End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

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A Health Care Declaration of Independence

The freedom to make one’s own health care decisions is an essential liberty. Individuals deserve health care that’s based on their needs rather than what profit demands.

Over at the Health Care Blog, you can read a fantastic Health Care Declaration of Independence. Penned by Donald W. Kemper, the “Declaration” is modeled after the U.S.’ own Declaration of Independence:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for individuals to dissolve their professional bands of medical dependency and to assume among their obligations the primary responsibility for their own health to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind require that they should declare the causes which impel them to seek Health Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are the freedom to direct ones own Life, to provide for ones own Health and to die with dignity—that to assist in providing such rights when otherwise unattainable, health professions are instituted among people, deriving their roles solely from the consent of the people they serve—

That whenever any system of health services becomes destructive of these ends either through excessive costs or by preempting from the people their own inherent responsibility for Health, it is the right of such people to alter their relationships to that system and to institute a new role for themselves, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its relationships in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to maintain their health, safety, and financial well-being. Prudence, indeed will indicate that long established and sacred physician-patient relationships should not be abolished for light and transient causes. But when the increasing fragmentation and depersonalization of health services threatens to render people into a state of absolute dependency upon the system, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such dependency and to establish new relationships to insure their role in Health.

Such transgressions have been the sufferance of many health care consumers; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their own health care behavior. We have allowed the present health care system to grossly neglect the innate capacity of millions of responsible Americans to assume productive roles in the maintenance of their own Health. To prove this let facts be presented to a candid world.

The designers of the American health system have failed to recognize the individual and the family as the dominant component in the treatment of most common health problems.

They have not adequately provided information and education to those afflicted with specific health problems, nor have they encouraged patients to seek out such information.

They have discriminately disenfranchised the afflicted of their rights to privacy, personal dignity, and human status.

They have provided pecuniary incentives for the unwarranted institutionalization of the afflicted.

They have created an unwarranted and hazardous degree of reliance on chemicals to alter normal body conditions, thus unwillingly encouraging many forms of drug abuse.

They have failed to assure continuity of care among professionals and have inhibited the individual from assuring such continuity for himself.

They have fostered crisis intervention in health problems by neglecting emphasis on prevention and early detection of disease.

They have stripped from the people much of that basic health responsibility necessary to motivate change in their own eating, smoking, and exercise behavior.
In every stage of these neglects the basic resources for their dissolution have been present in the people themselves. A health system, which has continually ignored these neglects and resources, is unfit to provide health services.

We therefore, the citizens of the United States of America, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do solemnly publish and declare that the primary and ultimate responsibility for our health lies solely within each free person, that it is not bound by dependency to the health professions and that the health care system must now be altered to allow that responsibility to be fulfilled.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we initially pledge to each other, our sacred honor, our dignity, and our health.