In Italy, one of the countries worst hit by COVID-19, reports have surfaced of doctors having to make life and death decisions in cases where limited resources are available, and that persons over the age of 80 would not receive attention and be “left to die”.
SNOPES, an online fact-checking resource, clarified on March 11 that Italy’s Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care did issue a number of recommendations for determining who to prioritise.
One recommendation was that, in a situation where there are severe shortages of health resources, doctors must “aim to ensure intensive treatments for patients with greater chances of therapeutic success: it is therefore a matter of prioritizing the ‘greatest life expectancy’.”
The New York Times reported on March 12, however, that Italian officials maintained that everyone who needed care was entitled to it. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stated that “We live in a system in which we guarantee health and the right of everyone to be cured. It’s a foundation, a pillar, and I’d say a characteristic of our system of civilization.”
An unfortunate perspective emerging in the midst of the crisis, however, as discussed by LifeSiteNews’ Jonathon Van Maren in a March 16 podcast with freelance journalist Alessandra Bocchi, was that people were not too concerned about the virus because it was killing mainly people over 70 years old. Bocchi observed that some were even hoping that the outbreak would help to decrease the world’s population.
At the other end of the age spectrum, meanwhile, Paul Smeaton reports in a LifeSiteNews article of March 20, that American medical professional organisations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Family Planning, are calling on fellow medical professionals “to ensure abortion access is not compromised” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, in spite of having called on hospitals to suspend elective surgeries as “the pandemic … will create stress and pressure on health care systems throughout the country”. They claim that abortion is “an essential component of comprehensive health care”.
Dr Christina Francis, chair of the board of the American Association of Prolife OB/GYNs (AAPLOG) issued a statement to LifeSiteNews indicating that continuing to perform elective procedures, such as abortion, during a pandemic is “medically irresponsible”.
The statement stressed that abortion “potentially generates more patients to be seen in already overburdened emergency rooms,” as around 5 per cent of women who undergo (medical and surgical) abortions do experience complications and end up having to go to an ER. Most abortion providers do not manage their own complications.
In addition, she pointed out, other services normally considered part of essential care for women, such as cancer screening, are being rescheduled in order to reduce patients’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 and to conserve scarce medical resources.
With regard to COVID-19 in our own country, we can be grateful that so far, all efforts on the part of government and the business community have been focused on protecting, as far as possible, the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
We pray that the situation will not escalate to the point where drastic “solutions” of the type contemplated in Italy will become a necessity.
We pray too that the practice of abortion, which is not officially reported, will, for the reasons discussed above, be stayed.
Our Lady, Mother of Divine Love, and Health of the Sick, pray for us.
A monthly column by the Emmanuel Community: 46 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.Tel:628-1064; firstname.lastname@example.org