The Right Turns Ezekiel Emanuel Into "Doctor Death"

Alex Koppelman has written a good piece on how Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, healthcare adviser to President Obama and brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has become, for the Right, the poster boy for the supposed push for "death panels" and mandatory euthanasia in healthcare reform legislation, despite the fact that, as Koppelman notes, he "opposes even voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide":

Like Sarah Palin said last week, if you're old, sick or disabled -- or have a friend or loved one who is -- you should be very wary of Democratic healthcare plans. And, too, you should keep an eye on "the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff." This is, after all, one of the two advisors to President Obama dubbed "deadly doctors" by the New York Post, a man also known as "Doctor Death," who, as conservative blogger Gateway Pundit explained, "supports euthanasia ... [and] believe[s] medical care should be reserved for non-disabled 'participating' members of society."

It's become a growing theme on the right: "Obamacare" will mean mandatory euthanasia for your grandmother in order to save money, and the person who created the ideological underpinnings for that policy is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

There's a certain irony to that suggestion. Ezekiel Emanuel, who's currently advising the administration on healthcare reform through a post at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is actually one of the country's leading medical ethicists, a forceful defender of people approaching the end of their life. Indeed, he opposes even voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Koppelman points out that the false claims about Emanuel's work, recommendations, and beliefs are the result of notorious right-wing healthcare hack Betsy McCaughey's intentionally misleading smears, which have been quickly picked up by the Right and spread as gospel.

Case in point: this new Rick Scarborugh Report from Vision America:

Prov. 13:20 states "He who walks with the wise becomes wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." The phrase "suffers harm" comes from a word that means "to become evil, to be made worse."

A fool is defined in the Bible as the person who says there is no God. I think we are being fair with Scripture to also include those who redefine who God is and who usurp roles which God has reserved only for Himself, including the choice of who lives and who dies.

It seems that our President has surrounded himself with people who believe they have the wisdom to make decisions which our Founders clearly left in the purview of God.

Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, one of Obama's top healthcare advisors and brother of Rahm Emmanuel who is the President's Chief of Staff, co-authored an article earlier this year entitled "Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions" It outlines four principles:

1. Treating people equally - which suggests a lottery type system, because it is "hard to corrupt." In other words, let's just roll the dice to see who gets treatment first!

2. Prioritarianism - treating the youngest first because "they have had the least life." In other words: Good luck Granny, here's another pill!

3. Utilitarianism -maximizes the most life-years produced

4. Promoting and rewarding social usefulness. - In Ezekiel Emmanuel's own words, and reminiscent of members of the Third Reich: Include only irreplaceable people who have suffered serious losses. God, help us stop this madness!

...

If Obama's Healthcare Czar implements this system, God help the very old and the very young. Is this what you want? Sarah Palin put into words what millions are thinking: what will happen to me or my loved one if government bureaucrats decide that my/their life isn't worth saving prolonging? Do we really want a government bureaucrat making these decisions?

Of course, if you actually bother to read "Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions" [PDF] you immediately see that it focuses on the allocation of "very scarce medical interventions such as organs and vaccines" of which there is very clearly a finite and limited number. It is not talking about limiting healthcare treatment, but rather focuses on how best to allocate finite medical resources.

And even then, the article is primarily an examination of the various ways currently used in deciding the allocation of such resources, looking at the pluses and minuses of the various methods and concludes by offering its own system, which it calls "the complete lives system":

[T]he complete lives system combines four morally relevant principles: youngest-first, prognosis, lottery, and saving the most lives. In pandemic situations, it also allocates scarce interventions to people instrumental in realising these four principles. Importantly, it is not an algorithm, but a framework that expresses widely affirmed values: priority to the worst-off, maximising benefits, and treating people equally. To achieve a just allocation of scarce medical interventions, society must embrace the challenge of implementing a coherent multiprinciple framework rather than relying on simple principles or retreating to the status quo.

In short, not one word of Vision America's explanation of the article Emanuel co-authored is true ... and neither is this claim:

Dr. Emanuel has also said that in order to save money, doctors must "eliminate the Hippocratic Oath, which has been the foundation of medicine for centuries, and give more attention to cost when delete treating patients." He advocates rationing care to worthy patients who "need it most." This man and others who think like him are advising our President!

Take one guess where this quote, attributed to Emanuel, actually comes from. 

That's right: Betsy McCaughey.

For what it is worth, Ezra Klein conducted an interview with Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia who pushed for the inclusion of end-of-life planning in the legislation, and Isakson says that claims that it would lead to "death panels ... where people would be euthanized" are absolutely "nuts." 

Klein also points out that Emanuel happens to believe that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia ought to remain illegal.

But none of that will matter, because right-wing groups don't care about things like facts or reasonable debate ... especially when they can use their lies and distortions to whip up outrage and opposition and, more importantly, use it to raise money:

The time to act is NOW!!! If you believe that God, not Government, should decide who lives and dies, please fax, email and call our Congressmen. You can find contact information at www.Congress.org. We have to attend our Town Hall Meetings and express our outrage at the little value placed on human life in this Orwellian healthcare plan. If we are not motivated to action by this outrage, God help us! The time to act is NOW.

Select here to send a fax to all 535 Congressmen and tell them to vote no on the President's $1.6 trillion takeover of health care. Now is not the time to be silent.

Thank you in advance for your generous support!