Adjunct Prof. Dr. Andrew Newman writes:
My carpenter’s helper is about 30, married and living in a 3rd story apartment – an ardent nature lover; takes walks in nature preserves and loves to spot and feed birds… All in all, a sweet, sensitive guy WITH NO HEALTH INSURANCE.
On this particular day, he was building shelves for my garage and pierced the base of his thumb with a drill.
I washed and dressed it, and since I am a former hand surgeon, advised him to go to the closest ER to have it lavaged, get antibiotics and a tetanus shot. He said he would.
Two hours later, he was still working. When I asked about the ER, he told me he thought he may have had a tetanus shot about 2 years ago. In any case, he added, he had NO medical coverage and was still paying other medical bills off. Workman’s comp may have been a thought for him, but he would still have to pay up front and collect later, he said, and he just doesn’t have the money.
As those who have had a chance to peruse September’s Forum will know, Dr. Newman has an active scholarly interest in the issues raised by blood transfusions for Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that connection, Dr. Newman observes:
I was fascinated to read, in our local newspaper and on the First Amendment Center web site, about a recent (Oct. 7, 2009) decision by Pa. Commonwealth Senior Judge Keith Quigley to refuse an injunction requested by the State of Pennsylvania.
Anthony Lindsey, an inmate at a state prison in Somerset, Pa., had severe G.I. bleeding, was on dialysis (while in prison in 2001, he had a kidney transplant which failed) and needed intestinal surgery at this time to stop the G.I. bleeding. Apparently, he was severely anemic and the surgeons refused to operate unless Lindsey was transfused. As a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, he absolutely refused any blood.
The state requested an injunction, asking that the prisoner be transfused – forcibly if necessary. Judge Quigley ruled that Lindsey’s wishes must be respected under the FIRST Amendment, “whether they are based on religion or something else,” and “if it is thought that an inmate has been treated inappropiately or unfairly, significant morale problems , not only among inmates, but also among staff can develop.”
I would love to hear what my legal colleagues think about this….what factors should be looked at in deciding this matter involving an incarcerated individual….or does the fact that he is incarcerated make no difference?
For those with a bioethical bent, should an individual in such circumstances have gotten a kidney in the first place? With a terrible organ shortage, shoud he have been on the bottom of the list?
By the way, he is in for 13-26 years for drug dealing.
Let’s get a conversation going.
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