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On Saturday, Fox News’ Fox and Friends featured the story of Houston Methodist patient Chris Dunn. Chris is facing a death sentence via the hospital’s invocation of the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), a draconian Texas statute which allows doctors to remove life-sustaining treatment from Chris even though he is alert and has expressed his desire to stay alive. Chris’s family and legal representatives are fighting for his right to live, but the hospital has gone as far as filing a petition to be named Chris’s custodial guardian in order to withdraw treatment, effectively ending Chris’s life.
Pro-Life attorney Joe Nixon was invited to discuss the situation with Fox and Friends. Representing the other side, nurse Katie Duke opined in favor of the hospital’s anti-Life decision. Duke, who has not examined Chris or read his hospital records, engaged in hefty speculation about Chris’s current condition, citing “what [she]read online” as the basis of her opinion that the hospital was acting ethically by killing Chris.
“The first and foremost thing that the hospital needs to do here,” Duke argued, “is to make sure the patient and the family have realistic expectations and goals for end-of-life care […] This is not at all a time that you want to be battling […] about what we want to do to give this man the best quality of life even if it is within his last dying days.”
Duke mentions two terms – “quality of life,” and “end-of-life” – which should not be associated with Chris’s situation. These are discriminatory terms predicated on a conviction that Chris is not only terminal, but that he also should not be the arbiter of his own medical choices – especially when that choice is to not be killed. In fact, Chris has not received a terminal diagnosis; he has not received a diagnosis at all. Houston Methodist predetermined that Chris’s care was futile when he was admitted over a month ago in the absence of any pathological testing – testing that, to this day, has not been conducted despite the fact that Chris continues to live while being judged a “futile” patient.
“Where in anyone’s life process do we determine that the rest of their life is futile?” Joe Nixon asked. But when Nixon noted that Chris’s condition has not naturally deteriorated since his admission in November, and that he continues to live and respond to the people around him, Duke again circled back to her ‘quality of life’ rhetoric, asking, “What’s your definition of ‘alive,’” belying the semantics required to maintain unscientific ‘quality of life’ arguments crafted specifically to kill patients.
Condescendingly, Duke attempted to argue that one must be a “medical professional” to understand or sympathize with Houston Methodist’s decision to end Chris’s life. However, we have to ask why – if the hospital were operating on strictly medical practices and not on ideological ‘quality of life’ assessments – Houston Methodist has not rigorously explored Chris’s condition in order to determine a prognosis. The fact is that, from day one, Chris’s care has been determined by unscientific, ideological discrimination. “This,” concluded Nixon, “is exactly the reason why this law is horrible. Because it allows people like Katie to decide that the rest of your life is unimportant – to them.”