Friday, January 8, 2010

Rom Houben and the Evolution of Uplift.

Alex Schadenberg of Canada's Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has a great run-down of the evolution of the uplifting but inaccurate story of Rom Houben, the "locked in" patient "discovered" and now talking about the horror of his 23 years alone.

The story resonated for me because a lot of "pro-life" folks jumped on the story as strange vindication for the death of Terri Schiavo who was removed from artificial nutrition and hydration after a years long court battle and media blitz. See, "pro-lifers" said, maybe the persistent vegetative state diagnosis is wrong sometimes. I never bought the parallel and I still don't.

But the Houben story had emotional legs that it marathon-ed across all sorts of media outlets. Those who oppose aid in dying (strange because the DwD laws, in the US at least, only pertain to patients capable of ingesting the medicine on their own and only those with terminal diagnoses) worked the story into justification for their position.

The Terri Schiavo case - and the Rom Houben case - have zilch to do with aid in dying. US law has long determined that families may choose to remove their brain dead loved ones from artificial life support. Or with an advance directive, patients may do so themselves in advance.

But read Schadenberg's summary. I'm glad he has it up; it speaks to EPCs commitment to using the facts, discerning what's best for patients, and not chasing after ideological and emotional stories for political gain. At least today, with this post.

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