Letters to the Editor: Mike Davis wrote about dark subjects, but he was full of light.
For the past eight years, the city of Oakland has taken a courageous stand to protect its residents and their right to freedom. Oakland and its elected officials have been the only major city in America to have refused in advance to sign up for the “Right to Refuse Treatment.”
This law has a name — the Fair and Accurate Food and Drug Act (FOAFDA). It is the result of two years of intense public deliberation and, of all the laws that have been considered and rejected, it was the one with the least support from the people of Oakland. The law passed the Oakland City Council by a narrow margin of 6-5 and won the support of many local leaders and organizations. It is our hope that the new administration will continue this strong legacy of leadership.
We believe the right to refuse treatment has always been a part of our medical culture. As a practicing physician, I have seen, and treated, many medical conditions that demand medical intervention. Most of these conditions do not respond to treatment and do not cause any pain. For most treatments, patients and their families have the choice of undergoing treatment or not. In a time when healthcare is more expensive than ever and people are less likely to have access to needed care, it is up to each of us to ask, “What is the most important thing I can do right now to make sure that I am as healthy and in good health as possible?” It is never a question of right or wrong. Each individual must work to ensure that he or she has the best care possible given the resources available.
As a nation, we as a society have made a conscious effort to help people heal from whatever illness or condition they may be facing. While it should be a routine occurrence for someone to have the right to refuse medical treatment, there are plenty of examples where this has been ignored.
We hope that the new administration of Oakland, in its wisdom, will respect the efforts of the citizens of Oakland and work towards creating a world in which medical resources are available to help people with their physical and emotional challenges.