Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 4, 2014

Fact Check: Bloggers make claims about Obamacare beheadings

We’ve heard people give lots of reasons for opposing Obamacare. But until a reader sent us some Internet links recently, we hadn’t realized that one of the fears being spawned by Obamacare was that it could usher in legal beheadings across America.

The reader pointed us to a variety of blog posts, such as one headlined, “Obamacare Medical Codes Confirm: Execution by Beheading To Be Implemented in America.” As if this wasn’t scary enough, this post was accompanied by a photograph of a masked executioner swinging a curved sword downward, just inches from the neck of the condemned.

What’s going on here?

The idea appears to trace back to a Nov. 18, 2013, post by Lorri Anderson on the blog Freedom Outpost. Anderson’s piece was later reposted, excerpted or promoted uncritically on a range of other blogs. (It also received a thorough takedown by blogger David W. Thornton of the Atlanta Conservative Examiner.)

Anderson cites a document known as ICD-9, which refers to the ninth update of the “International Classification of Diseases.” ICD-9 is a lengthy list of medical conditions and causes of death published by the World Health Organization and used in the United States by medical professionals for billing purposes and by health statisticians who study causes of death.

One of the categories in ICD-9 is this one: “Legal execution: All executions performed at the behest of the judiciary or ruling authority (whether permanent or temporary) as: asphyxiation by gas, beheading, decapitation (by guillotine), capital punishment, electrocution, hanging, poisoning, shooting, other specified means.”

Anderson wrote that the connection between the coding system, Obamacare and legal execution would “make any American’s hair stand up on the back of their neck.” But if anything, subsequent posts on other websites destroyed any nuances she included. One even accompanied a blog post with a drawing of Uncle Sam with his head in a guillotine.

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