by Chris and Vic
Although we share ideas and advice and offer group support on-line via blogs and support lists, we are known in the family of nations as American individualists. The history of the American colonies necessarily demanded this “rugged individualism” and pulling oneself up “by our "boot straps”. This is our ethic and our culture.
Contrast American individualism with the emphasis on community or “common good” in certain Eastern countries. The good of the many largely supersedes the good of the one and is reflected in the culture and in the law. This is the philosophical underpinning of “socialism”.
Herein lies the backdrop for an ethical question:
When we consider the resources needed to support the life of one of our medically fragile, high-risk and high-need preemies, do we ever consider how much could be done for entire communities or age groups with the resources that are now spent on one preemie?
This question has been stated in other ways. For example, How many children could be immunized or receive free or subsidized school meals with the money spent on the medical care of a single preemie in the NICU? One of the medical bloggers had a campaign to buy mosquito netting for countries where malaria is a community health issue—So, how many nets could be purchased with the funds used on one preemie in his or her first year of life? How many poor Americans could get health insurance for a year (estimate $6000) if preemie hospitalization expenses were redirected to that cause?
Next question: Does this move us? Would we agree to it? That is, the good of many should be placed above the good of an individual?
We have debated on this blog, and elsewhere, that parents should have the choice . . . Could we fathom that the community, not the parents, would make a decision that would limit or redirect the considerable resources spent on a preemie?
Does anyone have any experience with this type of ethical dilemma? Has anyone ever been part of a group that decided that the good of the many, in terms of medical dollars spent, should be placed above the good of the individual?