Human Exceptionalism

Now It is the Eight Reasons to Unilaterally Withhold Care

Yesterday, I wrote about futilitarian law professor and blogger Thaddeus Pope’s “Seven Reasons That Might Justify Unilateral Refusal” of Medical Treatment, with my brief responses to each of the seven. Pope has apparently thought about it some more, and revised the post to now list the “eight” reasons. Accordingly, I respond here to the revised version.

In the original, Pope claimed that futile care impositions would protect patient autonomy–never mind that the point of futile care is to override patient autonomy made in an advance directive or overturn family decision making–the people who know the patient best. To go from seven to eight, he has divided the idea of protecting patient autonomy into two “reasons.” From the revised post:

2. Protect patient autonomy (re treatment): In many cases, the aggressive treatment demanded by a surrogate is treatment not wanted by the patient. And where patient preferences are unknown, continued treatment is not in the patient’s best interests.

This was in the original seven, to which I responded yesterday:

But futile care theory is a frontal assault on patient autonomy, with some proposals even permitting patient advance directives to be overturned. If the patient truly did not want the treatment, that would not be futile care theory. Deciding in “the patient’s best interests,” would often really mean imposing the prevailing bioethical “quality of life” views onto patients. If the patient’s views are not known, the strong overriding presumption should be to continue the life of the patient as the surrogate requests.

Pope’s new “reason” is third (in order of importance) on his revised list:

3. Protect patient autonomy (re other things): Providing unwanted treatment not only violates the patient’s bodily integrity but also the patient’s autonomy concerning the location and manner of her death (ICU vs. home). It also causes the utilization of estate resources to pay medical bills that the patient wanted to go to other uses (e.g. grandchildren education).

Non medical issues, such as grand children’s college tuition or estate resources are none of the medical team’s business. If the patient wanted the treatment, or the duly authorized surrogate wants it, these matters should not be considered–and indeed cannot truly be known by bioethics committee members, doctors, or nurses. Besides, the choice in these cases isn’t going to be ICU or home, since by cutting off treatment the patient will probably die sooner rather than later in the ICU.

Futile Care Theory destroys patient autonomy, undermines the confidence of patients and families in the medical system, and superimposes the “quality of life” values of the bioethics elite on very sick people and their families.

Or to put it succinctly: education yes, coercion, no.

Most Popular

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More
White House

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More
White House

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
Economy & Business

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More
Economy & Business

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More
Film & TV

Bowing Down to Obama

‘How can we miss you when you won’t go away?” political podcaster Yvette Carnell joked two years ago when Barack Obama began his comeback tour by making sideline pronouncements about the state of the nation after his brief retirement. Now the comeback is official, with two new Kool-Aid-drinker Obama ... Read More
Film & TV

Bowing Down to Obama

‘How can we miss you when you won’t go away?” political podcaster Yvette Carnell joked two years ago when Barack Obama began his comeback tour by making sideline pronouncements about the state of the nation after his brief retirement. Now the comeback is official, with two new Kool-Aid-drinker Obama ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More
U.S.

Gratitude: What We Owe to Our Country

Editor’s Note: The following essay by National Review founder William F. Buckley comes from the first chapter of his 1990 book, Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country. I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and ... Read More