Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not sure I understand

This morning I read the heading of an article in the Guardian in reference to the British Medical Association declaring that force-feeding the  prisoners who are on hunger strike at Guatanamo  is a gross violation of medical ethics.

Why so?  Is it not done to prevent suicide?  If it is done for other reasons it is political and not medical or ?

What about medical ethics when terminally ill patients or elderly that do no longer want to live are kept alive by force-feeding through tubes and other means? 

Why are my thoughts wrapped around this article which I only read the heading of?  If I had read the article I might have found the answer to my questions and would not have had the opportunity to get this off my chest....... Mutti was 88 when she died in hospital.  For three days she had to share space with other patients and each time I sat with her she would whimper "please let me die".  When I returned on the forth day she was in a private room and no longer whimpering.  I was trying to feed her the pudding from the tray that had been brought to her when a doctor walked in and said " why are you feeding her when it only prolongs her agony".  I stopped feeding her and the trays stopped coming . Maybe the trays stopped coming first but I can't help but feeling as if I had stopped first.


Tom said...

You do seem to insist on asking questions that are difficult or even impossible to answer. :)

All the same, would it not be worth considering the possibility that the ethic is not what is primarily important. What appears to be important is for someone to feel they can legitimately claim the ego-driven moral high ground. That makes that someone feel good, and that is overly important for some people. If they can appear to be suffering as well, on that high ground, so much the better. Or am I simply being cynical I wonder?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Ellena, I can feel the anguish this must have caused you.

I was in a similar situation with a relative who was dying slowly and painfully but I would never have been able to hurry the process, no matter how terrible it was to see her suffer.
Recently there was a report here in the UK that a large number of hospitals simply stopped feeding very old, sickly people in order to liberate beds that were needed for new patients. I find this shocking and frightening - where does one draw the line? When does compassion turn into

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Sorry about the 'yogi' at the end!
I was typing the word in the not-a-robot box and somehow it ended up here.

Roderick Robinson said...

Force feeding is a complicated moral issue. Self-starving may be seen as prolonged form of suicide but it all depends on where it happens. Alone, and in one's own house, it may seem like an entitlement. In hospital (or a prison) others are having to take responsibility for the self-starver's life and this is not a clear obligation. Even when an elderly person, racked with pain, life a misery, asks to die it is the medical staff who will face the legal issues (often very blurred, often capable of going either way) not the self-starver. Are we (ie, the self-starvers) allowed to force them into this situation?

In the case of a healthy 25-year-old with strong political convictions, self-starving to make a political point, the act of self-starving becomes a weapon. Aimed at diminishing the status of those in charge. Faced with a weapon may one not respond?

There are no easy answers and what I have written is very much a once-over-lightly. Your own mixed feelings prove, if proof were needed, the uncertainties involved.

Ellena said...

Thank you for commenting.