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When "Quality of Life" Means "Not Worthy of Life"

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There is a fight going on in the UK about whether to keep a seriously ill baby on life support or put her in palliative care to die. Typical of our age, the idea that a person has a life not worth living may really be about discrimination against the disabled, coupled with the imperative to save money.

That is happening in the context socialized medicine, in which National Health Service bureaucrats want life-sustaining medical treatment stopped for a baby because the life it would provide would not be of sufficient “quality.” From the Nottingham Post story (my emphasis):

Lawyers representing the trust said the little girl had a range of health problems and was likely to need long-term respiratory support or ventilation, a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. A specialist told Mr Justice Keehan that the little girl could not make “meaningful” noise and did not seem able to smile. He said babies initially acted on instinct and the emergence of a smile was an indicator of cognitive function.

“She does not appear to have a smile,” he told the judge. “The first evidence that there is actually someone inside there is when a baby looks at something which it thinks is a face, processes that face and then smiles.”

He said long-term treatment would place “significant burdens” on the little girl. “This treatment cannot overcome very severe restriction issues,” he said. “It adds life years but life years that are very restrictive.”

Did you catch the dehumanizing phrase, “someone inside there”? And if there is “no one” there, how could she experience “significant burdens”?

Where are the parents in all of this? Apparently leaving it to the bureaucrats and supposed “experts.” These utilitarian attitudes in medicine are pushed hard by the bioethics movement internationally.

Photo credit: HolgersFotografie via Pixabay.
Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.

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