Stopping the Murder of Patients
Imagine a seven year old girl struggling to stay alive. Imagine this adorable little person gasping for breath and fighting every single day against her illness. Imagine her clenching onto a small glimmer of hope, wishing to win the internal battle raging inside her body.
Imagine. Yet, she doesn’t have a choice. Her family chooses to let her go, and her lifeline of food and water is cut from her. And with that line, her hope is shattered into a million pieces like a broken mirror. The light around her is slowly diminished by darkness, and she dies with her last thoughts echoing in her ears:”No one believed in me.” In the medical world, doctors see thousands of patients a week.
Some of these patients are on their deathbed and are fighting for their last breath. Since February of 1933, by the Supreme Court, it has been made legal for a doctor to ask the family if they would like to withhold food and water from the patient if the patient is in a lot of pain. One case concerning Terri Schiavo tells of a horrid story. Terri was not dying but suffered from severe brain damage and was staying in the hospital. However, when the doctor asked the family if they would like to withhold food and water, the husband said yes while the parents pleaded for them not to.
The husband’s opinion was held higher than those who gave birth to Terri, and she died a few days later, (Nutrition and Hydration, Louisiana Life Federation). This is murder. How is it possible for others to make a literal life or death decision for another? How is it not considered murder to take the life of another without his or her content? How is it seen as “okay” to give up on someone who is struggling to stay alive? The answer is simple: it’s not. Many people may argue that the patient has no chance of survival, and it is best to let the patient’s pain end sooner than later. But, who are they to say there is no chance of survival? As statistics show, new research and discoveries are being made all the time. About 60 new medical theories surface everyday in just the United States alone.
These findings can potentially save lives, but if people are so willing to give up on others even before these ideas are able to surface, then how can anyone have a chance of survival? While the patient’s family is too busy giving up on the patient, groundbreaking research may be just around the corner. But by then it is too late; someone has already pulled the plug. Not only that, but if the patient’s body is fighting until the very end to stay alive then what gives others the right to take that away from them? As Dr. Mark Siegler, director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, said, ”I worry about..
.deaths by starvation and dehydration…, because that would deprive the [people] in our society of the most basic kinds of human care,” (A.
Malcom, New York Times). No one has the right to deprive humans of their own basic needs, especially when their body is working in overdrive to save itself. Our heart, blood vessels, and brain struggle every second to keep enough oxygen circulating when it seems we are about to fail. Every system and organ in our bodies exerts itself to beat the illness even in the last few seconds of impending death; there is always a chance to overcome the sickly monster inside, but if others decide to give up before our body does then even that miracle vanishes into nothing. Another surprising fact in this is how doctor-assisted suicide is illegal yet withholding food and water from the patient is not.
At least in doctor-assisted suicide the patient would be the one to choose if he wanted to end his dying process earlier, but the choice to withholding water or food from a patient lies with the family. It is not fair to put someone’s life is another’s hand if he does not give his content. People need to realize that withholding food and water from a patient is just as demeaning, if not worse, than doctor-assisted suicide. The Supreme Court needs to look back on their decision and make this illegal as well. Our choices should lie in our hands.
We should be the ones to decide what will happen in the end, not those surrounding us. Patients should get their own say in their life and how they want to live it. If the patient is willing to believe in miracles and research, then who are we to stop their beliefs? In the game of life everyone has his own field and he is the player; those on the sidelines don’t score our goals. We do.