Life and choices at the VA: Inducement to death?

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Life and choices at the VA: Inducement to death?

James Towey has written a warning about a publication put out by the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) that seems to lean in the direction of suggesting to injured veterans that if they are sufficiently handicapped their lives are not worth living.

He says:

‘Last year, bureaucrats at the VA’s National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA’s preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated “Your Life, Your Choices.”

‘Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.’

Towey is irate that anyone would suggest to the veterans who have given so much that their lives are not worth living.  He suggests that our culture, and at this point our government, doesn’t value life the way it should.

Towey has put together a document that has been called “a living will with a heart” that assists someone to consider what their preferences are for the times when they are sick and unable to care for themselves.  It can be referenced through the website of the Wall Street Journal (reference below).  Another possibility for anyone to make his or her wishes known is the “Will to Live” at the website of the National Right to Life Committee (www.nrlc.org).  The Will to Live makes the assumption that life is precious and that the patient wants to live until his natural death.

Towey caps his article by saying:

‘If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on “Your Life, Your Choices.” ’

Read his whole article at:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204683204574358590107981718.html

Mr. Towey, president of Saint Vincent College, was director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (2002-2006) and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity.

Note:  Since Towey’s article appeared and the VA has gotten some unwanted publicity, the document on the VA website has had a preface added, indicating that the document is in the process of being revised. (www.ethics.va.gov/YLYC/YLYC_First_edition_20001001.pdf )

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