After several days of discussion about a baby that Texas lawyer Jerri Ward asked Wesley Smith to blog about on Secondhand Smoke, I have been asked “How can you be a doctor and not know this about what passes for ethics nowadays?”
Because I have a different understanding “about what passes for ethics nowadays.”
I do not agree that euthanasia is practiced in Texas medicine or that utilitarian arguments prevail in medical ethics, especially in Texas. I am a pro-life family doctor who has been studying and practicing medicine, and now, bioethics in Texas. My activism and biggest motivator has been focused on the manipulation and dehumanizing of humans at the beginning of life, because of the advocacy for abortion and destructive embryonic research. I am repeatedly reassured that our Texas physicians do not support euthanasia at the end of life by what I know of them and by what I witness at our medical association meetings and at the meetings where we have been debating the amendment of the Texas Advance Directive Act.
I know what is said in the literature, in the media, in the blogs, and what is said between doctors. I’ve experienced being the patient, the daughter, wife and mother of a patient, and the doctor in some tough ethical situations.
The elite “ethicists” across the world voice and publish all sorts of utilitarian ideas, including the feminist bioethicists at the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities who discounted conscience as a legitimate guide for physician’s actions. I oppose this sort of “ethics” every chance I get.
However, the doctors in Texas do not advocate or encourage such drivel. The very rare doc who is unwise enough to voice the opinion that some lives are not worth living is immediately countered and out-numbered and out-reasoned by his or her professional and compassionate colleagues.
In contrast to my own experiences and education, in the one-sided reports on the blogs and in the media, I hear a story that never quite fits what I know about medical facts, much less about the way I see practical clinical ethics being practiced and taught in Texas. Unlike the other posters at Secondhand Smoke, it is not at all “obvious” to me what happened in this case.
Concerning the bit we know about the case in question, it’s not at all “obvious” to me that any pediatrician would have argued to an ethics committee that there are not enough resources to go around or that a child would be better off dead than to have a safe tracheostomy and feeding tube placement in order to continue the current level of technology and in anticipation of transfer to the proper step down care.
On the other hand, if, as I suspected, there had been concerns about imminent death or about a crisis due to the mitochondrial defect flaring after stress of surgery, then it would have been appropriate to object to treatment that could hasten death while causing pain and (surgically) separating the child from her/his mother.
I spent several hours over the last two days watching and listening to the hearings last August 9 on the TADA. I couldn’t attend them because my mother was in the hospital – she died August 14. I was reassured by the testimony of the doctors and hospital representatives.
As I said, part of what the lawyer who reported this case experiences is most likely (“obviously”) the result of her previously publicized comments in the media that doctors and hospitals kill patients and bury their mistakes.