[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/05/health.care.poll/art.dem.health.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. Harry Reid, center, talks about health care flanked by Sens. Christopher Dodd, left, and Charles Schumer."]
The Wall Street Journal
Ezekiel Emanuel, a top health-care adviser to President Barack Obama and older brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is emerging as a target of conservatives critical of Democrats' health-care effort.
Dr. Emanuel, a prominent oncologist and medical ethicist who has taught at Harvard Medical School and served at the National Institutes of Health, has written dozens of scholarly articles over the years. Critics are using his writings to suggest Dr. Emanuel favors withholding care from the elderly and disabled.
One of their most-cited examples is a 1996 article Dr. Emanuel wrote in the bioethics journal Hastings Center Report. Exploring which medical services should be guaranteed to all Americans, Dr. Emanuel cited an approach that would favor active people, adding, "An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."
In a radio interview last month, Betsy McCaughey, a scholar at the conservative Hudson Institute, cited the article in asserting that Dr. Emanuel believes patients with incurable diseases shouldn't be guaranteed health care. She and other critics have suggested a tie between Dr. Emanuel's views and a provision in a House health bill that would pay doctors to counsel Medicare patients on end-of-life issues such as living wills. Ms. McCaughey said the bill provided "counseling on how to cut your life short."
The White House forcefully defends Dr. Emanuel, saying he is an academic who explores tough questions surrounding life and death.
In an interview Tuesday, Dr. Emanuel said his 1996 piece was "attempting to analyze different philosophical trends," not expressing his own views. Dr. Emanuel noted that he was a well-known opponent of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
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