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Got to do something different here today.
Usually we discuss than this but today we're gonna tell you about something you may never heard about -- critics are calling the death book.
It's a 52 page pamphlet the Department of Veterans Affairs is using right now in and of life counseling for the nation's 24 million veterans.
We're gonna talk with -- -- to -- former director of faith based initiatives in the Bush Administration.
Who broke the story and then we'll turn to Tammy Duckworth assistant secretary of veterans affairs ms.
Duckworth insisted on being interviewed separately.
-- to -- welcome to FOX News Sunday to be with let's start with an overview of what's wrong with.
This material your life your choices that the -- DA is using.
For end of life counseling right now in the article that you wrote in the Wall Street Journal -- which you disclose this.
You say that that the message is clear hurry up and die.
Well the message that they want to communicate I think is that if you have a stroke or if you have a common situation.
That somehow your life -- lost a little value and it may not be worth living anymore.
-- my problem with the document Chris is that the author of it is a proponent of assisted suicide he's way out there on that issue.
And that VA has been using this -- new directive just came out in July.
Urging providers to refer patients to it so.
In my view there should be a -- treatment and this is a slippery slope that kind of makes people when you look at the document makes people feel like they're burden.
And that they should do the decent thing and.
-- we're gonna get to the specifics in this book and a second but I want to ask -- general question President Obama.
Colts pull off of a government run death panel a quote extraordinary lie.
But I want to put up what you said in your Wall Street Journal article this week -- said the following.
When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to -- for themselves.
That life is not worth living who needs a death -- explained.
I think that fear that Americans have is that somehow when they are fragile and they're vulnerable and their facing serious illness.
That a discussion are going to have with a doctor's going to be biased or tilted in some fashion.
Here you have the government that has a financial stake in the answers that they give.
And I think a lot of people are afraid that somehow they're going to be steered toward a denial of care and I think that hole right to die movement which doctor Perlman has written about.
I think that hole right to die movement means that the right to -- as -- write the poor will get.
And I think a lot of people are afraid about it so whether there's death panel written in the law are not the real issue is.
Why would the VAB promoting a document written by an assisted suicide advocate.
That has such -- kind of an obsession with death and -- with pushing people I think in a direction to deny care.
All right you are especially critical of this worksheet on page 21 of the block and I'm -- first.
Tell the audience what's in it and then I'll talk to you about it let's put up this page 21.
It's called what makes your life worth living in and ask the veteran to check off whether a variety of situations are difficult but acceptable worth living but just barely or not worth -- And here are some of the situations.
I can no longer walk but get around and a wheelchair.
I live in a nursing home.
I am a severe financial burden on my family.
I cannot seem to shake the blows.
This into -- what's wrong without.
The biggest problem is that when you go beyond those questions to the boxes you -- the first option you have it's difficult but acceptable.
A lot of people with disabilities a lot of people who have family members with stroke fine life.
Beautiful -- there's meaning and purpose sure they're suffering but their life hasn't been diminished diminished by that illness.
I think there.
If you were trying to be biased and fair you'd have a box it starts off that says.
My life is beautiful yes I suffer but I find meaning in it and I think the problem with this document and it permeates the whole thing.
Is there's a bias toward a depression.
And so when you see the one that says for example I can't shake the blues you can actually check a box that says my life's not worth living.
Another one said if I can't go outside on my so you check a box -- not.
It's one of the questions I have about it as why would -- even be in.
A document about end of life usually people don't even contemplate and of life until their -- and irreversible coma why would.
Being in a nursing home -- having -- live in a wheelchair beyond not worth living.
Option good question -- I think advance care planning is important and there are a lot of great VA doctors and nurses out -- providing superior care.
It's a -- need to talk about these issues well in advance of a deep decline in health.
My problem is when you treat individuals like their life has less worth because they have dementia for example.
I think that that's a dangerous slippery slope and when government has a financial stake and that they shouldn't be talking about quality -- life and kind of pushing people toward a predetermined conclusion.
You're also upset about another question in the book but I want to put that up.
Have you ever heard anyone say if I'm a vegetable -- the plot.
I think the word vegetables demeaning it's used three times the document an -- communicates somebody that's not human.
