In a rather horrifying article in  New York magazine, Michael Wolff describes the saga of his ailing mother and her losing struggle against dementia. His piece, which begins with a somewhat sympathetic consideration of the ethical and moral dilemmas facing end-of-life patients, slowly transitions into mixed messages about the value of people in vegetative states, and ultimately lands in unvarnished contempt for the life of the woman who raised him. In what becomes a quest to rid the world of his own mother, he dispenses such gems as:

Discontinuing the medication felt like both a solemn and giddy occasion. A week passed, and then the doctors began to report in a chipper way that she was doing well, all things considered. She had withstood the shock to the system. She was stable. [ . . . ]

I do not know how death panels ever got such a bad name. Perhaps they should have been called deliverance panels. What I would not do for a fair-minded body to whom I might plead for my mother’s end.

The alternative is nuts: to look forward to paying trillions and to bankrupting the nation as well as our souls as we endure the suffering of our parents and our inability to help them get where they’re going.


Perhaps that feared “culture of death” isn’t so exotic or hyperbolic, after all. Read the rest of ” A Life Worth Ending ” for a glimpse at how it takes root among the respectable.

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