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Supreme Court of the United States

Human Life of Every Age and Ability Is Valuable. Biden Doesn’t Seem to Understand That.

November 19, 2020

By: Dylan Harrington, Media Communications Intern

Joe Biden has already been making big moves to prepare for his potential incoming administration.

For example, he has declared his plans to appoint Dr. Zeke Emanuel—an advocate of the view that humans over 75 years of age are less valuable than younger humans—to his COVID-19 Task Force.

In 2017, Dr. Emanuel wrote in The Atlantic that because of the physical and mental disability or degradations that accompany aging, death is less of a loss than continuing to live. Death at this age, he claims, is “not a tragedy.” According to Dr. Emanuel, debilitating physical or mental decline “deprives” older people of the “meaningful experiences,” creativity, vibrance, and productivity that formerly gave their lives value. All that is left for them, he wrote, is a “feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic” existence.

Earlier this year, Emanuel openly opposed President Trump’s plan to prioritize older, more vulnerable Americans in the offering of a COVID vaccine. That should be no surprise. After all, Emanuel is the man who, in 2009, sparked a fear of government “death panels” that would decide who would receive care and who would not, based on their worth to society.

Besides pointing out the obvious irony (and, quite frankly, trouble) of appointing a man with such views to protect us from a virus that poses the most danger to those above the age of 70, it is also worth highlighting that Dr. Emanuel’s view of human worth cuts directly against a foundational American principle: the idea that all humans are created equal. All of human life, from conception to natural death, holds equal and inalienable worth as it all bears the image of its Creator.

For decades, Alliance Defending Freedom has consistently been at the frontlines of the battle for the sanctity of all human life, regardless of age or physical or mental utility. And when individuals with anti-life views like Dr. Emanuel have had political power, ADF’s attorneys have always been ready to intervene in defense of the vulnerable.

Here are a few cases where we have done just that.

Ramirez-Oliva v. Ramirez

In 2007, Jesse Ramirez was left with a broken back and neck, shattered arms and legs, and a traumatic brain injury after a violent car accident. Days after hospitalization, and due to his perceived condition, Jesse was transferred to hospice, where he didn’t receive food, water, or antibiotics. He was left to die, even when he had a fighting chance.

Fortunately, Jesse’s family knew he had been responsive when not in a drug-induced coma. But without power of attorney, there was nothing they could do but watch him slowly die due to lack of basic nourishment and care.

That’s why Marlene Oliva, Jesse’s sister, contacted ADF, who filed a lawsuit on her behalf. In response, Jesse’s food and water were immediately restored, and a neurology expert confirmed that he was mentally responsive, at which point he was transferred to a facility where doctors could resume treating his injuries.

Only a couple of months later, Jesse walked out of a rehabilitation center on his own two feet.

Marlene and Jesse wanted to turn their ordeal into something good. Less than a year later, the Arizona state legislature passed “Jesse’s Law,” which closed a loophole to ensure others who found themselves in Jesse’s horrific situation will be protected the way he was.

Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser

Dr. Rachel DiSanto believes that all human life is sacred.

This principle guides her in her medical practice. So, when Vermont passed a law interpreted to require healthcare professionals to counsel patients that physician-assisted suicide was an option for their care, she knew that this law was a major threat to her conscience.

She could not reconcile her beliefs about the sanctity of life, and her oath to do no harm, with the mandate to offer suicide as an option to her six-month terminal patients.

“This is something that really could end my practice,” she said. “If I’m forced to do this, I won’t continue to practice medicine in this state. I would leave my practice. There is no compromise here.”

ADF stepped in to defend Dr. DiSanto and other healthcare professionals in Vermont who simply want the freedom to practice medicine consistently with their moral and ethical beliefs. And thankfully, a federal court ruled that the law cannot be interpreted to force pro-life healthcare professionals to counsel or refer patients for assisted suicide.

It remains to be seen whether people like Dr. Zeke Emanuel will have power in our federal government. Nonetheless, while we wait for more certainty, we can always be assured of these truths:

  • God is in control and is doing something far greater than we can comprehend.
  • God created all human life, regardless of age or ability, with equal worth and dignity.

We must always be vigilant in defending human life from conception to natural death—both in the courtroom, in the public square, and in our own lives—and ADF will always be leading this charge.

To stay up to date on the work that Alliance Defending Freedom is doing to protect your fundamental rights, sign up for our newsletter.


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Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith

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