This is why I think the document is so fundamentally flawed that the VA -- -- throw it out.
They've padded out there kind of as a research tool and then a few years ago they tried to push it and promote it and two years ago try to push and promote it.
Another -- again in July directive telling health care providers to refer patients to.
All right -- you mentioned earlier one of the primary authors of the workbook and this is a felony doctor -- -- He's a member of the DA's center for ethics and health care and he is the listed as the prime author in the document.
Who was doctor -- well.
That's a good question a lot of Americans have never heard of him and yet he's influenced the course of VA health care.
He's written this document and he's an advisor I think he got the initial research grant was tax dollars to write this document.
And and I in his Bennett advocate for assisted suicide both in the US Supreme Court case where -- filed an -- -- But -- other writings where he was a contributor to a book about position -- killing so I think.
I think the problem is in America there's a lot of people that Russell with care giving issues and was serious illness.
We should be encouraging people.
To have a hopeful vision when a veteran comes back from Iraq they should be given a book like this.
They should be encouraged to to to talk about their preferences on how they can maintain their dignity.
Because that's what I think America owes them.
Now in fairness.
Also offers other.
Ideas and statements for veterans to consider -- let's put those on the screen.
My life should be prolonged as long as they can on.
No matter what its quality and using any means possible and then that there's this I believe that it is always wrong to withhold not start.
Treatments that could keep me alive -- -- do we art both sides presented.
Others say there -- lines like that in the book that if a fair reading of the book and just looking at the cases -- give -- examples.
Where the woman that has the stroke it says I don't wanna live -- I can't take care of myself and and then when you look at the back of the book Chris than they refer -- to.
The 2007 edition said go to compassion and choices that's the Hemlock Society.
The 1997 version referred to do an organization that was the American euthanasia society.
I think the bias of the documents clear why would Americans be given such a court document a poor planning tool on -- subjects -- port.
Now we need to point out that those references which were in the 97 edition in the 2007 edition are not in the -- that is currently.
Being circulated at the veterans administration.
That's right they they -- that page after we raised concerns about it and I think.
It wasn't just -- with dignity it was a lot of individuals -- American I think when they saw that in the VA system that they -- why are they referring to that Hemlock Society -- You were instrumental viewpoint out back in 2007.
You had left the bush White House by then you've been had a faith based initiative for four years.
But in 2007.
At the VA tried to put this out and make this a tool that was widely distributed to veterans you were instrumental in getting it stopped and put up on a shelf.
What happened well I.
I think that President Bush was in his administration very surprised to hear that this document had moved so far through the VA chain of command.
And was about to be approved the secretary there didn't even know about it.
That's the fear Americans have -- courses these bureaucracies.
Have a way of of getting something out there like this that people don't even know about congress never heard so when I raised it with the bush White House this is this isn't a vision of life.
People have their dignity that if they're endowed with that it's not lost when they get to -- stroke and so they pulled.
So after President Bush suspended the use of this document why did the Obama administration last month reinstated good question.
I don't fault President Obama on this yet.
Because I suspect he was like President Bush -- knew nothing about it.
The question is why hasn't been pulled from their website now.
To put a statement not after the Wall Street Journal piece came out that says this document is currently being revised.
That just tells me they're -- the damage control mode with the should be doing is pulling the document and then revises dis order that told physicians to refer patients to it.
Finally -- you have been involved with the end of -- ditches for years you worked in an aids home.
Back in the eighties you have written an end of life document yourself called five which is which is widely used around the country.
In the course of this controversy in the last couple of days VA officials are suggesting.
That you want the government to buy and use your.
They can if they want millions of Americans do but that's not what this is about that's a not for profit -- with dignity.
I want Americans to have access to a document.
That treats their life with respect.
It's not pushing them to hurry up and -- it's not guilt tripping them that's not saying that if you can't shake the blues may be -- your life's not worth living.
It's the pressure Chris and it's wrong for government to do it.
There's so many documents out there that help families plan for discuss and the life care.
People should access the one they're comfortable with but the government should not be pushing exclusively this approach and I think it's wrong.
And I think to have an author of -- system that supports assisted suicide doing it is terribly wrong.
