Friday, May 29, 2015

Sorry, you're not on the list: Denying disabled free travel to Canada because the opinion is that they are expensive.

I was in hospital on Tuesday with a blood sugar spike: 25.  I am better now but it knocked me out for two days.  I am hoping to reform my diet again and am going to a specialist next week.

a news piece about a Deaf teen denied entry to Canada because she is deaf; another news piece and a commentary


It’s all about control: euthanasia as a social tool.

One element never talked about in the euthanasia ‘debates’ is the use of medical care as social control.  We think that we are beyond this sort of thinking, given the experiences that we have had with euthanasia in Germany ca. 1933 and forward, for those who allow history to be cited in the discussions.

But what if euthanasia is used as social control?  One book I was reading on the subject illustrated how a nursing home worker would threaten clients with death: If we decide on euthanasia, then euthanasia it shall be so you had better behave...

It’s interesting how infantilizing this statement is; it is also interesting that the person would say that they decide if someone lives or dies, not the patient, and that in the context of controlling the patient.

There is nothing stopping euthanasia from being used as social control.  I would venture to say that its presence now in the collective psychology of Canadians, and that mostly unwillingly, one poll after another, if carefully constructed and presented, shows that people do not agree that their doctors should have the right to kill them.  Critics in this instance are presented as naive and are marginalized.

“The needle belongs in the hands of the doctor” is one quote from history.  The American  medical association has said that they want the unilateral right to decide who lives and dies, not the family or the patient.  This is said in the context of medical care, and the idea is that futility in care determines provision of death.

If it’s not about control, given that death is imposed, then what is the issue?

Let’s assume that it is control.  Then if we ask if a story is not about control, what happens?

In one instance, we have a story, breaking recently, on how a Deaf teenager from the Philippines was refused entry to Canada because she is deaf.  No other reason; the government agencies determined that she would be a drain on the medical system because she is deaf.  That was enough to deny her entry to Canada.

Now that the story has broken publicly, we learn that the student does not need medical accommodation; she does not need to learn ASL as she knows it already, and we finally learn that she does not require special education.  That is from the Toronto Star, Sunday May 24, 2015.

That story made the front page of that paper at that time.  But the story isn’t about controlling who gets in and who does not.  The story has a quote: “The biggest challenge deaf people face is bigotry...” says the article.  I would agree with this; I have faced such things in my life and I was struggling with a deep depression.

Notice too that this word bigotry has been used in relation to the attitudes of Peter Singer, the university philosophy teacher: he says that he does not want his tax dollars going to keep ‘disabled’ infants alive.  That was said in the spring of 2015 on NPR, no less.

Moving along, the government found this 14 year old ‘medically inadmissable’ according to the article.  However, the last word goes to a deaf artist who says that her disability is not a barrier: “We are people first, not deaf first, and our abilities – not our disability – need to be the focus.”  Couldn’t have put it better myself.  The question is: will people with disabilities get those chances, given what we learned about this teenager being barred from Canada on the grounds of disability?

And if a teen can be kept from her family, even though she has learned ASL – which she has to do if she wants to come to Canada – then what is the operating criterion for a person of disability coming to this free country?  It is something hidden, like perhaps the assumption that when it comes to disabled immigrants to Canada, none is too many.

The second cited story in the Sunday Star is about how a psychiatric patient killed himself in 2014 around this time of year.  It has come to light that this patient was supposed to be watched every fifteen minutes as he was on a suicide watch.

He hanged himself by tying his housecoat around a vent.

According to the family, he was supposed to be watched at all times to avoid just such an incident.  According to the article, the staff were off at a potluck lunch when he killed himself.

In what is now no surprise, the Quality of Care Information Protection Act has been invoked to keep the family in the dark about what happened.  According to the article, the family has been learning in drips what happened to their loved one.  In the article, “Critics of the act have said it morphed into a shield for hospitals to conceal details about avoidable cases of patient harm and death.”

So we have two instances of medical issues, and in these two instances it is not about helping families find answers or get through hoops, it is about controlling the persons targeted, in one case a deaf teenager who fulfils the requirements apparently, and in another, about a family who want open answers about a loved one’s death.  In each case, the government is remaining silent about the issues and therefore leaving the families in ignorance about the situations.

If it is about control now, before we have assisted suicide in Canada, what would it be like once doctors get the ability to kill their patients?  We would not find out about problems, despite hearing about safeguards that would make everything right – except the act of killing patients, who as we have seen from the preceding two articles, are being marginalized and denied opportunities and care, and ultimately basic justice.

From these examples, we can expect euthanasia to be used as social control.

[SOURCE: “Bigotry biggest challenge facing the deaf,” Nicholas Keung, Sunday Star, Sunday May 24, 2015, PA1]

[SOURCE: “Staff were at potluck as patient killed self, family says,” Olivia Carville, Sunday Star, Sunday May 24, 2015, PA1]

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