Older Americans Month in the age of COVID-19 — the hypocrisy of some who claim to be pro-life

May is Older Americans Month. This is a time when we ought to be honoring and celebrating elders. Instead, the country is in the midst of a pandemic which has been especially devastating to those elders. How do we respond? Unfortunately, many are responding by deciding that we cannot wait any longer to get our hair done. Some are saying that we need to balance financial health with physical health. Others are being more crass and saying that grandparents should be willing to die for their grandchildren. Any of these responses boil down to the same thing — money is more important than life.

Many of the same people who think that money is more important than the lives of our nation’s elders are also vehemently opposed to physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion. Why? Because in those instances, they think life is more important. Now why should our elders have to die a painful and painfully lonely death so someone can go to a nail salon but a woman with two kids can’t have an abortion because she simply can’t afford a third child? How is one form of financially calculated death acceptable while the death of a not-yet-person unacceptable? The answer: the “pro-life” stances of those who are okay with the deaths of tens of thousands of indisputable persons has nothing to do with preserving life and everything to do with controlling others.

Of course, these same folks get very upset when it is their bodies which are being regulated. One would think that being asked to wear a mask in public is akin to being tattooed against one’s will. Many of them say they are risking their own lives, and can do so if they wish. If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, if someone risks their own life with this virus; they risk the lives of anyone else they encounter — at the gas station, the grocery store, anywhere else they go, and their medical providers if they get their wish and become ill. What is more, everyone that person encounters will have others with whom they, in turn, interact. One of those people might just work at an assisted living center or a nursing home. And if we reopen, the number of people one will encounter will increase — as few workers will have the luxury to stay home after they are recalled to work.

Why can some be cavalier about a deadly virus killing people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities while opposing the ability of some those same patients to have a dignified death that they chose (or not) from voluntary euthanasia? Personally, I think that if one CHOOSES to die, that is their choice and we should have laws to allow that. But I am not okay with the death of an individual being chosen for another. I am especially not okay when the reason is out of concern for the economy.

Our elders should be cared for — pandemic or not. Their lives should be cherished as much as the lives of someone who is younger. Those who care for people who are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be afforded PPE and a living wage.

Shutdowns are expensive. And honestly, our shutdowns should be more expensive than it currently is. I firmly believe we should have a universal basic income until this pandemic is over. We have lost more lives to covid-19 than we have lost in wars (more than American casualties from the Vietnam War for example). We ought to be spending and taxing like we are at war. We should do this to keep those who can stay home, home, so as to protect the lives of our friends, neighbors, and yes, or older Americans.

Photo by Gert Stockmans on Unsplash

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