October 26, 2011
Phil 383/ Dr. A. Silvers
When considering the moral issues of both cases of Roosevelt Dawson and the ten hour old baby, there are a few concerns that should be reflected upon. In Dawson’s case, he has lived for twenty-one years and the use of his limbs has been dramatically taken from him. His quality of life can be seen as a moral issue because he would have to relearn how to function without limbs. This could take place outside of the hospital setting and in an assisted living home, which would more than likely be frustrating. He would have to endure the stares and the stories of his paralyzed limbs. The moral issue of discharging Dawson from the hospital should be considered because he is suspected of leaving and committing assisted suicide due to his quadriplegic condition.
In the case of the baby, the moral issue is also of quality of life. The mother has decided to not have the surgery performed and have nutrients taken away from her child. The baby has lived for less than ten hours and obviously cannot yet make a decision for herself. If the surgery was to be performed and the baby fully recovered, the quality of life would still come into play. Because she does not know how it is to live with working limbs, she would be able to cope and learn how to function better than in Dawson’s case. Although she would be would most likely cope better without limbs, the question arises of ‘what would she be able to do on her own?’ She would need someone to be with her at all times: to feed her, bath her, go to the restroom with her, dress her, and all other everyday tasks. Thus, the quality of life in this child should be considered when deciding if she should have the surgery to remove the anomalies or not. Previously, the Metropolitan Hospital board had agreed to refrain from providing breathing assistance and/or nourishment for people who have so stated their wishes. Thus, in this case of Roosevelt Dawson, he has previously met with both his mother and his social worker discussing his choices as to what his options were after he is discharged from the hospital. This can create a legal issue due to the fact that Dawson was originally going to be able to be discharged from the Metropolitan Hospital. If the Metropolitan Hospital were to refrain from discharging Dawson, then that could cause some disagreements with Dawson’s wishes and the wants of his social worker and his physicians. Dawson has also been found completely competent, which can provide stability to his life after his current stay at the hospital and thus strengthen his case to leave. Regarding the case of the baby girl, it has been stated, in our text, that contemporary ethical and legal norms hold that all human beings born alive should be treated equally, regardless of disability. This can call for a legal case because if this baby girl were to have been born with legs and arms, would the mother still not want surgery performed? And if she did not wish to have surgery, then that would call into her competence and if she were able to make a proper decision about the situation? If all human beings born alive should be treated equally, then why does the mother not want to have surgery performed on her baby girl? Thus, because the mother is not treating her child as if she were a baby without a disability, the hospital can be accused of following through with the wishes of an incompetent woman. According to the Child Abuse Amendments (CAA) of 1984, which ended the political controversy over the federal role in decisions to withhold treatment from handicapped newborns, legal issues could arise from the hospital not treating the baby. This amendment strongly protects the rights and interests of those with disabilities and leaves little room for non-treatment decisions to be based on expected low quality of life or the interests of parents. All children, whatever the extent of their disabilities, are to be granted medical...
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