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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Refusing to Save Life of Suicide Victim: What We Are Becoming



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I am having trouble keeping up: Every day now almost, it is one once unthinkable thing after another.

In the UK, a woman tried to commit suicide by swallowing anti-freeze, and doctors refused to save her! From the story:

A young woman who attempted suicide was allowed to die because hospital staff feared they would be accused of assault for ignoring her wishes, an inquest heard.

Kerrie Wooltorton arrived fully conscious in hospital clutching a 'living will' in which she stated she did not want to be saved and was '100 per cent aware of the consequences'. The former charity shop worker called an ambulance after drinking the anti-freeze at her flat. The consultant who would have treated her for swallowing anti-freeze sought legal advice before deciding not to intervene and Miss Wooltorton, 26, died the following day...

Consultant renal physician Alexander Heaton Alexander Heaton told the inquest in Norwich that the hospital's medical director and legal adviser informed him Miss Wooltorton clearly had the mental capacity to make the decision about her treatment. Asked what would have happened if he had intervened, he said: 'It's my duty to follow her wishes.'I would have been breaking the law and I wasn't worried about her suing me but I think she would have asked 'What do I have to do to tell you what my wishes are? ''She had made them abundantly clear and I was content that that was the case. It's a horrible thing to have to do but I felt I had not alternative but to go with her wishes. Nobody wants to let a young lady die."

Well, then why prevent a person from jumping off a bridge? Indeed, why not just get it over with, since this is clearly where we are headed, and set up the euthanasia clinics to make sure nobody is hurt by jumpers! Remember the death of E.G. Robinson's character in Soylent Green at the euthanasia clinic? It's almost not science fiction anymore.

This reminds me of another horrible story that I wrote about in Forced Exit:
The bioethicist Arthur Caplan...writes of the sad case of Thomas W. Passmore, a man with a history of mental illness, who, thinking he saw the sign of the devil on his right hand, cut it off with a circular saw. He was taken to a hospital, where, according to Caplan, things took a "crazy turn." Upon being told by the surgeon that his hand could be saved, Passmore refused treatment, still believing that his hand carried the sign of evil. A psychiatrist interviewed Passmore; lawyers were consulted; a judge refused to intervene. In the end, no one would decide that Passmore was incompetent to make his own medical decisions, and his hand was permanently lost.

This was a profound abandonment of a mentally ill, self-destructive man in desperate need of help from his community. Thanks to the increasingly extreme view of self-determination, those who should have assisted Passmore were instead morally paralyzed. So distorted were their perceptions of their responsibility to Passmore, so stunted were their facilities to engage in critical thinking, that they allowed a hallucinating man to dismember himself because of a sign of evil that was not really there. As Caplan so aptly put it, "A nation that has created a healthcare system in which doctors, nurses and administrators are not sure whether it is the right thing to do to sew a mentally ill man's severed hand back onto his arm is a society gone over the edge regarding autonomy."
In a postscript to the story, Passmore sued unsuccesfully, terribly distraught that no one cared enough about his wellbeing when he was delusional to save his hand.

This is runaway terminal nonjudmentalism. We are so lost in the fog of relativism and amorality that we can't even save people's lives anymore, nor even, preserve their limbs when in a psychotic delusion, they self amputate.

"Choice" is just another word for "abandonment."


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