Laura Hershey, writing in U.S. News & World Report, says the current debate over “end-of-life care” neglects to acknowledge the rich, vibrant lives lived by people with disabilities. She worries that health care rationing plans rely on discriminatory and erroneous views that ignore the experiences and value of people with disabilities.
Tactless acquaintances have told me they would kill themselves if they became as disabled as me. More chillingly, the last time I was hospitalized for pneumonia, I had two different nurses ask if I had a DNR-a “do not resuscitate” order. I replied that I had come to the hospital to get better, not to die.
Unfortunately, that expectation of medical treatment can run up against physicians’ opposing views and hospitals’ rules.
… In this economic and social climate, we fear that medical practitioners will stop short of saving our lives. More and more, despite rhetoric about “patient autonomy,” the decision to withhold treatment is imposed upon patients. Especially vulnerable are those unable to communicate their wishes.