What gets my goat about this is how disingenuous it is, and how we as a culture are harvesting the results of our inability to make tough choices (our approach to healthcare is much like our approach to economics it would seem). To illustrate my point, consider if all the other sick babies in the country suddenly became well, and no longer needed care. You’d find very quickly that the doctors would reverse their position as they’d find something among all that equipment and medicine now not being used that would help improve the child’s quality of life. They’d be clamouring for something, anything to do to help.
What’s really happening here is a direct result of the philosophy that we apply to healthcare, which is that it’s a fundamental right. The problem with fundamental rights is that they can only try to defend what we intrinsically have. It can’t grant us things we do not. We have the fundamental right to life, but we all die. We have the right to work, but not to be employed. We have the right to think and learn, but not to be educated. Fundamental rights are there to prevent people taking away things that we have, rather than provide things for others. Maybe we as a society think we should do that anyway (I for one think it’s a good idea), but if you do it in the name of fundamental rights, you are guaranteed to overextend. When healthcare is a fundamental right, there’s no such thing as an overpriced treatment.
Except that, of course, there is, because our made up rights don’t trump reality, and when they face limited resources, the inevitable result will be people becoming exceptions. They can’t philosophically admit that they were wrong, and so they need to find a reason why these exceptions are not deserving of having their ‘right to healthcare’ met. Too old, too fat, too smokey, too sick (ironically), too ‘undignified’ (what does that even mean anyway? he wears a nappy for crying out loud, what would be so dignified about him even if he wasn’t ill?).
We should see this as the tragedy that it really is. A child is sick, we don’t know how to help him, and we don’t have the resources to do so. Instead, we have certifiable lunatics trying to tell us that he doesn’t deserve it. That his living couldn’t possibly be in his interests.
The real question here is, who can pay for his care? The hospital clearly doesn’t want to (nor do I think should they be forced to). Maybe the father isn’t capable. Maybe someone else can help, but if the boy continues to be treated as an ‘exception’ they won’t be allowed to. There’s the real tragedy.
In the bad old days, human rights were considered to have been bestowed only on those who could speak (which left the deaf disenfranchised). We’ve come a long way since then, now you only have to be able to play peek-a-boo.