The magazine Foreign Policy published a list of panels making life or death decisions. This was to determine whether or not there were panels of individuals worldwide making life or death decisions.[1][2][3] This followed Sarah Palin's use of the term on a recent web page that caused great controversy worldwide.

The article debunked the Palin claim completely but looked at other cases where "death panels" might be said to exist and then awarded points (out of 100 possible) for how close they came.

Death penalty: (100/100 points)Edit

The article gave its highest award to panels associated with determining the use of the death penalty.

As of 2009, fifty-eight countries have a death penalty for certain crimes, and they have a broad range of trial,[4] appeals, and execution decision-making processes.[1] Both Japan and the United States have a Supreme Court which effectively acts as each nation's highest ranking death panel making the penalty determination.[1] In the People's Republic of China, which leads the world in executions at an estimated 5,000 in 2008, death penalty decisions are made by committee.[1] However, beginning in 2007, judicial leaders began requiring a final review of every capital case by the Supreme People's Court which cut the number of exectutions in half.[1][5] Iran and Saudi Arabia have an appeals process but nevertheless execute a high proportion of their prisoners.[1]

Physician Assisted Suicide: (30/100 points)Edit

Programs for legal physician assisted suicide exist in parts of the USA, as well as in Switzerland Belgium and the Netherlands though the Netherlands and Switzerland do not have "death panels" to determine eligibility.[1]

Texas "futile care" law: (25/100 points)Edit

In Texas, the Advance Directives Act, known also as the Texas Futile Care Law, permits a board of physicians to allow a patient in their hospital to die if they determine further medical care would be futile medical care, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family.[6][7] The law does require the panel to inform the patient's family two days before it meets to make its decision, and the family has 10 days to transfer its loved one to another facility.[1][8]

Extraordinary Treatment Panels: (15/100 points)Edit

In the Britain, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence advises the National Health Service on which drugs are cost-effective,[1] and has been accused of giving certain patients an early death sentence by not granting public funding for some cancer drugs which cost exorbitant amounts and afford only a few extra months of life.[9] However, patients may still chose to pay out of pocket, as currently may Americans when their health insurance provider denies their claim.[1]

An extensive appeals process by which patients and their doctors can request these treatments. The patient’s doctor submits a request to a local trust, and a panel comprised of at least one doctor reviews it. While some exceptions are granted, most are not. The patient is left with the choice of paying out-of-pocket or foregoing the treatment (which also happens in the United States, if an insurer refuses a claim). In California, health insurance companies are required by law to report all denials of claims to the Department of Managed Care, revealing 21% of all claims were rejected between 2002 and mid-2009 amounting to "real death panels in practice daily in the nation's biggest state" according to a Reuters report.[2]

Sarah Palin's claim of "Obama's death panels": (declared false)Edit

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's assertion, that America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 – the Obama Administration's health care reform act – would result in a "downright evil"[10] system of "death panels",[1][11] was not rated but was declared as "false". Palin's claims about the proposed law were also debunked in other media.[12][13][14][15]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Nangia, Aditi; Michael Wilkerson (2009-09-09). "Real Life Death Panels: As Sarah Palin continues to spread misinformation about Barack Obama's health-care plan, FP looks at where the real “death panels” are". Foreign Policy.,0. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "California's Real Death Panels: Insurers Deny 21% of Claims". Reuters. 2009-09-02. 
  3. Brody, Baruch A. (1988). Life and Death Decision Making. Oxford University Press. ISBN 019505007X.  as reviewed in Dickinson, C. J. (1989). "Life and Death Decision Making (book review)". Journal of Medical Ethics (15): 109. 
  4. Sundby, Scott E. (2007). A Life and Death Decision: A Jury Weighs the Death Penalty. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0230600638. 
  5. Fan, Maureen; Ariana Eunjung Cha (2008-12-24). "China's Capital Cases Still Secret, Arbitrary". Washington Post. 
  6. Moreno, Sylvia (2007-04-11). "Case Puts Texas Futile-Treatment Law Under a Microscope: Statute Allows for Deadline on Care". Washington Post. 
  7. Ertelt, Steven (2009-08-26). "Health Care "Reform" Bills Would Exacerbate Death Panels Already in Texas". 
  8. Fine, Robert L, MD (April 2000). "Medical futility and the Texas Advance Directives Act of 1999". Dallas, Texas: Office of Clinical Ethics, Baylor; Baylor Health Care System; and the Department of Internal Medicine, Baylor University Medical Center. 
  9. Hope, Jenny (2008-08-07). "Drug denial is devastating 'death sentence' for cancer patients". Daily Mail. 
  10. Tapper, Jake (2009-08-07). "Palin Paints Picture of 'Obama Death Panel' Giving Thumbs Down to Trig". ABC News Senior White House Correspondent. "Palin posted the following comments on the web - 'And who will suffer the most when they ration care?' Palin asks. 'The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.'" 
  11. Palin, Sarah (2009-09-08). "Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care: The president's proposals would give unelected officials life-and-death rationing powers". Wall Street Journal. "Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels?" 
  12. Holan, Angie Drobnic (2009-08-10). "Palin 'death panel' claim sets Truth-O-Meter ablaze". Florida: St. Petersburg Times. 
  13. "McCaughey claims end-of-life counseling will be required for Medicare patients". Florida: St. Petersburg Times. 2009-07-16. 
  14. "Palin claims Obama misled when he said end-of-life counseling is voluntary". Florida: St. Petersburg Times. 2009-08-12. 
  15. "Media have debunked the death panels, 40 times over". Media Matters for America. 2009-08-15. 
  16. Blank, Robert H. (2005, 2007). "Life and Death Decision Making: Issues at the End of Life (exerpt)". In Robert H. Blank and Janna Merrick (PDF). End of Life Decision Making: A Cross-National Study. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.,RH%282008%29.pdf. 
  17. Madden, Mike (2009-08-11). "The "death panels" are already here: Sorry, Sarah Palin -- rationing of care? Private companies are already doing it, with sometimes fatal results". Salon magazine. 
  18. Stein, Sam (2009-08-14). "GOPers Decrying Obama "Death Panels" Supported Intervention For Schiavo". Huffington Post.