All of us have certainly heard of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) debate over the past few years and especially the past few weeks. I am not going to get into the Constitutionality or politics on the matter. I do want to raise some questions that certainly will be raised as the Act is implemented. There are some serious medical ethic issues that will surely come up over time.
I believe it to be highly commendable to give treatment to individuals for health care purposes. It is even more commendable to treat those that cannot afford the care received. We live in one of the richest nations in finances and medical resources. However, I do believe the ethics behind the availability of health care and health insurance coverage are separate issues. Health care is a need; health insurance coverage is a want. I agree with Ben Stein (economist and “Clear Eyes is awesome” pitchman) that providing health care is a moral issue. All of God’s creatures deserve to be treated and should receive some sort of financial assistance in certain cases (not going to get into exhaustive instances). There is a Christian mandate to give help to those that need it. However, I question the argument that health insurance coverage is a moral issue. That is the equivalent of expanding the need of a hungry man getting food to his need for a porterhouse. The need is food, the want is a porterhouse. I will stand firm in saying in America we can find some way to give treatment and health care in some way to everybody, even if it is basics.
The volume of the implementation will be costly for private and public sector. It will demand much time for physicians and healthcare professionals to treat all in America. The socially grounded medicine and healthcare institutions usually focus on the majority notion. By majority notion, I am saying the most common ailments and easiest treatments will receive priority. Therefore, obscure ailments and demanding treatments will drift to the fringes. It is in this concern that we have to begin to discuss the topic of euthanasia.
Euthanasia is a curious term and from the Greek means “good death”. It sounds like a potential oxymoron. The issue at hand will be of the financial efficiency of euthanasia to eliminate being a burden to society. With social medicine, there are those that receive coverage that do not “pay into” the system but receive similar benefits. The ethical question comes into play when one of these individuals is terminal, but not immediately. Is it ethical to euthanize this individual to release society of financial burden to the system? The accounting answer is for that burden to be relieved for the betterment of society. The ethical and Christian answer is always for life.
In the Bible, human life, being made in God’s image, is his sacred gift, and thus innocent life is not to be taken. The timing and manner of a person’s death belong ultimately to God (Eccl. 3:1-2; Heb. 9:27). With this obligation to care for the most vulnerable, which throughout the biblical period, clearly included the dying (Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices, p. 218).
Euthanasia forces physicians to break their Hippocratic Oath. The oath that physicians take is a “moral code” to not knowingly commit an action that will cause the death of a patient; this can be an act or suggestion. If you knew a physician had gone against that oath in the past, how comfortable would you be with that doctor’s suggestions for your care? Keep in mind, once euthanasia is permitted it is not always a fully informed issue for the patient. The scary thought here is that if voluntary euthanasia is available, involuntary euthanasia will be present. It is observaed that where there is power, corruption closely follows. Euthanasia approaches a morally corruptible place when the burden of a person’s life becomes subjective to family and society. “The criteria of death? If the patient’s ‘agent’ believes that life is ‘too burdensome to continue’” (Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, Legislating Morality, p. 201).
So, as we move forward with the Affordable Care Act do your research on euthanasia. Be prepared to discuss Dr. Kevorkian, Terri Schaivo, Nancy Cruzan, etc. Social medicine stresses the morals of society. When your health is a burden to all of society, you become dependent on their morals, not yours. “We’ve suppressed the Moral Law and lost our respect for life because we desire autonomy and convenience above all else. Consequently, we’ve lost our concern for others so that ultimate ‘virtue’ in our culture is now selfishness rather than love” (Geisler and Turek, Legislating Morality, p. 206).
And if it affects the end of life, it will impact the beginning of life and abortion.