Friday, April 28, 2006

Liberal and conservative, life and death

Considering the often-venomous liberal/conservative blogosphere sniping, the degree of transideological cooperation on the Andrea Clark matter was remarkable.

For those who didn't follow the link, Clark is the hospitalized Texas woman whose sister said her hospital was about to "pull the plug" on her for financial reasons. The hospital said Clark's medical condition had deteriorated to the point where further care was futile. After much protest, the matter has been resolved. Clark is being transported at the hospital's expense to Chicago, and will receive care there from another hospital.

Unlike the Terri Schiavo case, Clark is not brain-dead, and her family members are united in wanting her to continue getting care. Her sister's pleas touched the hearts of everyone from the Democratic Underground to the WizbangBloggers.

Now, I don't pretend to know whether Clark's condition is really "futile." IANAP (I Am Not A Physician). And it is easy to demonize a hospital or insurance company for not providing unlimited care. But the hard fact is that money is limited. If you give more money to care for one patient, less money will be available for others. I don't envy at all those who have to make such decisions.

But it's indisputably clear that the piteous spectacle of Clark's sister, Melanie Childers, pleading for her life has re-energized the debate over what to do for patients when the medical system (or at least the part charged with caring or paying for a particular patient) says it can't do any more. Who gets to make the call, and who pays for it?

If Andrea Clark does pull through, she can thank the co-operation of people across ideological lines -- and her extraordinarily eloquent sister.

Now, can the left and right continue to work together on finding a workable plan to make sure this doesn't happen again?

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