I recently read an article summarizing recent accusations of euthanasia against palliative care providers. Half of the respondents to a recent survey reported such accusations. 4% of these providers were investigated and no criminal charges have been upheld. It’s understandable that some of those accusations come from immediate family who, despite the wishes of the patient, want to prolong their life. What’s much more disturbing is that members of the health care team providing care to the patient were among the accusers.
It is unclear to me how much of this is a misunderstanding of current health care laws regarding living wills and how much of it is a social backlash. Clearly the latter exists with the highest profile examples being the Terri Schiavo case (where the courts intervened numerous times over the removal of her feeding tube when she was found to be in a vegetative state) and the more recent characterization of the Affordable Health Care Act’s panels that advised on end of life options as “death panels” by opponents.
The United States has always had a secular government but strong religious communities. Until now, though, abortion seemed to be the primary issue where religion and government interacted. In the last 20 years, though, this has changed and the country that was founded by people bent on religious freedom is threatened by religious fundamentalists of all stripes. It is supremely ironic to me that the same people who excoriate Muslims for the violent acts of a few now want their view of religion and morality enshrined in law. The same people who claim to be the protectors of the rights of the individual (corporation) are the same people who support limits on marriage and even on care of the dying.
It is my sincere hope that the rights and freedoms our forebears fought and died for are not swept away in this tide of religious zealotry.