The Deadly “Quality of Life” Ethic, by Wesley J. Smith

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By Wesley J. Smith, First Things, July 6, 2020

Something evil happened recently in Austin. Michael Hickson, a forty-six-year-old African-American man with quadriplegia and a serious brain injury, was refused treatment at St. David’s Hospital South Austin while ill with COVID-19. The hospital withheld his tube-supplied food and water despite the objections of his wife, Melissa—and even though Michael might have survived the illness with the medical care generally provided COVID patients. Michael died on June 11 because his doctors did not believe he had a sufficient “quality of life” to justify curative treatment, and that because of his disabilities, saving his life was “futile.”

Here’s the backstory: In 2017, Michael experienced brain injury after cardiac arrest. He was quadriplegic and had seizures. But he was conscious and, according to Melissa, able to do math calculations and answer trivia questions. Wasn’t his life as precious as everybody else’s? Not according to Michael’s doctors. When Michael became sick with coronavirus, his doctor informed Melissa that treatment would not improve the quality of his life (meaning, he would remain quadriplegic and cognitively disabled if he survived), so the medical team “and the state,” through a court-appointed guardian, had decided all treatment except hospice comfort care should end.  ….

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