Thursday, 26 April 2018

Respect life

The ongoing case of Alfie Evans and the efforts of his parents and a few activists is quite an alarming indication of the stance of the law, the medical practice and the society as a whole.

I thought the motto of medical profession was to 'improve the quality of life', not 'ensure death'.  And if one cannot improve the quality of life, one ought to be put down.  Going by that dictum, most people even the healthy ones, should be put to sleep once and for all.  Furthermore, the standard of a society is measured by the way it looks after the marginalized, especially the weak and the disabled.  If measured by that standard, the UK would not rank high in this and related episodes.

Following the logic of the hospital and the judges, even George Young a four year old who has dementia and is expected to soon lose sight and other vital organs, should be left to die, without any further medical intervention - not even food and water!

On the one hand there is the whole celebration of the birth of a new prince, and the royals paying homage to the dead at the Anzac ceremony, and on the other a concerted effort to end one life.  Seriously, the dead are revered and the living murdered?  Wonder if the law would prevent a royal family from taking their child to another country for treatment, even if that treatment is no guarantee of better health? So if Alfie can be taken home, he can well be taken to Italy - go for a family vacation, if that be!

In Alfie's case, the doctors had initially claimed that Alfie would not survive long without the ventilator. But he has outlived their prediction and made it on his own since three days.  So there is a possibility - a very wild one - that science has got it wrong.  Yet it need not be a defeat of science.  There is nothing called good science or bad science.   The fact that science has not yet found the cure does not mean that there isn't one.  Furthermore, some remedies used today were experiments some time ago. Only when they've been proved beneficial have they become 'life-saving' today.  So even if one gives into the logic of the hospital and the judges, that Alfie's condition cannot be improved, one can at least try unexperimented modes of treatment with the sole intention of improving his health.  It is not as if healthy people are cheated into being experimented on - which is ethically wrong.  But here is a case where every possible means of available treatment has failed, so why not?

In most such cases where there is no visible sign of agency, human life is considered not worth continuing.  Actually it speaks not so much about the sick person but of those healthy and those taking decisions on behalf of the sick.  In passing judgement about the worthiness or non-worthiness of their continued existence, we are passing judgement on our own ethical and moral standard.

How can taking someone's life be for the betterment of one's life? 

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