Friday, May 24, 2013

Life Upheld Locally

A man described by a caregiver as "alert, awake and communicative, [who] enjoys social interaction and activities," has been spared, against the wishes of his "parents and attending physician [who] did not want the use of the life-sustaining treatment" — Court orders feeding tube for disabled Yates County man.

What was "called a 'life-or-death' ruling" hinged on the "legal question [of] whether the use of the feeding tube equates to 'an extraordinary burden.'" Ordinary and extraordinary means are the terms from Catholic moral theology that have "gradually come to be used in medical ethics more generally both by non-Catholics and those of no religion." That was written in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 1981. In three decades there has been plenty of backlash against their use.

Anyway, I read enough Thomas Fleming not to see this "ruling from the Rochester-based state Supreme Court Appellate Division, Fourth Department," as a sign of hope. Death panels giveth and they taketh away. Their existence is what should disturb us. The fact that it takes a court to intervene to feed and give water to a man who "suffers from mental retardation, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, and curvature of the spine," against parents and his doctor, that is a defeat.

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