Being kept alive at any cost

The Hippocratic Oath (the moral guide for the medical profession) says, in effect, ‘Do no harm.‘ It does not, however, require doctors to keep a patient alive at any cost. Who bears any such cost? Obviously, the patient!

An American surgeon, Atul Gawande, in his book ‘Being Mortal’ “… confesses that he and his colleagues in the medical profession have, in their right wish to prolong life, often forgotten that high-risk surgery may give a person more days but also less opportunity in those days to find a meaningful end to their life …

So wrote the Rev. Michael Jensen in the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 Aug. 2018 about ‘Our deepest fear is dying without meaning.’ Jensen also wrote ”And so the pressing problem for us as a society is how we can best end people’s pain – although that is vital – but how we can help each other to find meaning.” He also wrote “The real hell of dying is dying in despair.”

If you have been indoctrinated to fear (the mythical) hell because you have not paid heed to your priest; and if you lack a spiritual belief in relation to our Creator, and to the meaning of human existence, you may fear death. I know a few ardent church-goers who want to be kept alive, irrespective of any consequential significant diminution in the quality of their life.

Then there is the terrible issue of compassion being over-ridden by man-made theology – as has been demonstrated by successive Australian governments persistently rejecting voluntary euthanasia (doctor assisted dying) even after palliative care, surgery, and pharmaceutical products have been ineffective in controlling unending terrible pain.

Has God willed such suffering? What do His theology-bound agents on Earth have to say? Clearly religiosity over-rides morality in federal politics.

About 80 to 85% of Australians have unsuccessfully sought voluntary euthanasia, even with stringent safeguards against ‘killing’ and ‘suicide’, for decades (going back 70 years of observation by me)! Have our elected parliamentary representatives been influenced more by their clergy than by their voters? Compared with some European nations, how backward are we?

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