Saturday, September 05, 2009

Justice and Health Care in Great Britain

The recent release of the Lockerbie bomber has raised questions about the justice system in the U.K. and has many, here in America, wondering "what are they thinking over there?", including me.

Additionally, The British National Health Service has been a subject of conversation as America debates the future of our own health care system.

Here is a story that seems to fuse both of these subjects into a truly bizzare tale that one must read to believe:

Transsexual killer wins battle to serve life sentence in a women's jail

A transsexual killer who was born a man has won a legal battle to be transferred to a women’s prison.

The prisoner, who was also convicted of attempted rape, will be movedto a women’s jail within weeks after a High Court ruled that the refusal by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to transfer her violated her basic human rights and increased her long-term risk to society.

The prisoner is in her 20s and serving a life sentence for manslaughter and attempted rape.

She has had her womanhood recognised by law and her birth certificate has beena amended accordingly, the High Court in London was told. She has had hair on her face and legs permanently removed by laser and has developed breasts after hormone treatment, but is forbidden from wearing skirts or blouses, or more than “subtle” make up, at the men’s prison where she is held on a wing for vulnerable prisoners.

Describing her as “a woman trapped inside a man’s body”, her barrister, Phillipa Kaufman, said the final step to her achieving full womanhood is gender reassignment surgery - but she had been told she cannot have it while in a men’s prison.

As an American, this is really none of my business, but were I a British citizen, I would be outraged.

This individual is a killer, as well as an attempted rapist serving a life sentence for his/her crimes. That said, the British National Health Service (aka the British people) is footing the bill for gender reassignment surgery, as well as all of the ancillary costs that are involved (hormone therapy, counseling, hair removal, etc.)?

The fact that she's "a woman trapped inside a man's body", in the words of her barrister, is not, and should not, be the responsibility of the state. The only thing that the state should be involved with is the fact that he/she is a prisoner, justifiably trapped in a prison, for life. Whether this killer is comfortable with his/her gender while in prison should not be a concern of the British people who are already suffering from, and paying for, the monstrous bureaucracy called the National Health Service.

It's interesting (to say the least) that this comes on the heels of this story, also from the U.K.:

Sentenced to death on the NHS
Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients."

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.

So, on one hand, a transsexual killer is afforded costly gender reassignment surgery and connected services in order to make him/her more comfortable with his/her gender while he/she spends the rest of his/her life in prison.

On the other hand, people who may (or may not) be terminally ill, are possibly being prematurely terminated, presumably in the interest of cost savings for palliative care.

Again, what the hell are they thinking over there?

As we, here in the United States debate the merits of government-run health care, we would do well to look to our big brother and ask "how's that government health care thing working out for you?"

The answer is obvious.

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