In 1967, Spencer Tracy delivered one of the most spellbinding performances in the history of film.
The movie was called “Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.”
It culminates with Tracy’s moving soliloquy about truth, justice, racism, and love.
Fourteen days after filming was completed, Spencer Tracy died of a heart attack.
He had been battling lung disease, diabetes, and liver failure.
But he was determined to make that movie because he believed in its message.
No doctor was going to expedite Tracy's arrival at Forest Lawn.
Which brings me to a recent story published in the Daily Mail in London.
The National Health Service, England's government run health care system, has established something called the Liverpool Care Pathway.
This is a program in which the doctor decides that because you don't have much longer to live, action may be taken to expedite the process.
The medical professional subjectively decides that you belong in the express lane of the checkout counter even if you may have many days of life ahead of you.
Professor Patrick Pullicino recently addressed the Royal Society of Medicine in London.
He is a board certified neurologist for East Kent Hospital and teaches clinical neuroscience at the University of Kent.
The good doctor cited a specific case where his patient was placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway by a visiting weekend physician.
The Pathway protocol calls for denial of food, water, and all medicines other than pain relievers.
When Dr. Pullicino came in to see his patient Monday morning, he was shocked.
He removed the seventy-one year old gentleman from the Pathway protocol and resumed appropriate medical treatment despite opposition from the hospital administration.
After four weeks, the patient was discharged home to his family where he lived another fourteen months of productive life surrounded by the loving care of his children.
Dr. Peter Millard from the University of London and Dr. Peter Hargreaves at the St. Luke's Cancer Center refer to the Pathway protocol as a form of “backdoor euthanasia”.
No one should be permitted to discount the value of your last days.
Pathway grants authority to give you a little push while you are standing on the edge of the cliff looking out into eternity.
I will stand on the edge of that cliff as long as I damn well please.
It may be very costly and may tie up a hospital bed.
But it is insane for government to create incentives for medical professionals to “hurry things along”.
I plan to use my last days to do my very best work.
I'm going to communicate to my family how much I've loved and appreciated them.
The Pathway protocol applied to Spencer Tracy would've snuffed out his tour de force cinematic moment before it ever happened.
I'm going to be like the tough old coot that Spencer Tracy portrayed in “Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.”
I'm going to fight all the way through to the end as a matter of principle.
You don’t have to if you don’t want to.
But I don't want some doctor to have access to a button that opens a trapdoor right below where I'm standing.
It's not right.
That’s why government shouldn’t be running our medical system.