Thursday, December 27, 2007

Refusing to fill a prescription (for death)

So, a couple Sundays back I was listening to a preacher talk about when his wife was carrying their first child. The doctor said she was likely to have a miscarriage, and if she didn't miscarry, the baby was going to be born blind, and so, he said, she should get an abortion. The preacher said he told his wife to tell her doctor to stick it in his ear. She must have done something of the sort, because she went on to give birth to a baby who has now grown into a lovely young lady of 18. The girl, by the way, wasn't born with any health problems, much less the blindness that was predicted.

Of course, if she had been born blind they would have loved her anyway. (BTW: Parents who don't run from their disabled children do tend to find them a blessing. Read this account of a young woman with Down Syndrome for yet another example of that. As her mother notes in the article, Hope taught her to slow down and smell the roses - not a bad thing, that. In the full disclosure department, I've met Hope and I like her.)

At any rate, I've been thinking. For one thing, I'm wondering if there's a person left in America who doesn't know someone who is alive today only because someone stood up to a doctor who prescribed giving up? Honestly? (Wouldn't it be better if we could trust doctors to admit when matters have gone past where they feel they can do anything useful, instead of making the mighty - not to mention arrogant - leap to declaring who should be allowed to live?)

For another thing, wouldn't it be better if more people learned to tell death-dealing doctors when and where to get off? Perhaps it's wild fantasy on my part, but I can't help wishing that more women, when advised to go get an abortion, would reply something along the lines of "You patronizing beast. Stop treating me like a child. I may not know exactly how to work my way out of this mess yet, but I refuse to be treated like an incompetent, cowardly, disloyal ninny, and beyond that, nobody treats my baby like garbage." Of course no one talks like that, but you get the idea.

Something similar goes for those of us who love anyone with disabilities. When my somewhat-crippled husband was critically ill a couple of years ago, I'm afraid I got a bit of experience with a couple of doctors who thought he ought to be reminded that assisted suicide is legal in Oregon. This was not a good move on their part. (My husband is doing fine these days, by the way, unless you count that he's down again with the flu or something like it. Ugh. We're having a month to forget, in the common winter ailment department.)

For the record, most of the people who were consulted during my husband's near-death experience were solidly on our side, and fought like crazy to save his life. Thank goodness. But the ones who weren't sure his life was worth living provided an extra layer of nightmares to the ordeal. To be fair, no one pushed the point after bringing it up, but then again, we didn't give them an inch.

Sigh. Do you remember the days when it was greedy heirs who had to get past a doctor to hasten Grandpa's demise, and not loving relatives who had to work around a doctor to save someone's life?

Should we have to put up with this?

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