High School Death Panels

As the bell rang, the students slid into their seats. Within seconds it was quiet as the social studies teacher wrote the day’s discussion points.

  • Ten people share the same disease.
  • Each one needs a dialysis machine to live.
  • The hospital only has six machines. Four people will not be treated.
  • Rank the patients from the most deserving to the least.

The teacher listed the patients:
  1. Housewife
  2. Male doctor
  3. Male lawyer
  4. Disabled woman
  5. Policeman
  6. Female teacher
  7. Minister (male)
  8. Male college student
  9. Male Ex-convict
  10. Female Prostitute

Discussion followed. The class made their choices based on the patient’s age and contribution they could make to society. The students evaluated the merits of each patient and delivered their verdict. The first three chosen for treatment: doctor, lawyer, and teacher. The first three eliminated: ex-convict, prostitute, and the college student. The disabled woman rounded out their reject list.

Freshmen and sophomore students at St. Joseph-Ogden High School in Illinois completed this assignment. School officials explained it was an assignment about “social bias”. 

However, it is more indicative of utilitarian ethics famously taught by Princeton professor, Peter Singer—the same Peter Singer who says, “Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person.” Singer also has strong opinions on the worth of the elderly with dementia and people injured in accidents.

The provisions within the Affordable Care Act bring much uncertainty, so it’s troubling to have young students pretending to be on death panels. It’s been said that all that’s needed to change society is a generation of children. 

Our schools can be places of learning, or places of indoctrination. Or both.  We need to remember that the youngest among us need guidance. Good guidance.

As unsettlingly as it may be in this brave new medical world, I remind myself that God is in control and He values each and every life—even if some do not. This is something children need to learn. The question is who will teach them?

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