These futile care cases are fundamentally important, not only to the individuals involved in very difficult circumstances, but because they involve our most fundamental duties to our most seriously ill and disabled brothers and sisters. In a very good column, a Canadian physician gets to the nub of the issue. From “Baby’s Staus as Human on Trial,” by Dr. Joel B. Zivot:
As a physician, I specialize in the management of the weak and disabled. My task is clear: restore an individual’s health if I am able, and protect my patient’s rights as a human being. I must state categorically that I am not a vitalist. Patients may choose to decline my treatment and as a consequence, die. I will support this choice but need not enable it.
That a doctor feels the need to defend his defense of the equality/sanctity of human life by assuring readers he is not a vitalist–keeping people alive by every means necessary whether they want it or not–illustrates how far we have slouched toward accepting the discriminatory “quality of life” ethic. Even though I have been a hospice volunteer–clearly not vitalistic endeavor–I am often similarly accused. Read more.