"The Death Book"?
We did something different on Fox News Sunday today. Instead of discussing the week's news--we brought something up that I suspect most people have never heard about.
It is a 51-page end-of-life counseling bookthe Department of Veterans Affairs is now using--called "Your Life, Your Choices." I learned about it on Wednesday--in an articlein the Wall Street Journal--under the title "Death Book for Veterans."
As of July 2nd, the VA is referring veterans to the book. That's interesting in itself, because the Bush Administration ended use of the book in 2007. And it has now been reinstated. What makes the book controversial is that--according to critics--it seems to push veterans in the direction of "pulling the plug." For instance--page 21 is a worksheet in which the veteran is asked to consider various situations and then check--whether in each case, life would be "difficult, but acceptable"--"worth living, but just barely"--or "not worth living."
Youmight think that the scenarios would involve irreversible comas and the like. But no--they include: "I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair"--"I live in a nursing home"--"I am a severe financial burden on my family"--and "I cannot seem to 'shake the blues'".
We had a fascinating segment on FNS today about the workbook. First--we talked with Jim Towey--the man who broke the story.He helpedend use of the book under President Bush,and was shocked to see it has now been reinstated. He says the message of the work book is clear: hurry up and die. And he says--when government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude that life is not worth living--"who needs death panels?"
Then--we talked with VA Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth--who insisted on being interviewed separately. She said the workbook is just one of many reference tools the VA makes available--and that it is currently being revised. However, as we pointed out, it is still up on the VA website.
I hope you will watch the FNS segment and check out the link to the workbook on the blog--so you can read it for yourself.
And we will stay on this story.