Human Exceptionalism

Idaho Futile Care Bill: Doctors Can Unilaterally Decide to Push People into the Grave

I have looked more closely at the awful Idaho futile care bill, S 1114, which I first addressed earlier today. Here are two more extremely objectionable clauses that show the intent to create a duty to die for the most infirm–and expensive for which to care–among us. From section

394504A (6) of the bill:

If an ethics committee has determined that the requested treatment is medically inappropriate or futile, but the patient is later readmitted to the health care facility within six (6) months following such ethics committee determination, the attending physician may rely on the prior ethics committee determination and withhold or withdraw treatment consistent with the prior ethics committee determination if the attending physician and one (1) physician member of the ethics committee determine that the patient’s condition either has not improved or has deteriorated since the prior ethics committee determination and that the prior ethics committee determination still applies to the patient’s condition, and they document their conclusion in the medical chart.

Thank about that! If a patient survived five or six months post ethics committee meeting declaring futility, doesn’t it prove the committee was wrong?

But don’t worry: The due-process-of-law-denying ethics committee process itself is a sham: It isn’t even mandatory:

(8) The ethics committee review as provided in this section shall be purely voluntary. Nothing in this chapter shall require a health care facility to establish or utilize an ethics committee, nor shall this chapter require a health care provider or surrogate decision maker to submit a matter to the ethics committee before withdrawing or withholding health care to a patient.

I guess that means the doctor has the right to just say no based on his or her own biases regarding the “quality” of a patient’s life!

Doctors should not have the right to decide whose life is worth living. As German physician Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland stated back in 1806, which I quoted in Forced Exit:

It is not up to [the doctor] whether…life is happy or unhappy, worthwhile or not, and should he incorporate these perspectives into his trade…the doctor could well become the most dangerous person in the state.

That was true then, and it is true now. We give physicians the literal power over life and death at each of our perils.