Frances Ryan wants to tell us all that it’s just horrible that disabled people will be discriminated against in access to Covid-19 treatment. Yep, they will, and it’s just great!
The Nice guidelines on who to keep alive aren’t pragmatic, they’re discriminatory
Sure they’re discriminatory, what does she think people are doing here?
However, judgments based on the efficacy of treatment are not the same as judgments based on the quality of a disabled person’s life. That might be falsely equating support needs with “frailty”, or adopting a blanket policy that withdraws treatment from a whole group of people rather than basing decisions on each individual’s needs and choices. That isn’t healthcare, it’s discrimination.
Of course it’s discrimination, what else should people do?
It is worth considering why the default position is to deny life-saving treatment to some disabled people rather than to ask why a wealthy nation that had months to prepare doesn’t have enough resources in the first place. It is worth considering whether talk of “limited resources” is excusing and normalising the long-held idea that disabled lives are disposable.
Resources are always limited, decisions always have to be made. And how do we make a decision? We say that we’ll do this and not to that. We will, therefore, discriminate in favour of this and against that.
To discriminate is the way that the world works.
Sure, we can ponder on whether the lives of the disabled have equal moral value to those not so – they do. But society already sold that pass when it said that the abortion rules for disability are different from those just not desired because. Society also sold that pass when Nice adopted Qaly as the measure of who gets treated for what. That “quality adjusted” bit already says that those sentenced, most unfairly, to a life comatose in bed don’t gain the same treatment – or the same cost of treatment per life year thus saved – than those who will be Morris Dancing in a week if treated.
Because resources are always scarce and therefore a decision as to how to discriminate must be made.
This is not something innate to capitalism, neoliberalism, the patriarchy or disableism. It’s innate to the process of life itself.
Think on the idea of women and children first. The resources available to save life are limited. Men are cheap in that we only need a few around to save the gene pool. Women are expensive in this sense, children the product. Thus a scarcity of lifeboats leads to the expensive being saved, the cheap can glug their way to the bottom. It’s discrimination again, the taking of a decision, and that’s just what life itself is, a succession of such choices.
Sure we’re discriminating against the disabled. What the hell else are we going to do?