Debate on health care reform increasingly hinges on a provision that
would provide end-of-life counseling for seniors. Sarah Palin's assertion
that this would lead to an "evil" system of "death panels" has been met by scant support on the right -- few beyond Newt Gingrich
and Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade
backed her up -- and frenzied discrediting
on the left
. But some
pundits are evaluating the actual merits, or lack
thereof, of end-of-life counseling.
A Republican Idea
Greg Sargent of The Plum Line noted that the whole idea of government-run end-of-life counseling started
with the Republicans. Republican Senator Susan Collins "sponsored a
virtually identical initiative this spring, before this became an
anti-reform GOP talking point," he reported.What About Terri Schiavo?
that Democrats should "use the Schiavo mess to their advantage on
this." She explained that the case demonstrated that "people need
living wills," and that "nothing is more difficult and important when you are
dealing with a dying loved one." Atrios agreed
. "Whatever people thought about the specifics of her case, which legal
side they were on, once it went to the floor of Congress it was
instantly obvious that most people were going to recoil because they
got the horror of what was happening," he wrote. Jesse Taylor of political humor site Pandagon compared
conservative arguments during Schiavo to today. "When Congress votes to keep your brain dead body alive over a spouse's objection, that's democracy, though,
" Taylor quipped.Merit of Living Wills
Digby argued that Palin and others are scaring people away from end-of-life counseling at serious risk. "They are actually trying to get old people to be scared of having a living will
and it is going to result in horrifying suffering among them and their families," she wrote. But Charles Krauthammer disagreed
, saying on Fox News that livings wills aren't so crucial. "The
idea that it is important to do it [end-of-life counseling] years
in advance is nonsense," he said. "We heard Senator Grassley say this
to be decided when you're 50 and not when you're 80. What doctor, when
he has an 80-year-old with pneumonia, will look at a document signed 30
years earlier and say he [the patient] decided he didn't want to have
extra treatment, so I'll pull the plug?"
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