With surges in COVID-19 cases threatening to overload some hospital facilities, we must face the possibility that therapeutic treatments will need to be rationed, at least in some places. I do not propose any particular ideal rationing scheme but caution strongly against adopting a position that Professor Bagenstos advocated this past spring, rejecting rationing on the basis of patient life expectancy simply because life expectancy based rationing might threaten the factual interests of those with disabilities and might conceivably be implemented by those making judgments that were not simply inaccurate but grounded in biased, unacceptably discriminatory intuitions that some decision makers would have about the life expectancy of those with disabilities. My view is that Professor Bagenstos does not make either considered normative or empirical arguments that attending to the factual interests of those with disabilities or protecting against the possibility of discriminatory implementation of a plan should trump all other considerations; instead, he is “performing” his rhetorical commitment to a subordinated community as though that commitment functioned in the same way as a formal, normatively and factually defended side constraint on action would function.
Rationing in the Time of COVID and the Perils of Anti-Subordination Rhetoric
January 10, 2021