Human Exceptionalism

Pleasantly Surprising News Out of the UK

Well, this is nice. A UK judge has refused to permit an unnamed patient diagnosed with persistent vegetative state to be dehydrated to death at the request of her family who believe it would be better for her to “die with dignity” than live with serious disabilities. Instead, he has ordered that she be administered a drug that usually aids sleep, but which has been found in one study to actually awaken seemingly unconscious patients. The woman’s solicitor (equivalent to an American guardian ad litem), appointed to represent her interests in the litigation, was quoted as saying that he believed “no stone should remain unturned” in an effort to save her life. The judge also ruled that the attempt would be limited to three days and would stop if it appeared that the woman was unduly suffering.

These are hard and heartbreaking cases. But I am proud of the solicitor for treating his ward as the fully human and fully equal person that she is.

Here is a story in the Telegraph about Louis Viljoen, who was diagnosed as PVS and was awakened by the sleeping concoction (used in Ambien).

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