Why Aren't You Angry About WLS?
Here in the US, the Department of Health and Human Resources made news last week for proposing a new law that would give any medical professional the ability to refuse participation in abortion-related surgeries solely due to morality. As an example, if a woman wanting an abortion went to a doctor whose personal beliefs were anti-abortion, that doctor could say no and walk away with the full backing of the US Government.
Understandably this is a controversial proposal. I found that interesting as there has been similar controversy surrounding pharmacists and birth control; some states and big chains support pharmacists' personal beliefs over patients' needs and wants, and it appears this legislation could be interpreted to support those beliefs due to its ambiguity.
I see both of these instances as examples of how abortion - a surgical procedure - is intertwined with morals and beliefs. It's a big vote of confidence by the Bush administration in the beliefs of individuals.
Upon hearing this news, one of the first things I considered was the morality of weight loss surgery (WLS). In very basic medical terms one form of WLS can involve a doctor removing part of a person's stomach and intestines; it's not trivial. WLS has received more attention over the past few years as something risky and dangerous; nevertheless it's still considered a viable option by many doctors for many patients.
And yet I rarely see or hear news stories about the morality of this decision; I'm wondering why this is. WLS is a surgery with long lasting physical and emotional consequences. It can kill. It can shorten one's life. It can reinforce negative psychological behaviors. It's a money-maker. It can be prescribed by over-eager doctors. And yet, there's no debate I'm seeing in a public space about this procedure.
That's not to say it's not happening of course. If you've seen it on the web, TV, radio, or elsewhere please feel free to link it up.
My concern stems from the lack of apparent discourse and more importantly the lack of outrage about WLS outside of the fat rights movement. Could it be that the assumption out there that fat people eat too much (or exercise too little - whichever misconception you choose) trumps any argument of morality? Has the mortality of the decision been moved to any point prior to the surgery? Does the outrage need to come from a more established place (ie, not the fat rights movement) in order to gain a foothold? I'd like to discuss this.
(And I feel the need to add a disclaimer: yes, some may interpret my post to be a comparison of abortion and WLS. It's not intended that way - I'm more interested in a comparison of the moral question. We do our movement and any form of civilized discussion an enormous disservice if we decide to disallow or censor comparisons.)