Unholy Dying

"In the midst of life we are in death." The old Prayer X Book's admonition has never been more true or less understood than it is today. Modern man, despite his refusal to consider his own mortality, is busily politicizing all the little decisions and circumstances that attend his departure. Death penalty statutes, abortion regulations, right-to-die initiatives, and national health care plans have all been major political issues in recent years, although the connections between these issues are generally overlooked.

On the very day of the Washington State referenda on both abortion rights and doctor-assisted suicide, the New York Times was also reporting on the effects of a decision expanding the scope of Medicare. Most future Medicare recipients will now be guaranteed the right to purchase so-called Medigap policies to supplement the state-provided medical services. In other words, some insurance-buyers will be forced to subsidize the retirees who either failed to purchase supplementary policies or else squandered their money on the expensive plans huckstered by Ed McMahon and Art Linkletter.

While the nation's insurance commissioners were at work staving off mortality, the people of Washington were considering a proposal to legalize medical killing (as well as a proposal to incorporate the language of Roe v. Wade into state law). Despite polls showing widespread support for...

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