'Death by bureaucrat'

‘Less-than-voluntary euthanasia’ is studied from different angles in this New York Times op-ed.
It straddles the line, the one that existed between what we’ve known as
ethical medicine and the new frontier of whatever’s to come. The study
centers on (what is now) a momentous 1997 article in The Atlantic by “a prominent oncologist, bioethicist and health care wonk” forecasting future health care scenarios.

Comfort — and budgetary constraints. Euthanasia would be
much more likely to pass from an exception to a rule, the bioethicist
argued, “in the context of demographic and budgetary pressures on
Social Security and Medicare as the Baby Boom generation begins to
retire, around 2010.”

In the great health care debate of 2009, that’s the kind of argument
you’d expect to hear from a Republican politician. But the words were
actually written by Ezekiel Emanuel, a health-care advisor at the
Office of Management and Budget, and the brother of Rahm Emanuel, the
White House Chief of Staff.

Read the whole thing, the op-ed piece and Emanuel’s Atlantic commentary. The tension is palpable.

And Douthat’s analysis of Americans’ need for “perfect control and
absolute freedom of choice” isn’t a neat diagnosis that warrants the
inevitability of euthanasia as one more health care intervention.

What he got right here was recognition of “the limits of human
agency” and “the importance of humility in the face of death’s


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