Pride Month — ‘Life is a terminal condition’

Back in the early 1980s, I met a brilliant man whose words really surprised me.

First, he became a lawyer, but he decided he didn’t really want to practice law. Instead, he then became a doctor. He was just finishing his residency when I met him, and he didn’t know if he wanted to be a doctor either, although he thought he might be able to make a living as an expert witness in malpractice cases due to his education. His latest goal was to become an architect. No kidding.

As we talked about his the toil of his residency, he started complaining about the AIDS patients he had to treat at the hospital, and there were many of them in those days. He said he was of the opinion that when an AIDS patient came to the hospital in distress and when the doctors made the patient unconscious to begin a procedure, the doctors should just euthanize them.

My stepfather was a doctor, and I said this didn’t really sound like anything my stepdad, who was dedicated to his patients, would ever say.

He told me the hospitals are over-crowded, the treatment for AIDS patients is very expensive, most of them have no way to pay for their care and if the patients are sick enough to arrive at the hospital for care, their quality of life is poor anyway. He thought they and society would both be better off if the AIDS patients passed peacefully.

I told him I totally understand his position, but it’s an inhumane situation I could not accept — terminating someone’s life because of an illness.

 “Life,” he said, “is a terminal condition.”