Opinionated Man over at Harsh Reality is always good at getting people all fired up. So he has a post called, “That Body Isn’t Yours.”
I agree with that basic premise, but in so many different contexts. In my state we rank something like 49 th in the nation for mental health services. That means the vast majority of our mentally ill are left in this never-ending cycle of jail and homelessness. It is virtually impossible to hospitalize or treat anyone without their consent.
It’s a real catch 22, someone could be naked out on the streets unable to give a coherent statement, which now renders them incompetent to give consent for medical treatment. Incompetence however, is not an “imminent danger to yourselves and others.” What’s an imminent danger to yourself and others? Being competent enough to know what you are saying, plus having the means and method to act on it.
That’s the law, the legal system. An ineffective train wreck of catch 22’s and red tape. We are so blasted concerned about people’s rights in this state and so committed to the idea that one’s body and autonomy belong to them, that all common sense and reason has left the building.
It breaks my heart and it makes me angry. We have some of the highest suicide rates in the country and so many of our mentally ill people wind up in jail, basically criminalized for being sick. We can lock you up for jaywalking, for trespassing on a freeway, but we can’t detain you in a hospital until we figure out what’s going on, that would be unfair.
Ironically I’ve found a lot more understanding and compassion from cops then I have from medical professionals. I think it’s because they deal with mental illness far more than our medical people ever get to.
It’s maddening and one real problem is this whole idea that “it’s my body and I can do what I want.” That pertains to abortion, but it also pertains to 13 yr old girls able to go get themselves hormonal birth control shots and patches without their parent’s consent. Never mind that these things can have serious side effects. Kids can have abortions too, without their parents consent. 13 years old. Think about that.
This is a right to die state when it comes to terminal illness, too. A right to assisted suicide. A right to refuse treatment for a mental illness. We are always so enthusiastically for one’s right to die, one’s right to actually live is never mentioned.