Catholic non-profit highlights dignity of people with disabilities amid coronavirus

Catholic non-profit highlights dignity of people with disabilities amid coronavirus

Credit: sfam_photo/Shutterstock.
Credit: sfam_photo/Shutterstock.

.- Amid limited medical supplies, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability released a statement on the sanctity of life, emphasizing that treatment priority is not based on ableism.

“Every patient is worth treating, but not every medical treatment is worth providing. This determination must be based on an evaluation of the potential success of the treatment, not a value judgment about the person requiring aid,” the NCPD said in a recent statement.

According to the New York Times, COVID-19 has infected over 1.4 million people and resulted in over 80,000 deaths worldwide. Hospitals across the U.S. have reported dangerous shortages of necessary medical supplies, including hospital beds and ventilators, causing doctors to make life-or-death decisions.

The organization said, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, priority of treatment policies and do not resuscitate policies should be based on the medical evidence of a treatment's success.

According to the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these policies should not be built on “stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities.”

The priority of treatment must be established with an documentable major organ function criteria, which is applied consistently and without exemptions. The organization said it is permissible to implement DNR policies when the medical treatment is futile and other patients are in need of the same resources.

“For example, a 45- year-old with quadriplegia and respiratory failure is not likely to survive COVID19, despite the family’s desire that ‘everything be done,’” the organization said.

However, the NCPD said this should only be permitted after a review of objective physiological criteria and families are provided with accessible policies including legal appeal and transportation to other medical practitioners.

The NCPD said treatment should not be biased toward a current or anticipated quality of life determining who is more or less valuable to society. The organization emphasized the dignity of the human person present in all people.

“For example, if an adult man with Down syndrome, who has significant cognitive impairment but no major organ deficits, presents with compromised respiratory function due to COVID19, he should not be denied a ventilator based on an ethic that others who can contribute more to society upon recovery are more deserving,” the organization said.

“As a society the concept of solidarity with fellow human beings dictates that any DNR or triage policy must treat each person as a unique irreplaceable human being. This applies to all human beings, including persons with disabilities.”

During the Day for Life Message in July 2013, Pope Francis emphasized the human dignity of people with disabilities. He said all creatures, no matter their vulnerability, are deserving of respect.

“Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect,” said Pope Francis.

Tags: Health Care, Coronavirus

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