Professor Peter Singer Pushes Health Care Rationing in New York Times Article

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Professor Peter Singer Pushes Health Care Rationing in New York Times Article

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 16
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — One of the greatest fears for the pro-life movement when it comes to a government-involved heath care restructuring bill is health care rationing that would lead to euthanasia. Now, Peter Singer, the so-called Princeton bioethicist infamous for backing infanticide, is promoting rationing.

His comments, which are already drawing enormous outrage, appear in a new editorial in the New York Times.

In "Why We Must Ration Health Care," Singer pushes a “quality of life ethic” and supports the system established in England called QALY that determines when a patient is qualified for medical care.

The system determines that people who are disabled enjoy a lower quality of life and should be less likely to receive medical treatment.

Singer sets up one hypothetical and says he understands "Some will object that this discriminates against people with disabilities."

"If we return to the hypothetical assumption that a year with quadriplegia is valued at only half as much as a year without it, then a treatment that extends the lives of people without disabilities will be seen as providing twice the value of one that extends, for a similar period, the lives of quadriplegics," he writes.

Singer is more crass in the lead paragraph.

“You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?”

Singer says someone with the money would likely pay for the treatment, but he supposes members of insurance plans would prefer the patient die.

"If the insurer provides this man — and everyone else like him — with Sutent, your premiums will increase. Do you still think the drug is a good value?" he asks.

Wesley J. Smith, a leading bioethics watchdog, responds to the article by saying Singer is "pushing his ongoing campaign to dismantle human exceptionalism and instill utilitarianism as the foundational value of society."

As a result, Smith says Singer "would discriminate against the ill, the elderly, and people with disabilities."

"Singer is merely conflating whether one would prefer to not be disabled with the intrinsic equal value of the lives of people with disabilities, as if both positions cannot be held at the same time," Smith says.

He notes how Singer talked about how Christopher Reeve was wrong to ask for his life to be extended.

"Using Reeve, there is no question he wanted to walk again. But that doesn’t mean that his life had less value because he couldn’t," Smith asserts.

"Rationing would put bioethicists of the ilk of Peter Singer in charge of who received or did not receive wanted care. If that doesn’t turn you off the rationing agenda, what will?" Smith adds.

Smith also says he is surprised that the Times would allow the editorial.

"You would think that an ultra liberal newspaper like the New York Times–which claims to believe in human equality–would look askance at an advocate who argues that parents should be allowed to murder their babies if the child does not suit the interests of the family," he writes. "Illustrating how off the rails contemporary liberalism has become, the Times loves Peter Singer."

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