John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera on British Hospitals Issue ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Orders for Those With Mental Disabilities

On a cultural level, COVID-19 did not create as many problems and challenges as it revealed and escalated. Like the medical co-morbidities that made the virus more dangerous and more deadly for individuals, cultural pre-existing conditions only worsened during the pandemic. Social distancing and lockdowns, for example, made our pre-existing cultural problem of loneliness that much worse for many.

In the same way, the general, widespread disregard for the those with intellectual disabilities in our culture made their mistreatment during the pandemic easier as well. For example, during the first wave of the pandemic in Great Britain, various facilities that care for people with intellectual disabilities, what the Brits call “learning disabilities,” issued blanket “Do Not Resuscitate” orders. These orders came, according to one source, directly from doctors, without consulting the patients or their families.

In December, following public outcry, Britain’s Care Quality Commission investigated and found that the orders were, in their words, “inappropriate” and should be rescinded. That was not, however, the end of the problem.

According to the Guardian newspaper, people with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome continue to be told that they will not be resuscitated if they become ill with COVID. This despite last year’s public outcry and the Commission’s report and instructions. Also, given that “people with [intellectual] disabilities aged 18 to 34 are 30 times more likely to die of COVID than others the same age,” a Do Not Resuscitate Order is a practically a death sentence.

This horrific practice has nothing to do with medicine. DNR’s are usually reserved for people too frail to benefit from CPR, which is not the case here. As one advocacy group told the Guardian, “some [orders] seem to have been issued for people simply because they had [an intellectual] disability.”

Why single out people with intellectual disabilities? The immediate answer is obvious. The doctors issuing these orders are eugenicists, willing to eliminate patients who, they think, drain resources. The larger answer is also obvious. Embedded in Western culture is a tendency to commodify human life, valuing people based on extrinsic abilities and appearances. Thus, the disabled are not deemed as valuable as the non-disabled.

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SOURCE:, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera

From BreakPoint. Reprinted with the permission of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. “BreakPoint®” and “The Colson Center for Christian Worldview®” are registered trademarks of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

John Stonestreet is the President of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and co-host with Eric Metaxas of Breakpoint, the Christian worldview radio program founded by the late Chuck Colson. He is co-author of A Practical Guide to CultureA Student’s Guide to Culture and Restoring All Things.

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