Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Response to Resource Allocating Articles

gracejtoner's picture

I'm going to be honest, I was someone who when this pandemic first really broke out in the Western world, when it actually seemed relevant to my own life and not a far off issue which in itself is ignorant and close minded of me, I was comforted by the news that COVID-19 was mostly only lethal to immune compromised and elderly people. As fucked up as that sounds, when this first started it felt reassuring to know in all likeliness if I got sick, I would make it through. As we've watched this pandemic unfold, we've seen how although this still may hold merit anyone really can die from the virus and as all three authors talked about in their respective articles, resources are thought to be best used on those patients who have a fighting chance. I am conflicted. Because while I agree that everyone deserves to be treated equally and everyone on first come first serve basis should be trested in that order, I understand why a ventialtor may go to the young pregnant woman over the 90 year old man. When it comes to disabled individuals, I don't think the same logic applies, meaning I wouldnt say the young abled woman should have the resource over the young disbaled woman. Compassion and empathy are so important in times like this and reading these articles made me confront my own unconcious biases (being raised subconciously with "survival of the strongest" instincts, being around ableist sayings and situations growing up, etc.) Again I have no right to be in charge of any decisions on who lives and who dies, I don't think anyone does, we can't play God. However the question still remains with the fucked up privatized health care system we have and the disorganized dumpster-fireesque leadership of our nation, how do we use our resources to save the most lives? Not the highest quality lives, but the most lives in general, regardless of ability. Age however is still something I'm caught up on if there has to be a choice made. How are other people thinking about that particular dynamic of the situation? Sending my love to all in this tough time <3


Madeline Svengsouk's picture

Thanks for being candid about your own biases- unfortunately I can relate. When this first started, it was so easy to breathe a sigh of relief when realizing neither I or anyone close to me had preexisiting conditions that would make them incredibly immunocompromized. Like you said, we now know anyone is suseptible-not to mention that this line of thinking is entirely selfish.

I also thought about resource allocation this week. I think most would agree, the question is about how we can save the most lives; however when the issue of the "quality" of said life enters the discussion, it creates differing oppinions on which lives are "worth more". Worth more to who? Certaintly not to the person in question and their loved ones. The idea that the treatment of someone who will need more resources should get lower priority is disgusting. It also says a lot about the system we are bound in. I found Stramondo's distinction between "waste" and "inefficiency" to be useful here; that wasted resources are those that are used to treat a patient who dies, yet if it takes more resources to treat someone and they live, it is ineficcient. He says "it may reduce efficiency to bring disabled people into the mainstream of education, employment, and so on, but that does not mean that the resources used to do this are wasted." At the same time, I feel as though it's a slippery slope to think this way because lives are deproritized based on the potential for waste. 

Thinking about the idea of efficiency, I had a discussion with someone the other day about harm reduction as a grassroots movement versus the harm reduction that has been co-opted by Public Health. We decided that while it originated as the idea of meeting people where they're at, harm reduction as used by institutions has become more about cutting costs and resource expenditure in order to save the medical-industrial complex money. It made me think about how the idea of harm reduction can be used as a violent exclusion tactic by abelist, racist, (all the -ists) institutions. Who are we really reducing harm for?