Western Society likes to pat itself on the back, thinking all is well in the area of health and human services. We have made great strides in the prevention and treatment of disease. Things that would have resulted in death a hundred years ago, like a ruptured appendix or consumption are easily treated with surgical intervention and antibiotics. However do we go too far in requiring that our ideals of treatment are met regardless of the patient’s wishes?
Nowhere is this a fuzzier area than with the treatment of minors. We all want to see children grow to live long and healthy lives. But where should the line be drawn when it comes to treatment choices; with the doctor; with the parent; or with the patient?
Should doctors have the authority to deny a person’s right to the type of treatment they want even if that treatment is no treatment resulting in death if they so chose? Doctors, health care professionals and social service authorities seem to be content with the concept of death when they see the three initials, “DNR” typed onto a patient’s chart – they just medicate that person so that they don’t both the other patients. What is it then that makes a young man’s wish to take his chances unacceptable? Each person has their own individual belief on how much pain is acceptable and how much they can withstand. Is it only a matter of professional ego that doctors execute their will upon those who have no desire for the treatment?
The human mind is a wondrous organic machine; it can manipulate the various body parts through a myriad of challenges thought to be lethal with simple electrical synaptic bursts. Healing is one of its most difficult of tasks. There must be a will for it to do so, how effective can a mind be if that person has been forced to undergo what the mind has not prepared to accept as the solution to the problem at hand?
Medicine has proven that it is fallible – the anti-viral drugs that doctors pushed years ago as the cure all have now become ineffective. The viruses have mutated to the point where the strongest of these have become impervious to the ‘treatments’ where if they had been left alone and people to ride out the end of the viral cycle they would have remained as a lesser threat than they are now. The result of this has been to strengthen viruses to the point of which they are untreatable and as can be as lethal as small pox was to Native Americans when it was first introduced.
All of this forced treatment for the greater good reminds one of other infamous medical experimenters. Joseph Mengele comes most readily to mind.
The good doctor Joseph Mengele, best known for his medical experimentation on innocents, was no different than the doctors of today: he thought he could play with the human mind in order to force change upon those he did his studies on. He concentrated the majority of his work on twins to show the differences as he attempted to manipulate eye colors, create co-joined twins and the like. He was not alone, there were other doctors employed by the Nazis who conducted experiments on freezing prisoners in order to find a method to counter hypothermia, injecting prisoners with Malaria in order to test the effectiveness of various drugs, using mustard gas on prisoners to attempt to find counter measures to the effects of the gas, treating infecting battle wounds, turning sea water into drinkable waters, the list goes on. Each one of these doctors was seemingly of the mind that their service was towards the good of their society. They assumed that they had the right to take away a person’s choice because it was for the betterment of the whole. This seems shockingly similar to the arguments of the doctors and court appointed caretakers of these two youth.
*child’s name withheld by court order
We have made great strides in the prevention and treatment of disease. Things that would have resulted in death a hundred years ago, like a ruptured appendix or consumption are easily treated with surgical intervention and antibiotics. However do we go too far in requiring that our ideals of treatment are met regardless of the patient’s wishes?