Is There a Right to Let Others Die?

When Republican presidential candidates who oppose socialized medicine are asked, in essence, “What will you do with a sick person — let him die?” the answer they normally give is, “Of course not. The government requires hospitals to provide emergency care, and it should.” Even “libertarian” Ron Paul fell for this tactic in a recent CNN presidential debate.

Such an answer concedes the moral high ground to the socialists. Socialists are trying to morally intimidate their opponents with such questions. “Do you mean to tell me that you’re going to let a suffering person die?”

The premise of this question is that the person being asked it is responsible for the illness and lack of money of the ill person in question. Well, in some cases this might be true. The parent of a child is responsible for that child. A spouse or family member — if he or she loves that family member — certainly feels responsibility for helping that family member, as would a loving friend.

But that’s not the context for the question in a presidential debate. The context is political, meaning: Isn’t everyone in society responsible for the medical care of everyone else?

These theoretical, global examples refer to a specific type of case. It’s a case in which an individual has no health insurance, and suddenly needs emergency care. For example, a 30-year-old who doesn’t want to pay for health insurance suddenly gets cancer, or has a terrible accident. Of course you must help him, right?

But why does such a person not have health insurance in the first place? In the presidential debate, Ron Paul attempted to make this point. Because of the government welfare mentality, he said, people simply assume that government will, and should, rescue them from their decision not to purchase health insurance.

People who advocate socialism are asking us to evade the facts of the case — such as the possibility that the person lacking health insurance was negligent and irresponsible — while assuming responsibility no matter what. “Fairness” and decency, by this standard, consist of taking care of the person with the problem even if it’s a problem of his own making, and with no consideration whatsoever for the rights of the person being forced to take care of him.

So what’s the proper answer to the question, “You mean you’re just going to let this sick person die?”

There are two answers, each equally valid.

One answer is, “If you want to help him, I’m not going to stop you. You have every right to help anyone you want. And I will definitely help any person who is individually important to me. But I’m not going to help just any person. And I’m not going to help someone just because you tell me to do so. It’s my choice.”

The other answer is, “If the sick person dies because of his own negligence, by failing to plan for his medical care, and if he’s unable on short notice to get the aid of charity, then I didn’t kill him. Society didn’t kill him, either. He killed himself by his own negligence.” It may not be the politically correct thing to say in Obama’s America, but it’s still true.

What about the fact that health insurance is expensive? I’m aware of that. My health insurance costs more than my mortgage — and I’m only middle-aged and am still healthy. That’s why I support a free market in medicine. That’s why I want the system of capitalism, and not socialism, applied to medicine. The more choices, the better.

Health insurance and medical care will never be free under capitalism. But choices and prices will be maximized. Choices and competition tend to drive prices down. This is another thing that socialists evade when they ask the question, “You mean you’re just going to let so-and-so die?” If so-and-so were free to purchase medical insurance in a free market, it would be even harder to feel sorry for him over his negligence.

Opponents of socialism who cede the moral ground to socialists do more damage to the cause of capitalism and freedom than socialists ever could. Each time a Republican or libertarian says, “No, I wouldn’t let him die,” the socialist has won the debate. Because the socialist understands that if you ARE in fact your brother’s keeper, simply by being human beings, then that’s the end of the debate right there.

Helping others is either voluntary, or it’s not. We’re all either entitled to decide what to do with our own money, time and energy, or we’re not. We’re either free, or we’re not.

We’re not merely free to the point that Obama and his socialist friends in the media say we are. That’s a decision for each and every one of us to make. We’re either slaves, or we’re not.

‘Let’ someone else die? Is that a right? You better believe it. You have a right to choose when and whom to help, and nobody has a right to compel otherwise.