Canada’s Supreme Court ruled on October 18, 2013 that a Toronto man who has been on life support for three years cannot be removed from it without the consent of his family, despite doctors deciding it is no longer medically necessary.
“Two Sunnybrook doctors have lost their bid to unilaterally remove a severely brain damaged patient from life support, but they still have the option of going to a provincial tribunal to try to overrule his family’s wishes, the Supreme Court has decided.“
What I find shameful about the doctors in question, is not that they are arguing that life support is no longer necessary, but that they argue that “they were not actually providing medical treatment by keeping the man on life support.”
Of course providing life support is medical treatment. It’s not free to make, purchase or operate those machines, and providing related support.
Their argument strikes me as a cynical attempt to end life support, perhaps under a completely valid medical basis, under false pretenses, because of the constraints of the law.
However, I also find it shocking that the Supreme Court decision would claim a right to medical treatment at the involuntary expense of others. The cynicism is furthered by that “right” subjected to being arbitrarily denied on the basis of the decision of a subsequent government panel, which perfectly illustrates the inability of governments to grant positive rights.
I am sympathetic to the concern of “death panels”, which is what the provincial government panel effectively can serve as. Also, doctors can even be pushed into that role because of pressures in the socialized health care system, and this is exactly why I support private money for primary health care in Canada, which is what all other countries in the world allow for, except for Cuba and North Korea.
For more on health care, see my articles:
1) The first step in health care reform: Recognizing that health care is not a right
2) Ron Paul right on health Care: It’s not a right and it’s not a privilege — it’s a good
3) Stefan Molyneux reveals the perverse incentives in the U.S. health care system