Eugenics Line Makes Sense

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Aug 09, 2009 12:35 PM
Many Republicans think that Obamacare will lead to eugenics. Many on the left think that this criticism is merely fearmongering.

Kathleen Parker
:
Some Republican opponents of health-care reform can be justifiably charged with using fear tactics, such as allowing the elderly to think they're going to have to pick a death date under Obamacare. Rush Limbaugh has said, for instance, that "people at a certain age with certain diseases will be deemed not worth the investment, and . . . they'd give them some pain pills, and let them loop out till they die."
The Washington Post's editorial board:
Republican lawmakers and conservative activists have fanned the flames of uninformed opposition with familiar warnings about government-run health care and socialized medicine and irresponsible new twists, such as the suggestion that the proposals under discussion would strong-arm seniors into euthanasia.
David Goldstein:
They attack lawmakers for backing a "socialist agenda," shout questions without waiting for answers and repeat misinformation as fact, in some cases even accusing Democrats of favoring mandatory euthanasia for senior citizens.
It's true: the eugenics line has been used by those on the right to criticize Obama's plan -- but that's because it actually will cause inadvertent eugenics. 

There's a difference between a private insurance program denying a senior care and the government denying a senior care. With the private plans, seniors have a choice; they can opt into plans that award certain benefits, and opt out of plans that don't. Regulation is needed to ensure that insurance carriers don't drop patients who develop serious conditions after paying into a program for an extended period of time. But with or without those regulations, a private system that allows for private citizens to make their own decisions about what options they want is worlds different from a public system that compels the populace to adopt the priorities of the government. A private system allows consumers to make choices about where to spend their money; if they want a top-shelf health insurance program, they can pay for it. If they want bare-bones coverage, they can have it. And they can reap the rewards and suffer the consequences of those choices. That's not eugenics; that's a rational approach to dealing with infinite demand for heath care and a limited supply of it. Which is certainly much more humane than a country full of government administrators who make those choices for you.