Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Should Doctors Alone Decide On Human End-Of-Life?

Societal Ethics

The Question on whether doctors alone ought to decide the level of care an individual receives, notably in cases that are both costly and offer little hope of recovery, is what seven Supreme Court of Canada justices must now decide. At the heart of it all is deciding the rules and regulations for end-of-life decisions for patients that physicians deem as hopeless. An article in CBC News reports:
The case is about Hassan Rasouli, who has been on a ventilator and feeding tube for the past two years at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, after bacterial meningitis destroyed parts of his brain following surgery for a brain tumour. Rasouli, at first in a coma, was deemed to be in a persistent vegetative state, but that diagnosis was changed to one of "minimal consciousness" after he seemed to wake up and could occasionally give a thumbs-up sign, or grasp a ball.
Nevertheless, Rasouli's doctors at Sunnybrook didn't change their minds that he should be taken off hydration and feeding systems and moved into palliative care. Rasouli's family sought an injunction to prevent removal of the tubes, and then argued successfully at two lower court levels that the doctors did not have to right to halt use of the life-preserving equipment. The doctors appealed those decisions to the highest court.
Outside the court in Ottawa Monday, Rasouli's daughter Mozhgan said, "My father represents the value of life … I know that he wants to be alive." She continued, "It is unfair, it is unfair — he should be treated like anyone else."
When modern medical technology can help better the lives of individual, as countless medical advances have done over the years, society lauds and applauds its efforts. And rightly so. When the technology, however, is used to prolong life but one where the individual is kept alive artificially, the medical profession considers it both futile and a poor use of resources: To wit: money.

This rubs against religious and societal ethics that says life is sacred and worth prolonging "at all costs"; and the argument is made that a miracle might happen, and the individual might recover. It's possible. Again, there are valid arguments on both sides to which people agree,which reveals much. How one views such human of cases says much about how one views many such things human. The Supreme Court justices will need the wisdom of Solomon to arrive at their decision. Its ramifications will be felt across Canada for generations.

You can read the rest of the article at [CBC]


  1. Replies
    1. You raise an interesting point.I am not sure about the end-of-life directives as they apply to Israel.It might be that Prime Minister Sharon is a special case since he's a famous public figure.


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