I’ve been haunted, disturbed and perturbed by an article I read a couple of days ago about sick babies being starved and dehydrated to death in Britain–per physicians’s orders and government encouragement. You can read the article there as I don’t have the stomach to share all the painful details here.
We’ll probably have “death panels” in our own government-mandated healthcare system before too long–and I hope it’s a subject explored carefully and with great thought. For sure, withdrawing food and fluid from a baby or other terminally ill patient will induce a “natural” and cost-saving death, but it’s something most of us would never do to our pets.
In fact, if one were to starve and dehydrate a dog to the point that its tongue was glued to the roof of its mouth (as is happening with with human patients), there would be media outrage against the pet owner along with a possible prison term.
In Britain, it seems human starvation and dehydration are considered “palliative” care for their most helplessly disabled and terminally ill patients. Palliative care, as I understand, is supposed to focus on relieving pain and suffering–not causing it. Further complicating this issue is that hospitals are reportedly being compensated by the British government for hastening death in society’s most ill patients–and withholding nutrition and fluid seems to assure death within a couple of weeks.
I hate cruelty–in whatever form it takes.
My Dad, a thoughtful thinker and man, believed the late Jack Kavorkian just might be a saint. While medicine and medical procedures can be successful in extending life, there is little joy in prolonging pain and suffering. Dr. Kavorkian, of course, assisted in the deaths of 130 terminally ill people between 1990 and 1998–and was ultimately sentenced for second degree murder in Michigan.
Death, in many ways, can be a welcome luxury for any creature struggling with painful and terminal illness–but to have government-mandated suffering is unconscionable and cowardly. If a government entity is going to sentence a patient to death, why not go ahead do so in a humane and painless manner?
Better yet, why don’t goverments just butt out and let these life and death decisions be made by patients, parents and physicians?