Feb 282008

A Jehovah’s Witness patient needs an operation, but warns the surgeon that he absolutely does not want a blood transfusion. The operation is one that might come off without the need for blood, but not necessarily. What’s a surgeon to do?

I can see why the surgeon would have problems doing an operation in which he’s not allowed to use all the tools of the trade to keep the patient from dying. The surgeon did the operation, and just barely escaped the need for a transfusion. But what about next time?

This New York Times article tells the story. Some of us would say difficult issues like this are why we need a separation between Health Care and State. There are difficult ethical choices to be made on both sides, and there is nothing the government as health care provider can do that would not make the situation worse.

But it’s interesting to read the comments that follow the article. There are some thoughtful reactions, but also some that suggest a whole lot of people out there are not thinking in terms of how to maximimize individual choice and freedom.