Pro-Life Efforts Must Include the Beginning and End of Life

Opinion   |   Alan Sears   |   Jul 13, 2012   |   10:33AM   |   Washington, DC

In nations where socialized medicine has been in force for some time, the elderly and infirm are being sacrificed (killed) for the comfort of the young and healthy. And with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold socialized medicine in America via ObamaCare, there is justifiable concern that the elderly and infirm may eventually face the same fate here in America.

And, no, this is not a scare tactic.

To give you some perspective, in the United Kingdom alone, upwards of 130,000 elderly patients were quietly led to a faster death last year through the Liverpool Care Pathway—an avenue to death that has come to be known as the “death pathway.” This pathway can include the “withdrawal of treatment—including the provision of water and nourishment by tube—and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours.”

According to Professor Patrick Pullicino, a National Health Service consultant, thousands of these persons were killed not because they were at death’s door, but “because they [were] difficult to manage or to free up beds.”

Pullicino says the death pathway was originally “designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent,” but the threshold for “easing” such person out of this world via euthanasia has obviously been lowered a bit.

This has necessarily created a scenario where elderly and infirm patients who do not have families to monitor the treatment they receive can be killed off by the state without so much as whimper.

In one example related by Pullicino, a 71-year-old Italian man who could only speak broken English, was placed on the death pathway against his family’s wishes after his doctor gave him only 14 months to live. Through Pullicino’s advocacy, the gentleman was taken off the death pathway and did indeed live for 14 more months.

There are two quick lessons to be grasped in this look at the UK’s socialized medicine structure and the consequent experiences of the elderly and infirm persons trapped within it.

For starters, notice how the proponents of death use language to mislead those who are facing death. Thus, the “pathway to death” itself, which includes starving persons for 33 hours while denying them water, is ushered in via the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Secondly, note that once permission to kill for convenience (or “to free up beds”) is given to the state, death becomes imminent and we grow numb to the tragedy of death. That is the very outworking of a culture of death rather than a culture of life.

Therefore, it is critical that we not allow the battle for life to be limited to a battle solely against abortion. Many of the same members of the culture of death who seek to stamp out life in the womb are also ready to kill life in its twilight.

We must fight against the one as fervently as we’ve fought against the other, for in the end, life itself is worth defending, regardless of whether the person possessing it is in the womb or in the nursing home.



LifeNews Note: Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of Alliance Defending Liberty, formerly the Alliance Defense Fund