The following Washington Post report jumped out at me when I visited the Drudge Report this morning: Obama extends hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners of gays.
President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.
The president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo that was e-mailed to reporters Thursday night while he was at a fundraiser in Miami.
Administration officials and gay activists, who have been quietly working together on the issue, said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation’s health-care institutions. Obama’s order will start a rule-making process at HHS that could take several months, officials said.
Three things popped into mind the moment I read the article. First, I don’t know why hospitals often block visitation to a patient by non-related people. But I’m sure the administrators didn’t come to the decision by sitting around a big table and saying, “I know, let’s deny gay people patient visitation because I hate gay people so much.” At some point some logical reasons must have been put forth to deny non-related people the ability to visit their incapacitated friends. I just don’t know why. But if you really want Bill, the neighbor down the street, to have access to visit you in the hospital the same as your family, you should set up a living will. A quick search online shows multiple options for creating a living will that doesn’t cost a dime.
Second, I was disturbed to see that President Obama could overrule hospital tradition with a simple executive order. Well, I assume it’s an executive order. The news reports says the Department of Health and Human Services was told to “prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo…” Does this mean I can wander in off the street and visit any patient now? To block me as a stranger would be discriminating against me just on the grounds that I don’t know the patient. The main point that disturbs me is the ease with which a president can reach into a business and tell that business how it will operate. And since almost all hospitals take Medicare or Medicaid funding, the government can dictate what they will do. And again, since I don’t know why hospitals denied visitation by non-family members, I don’t know what President Obama’s reversal will affect. But how much of an expert on hospital practices is our President that he should be making these decisions?
And third, the title talks about President Obama extending “visitation rights” to people who are gay. But our rights do not come from President Obama. Nor do our rights come from the Department of Health and Human Services or any part of the government. Our rights come from God. At most, President Obama may uphold our rights, but he can in no way grant or extend our rights. “But I don’t believe in God, so God doesn’t provide me my rights.” Even if you are an atheist, you should be thankful that the Declaration of Independence states that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Any right that is granted unto us by government may be easily removed by that same government. Atheists should be happy for the legal fiction of a God endowing us with rights because it prevents government from removing our right to believe, or not to believe, with a simple stroke of a pen.
In the memo, Obama said hospitals should not be able to deny visitation privileges on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
So I can now visit that beautiful woman getting a sponge bath? Thank you, President Obama!
“Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay,” he wrote.
Affected, he said, are “gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”
Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side.
If a gay couple like Langbehn and Pond really cared about hospital visitation, why didn’t they fill out a living will? A living will is cheap and easy to do, so why didn’t they get around to doing it? Didn’t they love each other enough to take care of this possibility? Government intervention into hospital practices wouldn’t be necessary if people just took care of their own living will needs.