Sarah Palin was right about death panels

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sent liberal heads spinning with the charge that Obamacare paved the way for "death panels" deciding who was worth the cost of keeping alive.

Yet, she was right. Maybe not Obamacare, but about her larger point that government should not be in the business of deciding who was worthy of receiving health care.

Brain-damaged toddler Alfie Evans cuddles his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, England. (Alfie's Army) ARMY OFFICIAL

Brain-damaged toddler Alfie Evans cuddles his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, England. (Alfie's Army)

The evidence came, again, from Great Britain, where 23-month-old Alfie Evans was not only denied care from the nation's health care system. His parents also were ordered not to take him out of the country to receive care elsewhere. If government bureaucrats and judges can order that someone cannot receive life-saving treatment, and that's not a death panel, then I don't know what is.

The government rules had decided that Alfie should denied life-saving help because he was going to die anyway (sound familiar?), and that keeping him alive would violate his human rights.

The applicable law states that parents cannot "demand a particular treatment  to be continued where the burdens of treatment clearly outweigh the benefits for the child."

Whose burdens? Clearly the state's because keeping the child alive would not have been "cost effective."

It was a burden that Alfie's parents, Kate James and Thomas Evans, were ready and willing to accept. And it was a burden that compassionate people--medical providers, Pope Francis and others--were willing to accept. Alfie could have been flown out of Britain on a private plane to Italy where he would have received medical care. It wouldn't have cost the British health care system a damn thing, not a damn thing.

But it would have set a precedent against the rule that parents are no longer in charge of their children's health, or anything else I dare say. Administrators, teachers, social workers, bureaucrats, lawmakers have all decided that they know best. Especially when it comes to deciding who has the civil and human right to life.

What the British system did was exactly what Palin had in mind when she said:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's ‘death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

In Britain, it's not just a question of government refusing to pay the cost, but refusing to let parents take their infant elsewhere to get treatment. If the parents had decided that they were going to leave the country with Alfie anyway, what was the government going to do? Send the police out to stop them physically? Arrest them and throw them in prison for refusing to abide by a court order?

Yes, such a system is downright evil. And despite the ridicule and hatred that was heaped on Palin (e.g. PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year") she was right to raise this alarm. To you progressives who claim to be the guardians of compassion, where the hell were you? Your standard slander is that pro-lifers only care about a fetus in the womb, but once he or she is born they don't care anymore. You mean like progressives who didn't give a damn about Alfie and his parents?

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

Want to subscribe to the Barbershop? Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.


Leave a comment
  • This is indeed a heart-wrenching story. But to use it to make political capital is disheartening to say the least.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Really? As disheartening as progressives politicizing fatal school shootings to promote gun control? Public policy reforms often arise from heart-wrenching stories, as they should.

  • And you are not for sensible gun control? If you aren't why complaint about a violent culture?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    A little off the mark, there. I was responding to your point about politicizing tragic events. In other words, both sides do it, and it is a legitimate exercise in a democracy. I am for sensible gun control, although everyone has his own idea of sensible.

  • I like to think that even if the U.S. were to get socialized medicine, our constitution would prevent the government from being able to tell parents they can't take the child out of the country for life-saving treatment elsewhere paid at someone else's expense, or even take the child home to die. Here, fit parents have a substantive due process right to care for their children as long as they are not actively causing them harm or preventing them from getting standard medical care that could save their lives. Just one more reason to be grateful for the constitutional rights we enjoy.

  • Well said.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Visit my new website

    I'm a freelance writer, editor and author. I can help you with a wide variety of projects. Check out my new website at

  • Subscribe to The Barbershop

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Dennis Byrne’s Facebook Fan Page

  • Like me on Facebook

  • Our National Debt

  • Twitter

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

  • /Users/dennisby/Desktop/trailer.mp4
  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: