Sarah Murnaghan’s Lungs: Unfortunately, Sebelius Is Right

Secretary Not-A-Death-Panel

Secretary Not-A-Death-Panel

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is refusing to intervene so that ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan can jump ahead in line to get the urgent lung transplant that will save her life. Naturally, Sebelius is being attacked as  heartless, and conservatives are having a field day equating her decision with Sarah Palin’s infamous “death panels” characterization of Obamacare.

The manner in which organs are allocated for transplants is justly controversial, obviously flawed, and arguably unethical. Any real person whom the system will fail, however, instantly becomes sympathetic beyond the mere faceless numbers she is being compared to. Sebelius is quite correct: if the girl is moved ahead in line, someone else won’t get lungs, for this is musical chairs and a zero sum game.  If she was to make an exception to the policy for this case, it would be impossible for her to deny the next case, and soon Kathleen Sebelius would indeed become a one-woman death panel.

That’s not what she is doing now. What she is doing is adhering to an existing policy in which there are winners and losers, and the losers die, until the policy is reviewed and perhaps changed for the better. Her decision isn’t cold-hearted, cruel or unkind. It is responsible, fair and courageous. The alternative is to have no policy at all.

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Source: NBC News