planning consultation" provisions featured on pages 424 - 443 of HR 3200, "the American Affordable Health Choices Act."

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil," said Palin communicating through her Facebook page, which has over 715,000 subscribers.

Although the White House and members of the mainstream media rushed to dismiss Palin's statement as "nuts," the threat of the government insurance plan becoming a "death panel" for the weakest members of society may not be far off the mark. ABC News recently reported that the Oregon Health Plan refused to cover cancer drugs that cost $4000 per a month for Barbara Wagner, a 64 year-old terminally ill patient with lung cancer. Instead they offered to give her a one-time prescription for lethal drugs to end her life, which would cost the state health provider only $50.

Palin attacked the promise of Congressional Democrats that the government plan would reduce the cost of health care, saying "as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost."

"Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion," concluded Palin.

But Palin pointed out the enormous danger for federal health boards becoming "death panels" through a policy of rationing, esp. by following the policy proposed by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an issue first raised by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) 

Emanuel is a key advisor of Obama's health care reform as health-policy adviser at the White House's Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. A member of the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Bioethics Council and brother to Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, he advocates "The Complete Lives System," which as he described in a Jan. 31, 2009 article, "prioritizes younger people who have not yet lived a complete life."

Emanuel's approach has five principles which he lays out in "Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions" published on January 31, 2009: "youngest first, prognosis, save most lives, lottery, instrumental value."

"When the worst-off can benefit only slightly, while the better-off could benefit greatly, allocating to the better off is often justifiable," wrote Emanuel.

He continued that the CLS discrimination based on age is not "invidious discrimination" because "everyone who is 65 years now was once 25 years." But in the CLS, care would also be rationed away from young people with a "poor prognoses" because they lack "the potential to live a complete life." (Read here)

Emanuel has also stated that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, and stated that "Savings [in the medical industry] will require changing how doctors think about their patients" in a 2008 article written for the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a separate 1996 article for the Hastings Center Report, Emanuel spoke about rationing care away from those "who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens" to the non-disabled, adding "An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."

Approximately 33 percent of medical spending occurs in the final year of a patient's life, and throughout the legislation (HR 3200), enormous pressures are put upon on physicians and medical professionals to incentivize them to cut costs.

While Emanuel’s approach, as published in the Lancet, is a theoretical approach to rationing, a practical concern is raised when one considers that either private insurers or the public option could integrate CLS into their rationing practices, if they are included among treatment protocols developed and promoted through the proposed Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and the Commission that oversees its work (sec. 1401 of HR 3200), under the Executive Branch.

The Center’s duties would be “to conduct, support, and synthesize research … with respect to the outcomes, effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care services and procedures in order to identify the manner in which diseases, disorders, and other health conditions can most effectively and appropriately be prevented, diagnosed, treated, and managed clinically.”

Opponents, especially at tumultuous town-halls, have expressed fears that current provisions in the bill for government-run health-care could lead to doctors thinking of the bottom line first, could end up pressuring patients through "advanced care planning consultations" (sec. 1233) into accepting lower-quality care or care they do not want, out of a feeling that they pose some kind of burden on their families or society. Under that section in the version under discussion by the House Ways and Means Committee, doctors would formulate with patients end-of-life orders, regarding their desire to continue or discontinue antibiotic treatments or nutrition and hydration under particular circumstances.

Read H.R. 3200 "American Affordable Choices Act

Read more on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel in New York Post "Deadly Doctors"

Read Ezekiel Emanuel's article on Complete Lives System

Read related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:

Communities Organize Against Health Care, While Professional Protestors Organize at White House Behest 

Obama Healthcare Reform Bound to Include "Largest Expansion of Abortion Since Roe v. Wade": NRLC, Chris Smith 

Proposed Health Care Bill is an "Abortion Industry Bailout" Warns Congressman



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Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

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Texas AG to Target: Show me how you’ll protect women and kids from criminals

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

AUSTIN, Texas, May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The latest backlash Target received as a result of its transgender bathroom policy was a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the company to provide its safety policies to protect women and children from “those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes.” 

“Target, of course, is free to choose such a policy for its Texas stores,” Paxton wrote in a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell. He noted the possibility of the Texas Legislature addressing the issue in the future, but said, “regardless of whether Texas legislates on this topic, it is possible that allowing men in women’s restrooms could lead to criminal and otherwise unwanted activity.”

“As chief lawyer and law enforcement officer for the State of Texas, I ask that you provide the full text of Target’s safety policies regarding the protection of women and children from those who would use the cover of Target’s restroom policy for nefarious purposes,” Paxton continued.

More than 1.1 million people have pledged to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.  Opponents of the policy worry that it puts women and children at risk by emboldening predators, who may now freely enter women’s restrooms. 

Target’s new policy is “inclusive,” the company claims, and they say “everyone…deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.” 

“Texans statewide can no longer be silent on the issue of protecting the safety of women and children,” Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz said in a statement Wednesday urging Texans to boycott Target.  This is the first time in its history the pro-family group has called for a boycott. 

“We need all Texans to understand that Target is using this radical change in their store policy to try convince people that our laws should be changed in this dangerous direction as well,” said Saena.  “Our goal with this boycott is for Target to change its dangerous new policy, to raise awareness of the real threats to safety that these policies bring and to help businesses and lawmakers understand the significant opposition to such measures that is growing daily… Texans all across our state must join this Boycott Target effort before someone gets hurt.”

On Tuesday a male allegedly filmed an underage girl at a Frisco, Texas, Target fitting room.  Police are searching for the man. 

There have been numerous incidents of male predators across North America accessing women’s facilities and citing transgender policies as allowing them to do so.  



