The magic of Twitter alerted me to Global News’s live blog on euthanizing severely disabled children for reasons of suffering. The panel was stacked in favour thereof, featuring Robert Latimer, a mother of two severely disabled sons, and ethicist Arthur Schafer. As I scrolled through the discussion, I was able to pick up the core of Schafer’s stance:
I’m sure, Mary, that doctors sometimes deliberately hasten the deaths of their dying/suffering patients in Canada. Some have told me this personally. But no one admits it publicly because our law would convict them and sentence them to life imprisonment. So the decisions are made without safeguards, in the dark. I prefer the honesty, openness and safeguards of other societies. -Arthur Schafer
I firmly believe that the American system is broken. I believe there should be greater access to basic health care. I am grieved and outraged to hear of friends denied those basic needs over insurance technicalities, financial situation or an existing condition that desperately needs medical treatment.
But the Canadian system is broken too. I notice the difference because it’s not equal access for all. Dental is not covered by government health insurance; unlike large swaths of the population, we are heavily insured through my husband’s work. And the quality of care and access to options is on a whole other order of magnitude through those private providers.
Does it make it okay if the rich can afford what the poor cannot? No. But neither does that make it acceptable to create a system where compromises in care delivery, the bureaucracy of funding, and lack of needful literacy in navigating that bureaucracy create a paucity of treatment.
After the last year of strange health troubles and constant diagnostic waits of up to 3 months (symptoms? What symptoms, we’re on to the next strange thing now) my trust is significantly diminished.
And there’s not a single thing my front-line providers can do except try to navigate the system themselves. If they could do better, they would. Or so I want to believe.
In Ontario, the College of Physicians permits the doctor to withhold or withdraw treatment WITHOUT consent if he/she deems treatment to offer “no permanent benefit” A feeding tube is considered treatment. -Mary
Treating the patient as the problem to be removed from the equation is not doing better. This assumes a rightness to medical judgment that is just not true of human beings–and doctors, too, are fallibly human.
Not all of the disabled people here are Autistics – I have CP, just like Tracy Latimer. And that scares me. Because how long is it before someone decides I don’t have the right to live either? -Cara Liebowitz