Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Withdrawal of support

A British mother was granted the right to end her disabled daughter’s life by withdrawing her feeding tube. Supporters say the girl is no longer in pain, while critics say she was killed for being disabled.

What Ne’eman worries most is that Nancy died not to relieve her pain, but because she was disabled. “The media coverage implies that those who need a feeding tube would be better off dead. Nancy’s killing puts into action longstanding statements that it would be better to be dead than disabled,” he said. “People have trouble imagining that people who require assistance with eating, breathing, getting dressed have lives worth living.”...

For example, The Mirror says that Nancy “could not walk, talk, eat, or drink. Her quality of life was so poor she needed 24-hour hospital care and was fed, watered, and medicated by tube.” Which may indeed sound like a wretched quality of life to those unfamiliar with disability, and the phrase “watered” is further dehumanizing.

However, this life is by no means in and of itself a guarantee of a life not worth living. One of my sons has disabilities. He does not walk, talk, eat, or drink, and he gets his nutrition—and watering!—through a feeding tube. (He does not, however, require 24-hour hospital care.) Yet he plays catch with his brothers, tinkers on his toy piano, swims, giggles uncontrollably when someone wears a silly hat, explores gardens, cuddles, lets people know when he’s mad at them, demands (non-verbally) to have books read to him. There’s a lot of pleasure and socializing in his life.

Nancy, according to her mother, was at least somewhat responsive to the environment, often happy and engaged.


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