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Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against a katz / Shutterstock.com
Albert Mohler

Opinion,

Christians, America has reached a crisis point. Are you ready to take up this challenge?

Albert Mohler

May 5, 2016 (Albert Mohler) -- For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government—a privilege rarely experienced throughout most of human history. For most of history, humanity has struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them. But Americans have often struggled with a very different reality; how do we rightly respond to the government that we choose? 

To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the American experiment understood that a representative democracy built on the principle of limited government would require certain virtues of its citizens. These would include a restraint of passions and an upholding of traditional moral virtues, without which democracy would not be possible. As the idea of limited government implies, the citizenry would be required to carry out the social responsibilities of the community without the intrusion of government and, thus, citizens would be expected to have the moral integrity necessary for such an arrangement. The Framers of the American Republic also agreed that it would be impossible to have a representative democracy and a limited government if the people did not elect leaders who embodied the virtues of the citizenry while also respecting and protecting society’s pre-political institutions: marriage and family, the church, and the local community.

Thus, the idea of a limited government requires that society uphold and pursue the health of its most basic institutions. When a civil society is weak, government becomes strong. When the family breaks down, government grows stronger. When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.

Much of this was essentially affirmed until the early decades of the 20th century when progressivists began promoting an agenda that fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government in public life. By the middle of the 20th century, the Democratic Party had essentially embraced this progressivist agenda, becoming committed to an increasingly powerful government—a government whose powers exceeded those enumerated in the Constitution. At the same time, the Democratic Party also began advocating for a basic redefinition of the morality that shaped the common culture. By and large, however, the Republican Party continued to maintain a commitment to the vision of America’s founders, advocating for a traditional understanding of morality while also upholding the principle of limited government.

By the 1980s, the two parties represented two very different worldviews and two very different visions of American government. For decades, each party has acted rather predictably and in ways that accord with their fundamental principles. All of that, however, has now changed.

The 2016 presidential campaign has developed in an entirely unpredictable manner and, in many respects, represents a crisis in American democracy. This crisis is not limited to either party. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has won several stunning victories in the primary season over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While it is still extremely likely that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, Sanders support among voters represents a populist flirtation with Democratic Socialism. This pattern is something few Democrats could have imagined just one year ago. What this foray into Democratic Socialism represents, then, is a radical adjustment of the Democratic Party’s basic economic principles. Thus, even if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, the process will likely drag her even further to the left, eventually redefining the Democratic Party before our very eyes.

But if it is remarkable to see what is happening in the Democratic Party, it is absolutely shocking to see what is happening among Republicans. Traditionally, the Republican Party has established its reputation by standing for the principles advocated by the American Founders—limited government upheld by the health of society’s primary institutions such as marriage, family, and community. Yet Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party, represents virtually everything the Republican Party has typically defined itself over against. Clearly, both political parties are now redefining themselves. What is not clear is where each party will ultimately end up. What is also not clear is whether the American experiment can survive such radical political change.

As already noted, the American experiment in limited government requires that the citizenry and those who hold public office honor certain moral virtues and respect the institutions that are crucial for a society to rightly function. Yet, we now find ourselves in a situation where the three leading candidates for president show little to no respect for such institutions in their articulations of public policy.

This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.

To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.

Headlines from around the world tell us that other representative democracies are at a similar moment of redefinition. Political turmoil now marks the United Kingdom and also nations like France and other key American allies. Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home. Yet if this is a moment of testing for democracy, it is also a crucial moment for Christian witness. This election cycle is going to be a particular test for American Christians—and we are about to find out if Christians are up to this challenge.

Reprinted with permission from Albert Mohler.



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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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‘Sick and twisted’: Scientists keep embryos alive outside womb up to 13 days for experimentation

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

May 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two teams of scientists have announced that they have been able to keep human embryos alive outside the womb for 13 days for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments. Some call the announcement the onset of a “Brave New World,” while others are petitioning lawmakers to lift sanctions that would keep scientists from experimenting on newly conceived babies even longer.

Researchers from Cambridge University, King's College, and Rockefeller University said in two separate reports that they stopped at 13 days only to avoid violating an internationally accepted law. At least 12 nations restrict the amount of time a newly conceived child may be kept alive in a laboratory to 14 days, the point at which scientists believe “individuality” begins.

The newest development allows scientists to observe newly conceived human beings after the point at which implantation in the womb would have occurred.

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, one of the studies' lead researchers, said her team's breakthrough could advance embryonic stem cell research and “can improve IVF success.”

Some scientists have called on the international community to extend the amount of time such experimentation can take place.

“If restrictions such as the 14-day rule are viewed as moral truths, such cynicism would be warranted,” three experts – Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston – wrote in a commentary published yesterday in Nature magazine. “But when they are understood to be tools designed to strike a balance between enabling research and maintaining public trust, it becomes clear that, as circumstances and attitudes evolve, limits can be legitimately recalibrated.”

Pro-life experts said the experimentation destroys human life and could lead to grave ethical dilemmas by extending the research.

“No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the experimentation “sick and twisted.”

“Science has undeniably proven that a new human life, with unrepeatable DNA, begins at conception,” she said. “There is no reason for experimentation on that human life and science itself should not be heralding thae fact that a tiny human being can survive now for two weeks outside of the womb, all for the sole purpose of experimentation.”

Dr. Prentice noted that embryonic stem cell research “has yielded no benefit thus far,” leading even its most vocal advocates, such as Michael J. Fox, to admit it has not lived up to its promise.

“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” asked Prentice. “This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions.”

Dr. Prentice encouraged Congress “to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”



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