The Corner

Health Care

Medical Ethics in Crisis

The Witherspoon Institute has published a joint statement providing guidance about some of the difficult decisions on the way:

In cases where decisions must be made about who shall be saved when not all can be saved, we also decide what sort of society we want ours to be—we are constituting ourselves as a certain kind of people. When faced with scarcity, some will be tempted simply to pass by those who are older, the physically disabled or cognitively impaired, those who seem to have little to contribute to our common life. Indeed, some of the proposals for treatment allocation that have been made in different states may already reflect a yielding to that temptation. . . .

Among the signatories’ concerns: the prioritization of saving “life years” rather than “lives.” They don’t reject that prioritization in principle, but warn against its practical consequences in a society that is already too prone to devalue the lives of the elderly.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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