Tuesday, April 07, 2020

WA State: "Who Should Be Treated--Who Should Be Left To Die?"

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Two years ago in a series of public meetings, Washington State officials asked residents on both sides of the Cascades if a medical crisis should occur, "How should we prioritize who should be treated and live, and who should be left to die?"

The Seattle Times says, "The information gathered from those hearings...is now informing draft crisis standards of care (CSC) guidelines...."

Be informed.

I understand that many of you who read this Faith and Freedom Daily do not live in Washington State--or even in the United States, but this information is applicable to all moral medical decisions.

The Seattle Times says,
"In a series of seven public hearings, officials asked residents on both sides of the Cascades what should and shouldn't be considered when deciding who should benefit from limited medical or emergency resources---such as ventilators, drugs or personal protective equipment---and who should be given comfort only during their last hours."

These hearings were held in 2018.

The Times says, "The information gathered from these meetings is now informing" state officials.

Where were the hearings held, who were the participants, and what did they say?

The hearings were held in Bellingham, Yakima, Wenatchee, Spokane, Vancouver, Tumwater, and Aberdeen.

There were a total of 136 residents that were chosen to participate in the hearings.

If any of you reading this article was one of the 136, or if you know someone who was, I'd like to hear from you. I'm not particularly interested in your name but would like to know if biblical truth informs your personal views regarding the sanctity of life, marriage, and human sexuality. You can contact me at this address gary.randall@faithandfreedom.us.

The discussions focused on four substantive questions:

  • What criteria should be used to allocate scarce medical and life-saving resources when there is not enough for all patients in need?
  • Which options for allocating these resources should not be considered at all---taken "off the table?"
  • What unique factors in their community or region, if any, need to be considered in issuing crisis standards of care guidance, including such things as distances patients might have to drive or specific cultural characteristics?
  • How should the state explain crisis standards of care to the public, and when should that information be given?

I'm wondering who the 136 were. The report refused to report who the citizen participants were, however, the state did release some demographic information.

  • Two-thirds of the participants were women
  • 70% were white
  • 66% were between the ages of 30 and 59 
  • Just over half indicated they had at least a bachelor's degree
  • 24% said they had attended some college

The Times gives more details and content of the discussions, but here's the bottom line for the 136 participants:

Participants commonly believed age was an acceptable criterion on which to base crises care decisions and tended to favor prioritization of infants and young children infants. However, at every meeting, it was regularly noted that the deference for youth reflects a Western (specifically American) bias that should be checked, particularly when dealing with cultures that value respect for elders.

What the group generally rejected were "chance-based" prioritization processes, such as using a lottery to determine who would get care, or allocating scarce critical care on a "first come, first serve" basis.

The participants were divided on whether healthcare providers should be able to reallocate lifesaving resources, taking them from one patient to give to another, but agreed that if doctors were given that power, "there should be clear guidelines on when and how it can occur."

Most felt the public should be informed in advance when these practices are being used.

I probably wouldn't have given a lot of attention to this, except that the information and data from these public hearings have now been synthesized into "Washington State Crises Standards of Care Guidance Framework."

The Times notes the guidance plan "lays out an ethical structure of seven principles under which all crisis standard of care decisions must be made: fairness, duty to care, duty to steward resources, transparency, consistency, proportionality, and accountability."

The Times says, "This ethical framework for making moral decisions was activated in mid-March when it became clear to the state government that coronavirus cases might exceed the ability to care for them."

However, Dr. Kathy Lofty, a physician and medical adviser, said last Thursday, "Our current data do not suggest that we need to use CSC---We continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."

Whether or not the state has activated its guidelines, the process raises concerns and questions.

The takeaway.

I think government should create policy. Romans 13 speaks to that.

The larger question is what or who informs your sense of moral rightness. What is "fair"? What is "right?" What is "moral?"

Subjective moral decisions are always based on one's personal worldview. If the personal worldview is so-called "progressive," it is then also relativistic. What's true in one situation is not true in another. My truth is different than your truth.

The Old Testament describes a time when "everyone did what was right in their own eyes" (Judges 17:6) as a moral and cultural disaster.

It's not surprising to find that Washington State is seeking to identify morality through the democratic process.

Washington, the place where I was born and raised, has led in so-called progressive thinking for a number of years--- the first state to legalize abortion by vote in 1970, one of the first to legalize euthanasia, one of the first to redefine marriage, etc. The democratic process is working---but is that the path to sustainability?

Jesus says, "no." He used the house "built on the sand" as a metaphor for the individual or government that builds on relativism. And the house on the rock as the metaphor for building on God's unchanging Truth.

Progressivism and moral relativism have given us streets lined with thousands of homeless, drug addiction and sidewalks littered with human waste in the cities where the Left is in power.

Our Founders understood that a successful society must be ordered by absolute, not "evolving" principles and truth.

They concluded that only the Bible gives that kind of assurance. They, by their own accounts, infused biblical principles into all young America's institutions.

And the nation prospered, becoming the most free, prosperous, blessed, generous nation in the history of the world.

A better way for government to create policy on who lives and who dies would begin with biblical truth regarding the sanctity of life---but that might endanger the abortion industry.

In his book, "The Abolition of Man," C.S. Lewis says,
"A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery." Otherwise he says we merely live by our own human impulses."

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Mindful. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.