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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Samuel Golubchuk’s Futile Care Case a Hard Sell With the Public



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The current Futile Care Theory fuss in Canada, in which a hospital wants to remove Samuel Golubchuk's respirator and feeding tube because he is diagnosed as unconscious, seems to be playing out in the polls as favoring the family that wants their father's life-sustaining treatment to continue. From the story in the Toronto Sun:
It appears Canadians side with a Winnipeg Orthodox Jewish family who fought in a Winnipeg courtroom yesterday to keep their father alive, according to a recent poll.

While Samuel Golubchuk's doctors are advocating the 84-year-old be taken off life support because his vegetative condition will never improve, his family argues their religious beliefs don't allow any action that would hasten death.

An Angus Reid poll released this week shows nearly seven in 10 Canadians think family members--not doctors or judges--should decide when to remove a vegetative patient from life support. Only 2% of the more than 1,000 people polled between Dec. 3 and 4 think the courts should decide--as will be the case for Golubchuk eventually--and 15% believe doctors should make the call.

I am not surprised. In a society that cannot agree on many basic issues of right and wrong or the value of human life, "choice" becomes the end all and be all. In Futile Care Theory controversies, "choice" cuts in favor of those who oppose unilateral withdrawal of treatment. Moreover, it reveals the hypocrisy of those who support assisted suicide in the name of autonomy, but then say choice has its limits when people want their lives sustained.

I predict that the fight over futile care theory will be long and hard-fought. It is favored by the elites in bioethics and Establishment policy thinkers as a way to save resources. But it rubs main street the wrong way--meaning the outcome of the coming brouhaha remains uncertain. However, those pushing the quality of life agenda will have a harder time.than they do usually, having sold the "choice" agenda to the public so well.


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