The Brutal, Tragic, Consequences of Quality of Life Judgements | Opinion

BY MATT VALLIERE: For Complete Post, click here…

Alta Fixsler’s death was a brutal tragedy caused by ableist, utilitarian assumptions about a young girl’s “quality of life” by non-disabled people. The removal of life-sustaining care from a child with disabilities, based on prejudices about her disability, is unconscionable. Hospitals in the U.K. deny care to some children in the name of “saving” them from a fate worse than death. No matter how hard parents may fight to protect their children, U.K. courts consistently side with hospitals’ unethical determinations, which disguise a form of eugenics under another name: “compassion.”

The U.K. attacks the dignity of certain people’s lives through the Quality and Disability Adjusted Life Years (QALY/DALY) tool. Using this metric, health officials argue that people like Alta no longer have lives worth living, and death is preferred. The real-world consequences mean that a person with expensive treatment or care needs will not be covered for treatments, based on the idea that a year of his or her life is worth less than a year of an otherwise non-disabled person’s life.

As distasteful as that idea is, this issue isn’t just about money—Alta’s family tried to get her to the U.S. or Israel, where her parents have citizenship, and where her care will not be a “burden” on the U.K. system. Powerful people, including Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and U.S. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, among a bipartisan group of U.S. legislators, tried to advocate on her behalf. Despite all of these alternatives, the U.K. persisted in preventing Alta from leaving, because officials felt it was time for her to die.

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