Peter Singer once again wants to shove human “non persons” out of the life boat. Not content with advocating infanticide, he also promotes futile care theory and suggests that patients with dementia be denied antibiotics and that other patients be denied life support based on doctors’ desires. He also comes out—quite predictably—against the Golubchucks in their futile care fight. From his column “No Diseases for Old Men”:
Singer may be an atheist, but even he should see that Mr. Golubchuck would hardly see violating his religious beliefs to be in his own best interests. Singer says that in Canada’s nationalized health care, taxpayers shouldn’t have to support the family’s religious beliefs. But a decision based on religious belief is no different than one based on philsophy or other method of determining one’s values. We certainly don’t want Singer’s amoral utilitarianim to dominate society. Perhaps he is only illustrating why many utterly distrust nationalized health care.
Pneumonia also has not been able to play its friendly role for 84-year-old Samuel Golubchuk of Winnipeg, Canada, who for years has had limited physical and mental capacities as a result of a brain injury. Golubchuk’s doctors thought it best not to prolong his life, but his children, arguing that discontinuing life-support would violate their Orthodox Jewish beliefs, obtained a court order compelling the doctors to keep their father alive.
So, for the past three months, Golubchuk has had a tube down his throat to help him breathe and another in his stomach to feed him. He does not speak or get out of bed. How much awareness he has is in dispute. His case will now go to trial, and how long that will take is unclear.
Normally, when patients are unable to make decisions about their treatment, the family’s wishes should be given great weight. But a family’s wishes should not override doctors’ ethical responsibilities to act in the best interests of their patients. Golubchuk’s children argue that he interacts with them. But establishing their father’s awareness could be a double-edged sword, since it could also mean that keeping him alive is pointless torture, and it is in his best interest to be allowed to die peacefully
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that Singer would promote death for those he deems less morally valuable than “persons.” In other venues, Singer has promoted non voluntary euthanasia for people with dementia, so there is no reason to think he wouldn’t also support forced imposition of Futile Care Theory.
Funny thing though: When his own mother had Alzheimer’s he took good and proper care of her—even though she had stated she did not wish to be maintained. When asked about this and why he and his sister were spending tens of thousands of dollars caring for her (and no doubt, not refusing health care for her from Australia’s nationalized system), he told a reporter for the New Yorker,:
Perhaps it is more difficult than I thought before, because it is different when it’s your mother.I have an idea: Now that his mother is dead, Singer should let other people love their parents just like he loved her.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?