UK Medical Staff Declare Disabled Man Not Worth Saving From Heart Attack

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

UK Medical Staff Declare Disabled Man Not Worth Saving From Heart Attack

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 1
, 2009

London, England ( — In an incident that pro-life advocates say is the slippery slope that results from legalizing assisted suicide or euthanasia, two medical staffers in England have been arrested for reportedly deciding that the life of a disabled man was not worth saving after he had a heart attack.

The two ambulance medics were reportedly heard discussing how they would not revive 59-year-old Barry Baker, who had called emergency services saying he was having a heart attack.

When the unnamed medics arrived at Baker’s home, they found him collapsed on the floor and the phone line was still open and recording their conversations. Baker died after the incident.

A police source told the London Times that the medics were heard discussing how they didn’t want to revive Baker saying “words to the effect that he was not worth saving."

They were also heard discussing what to say to authorities and decided to give a story saying Baker had died prior to their arrival at his home.

The tape recording of the conversations has been given to police officials as evidence and the pair have been charged in the case and posted bail pending a January court hearing. They have both been suspended.

Wesley J. Smith, an American author and attorney who is a bioethics watchdog, tells people who think that there is nothing wrong with assisted suicide or dismiss the concerns of disability rights advocates should recall this indicant.

"The next time you are tempted to scoff at folk with disabilities who worry that they many people think their lives are not worth living, remember this story," he said.

Smith says similar cases are seen in other circumstances.

"Friends and colleagues who have disabilities report similar stories of disdain occurring here when seeking medical care, for example, of people on ventilators being pressured to sign DNRs by hospital personnel even though they were not undergoing usually life-threatening procedures," he explains.

"Human exceptionalism demands that each of us be deemed to be of equal objective moral worth. It is an ideal we have never achieved, admittedly. But unless bigotry against people with disabilities is especially shocking when it impacts care in the medical context," Smith added.

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