A difficult situation presented itself to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and it starts with 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan.
Sarah has cystic fibrosis and needs a lung transplant or she will die. Federal law puts those who are under 12 years of age at the bottom of the waiting list to receive adult lungs. Sarah’s family has been lobbying Sebelius at the HHS to make an exception for her. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, Sebelius does have that authority but refuses to get involved.
Many Republicans and conservatives are calling for Sebelius to make an exception, but—and this is where it gets hard for me—that’s not rational. I like Sebelius just as little as the next conservative, but I must sympathize with her desire not to get involved and make special rules for people just because they make public, and insert more emotion into, their requests for favors.
It’s painful to know that without intercession by the government into a scenario they themselves created (and which liberal voters created, who support such regulations as have led to Sarah being relegated to the bottom of the list), a little girl will probably die. But think how much more pain will be caused, not to mention anger, when we have a government that actively decides who to exempt from which rules; who lives and who dies.
That’s what we have currently: a federal judge has now ordered a 10-day respite of the regulation in order to allow Sarah, and only Sarah, to be considered an adult for organ donations in order to give her at least a slightly better chance at survival. This is what’s called legislating from the bench. Judges do not make laws; they are not allowed to. Even if the law he makes is a good law, it still opens the door for bad laws to be made by judges in the future, without answering to voters. If a judge can grant life to one person, he can refuse life for another.
I suspect the only reason Republicans were raising their voices to urge Sebelius to suspend the laws for Sarah was because it was an opportunity to challenge Sebelius. I’d hate to think any Republican, and certainly any conservative, would be using emotion as the basis of policy, but that’s the only conclusion I can come to.
The real villain in this situation is not Sebelius; it is the federal government, which created the regulation that created this scenario for Sarah. It’s one more reason why the government should not be involved in such life-affecting industries has health care. Hospitals should be the ones deciding what their organ-recipient policies are, and they should be the ones figuring out how to handle the situation with Sarah.