This New York Times Magazine article on possible euthanasia at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina has gotten a lot of attention, mostly for the fact that it cost $400,000 (or so) to produce. And, hey, that’s a lot of money! Maybe people will understand why they should pay journalists (or, perhaps rationally, that articles like this just aren’t worth paying for).

But amidst all the inter-media chatter is a pretty compelling narrative. It was fairly clear, to me at least, where the author stands. But I found myself going back and forth on where I stood on the issue (and, ultimately, disagreeing with the reporter):

As they worked their way down the seventh-floor hallway, Johnson held some of the patients’ hands and said a prayer as Pou or a Memorial nurse gave injections. Wilda McManus, whose daughter Angela had tried in vain to rescind her mother’s D.N.R. order, had a serious blood infection. (Earlier, Angela was ordered to leave her mother and go downstairs to evacuate.) “I am going to give you something to make you feel better,” Pou told Wilda, according to Johnson.

Johnson took one of the Memorial nurses into Room 7305. “This is Ms. Hutzler,” Johnson said, touching the woman’s hand and saying a “little prayer.” Johnson tried not to look down at what the nurse was doing, but she saw the nurse inject Hutzler’s roommate, Rose Savoie, a 90-year-old woman with acute bronchitis and a history of kidney problems. A LifeCare nurse later told investigators that both women were alert and stable as of late that morning. “That burns,” Savoie murmured.

If you’re up for some hard thinking about life, death, euthanasia, and medical ethics, give it a read.


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