Self-ownership, continued

To clarify my last post, a family had an awful tragedy inflicted on them: their daughter died. The hospital managed to get the girl's heart beating, but everything--brain stem on up--is gone. This is just a corpse with chemical and electrical stimulation to keep the heart beating. Since not even the brain stem is firing, the diaphragm will not operate so a ventilator has to induce positive air pressure to keep the lungs inflated. Ventilation violates the body's natural state, and bacteria migrate through the tube in the throat. The body has shut down. Toxins are not being flushed, body temperature is unregulated (hence, a grief-crazed mother keeps saying her daughter is "warm"), the organs are cooking and immune and numerous other functions have stopped. The body is, in a word, decomposing even as the ventilator and an intravenous chemical soup keep it in a simulacrum of life.

All of this on other people's dimes, by the way.

Now, decomposing bodies are not normally a problem--everybody ends up with one other than a few Blessed saints--we've evolved to deal with them. But this is something entirely different: a corpse that is oxygenated, nourished, kept above ambient temperature and the internal vacuum maintained. An ideal microbial environment. If you've had a family member in this state (and I have), hospitals don't bother telling you to wash your hands when you come in; your family member already has every bug known to man. They tell you to wash your hands when you leave.

In summary, a group of net-tax consuming litigants has managed to maintain a publicly funded biohazard for the past month thanks to an unprincipled lawyer and sympathetic and/or ignorant proceduralist who has judicial power.

These are all individuals with right of self-rule, according to the classical liberals, who naively write such protections into their government's founding documents. The result is paralysis: as the specter of a superbug epidemic looms, government can't even act in the common interest which is purportedly the only reason we keep it around.

Hopefully things do not get to the point of epidemic levels of contagion. I anticipate in the next few years hospitals will simply refuse to admit patients who don't execute a DNR. Antibiotic prescription will require a battery of tests and bureaucratic review.

Rule yourself or you will be ruled.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the clarification. I agree with what you said, although I think fortunately this sort of case isn't common enough to be a major source for public health risk, though it certainly doesn't help. I imagine sexual promiscuity, general antibiotic abuse, urbanization, greater travel, etc. have more of an effect in driving public health.
There is plenty of blame in that direction, yes. Including bored yuppies who jet off to exotic locales they didn't evolve to fit. City councils that are pathologically incapable of denying building permits, and on and on.

If you can print your own money, a lot of things get enabled.
Unknown said…
I read about this and the mother is obviously insane with grief and does not understand her daughter is dead.
lannes said…
"Ruling yourself" won't keep you from being ruled.