Should Smokers and the Obese be Denied Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery – No

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"Should Smokers and the Obese be Denied Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery - No"
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Has our world really come to this? Are we seriously discussing who should get medical treatment and who shouldn't? It is a right as a human to be able to obtain medical help, or at least it should be; we all have the right to live, after all. So how do medical institutions believe they have the right to take this right away from us? It is an absolute disgrace.

It is argued that people, by over-eating or smoking, are taking away their own right to live, which allows outsiders to believe they should be denied health care. After all, if they show their body and health so much disrespect, why should we bother helping them, right? Wrong.

Obesity is an illness. It is an eating disorder, similar to anorexia or bulimia. Could you imagine the uproar if there was a suggestion of stopping anorexic people getting the medical help they need? If someone suggested that, instead of offering them the huge amount of help that is offered to people in that condition, we just leave them to die; because it was "their choice" to get that skinny? No; in these days anorexia and bulimia are recognised as mental problems that cause the sufferer to become very ill, and everything is done to help them recover. I think it says a lot about our society that the same cannot be said about obesity.

Sufferers from obesity don't receive the same understanding, the same sympathy, that anorexics receive. It is quite the opposite, in fact; they are often ridiculed; it is seen as their fault. It doesn't seem to be known that obesity can be a result of depression, stress or mental problems, and that sufferers need help just as much as, if not more so, than everyone else.

As for smokers; I, in no way, wish to condone smoking. It is a habit that, to take a phrase off the cigarette packets, "can seriously harm you and others around you." But that is exactly what it is; an addictive habit that is extremely difficult to get out of. A lot of people need medical support to help them quit smoking. In England, for example, the NHS provides help for those who want to quit. We can't take this medical help away from them, and we certainly can't deny them any surgery might need.

We need to take into account why people start smoking to understand why we can't punish them for this. Like obesity, it can be a result of stress. Or perhaps it is because they started smoking at a young age, perhaps realising, but not worrying, about the effect that it would have on their future. Yes, it was a mistake for them to do so, but should they really be punished for that? Should they be effectively given a life sentence because of a choice that made years ago?

And, then, what about the older generation, who started smoking at a time when it wasn't seen as harmful? When adverts for cigarettes were plastered over newspapers and magazines? By the time health warnings were given and people started to be discouraged from smoking, it was too late. They were addicted.

Therefore, does the fault not lie in the government, who continue to allow cigarettes to be sold? Or, to an extent, fast food chains and processed food that continue to invade people's eating habits? I'm not suggesting that they stop this; that leads on to another debate, but perhaps they should take responsibility for the people who are suffering, not the sufferers themselves. As long as eating fatty foods and smoking cigarettes is legal, they shouldn't be punished.

Because punishing them is exactly what we would be doing; refusing surgery to the people who need it the most is handing them a death sentence. Let's not let this happen, let's not let people die because of our ignorance to their problems. They need medical help; to deny it would be a huge injustice.

More about this author: Lily Garner

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