Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You. At a Town Hall Meeting.

Adele Stan, who's being doing some great reporting on health care reform, gives us a guide to town halling: 5 Questions You Should Ask.

Pay Tribute to the Lifework of Ted Kennedy.

Euthanasia at Veterans' Affairs.

Of course the "Your Life, Your Choices," booklet now in use by Veterans' Affairs does not promote euthanasia, as touted here, there and everywhere. (Incidentally, Chris Wallace is a tool.)

This accusation may have media legs - it's being called the "death book" to capitalize on the "death panel" noise - but it is another clumsy and erroneous example of the conflation of end of life planning with "government-coerced euthanasia." Why is the story everywhere? Because the Republican machine and it's supporting voices, including the "pro-life" movement and conservative media like the Washington Post, Fox News and Investor's Business Daily saw the end of "death panels" coming and needed to perpetuate the destructive confusion.

Now Arlen Specter, facing what I hope will be a tough battle for re-election, has called for hearings on the use of "Your Life, Your Choices." It's a costly, silly, misleading ruse.

Why are conservatives and Republicans targeting this booklet, instituted by the George W. Bush administration? For a number of reasons: It's good timing. "Your Life, Your Choices" was written by Robert Pearlman, VA's National Center for Ethics in Healthcare and a lawyer who argued in the 1997 Supreme Court case Vacco v. Quill. The court found that there was a difference between removing a patient from life support, "letting one die," and ending one's life by administering lethal drugs, "ending life." Pearlman is a great bogeyman to the religious right. They will protest anything he touches. And particularly now when the issue of "assisted suicide" is so prominent in the news.

Why are people listening? That is the question.

"Rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief," he says, "people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe."

Death: A Glossary.

I have a new piece up at ReligionDispatches titled, "When Words Kill," that looks at the terms used by opponents and proponents of health care reform. As the aid in dying movement advances in US states and health care reform of some sort becomes immanent - we can't afford to much longer continue with our current system - and as foreign nations continue to adopt Death with Dignity laws, the use of these terms becomes more loaded and more profound.

Please read and let me know what you think!