QLD Doctor: “How much more money are we going to waste keeping him alive?”

By Elise (Medical Student)

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability commenced its hearings on investigations last week.

After campaigners called for an independent authority to investigate allegations of abuse against school children with disabilities, some disturbing stories have come forward – and these have revealed that abuse of disabled children is not confined to schoolyards and classrooms.

Harrison – an 18 year old Queensland man was one such victim of discrimination when his paediatrician asked his mother, “How much more money are we going to waste keeping him alive?”.

The paediatrician assumed the breathing complication that Harrison was hospitalised for was caused by his quadriplegia – the result of a brain injury he had suffered at 3 years old.

On the contrary, the young man’s breathing difficulties were symptoms of acid reflux, which were resolved when appropriate treatment was provided.

But had Harrison’s mother not defended her son’s right to life, his death might have resulted from symptoms completely curable with today’s modern medicine, despite his condition.

This one family’s experience of being undervalued by workers in the healthcare system is not unprecedented. The constant expectation for “quality of life” to be a determining factor of the “value of life” has become a dangerous norm in medical attitudes.

But euthanasia advocates continue to ignore these red flags as to why the legalisation of euthanasia will have disastrous effects for vulnerable families at the mercy of the opinions of doctors and other healthcare professionals.

No safeguards, recommendations, guidelines or consent forms will eliminate the human error and unconscious bias of doctors (and even family members) who will promote the ending of lives they don’t consider worth living.

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