Terminating the life of severely disabled infants would be a reasonable means of reducing health insurance costs, famed bioethicist and Ivy League professor Peter Singer said in a radio interview.
His comments came during a discussion on rationing under Obamacare, and what he would favor.
Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University who is regarded as one of the founders of the animal rights movement.
“You know, I don’t want my health insurance premiums to be higher so that infants who can experience zero quality of life can have expensive treatments,” Singer said.
Singer made the remark while promoting his latest book on the Aaron Klein Investigative Radio program, broadcast on stations in New York City and Philadelphia. In response to remarks by Klein, Singer said he thinks it would be reasonable for governments and private health insurance companies to deny treatment to severely disabled babies with a “low quality of life.” Singer’s remarks were reported by World Net Daily, which said he referred to the infant as “it.”
Singer said medicine already is denied to disabled infants, not necessarily because of costs.
“If an infant is born with a massive hemorrhage in the brain that means it will be so severely disabled that if the infant lives it will never even be able to recognize its mother, it won’t be able to interact with any other human being, it will just lie there in the bed and you could feed it but that’s all that will happen, doctors will turn off the respirator that is keeping that infant alive,” Singer said.
Klein agreed that those actions take place but said it happens mostly with parental consent.
“Do you think in the future in order to ensure a more fair rationing of health-care and health-care costs, that it should actually be instituted more?” Klein asked. “The killing of severely disabled babies?”
Singer responded, “I think if you had a health-care system in which governments were trying to say, ‘Look, there are some things that don’t provide enough benefits given the costs of those treatments. And if we didn’t do them we would be able to do a lot more good for other people who have better prospects,’ then yes.
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report about Obamacare, death panels and rising medical costs here.)
“I think it would be reasonable for governments to say, ‘This treatment is not going to be provided on the national health service if it’s a country with a national health service. Or in the United States on Medicare or Medicaid.”
Medicaid was expanded under Obamacare.
Singer added, “And I think it will be reasonable for insurance companies also to say, ‘You know, we won’t insure you for this or we won’t insure you for this unless you are prepared to pay an extra premium, or perhaps they have a fund with lower premiums for people who don’t want to insure against that.
“Because I think most people, when they think about that, would say that’s quite reasonable. You know, I don’t want my health insurance premiums to be higher so that infants who can experience zero quality of life can have expensive treatments.”
The Strange World of Peter Singer
Singer has argued that it would be ethical to kill disabled infants in the past, and he has come close to endorsing the killing of newborns who aren’t disabled. Singer has also long argued that it would be justifiable to put people who cannot understand right and wrong to death.
He defines a person as someone who is “capable of anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future.” His definition excludes newborns and many disabled adults.
“Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time,” Singer stated in a frequently asked questions form on Princeton’s website. “So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living. That doesn’t mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do. It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents.”
Singer also answered directly whether killing healthy newborns should be permissible.
“Most parents, fortunately, love their children and would be horrified by the idea of killing it,” he said. “And that’s a good thing, of course. We want to encourage parents to care for their children, and help them to do so. Moreover, although a normal newborn baby has no sense of the future, and therefore is not a person, that does not mean that it is all right to kill such a baby. It only means that the wrong done to the infant is not as great as the wrong that would be done to a person who was killed. But in our society there are many couples who would be very happy to love and care for that child. Hence even if the parents do not want their own child, it would be wrong to kill it.”
Singer’s book Animal Liberation is considered the bible of the animal rights movement.
He has said it would be more ethical to save the life of a healthy mouse than a human being with severe brain damage from a burning building.
“This depends on the qualities and characteristics that the human being has,” Singer said. “If, for example, the human being had suffered brain damage so severe as to be in an irreversible state of unconsciousness, then it might not be better to save the human.”
Not surprisingly, Singer is a controversial figure. Lectures by Singer in Germany and Austria were cancelled in the past after protestors compared his views to those of Nazi Germany. Ironically enough, Singer himself is Jewish and his grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. In 1999 billionaire publisher Steve Forbes stopped donating money to Princeton because of Singer’s beliefs.
Do you believe health care rationing is in America’s future – and even the killing of the disabled? Share your thoughts in the section below: