April 7, 2005
Revealing the Hidden Agenda: Checkbook EuthanasiaTopics: Commentary
From the pages of Life Matters! . . .
Q: How can you tell when a euthanasia advocate is telling the truth?
A: When he disgusts you even more than usually.
Consider biological psychologist Hal Herzog, writing in the Asheville, NC, Citizens-Times on the moral, social, and legal issues raised not by Terri Schindler Schiavo's imposed death, but by her inadequate care.
Noting that "most commentators...have ignored the troubling inescapable financial consequences of severe irreversible brain damage to affected families and to taxpayers," Herzog proceeds to make the same case for checkbook euthanasia that Professors Karl Binding and Erich Hoche raised in Germany's Weimar Republic some 80 years ago in their seminal work The Destruction of Life Devoid of Value.
"Here are the facts," Herzog ominously begins:
According to a 2002 report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, the frequency of persistent vegetative state in the United States is 64 to 140 per million people. Thus, somewhere between 538 and 1,176 North Carolinians are probably afflicted with this condition. At a cost of about $80,000 a year per person, this translates to an annual financial burden to the North Carolina health-care system of $43 million to $94 million--enough to hire between 1,500 and 3,500 additional public school teachers.
That last propaganda ploy, i.e., comparing the costs of caring for persons with disablities with the cost of funding productive laborers is right out of the euthanasia playbook. As Mark Mostert observes in the Fall 2002 issue of the Journal of Special Education:
In Binding and Hoche's terms, [the former] were "useless eaters" whose "ballast lives" could be tossed overboard to better balance the economic ship of state. In speaking of those with disabilities, and explicitly advocating involuntary euthanasia, Binding and Hoche wrote:
Their life is absolutely pointless, but they do not regard it as being unbearable. They are a terrible, heavy burden upon their relatives and society as a whole. Their death would not create even the smallest gap—except perhaps in the feelings of their mothers or loyal nurses.
Just like today!
Furthermore, Binding and Hoche drove home the economic argument by calculating the total cost expended in caring for such people. They concluded that this cost was "a massive capital in the form of foodstuffs, clothing and heating, which is being subtracted from the national product for entirely unproductive purposes."
As their disciple Herzog continues:
The life expectancy of a young adult in a persistent vegetative state is 11.5 years, making their lifetime health-care costs about $1 million. With a median family income of $38,000, few North Carolina families can bear this burden. Who should pay to keep people like Terri Schiavo alive?
Could this be why Judge George Greer ruled so consistently for Terri's eradication? After all, the Republican judge's conservatism was scarcely the compassionate sort.
Posted by earl at April 7, 2005 12:40 AM
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