Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Now They Are Coming for Us
- David C. Stolinsky, M.D.

Today I turn over the Silverback for a guest editorial by David C. Stolinsky, M.D.

Obamacare 101: Now They Are Coming for Us - Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 23:15

First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Pastor Martin Niemoller

Martin Niemoeller (also spelled Niemöller) was a hero. He was a hero in World War I, when he commanded a German submarine and was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class. He then became a Lutheran pastor. At first he approved of the Nazis' anti-communist stance, so he didn't speak out against them.

Niemoeller was a hero again when he recognized the Nazis' murderous intentions and did speak out. But by then it was too late to stop World War II and the Holocaust. He was sent to a concentration camp, and barely escaped execution when he was rescued by American troops.

I respect Niemoeller and place his famous quotation at the top of my home page. When I am confused and troubled, I go back to his wise words. What can Niemoeller teach us about our current argument regarding government-controlled health care?

First they came for early fetuses, but we don't look much like early fetuses, so we didn't speak out. We forgot that 'fetus' is Latin for 'offspring,' not for 'worthless blob of jelly.'

● Then they came for late-term fetuses. We do look like late-term fetuses, but even so, liberal judges convinced us that they are not 'persons,' so again we didn’t speak out.

● Then they came for babies born alive after 'failed' abortions. State Senator Obama voted three times against requiring medical care for these innocents. But we were so enthralled by his charisma that we elected him president. We forgot that 'enthralled' has two meanings: (1) fascinated; (2) reduced to a state of mental or moral servitude. And again, we didn't speak out.

● Then they came for the severely disabled or brain-damaged. But we didn't identify with Terri Schiavo. We said, 'I wouldn't want to live like that.' So what? I wouldn't want to live like homeless people, either. Does that give me the right to drive to a freeway underpass and shoot them? My fear of disability is my problem − it doesn't authorize me to murder you if you become disabled. But we felt relief, not despair, when Terri died after 13 days without water or food, or even a wet cloth to moisten her cracked lips. We didn’t have to see her on TV anymore. So we didn't speak out.

● Then they want to come for disabled or merely unwanted babies up to a month old, later increased to up to three years old. Nevertheless, we appointed a leading proponent of this culture of death, Peter Singer, to be professor of “bioethics” at the Center for Human Values at Princeton. But would a Center for Inhuman Values look any different?

Singer's beliefs mirror those of the father of Baby Knauer, the first disabled child who was murdered in the Nazi euthanasia program. The loving papa declared, 'Later we could have other children, healthy and strong, of whom the Reich could be proud.' But Singer continues to preach the gospel of death, which is gaining acceptance in this era of 'cost-containment.' Again, we don't speak out. Again, the Reich could be proud.

But now, as Niemoeller warned, they are coming for us.

● President Obama proposed to cut $1.4 billion annually from Medicare payments to cardiologists and oncologists. Since heart disease and cancer are our biggest killers, this clearly means a shorter life span for Americans, especially for seniors. How's that for 'cost-containment'?

● When asked about hip replacements for seniors, Obama replied, 'Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.' How's that for 'compassion'?

● When asked about cardiac pacemakers for seniors, Obama replied, 'If we've got experts that are advising doctors across the board that the pacemaker will save money...' This makes things perfectly clear. It will cost money to implant a pacemaker. It will save money to let the patient die, and stop collecting Social Security and using Medicare. How's that for 'taking the profit motive out of health care'?

● ObamaCare includes about a half trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare. Only a fool could believe that this will not result in severe restrictions of care for seniors, which in turn will inevitably result in increased suffering and decreased life spans. How's that for a 'liberal' policy?

● ObamaCare promises 'free' preventive care for seniors. But the small print reveals that the preventive care allowed will be decided by a government panel. New guidelines already 'suggest' no mammograms before age 50 or after age 74. My friend's mother had breast cancer at age 39. Should my friend not have gotten mammograms in her forties, and should she stop having them at 74? How's that for a 'pro-woman' administration?

● Another friend had annual PSAs starting in his fifties. Prostate cancer was discovered at 66, but he received radiation and is fine 10 years later. Yet the guidelines cast doubt on the value of PSAs at any age. How's that for 'preventive care'? It sounds more like preventing care.

No more Hippocratic Oath ("I will give no deadly medicine"). No more individual patients cared for by individual doctors. Just rote, mechanical, unfeeling, government-run 'algorithmic medicine.' 'Algorithm' is a fancy name for a cookbook − good for preparing a dead fish, not so good for keeping a human being alive. Note Obama's answer to the pacemaker question: Experts will advise doctors across the board if it will save money. No individual patients with individual needs, just a homogeneous mass.

● The sanctity of human life is forgotten. Who is a human being deserving of care becomes a matter of opinion. Death is no longer a biologic event but a choice. And the only opinions and choices that count are those of inaccessible bureaucrats.

● Sarah Palin was ridiculed for using the term 'death panels.' But what would you call unelected, unaccountable, faceless bureaucrats who will decide which treatments you or your loved ones can receive − and which you cannot receive − on the basis of their notion of "cost-effectiveness"? You can call them Klingons, for all I care.

The problem is not the name. The problem is that non-medical government bureaucrats will step between us and our doctors, and impose their decisions on medical care − of which they know little or nothing. The problem is that paper-shufflers, bean counters, and 16,500 new Internal Revenue agents will make decisions that affect the lives and well-being of our loved ones and ourselves. Shouldn't we be apprehensive when the Internal Revenue Service becomes involved in health care?

Yes, now they are coming for us. But who is left to speak out for us? If we object to ObamaCare, we must speak out now, while there is still a chance to repeal it, or defund it, or at least amend it.

Pastor Niemoeller didn't speak out until it was too late, then wound up in a concentration camp, scheduled for execution. At the last moment, he was rescued by American troops. But there is no outside force to rescue us. If we hope to be rescued, we must rescue ourselves.

We arrogantly assumed that we have the right to treat some human beings as less than human. But why did we assume that others would not do the same to us? Why did we think that others would not declare us to be 'useless eaters' who were a 'drain on the Fatherland'?

In order to deserve to be rescued, we must reject the culture of death.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact:

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