Category Archives: Medical Ethics

New Video: Rationing in the Obama Health Care Law

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias discusses how the Obama Health Care Law will ration your health care.


New Video: Medicare & Rationing

National Right to Lfie President Carol Tobias discusses the rationing provisions affecting the Medicare program under the Obama Health Care law enacted by Congress in March 2010:

Health Care Without Rationing

Last Sunday, Princeton’s own Peter Singer wrote a 5,000-word piece for the New York Times Magazine advocating directly for rationing of life-saving medical treatment.  Below is the response from NRLC’s medical ethics director, Burke Balch, J.D.

July 23, 2009

 To:                  Journalists & Interested Parties

 From:             Burke Balch, J.D., Director of NRLC Powell Center for Medical Ethics

Re:                  Health Care Without Rationing 

In a 5,000 word missive in the New York Times Magazine July 19, 2009, Princeton University Bioethics Professor Peter Singer openly advocated what many have feared – that under health care “reform,” lifesaving medical treatment be rationed so as to deny it to those deemed to have too poor a “quality of life.”  

He makes it clear that society should be more willing to withhold treatment from those who are old and those with disabilities.  “The death of a teenager is a greater tragedy than the death of an 85-year-old, and this should be reflected in our priorities,” he writes.  “[S]aving one teenager is equivalent to saving 14 85-year-olds.”  Similarly, “If most would . . .choose 6 years of nondisabled life over 10 with quadriplegia, but have difficulty deciding between 5 years of nondisabled life over 10 with quadriplegia, then they are, in effect, assessing life with quadriplegia as half as good as nondisabled life.”

 The premise of Singer’s article is the conventional wisdom that America cannot afford increasing health care costs.  But, as documented on the National Right to Life Committee website at, we as a society are spending more on health care because we CAN – because productivity increases over time have reduced the resources we need for food, clothing and shelter, freeing up more of our budgets to go toward saving our lives and improving our health. 

 A webinar presentation is available at: that provides a thorough explanation of how we can afford and assure health care for all without rationing.

 NRLC’s Balch is available for comment on the Singer piece as well as why the United States can afford health care without the need for rationing.  To arrange an interview, contact the NRLC Communications Department.

Health Care Reform Webinar

From NRLC’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, a new webinar on health care reform entitled “How America Can Afford Health Care Reform Without Rationing.”  The webinar runs just over an hour.  You can download a copy of the Powerpoint Slides here:  HCWebinarSlides

Release: Idaho Bill Would Throw Patient’s Rights Out the Window

For immediate release:
Monday, March 23, 2009                                                              


 Idaho Senate Bill 1114, which has passed the Idaho state Senate, is currently awaiting hearing before the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee. If passed, the bill would authorize health care providers to deny life-sustaining procedures, including food and fluids through feeding tubes or IV, against the will of patients and their family members.

The bill establishes a procedure by which healthcare providers can override patient and family decisions to choose lifesaving treatment and care, including patient’s wishes in their written advance directive. The bill’s dangerously vague language means that health care providers would be able to deny treatment to patients they think have a poor “quality of life,” as arbitrarily determined by a hospital ethics committee.                                                                                       

“In short, the bill dangerously overrides patient and family rights,” said Burke Balch J.D., Director of NRLC’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics.  “It takes choices away from the patient and family, instead placing life or death decisions in the hands of a hospital ethics committee or the health care provider acting even without an ethics committee. In effect, the passage of SB1114 would mean the deaths of those patients the health care providers deem unworthy to live.”

 Spokespersons, including independent experts, are available for interviews on this legislation. To arrange an interview, please contact the National Right to Life Committee Communications Department at 202-626-8825 or

 The National Right to Life Committee is the nation=s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide.  National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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