The difference with a feeding tube

A long time has passed now since Teri Schiavo has died, but for those who truly care about the care of the elderly/disabled, the issues is still of great importance.

One of the blogs I have on my blogroll on the right hand side of the blog is for Wesley J. Smith. Mr. Smith made a name for himself by writing the book “Culture of Death” in 2001 before the phrase became a media sensation. The book is not about abortion or euthenasia but about the current state of medical ethics and the transition from needs based care to “quality of life” based care. I’m told it is a very good book and I’ve heard him speak about the subject at a conference and it was very compelling, so I suggest everyone read the book (it’s on my stack to read).

In any case, on his blog one of the issues he often comments on (along with stem cells and cloning) is feeding tubes. He today re-made a point that his made many times that for some reason struck a cord with me:

Food and water are different than other kinds of medical treatments because EVERYONE, no matter who you are, WILL DIE without food and water. While the same is true for air/oxygen, the significant difference is that air is readily available at our noses in normal circumstances. So while people make comparisons between ventilators and feeding tubes, they are not equivalent. If you wanted to make an appropriate comparision, removing a feeding tube would be the same as removing a ventilator AND sealing the room so that no more oxygen can get in.

I think we all agree that sealing a room so a person can’t breath is immoral. Similarly, in the western world, refusing to provide food to ANY person, whether they be a homeless person on the street or a person who can’t swallow (because remember that all a feeding tube is, is a simple tube that goes down ones throat past where the bypass to the lungs is so that one doesn’t inhale (literally) the food), is similarly immoral.

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