Sunday, September 17, 2006

Texas Futile Care Law on Defensive

This is a good and fair article from the Chicago Tribune (one of the fairest of the MSM in my view), about the growing challenge to Texas's futile care law. The push back the story reports against the abandonment of patients under futile care theory in Texas is very encouraging. (Attorney Jerri Ward, who is quoted in the story, is leading the legal charge against the Texas law.)

One of the things I most object to about futile care theory is the twisting of the concept of extending life--which is what these patients want--into what is often called "merely extending the dying process." (When you think about it, you could say that about giving insulin to a diabetic--it is extending the dying rather than saving life, but that would be just as ridiculous.)

Futilitarians are not monsters who want to "kill" people. But they are profoundly misguided: They think they are doing the patients a favor, but are really imposing their values upon a patient and family--which they would never dream of doing of the patient rejected life-sustaining treatment. Moreover--and this is important--dying isn't dead: It is living. If doctors and bioethics committees are given the right to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment--including tube-supplied sustenance--based on their judgments about the quality of a patient's life, then the most fundamental purpose of medicine has been subverted.

Preventing such unilateral withdrawals--at least as it relates to the provision of food and water--is the primary purpose of the Nebraska Humane Care Amendment. It was found not to have enough valid signatures to qualify, but that may not be the end of the story. This decision by the Secretary of State is now in court and I am told it may still make Nebraska's November ballot. We'll know soon. Stay tuned.

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