The Pandemic, Medical Ethics, And Baseball: What Exactly ARE “Essential Surgery And Medical Procedures”?

One of the policy and medical ethics issues that is looming larger as the pandemic continues is the requirement that hospitals not be burdened by  “non-essential surgery and medical procedures.”

I agree: it would have been better if  Ethics Alarms has more precisely defined “essential surgery and medical procedures”  in the previous post on the issue, when I examined the question of whether abortion can be ethically put in that category as Texas and Ohio have decreed. Abortion, as that post noted, is a particularly poor  choice for such analysis, given that our society cannot agree on what it is, other than the Supreme Court’s ruling that whatever it is, a woman has a Constitutionally right to do it.

Incidentally: can we agree that there is also a constitutional right to have any surgery or medical procedure? It hasn’t been specifically stated by the Court, but I assume that the abortion precedent applies to everything else as well, from having a kidney transplant to getting a wart removed to acquiring breast implants. These would all fall under the right of privacy and inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Forbidding any surgery, non-essential or otherwise, is a big deal, and my guess is that a judicial challenge to the whole concept would stand a substantial chance of success. What is essential surgery to me might not be such to you, but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn, and unlike an abortion, my procedure isn’t killing anyone. Continue reading