Marlowe's Shade

Friday, May 06, 2005

How the RWJF Came to Bankroll the Right-to-Die Movement: Part 2

In yesterday's post I started looking into the story of how RWJF got involved in the right-to-die movement and some of the motivations and agendas behind the public relations.

The report by Ethan Bronner lead off with a single anecdote of a patient that was treated aggressively against his will:

Diane Meier, a geriatrician at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, was no stranger to suffering when, in 1994, she came upon something that shocked her: a seventy-three-year-old terminal cancer patient who had been strapped to his bed and force-fed for a month. Before his lung tumor metastasized to the brain and grew so large that it prevented him from speaking, the patient had repeatedly requested that no extraordinary measures be used to keep him alive. Two years earlier, he had watched his wife die of lung cancer, and under no circumstances did he wish to repeat her experience with diagnostic tests and life-prolonging treatment. He wanted to return home and die in peace.

Some months earlier, the patient had been permitted to go home, but after three grand mal seizures he was brought to the emergency room and put under the care of a new group of physicians, who pursued aggressive intervention. After he repeatedly grabbed at his feeding tube and removed it, his wrists were restrained and the tube was placed beyond his reach. That was when Diane Meier saw him. When she asked the resident on duty why the patient was being treated this way, the answer was, “Otherwise he will die.” Shortly thereafter, on the twenty-ninth day of such treatment, the man’s lungs and heart stopped, and he did die

This sets the tone for the rest of the report. What emerges is a description of the Boomer's response to the realization of their own mortality. While their parent's generation, which was exemplified by their role is confronting evil in WWII, saw the end of life as a rear guard action against death, their children took a different view:

It seems paradoxical that as technology prolongs life, a movement should take root that focuses on accepting death and improving the care given to dying people. Researchers say that interest in palliative care has arisen now because of several intersecting factors. The first is demographic. People in the baby boom generation—the postwar population bulge—have come face-to-face in recent years with the lackluster care given their parents as they age and die. The second reason for the new attention is the focus on physician-assisted suicide that has been created by Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the late 1980s and the 1990s, by an Oregon law permitting it, and by a U.S. Supreme Court decision adjudicating it. Third was the unequivocal nature of SUPPORT's [RWJF's end-of-life team] findings, confirming everyone’s worst fears about the kind of care Americans receive. Finally, advocates say, a number of doctors and nurses in their forties and fifties who were becoming disillusioned with their profession because of managed care’s growing emphasis on the bottom line found in palliative care a source of renewed inspiration. Together, these factors have created the seeds of change. But shifting something as fundamental as how Americans die will not be simple or quick.

How Boomeresque of them to credit themselves with being such a major cultural force already. This kind of echo-chamber mentality which is a hallmark of the Secular Elite that rose to positions of power and influence in the 70's and 80's also permeates the thinking of the Foundation. The statement of managed care driving Boomer medical professionals into the arms of the right-to-die movement is very interest for reasons I'll address later. Again Kevorkian and the red shirt of euthanasia is being waved as if it was somehow an indictment of tradition medicine. But demographics is certainly a valid factor and one of the keys to understanding the right-to-die movement. I've alluded to this before, but I think it isn't too outrageous to state that the right-to-die movement is the Boomer's Final Solution to...themselves.

The next post will address RWJF's claim that the crusade for pallitive care and compassion for the dying is the objective of their end of life programs. In the last post I also promised to uncover what I consider the hidden motivation of RWJF and the movement as a whole in this post. For now let me just say it is contained in the revulsion alluded in Diane Meier's statement above as well as the Boomer's perception of the deaths of their parent's generation. Bear with me.
papijoe 6:20 AM