Monday, August 24, 2009
Arlen Spector Wants Hearings on VA "Death Book"
Shocked, dismayed and outraged
Senator Arlen Spector (D-PA) has announced that he wants hearings held on the controversial VA pamphlet, "Your life. Your choices" that has surfaced. The booklet, which is distributed to patients in VA hospitals, seems written to encourage severely ill or disabled patients to explore the idea of hospice or simply letting go of life.
My question to Senator Spector is why has it taken so long for Congress to find out about this pamphlet?
The 52-page pamphlet was originally published in 1997 during the Clinton Administration. In 1997, when President Bush heard about it, he ordered it pulled. Since President Obama took office, the booklet has been brought back-and seems to conform very well with Obama's ideas about end of life issues for the aged and infirm.
So this booklet is now 12 years old. Is this the first you've heard of it, Senator Spector? Did you know anything about its primary author, a gentleman named Robert Pearlman (director of the VA National Center for Ethics in Health Care) who advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996 and is known for his support of health-care rationing?
Senator Spector, were you unaware of the worksheet on p 21 of this pamphlet that has patients respond to a variety of questions on their medical situation with the conclusion being to ask themselves if "life was worth living"?
The full text of the book is at:
It seems that Senator Spector is shocked and outraged at the revelation of this pamphlet. That is all well and good, and I support the idea of hearings on this matter. I hope it will be accompanied by a discussion of how this kind of thinking ties in with the "end of life" counseling that the Obama administration wants to include in their bill.
And how does this latest piece of revelation affect your support of the health care bill, Senator Spector?
Finally, here's a question for us: If it took Senator Arlen Spector 12 years to learn of this booklet and its implications for health care reform, are these the people we want to entrust with running health care?