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Women Target Of First Government Death Panel

She was a friend, a really good friend, who died much too soon. And if dying young wasn’t tragic enough, she died a slow, agonizing death, in and out of consciousness for weeks, all the while begging for someone to stop the pain. Her doctors warned that increasing the morphine could suppress her respiration, thus hastening her death. But the pain had become too great. At that point, in constant and excruciating pain, she just wanted it to stop, no matter what. With trepidation, her doctor ordered a higher dose of intravenous morphine. As the medication took affect, her face, twisted in agony, began to relax. Lying in a hospital bed, by now weak and frail and wasting away, she gazed for a long moment at her husband and two small children standing by her side and, for the first time in days, was able to smile. And then, she breathed her last. My friend’s long battle against terminal breast cancer had come to an end. When I heard the news that she was gone, my first thought was of her family, and then of her age, 42 years old ‘“ too young to die. Recently, a government panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommended that women delay having mammograms until age 50. In addition, the government panel recommended that women have mammograms every two years instead of annually and to forego monthly breast self-exams. And, yet, congressional democrats and the administration claim there will be no healthcare rationing. On the contrary, however, it appears in fact that rationing has begun before the proposed healthcare reform legislation currently being debated in Congress has even been passed. Anyone, especially women, who thinks that government-controlled healthcare won’t result in rationing of healthcare services should think again. It is a known fact that the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better chance a woman has of surviving the disease. Of course, recommendations regarding the utilization of mammograms, as in all medical screening tests, should be reasonable and based upon sound epidemiological data ‘“ for instance, since breast cancer in 18-year-old women is nearly unheard of, suggesting that these young women have routine mammograms would be a clear waste of healthcare resources. However, the incidence of breast cancer in women in their 40s is relatively common and that is why the American Cancer Society began recommending nearly 20 years ago that women undergo screening mammograms annually starting at age 40. And for women with a first degree relative (mother, sister) with breast cancer, the ACS recommends starting even earlier. In response to the new government recommendations, the American Cancer Society issued a statement blasting the proposed changes and stating it will not alter its original recommendations that women begin screening mammograms at age 40. Now I don’t know for sure, but I’m fairly certain the ACS knows more about what’s best for women when it comes to breast cancer than some government panel. Of course, all Americans know that healthcare is expensive and that we need to work to seek solutions to help reduce these costs. I firmly believe that all Americans should have health insurance, whether they believe they need it or not – after all, no one plans to get sick or have an accident, but such situations do occur from time to time and people should have access to care when they need it. But I, along with most Americans, don’t believe for one minute that the solution to the problem is a government-controlled healthcare system. It isn’t unreasonable that, from time to time, the medical community re-evaluate its recommendations regarding various medical screening procedures based upon epidemiological and outcomes data. No one, medical professionals and patients alike, wants to waste money on unnecessary tests and procedures. However, the problem is that government panels are seldom the best organizations to make those decisions. Such recommendations should best be left to those who spend their professional careers studying and dealing with medical issues on a daily basis. The government’s recent recommendation that women wait until age 50 to begin having mammograms will cost many women their lives not to mention give to green light to insurance companies to deny paying for mammograms at an earlier age. All Americans should embrace the simple and inevitable fact that if the government takeover of the healthcare industry is successful, rationing of healthcare resources will ensue and people will die that otherwise might have lived. For some women, waiting until they are 50 to have a mammogram will be the equivalent of a death sentence. Therefore, women especially should stand up and take notice as they have become the target of the first government death panel. ——————————————— To contact Spencer, read his blog, or review an archive of his columns, please visit

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