Human Exceptionalism

Moving Increasingly Toward Medical Puritanism

The drive to impose a new medical puritanism continues in the UK. Some doctors are apparently denying surgery to smokers and obese patients, not based on the exigencies of a their particular case, but because of disapproval of their unhealthy lifestyles. This is pure political correctness. You can bet every pound or dollar in the bank that such restrictions would never be countenanced for other unhealthy lifestyle participants, e.g., the promiscuous, drug users, the emaciated, etc.

What is really going on, of course, is saving money in health care on the backs of the “new lepers,” smokers and the obese, who are unpopular. This of course, violates every medical ethical precept in the book. The response in this quote, is right on: “Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said he feared the government was using its war on fat as an excuse to cut costs in the ailing NHS. Waine told Cybercast News Service that two “health trusts”– organizations that operate a set number of hospitals and clinics–had already stopped all operations for patients with a BMI of 30. He said that there was no scientific basis for denying surgery to people with that level of obesity, particularly when it came to former rugby football players and other naturally bulky men. ‘If you make a decision on clinical grounds, that’s fine,’ he said. ‘But if you make it for political reasons, then that’s unacceptable.'”

Indeed, unless we want to turn access to health care into a club to force people to live certain ways. But if we open that door, there are a lot of people beyond smokers and the overweight who could be affected.

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