First off, let’s be clear about the facts: There are no “death panels” in any legislation being considered to reform health care. Instead, there is a proposal — very similar to something proposed by Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson in 2007 — to have Medicare pay for voluntary counseling about end-of-life choices, living wills, etc.
Isn’t that a perfectly reasonable proposal? Human beings, across all ages and cultures, have this in common: we’re all going to die. When my father died of cancer in 1984, there was this small mercy in the general misery: He didn’t linger long and suffer. After he found out his cancer had metastasized and he was terminal, he told my mother he didn’t want any extreme measures taken to extend his life.
He taught me a lot about dying with dignity. To the extent possible, I’d like to make my own choices about my final days. So I have assigned to my brother, a physician, medical power of attorney. My mother has given him her living will.
Why are we so squeamish about discussing something that will happen to each of us eventually? Would you rather your family be left with the kind of ugly controversy that engulfed the family of Terri Schivo?