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ERIC Number: EJ920685
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 27
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 56
ISSN: ISSN-1184-0412
Widening Notions of Personhood: Stories and Identity
Schwartz, Karen D.
Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, v37 n1-2 p1-27 2009
In the course of the author's research into media representations of vulnerability and disability at end of life, she came across two local news stories, both thoroughly reported on by the "Winnipeg Free Press". In November 1998, doctors at a long term health care facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba insisted on entering a "do not resuscitate" order on the chart of 79 year old Mr. Andrew Sawatzky. In December 2007, doctors in the intensive care unit of a Winnipeg hospital opted to disconnect the ventilator and remove the feeding tube of Mr. Samuel Golubchuk, an 84 year old man. Doctors evaluated both Mr. Sawatzky and Mr. Golubchuk by assessing their levels of awareness and consciousness. Neither man was able to speak, although relatives of both men claimed each was capable of communicating and expressing his wishes. For this reason, both of these medical decisions went against the wishes of their respective families, who then sought judicial intervention to reverse them. At the heart of both these cases was the pivotal debate over the entitlement to the designation of "person" and the moral status that it confers. In this paper, the author focuses on this debate and its conflicting narratives. She aims to deconstruct the newspaper accounts of the different narratives in the cases of Mr. Sawatzky and Mr. Golubchuk. She then uses the news accounts to demonstrate the implications that such narratives can have on the lives of these two vulnerable people, as well as people with intellectual disabilities. She begins by describing the law and policy for providing life-sustaining treatments in Manitoba. She follows this description with a summary of the above-mentioned two cases and continues with a brief review of the literature highlighting the relevant philosophical, ethical and medical concepts which are central to understanding these stories. She concludes this paper with a discussion of the implications that these different narratives can have for people with intellectual disabilities. (Contains 1 footnote.)
J.P. Das Developmental Disabilities Centre. 6-102 Education North, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2G5, Canada. Tel: 780-492-4505; Fax: 780-492-1318; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada