Friday, July 7, 2017

Charlie Gard situations have happened here too

This article was published by National Review online on July 4, 2017.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith
There is a proper international uproar over U.K. doctors winning the right in court to unilaterally remove the infant Charlie Gard from life support. 

Some have commented on the case as if that is a product of the UK’s socialized medical system. It’s not. It is a product of utilitarian bioethics advocacy for the right to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment — called “futile care” — based on the doctor’s or a hospital bioethics committee’s values on the moral worth of the ill patient’s life and/or the high cost of care. 

Whose baby is Charlie Gard anyway?

Similar authoritarian care withdrawals as has been imposed on Charlie Gard have happened here too — and to very ill patients of all ages. I get into a few of these cases involving infants today over at First Things. 
  • There was the Baby Ryan case in Seattle, in which a hospital actually reported a family for child abuse because they obtained an injunction against removing kidney dialysis. In the end, the doctors were wrong that death was imminent. The boy lived four years as a happy, if sickly child, who loved to give high-fives. 
  • The parents of Baby Terry in Michigan were stripped of their parental rights for refusing to consent to withdrawing life support. 
  • In Canada, doctors treating Baby Joseph insisted on the right to remove life support from a terminally ill baby and refused a tracheotomy that would have permitted the baby to go home to die with his family. Priests for Life eventually paid for the baby to be flown to the USA for the procedure, which was successful. Joseph died several months later in his parents arms. 
Charlie Gard
The Charlie Gard case is unique in only one respect: It is the only futile care case I know of in which the hospital and the law is preventing discharge to another facility or allowing the patient to go home to die. From, “Whose Baby is Charlie Gard, Anyway?” 
The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing.  
And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies — and others facing futile-care impositions — ultimately owned by the hospital and the state? 
Again. This isn’t about socialism — although that issue is relevant. More, it is about cost containment — including in free-market systems — and the attempt by the bioethics movement and medical intelligentsia to replace the equality/sanctity of life ethic with a more utilitarian “quality of life” view.


Mary said...

"Where there is Life there is Hope!"
Baby Charlie's care and experimental treatment will give help and hope to others in similar conditions and situations as his! There is always more to be learned for the benefit of others as well!
Mary LaFrancis RN retired
Fairfield, Iowa

Gary D. Knight said...

Wesley, this is more sinister than an aggressive bioethical committee trumping the rights of family caregivers when the committee sees reasons - even if they are ostensibly cost-based or futility reasons - to downscale its evaluation of 'quality of life'. The more dastardly thing here is that other philanthropic hospitals have offered to take Charlie and support his needs as his parents desire. So the physicians' cost argument fails, and so does any ethical one, because the present hospital is a Catholic-in-name institution and one of those reaching out is a Catholic hospital in Rome. The ugly side of utilitarian and positivist ethics now says 'if we make this exception, what of the other cases where no philanthropic reach-out occurs?'. The intent is to deliver a lowest common denominator in hard cases. Well, the lowest denominator is death; and allowing a charitabe body to take over a case to extend life would be an embarrassment to that heartless inhumane ethic.

Patty Bennett said...

You have said that one major reason this case is unique is that it is the only case you know of in which the hospital and courts have PREVENTED the family from using other alternatives. You are correct.
Tragically, this is going to be happening more and more, and is made EXPONENTIALLY WORSE by socialized medicine. In our overly utilitarian culture we cannot escape one principal: "The one who pays the bills is the one who makes the rules." Whether the "bill payer" is the government, the insurance company, or yourself, the "customer (who pays the bills) is always right".
Which leads to the next point: Paying your own way, for your own health care is something that is obviously available only to the extremely wealthy; therefore, those who push for socialized medicine HATE that option, and really believe that since "THAT'S NOT FAIR!", paying for your own care should not only be out-of-reach, but AGAINST THE LAW! --just to make it "fair"--
It has always been an ultimate goal of those who support socialized medicine to FORBID the option to pay for your own treatment (note the increased taxes on the so-called "Cadillac plans"!) This isn't necessarily about better health as much as it is about government control over every aspect of our lives. Remember that Charlie Gard's family was able to raise the money from the donations of many concerned friends, but the government would not allow them use of it.
There are ominous signs here. The government will soon decide that elderly stroke patients--and there are many--just cost too much to care for and feed; the government would rather spend "its" money elsewhere.
Lesson: We need to sacrifice to care for our own, ON OUR OWN. Take a disabled sick person to the hospital, and you don't know who's going to decide that he's "better off dead". I too, am a retired nurse. We were always taught that "where there's life, there's hope". Much of society rejects that now. The main concern now is "how much will this cost; and who gets stuck with the bill?"