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Bureaucracy Lives!

How many experts does it take to advise a dying patient?

Aug 26, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 47 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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The bill purports to facilitate the creation of advance directives and care-planning consistent with patient values. Great. But what if the culturally appropriate, multidisciplinary care-giving team disagrees with the patient? Who prevails?

Not necessarily the patient. The bill specifically permits doctors to refuse to provide wanted end-of-life care based on their own “conscience,” if such refusals are allowed by state law.

End-of-life care is a crucial aspect of medical practice. And to be sure, problems exist in ensuring that all patients receive optimal care. But do we really want doctors marching to the drumbeat of memos from the secretary of Health and Human Services? 

A far less centralized approach—such as encouraging continuing medical education programs and public awareness efforts by the nonprofit sector—would surely improve end-of-life care, and far less intrusively than allowing government to transform dying into a public-sector regulatory growth opportunity. 

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant for the Patients Rights Council and the Center for Bioethics and Culture.

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