Missed 281 thank you for coming in today discussing this issue with us to.
For the Obama administration's response we're joined now by Tammy Duckworth an assistant secretary at the VA.
Who knows all about veterans' issues she lost both legs during the mission as a helicopter pilot in Iraq and secretary -- -- Duckworth.
Welcome to fox and his -- thanks for having me on this I want to ask you about the worksheet page 41 in the VA booklet you're a hero.
Who despite severe injuries lives say a full life that you have to get around some of the time in a wheelchair yourself do you have any problem.
-- the VA asking elderly veterans whether life is worth living if they have a disability if they look at a nursing home if they're unable to shake the blood.
Well I have to say Chris that this is a really important discussion because when I was in Iraq and I was injured.
Thank goodness I have an advance -- that I had both a living will and a medical power of attorney that my husband was able to use to really execute my wishes and I don't think that.
And it that he values life more than some -- such as myself with those of us who work at VA.
Who've been in combat who knows what it's like to be given a second choice.
I think any worksheet that any veteran wants to use that helps him make those decisions in advance for his family -- so that they know.
What your wishes are that you do want to like -- that you do want to be.
-- resuscitated those -- important and and VA is very happy for veterans to use any.
Booklet that they would like this booklet was used Doral the Bush Administration under two secretaries.
-- but it veterans want to go out and and we provided free of charge.
And there are many other free of charge booklets that are out there if they want to go and spend five dollars a piece and by mr.
-- is that they are welcome to do that and that all falls under.
The -- advance directive policy which was put into place.
-- president if I made ms.
Duckworth that we have limited time here why would a question I -- I can understand questions about if you're an irreversible coma do you want us to pull the plug it.
But YE as I asked -- had to wait why would you even have a question in in an end of life plant counseling book.
About if you're in a wheelchair if you're living in a nursing home does not make life.
-- -- What I know that before I was injured I certainly let my husband know that.
You know being in the wheelchair was something that I feared I was afraid for but I also one of my life prolonged this isn't cool this is -- simple to that was put into place as I said under secretary Nicholson.
Com it was something that was used throughout and and let me make a correction.
-- not use it since 2007.
-- under the Bush Administration we decided to go ahead and -- at this checklist is still -- revision.
On a timetable according to a program that was.
Actually decided on under the previous administration because I know the President Bush and secretary Nicholson -- -- all valued life and that's what we're doing is we're revising it would be out in 2010 if not get out.
Donaldson -- a toilet correct -- turned up or Garrett that's just not true.
The VA today put out a directive on July 2 2009.
And I want to put up two pages from that directed the first one -- eight.
Primary care practitioners are responsible for giving patients pertinent.
Educational materials EG refer patients to the your life your choices module and on page nine it's as if they request more information.
Patients may be directed to the exercises.
In your life your choices so as of July 2.
Last month more than a month ago VA health practitioners were told to refer.
All veterans not just -- and of life veterans but all 24 million veterans.
To this document your -- your choices.
Let me make a correction -- Chris let.
Our practitioners were told -- to refer patients to any type off a tool.
They can use mr.
toll since they want to spend five dollars he's.
VA simply was not willing to buy his book that at five dollars per veteran at the time but is that the way how do you feel like maybe I -- it really doesn't -- they have them.
Give them access to any thing.
I think in the specific -- -- -- is only about fifteen pages long it specifically refers to this booklet twice.
The only directive that is out there it's actually left over from.
I believe it was -- beginning of 2007.
That our advanced planning director put into place.
And it is actually very clear in saying that we need to provide that -- With information that they can make on how they want their care you know this ultimately -- about -- care and health care for veterans.
And we're actually expanding benefits for veterans were actually trying to get.
More on priority eight veterans to sign up for VA benefits where estimated that you know the -- thousand veterans coming in for benefits.
We are expanding the event benefits to veterans -- -- and our best interest to make sure that every veteran out there receives the care and access to the treatment and everything that he needs because after raw.
These -- the men and women who fought for us and -- And and they deserve nothing less than the.
Ask secretary what -- certainly agree on that secretary Duckworth.
