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Nurses Sick over ‘Let Him Die’ Moment at Republican Debate

This week’s Republican debate has now achieved perverse fame for the “Let him die” moment that occurred when the audience cheered and applauded as Wolf Blitzer asked Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) whether society should just let a sick person die if he can’t afford health insurance.

As do all of us in the union movement, the National Nurses United (NNU) expressed revulsion at the cheering.

NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN, called the audience’s response “stunning.”

My first reaction is how far have we degenerated as a society? Everything we do is geared toward preventing illness, and getting people well. If no one cares whether our patients get well, what are we doing advocating for them and fighting for them?

A broader question, says NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, is:

one of national identity: Do we have—or even want—a country, a nation of common purpose and support—or just a collection of amoral individuals?


NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN, said the idea of “deciding whether someone deserves medical treatment based on their pocket book is abhorrent. Does that mean we should take someone off life support if they are in an accident just because they are uninsured? For nurses that would be unconscionable and should not be part of any society I want to be in.”

DeMoro summed it when she said:

Most of us, other than the most wealthy, are just are one illness away from bankruptcy and lack of health insurance. Nurses do not regard lack of wealth or personal misfortune as a handicap or an excuse to withdraw needed and appropriate medical care. Nor should that ever be acceptable in a just and humane society. 

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