Basic Care, Human Dignity, and Care for Medically Vulnerable Persons

Person Disabilities1

(By Bobby Schindler) – Earlier this year, Oregon’s state legislature considered a bill that would have increased the number of medically vulnerable persons at risk of an untimely death. Oregon’s SB 494 would have redefined food and water delivered by a cup or spoon—everyday utensils—as a regulated, physician-controlled form of “medical care” rather than the “basic and ordinary” care that common sense suggests.

In Oregon, patients who are awake, conscious, and aware—but were unable to feed themselves due to disability, brain injury, or lack of physical mobility—would have faced the real chance of being denied food and water.[i] Fortunately, despite Oregon’s Senate passage in a 17–13 vote, the House referred the bill to a committee where it was tabled for the session.

However, as disconcerting as such a bill is, a much less understood and equally pernicious reality is this: It is already legal in every state to withhold or deny food and water by means of a feeding tube to patients who are not actively dying and not facing any active “end of life” issue. CONTINUE