27 Baylor L. Rev. 6 (1975)
The Physician's Dilemma - A Doctor's View: What the Law Should Be

handle is hein.journals/baylr27 and id is 38 raw text is: THE PHYSICIAN'S DILEMMA
It is a fairly recent phenomenon that we find ourselves discussing
death with this kind of openness and it is, without question, long
overdue. It is especially encouraging to me to see that the need
for such a forum has been recognized and the support for it available.
I must confess to feeling somewhat presumptuous in speaking under
the title of What the Law Should Be. This is anything but an easy
question; if there is an altogether satisfactory answer, it would probably
have been fairly obvious long ago and there would be little need to
consider it at this time. I cannot really present to you any personal
credentials in the field of medical ethics, forensic medicine, theology or
in any of the other areas that might deal on a daily basis with the
problems to which we address ourselves today. I can, however, bring
to you the perspective of a single practicing pediatrician who cares for
infants and children and their families, and sees, with some regularity,
the joys and tragedies that are a part of caring for children, and who
is all too familiar with the inadequate, unjust, and inhumane ways we
often find ourselves dealing with the tragedies.
No doubt some of what this article concerns can be assumed to have
relevance to the adult patient, and particularly to the adult patient who,
for whatever reason, is unable to act in his own behalf. However, this
article shall be generally limited to these issues as they relate to the
infant and the child. Let me tell you some of what I see; and I do not
see it rarely, I see it commonly. I see medical caretakers, the physicians,
the nurses, and others whose whole orientation is assuming the sanctity
of life and whose whole efforts are directed at preserving that life with
every ounce of potential that can be realized, who then are faced with
the reality of a no-win situation. The life can be preserved, but the
potential for a meaningful life by any definition is nil; or the life can
be preserved only in the most temporary manner and then only at an
incredible price in terms of human suffering; or the life can be
preserved with potential which is impaired but still sufficient to define
life as meaningful for both the patient and his family, but with the
parties usually charged with the right and responsibility for acting to
*Director of Pediatric Education at Brackenridge Hospital and Central Texas
Medical Foundation. Is serving on various health service committees in the Austin
area. Former chief of Pediatrics at Bergstrom Air Force Base Hospital. Has
published articles in the Journal of Pediatrics and has served as an instructor in
pediatrics at Baylor University College of Medicine.

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