When you look at the work -- now on your website as you point out there's a disclaimer there -- gonna put the disclaimer that is now on the web site if you go to the to the your life your choices link.
And it says the document is currently undergoing -- for release in -- -- the revised version will be available soon but when the VA first reinstated the document.
A month ago was what six weeks ago gets sent veterans directly there as you can see in the screen -- I guess the question I have is.
Why secretary Duckworth did the disclaimer.
About the book only appear this week.
too Lee's article appeared in the Wall Street Journal actually that -- has been there since 2000 and secondly who bullet wasn't it well it wasn't there before August 20.
Of -- between July 20 July 2 and August 20 the disclaimer was not on the website because we chat.
Chris that this claim has been at the beginning of that your life your -- -- since 2007.
When the Bush Administration decided to pull that off and revised it on and on and establish times at a record doesn't show that but it's.
You can go on the web -- now we have many things on -- web site.
They're up there because they receive federal dollars that public research grants we have to keep them on -- web site but I will tell you that this booklet has not been in use and it was pulled off the shelves in 2007.
We very clearly told all of a medical practitioners not to use it because it was under the night.
And this is ultimately I can't let let's let's.
Bring this that I did not set this stuff where I don't -- -- I don't argue with you but for -- but the facts are that it wasn't -- -- from 2007.
Until July 2 of 2009 when in the VHA handbook you specifically.
Reinstated -- and specifically told health care practitioners.
To refer veterans -- it.
Chris it has not been reinstated let me make it clear the only -- -- directed that we have.
It's dated February of 2007.
And it actually encourages veterans to use.
Any type of tool or checklist that they would like to there are many many good ones out there.
This your -- your choice is widely -- out -- not just within the day.
There are many others that are out there and veterans are free to use what ever they would like -- and not just early and I -- -- -- A problem here in office that too often on -- cells we -- say one person said another persons that secretary Duckworth.
I don't know if were able in the control room to put up the first the full slate of NBA trade directive but I'd like to put up the first full screen if you can.
In the VHA directive of July 2 2009.
It says the following on page eight.
Primary care practitioners are responsible for giving patients -- and educational materials EJ refer patients to -- your life.
Your choices module I mean it's just there in black and white on the VHA directive of July 2.
Chris I am sorry I can't see that on a -- in here I will tell you that I know for a fact that the only directive signed by factories and psyche.
I'm inside by -- DA secretary was actually signed by secretary Nicholson and it's dated February of 2007.
Which are looking at may not actually be a -- -- I I think I can't see I don't happy to come back and and discuss it with you but let's let's let's talk about what VA is trying to do.
We have the largest increase in our budget and over thirty years.
We are going to be expanding access to veterans we are working with a new GI bill -- the 21 century -- to fighting to end homelessness.
And we are doing quite a lot for veterans and I don't think that there's -- -- That understands better the importance and value of life than those of us who -- the night Foreman -- combat.
I apologize -- that we're running out of time I'll ask you one last question if -- feel so strongly about the value of life although the disclaimer is on there.
This document your life your choices is still.
On the -- a web site secretary Duckworth.
-- supposedly being -- still up there can you promise us that this will be taken down today.
It is still up there with a disclaimer that it's under revision and do not use it it cannot say don't you don't get it but why haven't up there at all -- -- Chris Knight we're gonna take a -- Because we are bound by federal law it was developed with federal research grant monies and most of our all of our -- programs over.
Results of federal recent prices are on line for people to use for research purposes but we very clearly tell all of -- -- -- please use any type of a tool.
That is most suitable for you and your loved ones and you can certainly there are many great ones out there including mr.
toll is that they want to go -- -- five dollars or.
-- -- -- makes our available for free the checklist we're actually using as a completely different -- from this one because.
This one has been taken off for revision.
Well it hasn't been taken -- it's been revised but it's still on the web -- secretary Duckworth we want to thank you we want to thank you for giving us the VA's response.
And we also personally want to thank you for your service to our nation as my pleasure to be here thank you.
If you wanna raid of the -- -- for yourself you'll find a link at our blog FOX News Sunday dot com and we will stay on this story of end of life counseling for our veterans.
Up next the president's health care.
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