Bill Peace’s Hastings Center Article (on a disturbing hospital experience) and Three Commentaries Are All Online

As of today, Bill Peace’s essay “Comfort Care as Denial of Personhood” is online – and accompanied by three commentaries available at the Hasting Center Bioethics Blog.

Here’s what we wrote before about the experience at the center of Bill’s essay:

Back in 2010, our friend, colleague and ally Bill Peace, experienced a long, expensive health crisis when he experienced a stage IV skin breakdown – with a long treatment process that was physically and emotionally grueling by his own accounts.

While Bill was hospitalized – and at one of his lowest points healthwise – he was subjected to a late night visit by a hospitalist.  Laying out a grim set of possible outcomes for Bill’s health crisis, the doctor seemed to be urging Bill to just discontinue antibiotics and let himself be given palliative care to be pain-free until the infection took him.

Below are the links to Bill’s essay, and the three commentaries:

Comfort Care as Denial of Personhood by William J. Peace

Commentaries/Reactions to Comfort Care as Denial of Personhood:

  • Disability Discrimination” by Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake – We discuss evidence that Bill Peace’s account of feeling devalued and threatened in a healthcare setting may be just the tip of an ugly iceberg.
  • Disability Discrimination: Risky Business for “Consenting” Adults” – Philosopher Anita Silvers writes that Bill Peace’s account “stirs a familiar feeling of fear” – and one that may be shared by many visibly disabled people.
  • Disability Discrimination: A Doctor’s View” – Palliative care physician Theresa A. Soriano offers Bill Peace an apology for “the fear and alienation” a member of her own profession caused him.  She outlines what the physician should have done, if he wanted to be helpful; things that are standard practice for those competent in communicating about palliative care.

Comments on any of  the essays reacting to Bill Peace’s article  are encouraged, but you have to register – which is a free and relatively painless process.

I’d like to add that the Hastings Center, like bioethics in general doesn’t “do” disability very often.  Reactions to these articles from anyone – but especially folks in the disability community – might make them think the time has come to “do” disability more often.












2 thoughts on “Bill Peace’s Hastings Center Article (on a disturbing hospital experience) and Three Commentaries Are All Online

  1. There are insensitive idiots in every profession. I had gallstones, and an intern told me I had hepatitis because I was too fat, and needed to exercise two hours a day like they do in the army. I know from experience, to lose weight, that I don’t need to exercise two hours a day. I know this essay and incident was about ending life sustaining treatment, but just because some set of the human populace are idiots doesn’t mean that these options aren’t valid for another set of the human populace. e.g., my paternal grandfather experienced severe dementia a la Alzheimers (but not Alzheimers). My father is currently going through it. Personnally, I’d like the option to go out when I have some faculties left, and not leave a mindless husk and slow death to torment my loved ones and squander whatever small bit of wealth I have aquired to help them in their lives.

    1. The examples you’re giving aren’t really equivalent to the late-night visit by a physician to a very seriously ill person who is literally (due to the current health issue) at the mercy of the medical professionals at that hospital.

      As for suicide – you’re missing the point. If you wish to kill yourself while you have the will to do so (in the case of dementia), you have the same options with which to do that available to do so used by thousands of people who “successfully” commit suicide each year. It’s not about people who “can’t commit suicide,” but about labeling certain kinds of people (old, ill or disabled) as having less value – in which case *only* those select people get to have a medically prescribed foolproof and nonmessy way to commit suicide. That’s not about autonomy – it’s about culling the herd.

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