Because of this, people have the right (this now includes hospital ethics committees under the banner of “futile care”) to refuse medical treatment (food and water via feeding tube) either for themselves or for others, which is often based on “best interest” scenarios. Denying the disabled food and water has become a routine part of medicine that only becomes an issue when family disagrees, as in the case of Karen Weber and my sister Terri.
If you need proof, read what was recently written in a March 18 New York Times article. In this column by Jane Brody, Judith Schwarz, a registered nurse and clinical coordinator for “Compassion & Choices” of New York was quoted as saying the following: “1.3 million people die each year in American hospitals as ‘a consequence of someone’s decision to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment.’”
If this is accurate, these numbers are staggering. Although there are no statistics available to indicate exactly how many of these 1.3 million are simply being starved and dehydrated to death because a “loved one” doesn’t feel like taking on the “burden” of caring for these individuals, it is safe to say that dehydrating the disabled to death is happening every day in our country—in fact thousands of times daily, if the figures are to be believed. During Terri’s battle, Michael Schiavo’s attorney admitted that his effort to kill my sister by denying her food and hydration is a widely practiced “medical treatment.”
How have we sunk so far as a nation to become so desensitized and disconnected to the value and dignity of our most vulnerable, that dehydrating the disabled to death has become about as ordinary as buying a loaf of bread?
Someone once said that when your life becomes difficult, change your life, not your morals. Faced with difficult life choices today, too many have become too comfortable acting immorally.