In recent weeks, right-wing groups have been pushing the myth that health care reform will somehow kill seniors. One of the most high profile voices pushing this lie has been Sarah Palin, who claimed President Obama will institute bureaucratic “death panels.” Today, again on her Facebook page, she continued the attack. Though some Republicans have rebuffed this absurd, inaccurate notion — like Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who called such talk “nuts” — others, like Newt Gingrich, have piled on to agree with Palin.
However, on April 16th 2008, then Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed some of the same end of life counseling she now decries as a form of euthanasia. In a proclamation announcing “Healthcare Decisions Day,” Palin urged public facilities to provide better information about advance directives, and made it clear that it is critical for seniors to be informed of such options:
WHEREAS, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions. [...]
WHEREAS, one of the principal goals of Healthcare Decisions Day is to encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives, as well as to encourage medical professionals and lawyers to volunteer their time and efforts to improve public knowledge and increase the number of Alaska’s citizens with advance directives.
WHEREAS, the Foundation for End of Life Care in Juneau, Alaska, and other organizations throughout the United States have endorsed this event and are committed to educating the public about the importance of discussing healthcare choices and executing advance directives.
Though this proclamation is now deleted from the Alaska governor’s website, it shows that Palin’s current fear-mongering is purely political. Palin is not the only conservative leader completely flip-flopping on this issue. Merely months ago, Gingrich too endorsed end of life counseling. At a conference in April of this year, Gingrich said advance directives can “save money” while also helping to “decrease the stress felt by caregivers.”