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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


schiavo and the slippery slope

via reason, a sensible examination of the other slippery slope -- not the one leading to an american theocracy of right-to-life zealots, but the one ending in an orwellian death-management bureaucracy.

i've said before here that i don't think right-to-die ethics are particularly applicable in schiavo's case -- she being long dead already -- and i do think her parents are acting out a terrible guilt complex over their perceived culpability in initiating schiavo's state.

but that doesn't make ms. valko's point any less salient. while physicians make impossible decisions about offering treatment every day, those who refuse vital treatment on their own fallible judgment of "futility" are abdicating their hippocratic responsibilities in no trivial way, and i'm not at all sure that any policy which will inevitably be designed at least in part with the incentive to make money and clear beds can also be in the best interests of the patient or society.

again, this is an issue of great complexity and more than one possible answer. no one should minimize that, nor the depth of the arguments on both sides. but i can't envision an ethical human system engineered to put those facing difficult odds out to pasture for the sake of efficiency, medical or otherwise. while such a process may seem to serve the greater good superficially, i feel it cannot morally and ultimately without seriously undermining our sense of life's worth.

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