Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hospital visitation rights -- Gay Rights propaganda

In response to my last post on the propaganda nature of the Gay Rights' Movement's use of the term "hospital visitation rights" I received an interesting comment. Since the comment demonstrates the pervasive nature of the propaganda mechanism, I thought it necessary to address the language and concepts expressed in the comment.

The comment starts by making the following statement: [I have copied the comment directly without correcting either the misspellings or the grammar.]

"Imagine this for a moment: Your husband or wife is lying in a hospital ICU or CCU dying and that hospital's policy was that only "blood" relatives were allowed into the room. Your children are allowed, your spouses parents and siblings are allowed, even their cousins can go right in, but you are not because you do not share the same gene pool."

Response: As in most propaganda, this comment starts out with classic fallacious reasoning. Fallacies often exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor, for example relating arguments to patriotism or family, or intellectual weaknesses targeting subjects which the listener knows little about. They may also take advantage of social relationships between people, for example citing support of important individuals to encourage listeners to agree with a conclusion. Wikipedia, Fallacies. The above statement imagines a situation that is not only unreasonable, but extremely unlikely; that a spouse of a dying patient would not be allowed into a hospital ICU. I have personally visited friends who were dying in the hospital both in and out of an ICU and only rarely have I ever been asked who I was or why I was visiting. The person making the comment seems to have little or no experience with hospitals or hospital policies and is making the argument specifically for its propaganda utility.

The statement made by the commentator is usually referred to as a "converse fallacy of accident" arguing from a special case to a general rule. There is likely no actual hospital policy anywhere in the United States that would allow visitation by "blood" relatives alone and exclude all others including spouses. The commentator would like his or her readers to believe that this special case is the general rule throughout the U.S.

Comment: "Would you not feel that your “basic human right” to be with and comfort your dying loved one was being violated?"

Response: Referring to the "way I would feel" is basically an irrelevant conclusion, or red herring. Hospital policies are more likely dependent on considerations of safety, possible contagion and the care and privacy of the patient than the feelings of those excluded by any "policy." When a close family member went through a major surgery, I was excluded from the area due to concerns about possible infection. My feelings were not considered and rightly so, my feelings were of far less importance than the care of the patient.

What if I were in New York and my dying loved one was in Phoenix and I didn't have the financial means to travel to Phoenix. Would my "basic human right" to be with and comfort my dying loved one be violated? Would the State or Federal Government have to pay my way to Phoenix because of that "basic human right?"

You will also note here that the commentator has subtly changed the argument from a spouse to a "dying loved one," an entirely different category and emotionally equating "spouse" with the made up term "dying loved one." The conclusion then becomes one of argumentum ad misericordiam, that is, to arouse pity for getting one's conclusion accepted. I doubt that the commentator has read the book on fallacies, but the comment would certainly be a good example. What degree of "love" do I have to have to qualify for entry into an ICU?

I will address the "basic human right" issue in a future post.

Comment: "That exact scenario happens every day across the nation to same-sex couples. Hospital visitation of your loved ones is a “basic human right” regardless of weather there is a legal precedent for it or not."

Response: Although this statement is also fallacious, it is also totally untrue and without one shred of actual evidence. My review of the law and the posts on the Internet shows two facts: there are virtually no U.S. cases either Federal or State, involving a so-called "hospital visitation right" and almost all of the posts mentioning this exact title deal with Gay Rights activists using the term as propaganda. By the way, the same argument could be made for a cohabiting heterosexual couple but, of course, the Gay Rights Activists are not concerned about that aspect of the problem, if there is one.

Conclusion: The term "basic human right" is also a propaganda term, just as is "hospital visitation right." If a person wants to have another person involved in his or her hospital care, that can be accomplished by signing an advanced care directive, also known as a Health Care Power of Attorney. The comment raises several levels of fallacy and as I indicated above, I will address the issue of the so-called "basic human right" in another post. It is reprehensible to use these bare propaganda statements as facts to support a political and social agenda.


  1. Great post. One of my goals in life is to point out logical fallacies online whenever I get the chance. Not that logic is perfect but it does go a long way in critical thinking.

    I was going to respond to the comment you just posted about but didn't really see a need to say more than you did.

    Any argument is suspect if it is largely based on pathos (an appeal to emotion fallacy). Pathos has its use but only when supported by a strong foundation of reason, logic, and truth.

  2. Good analysis of the fallacy here. Here's the visitor information from one of the local hospitals in Phoenix: "Family and friends play a key role in the healing process, and they are encouraged to visit during your hospital stay. For the safety and comfort of others, patients are limited to two visitors in the room at once."

    No mention of blood relatives. No mention of exclusions, other than those dealing with the health of the patient. The ICU has additional restrictions based on the health requirements of the patient.

  3. Very good post. I appreciate the willingness to go and look up those annoying little factoids that keep sprouting up. Like urban legends, everyone "knows" they're true, but who has done the legwork to find out for sure?

    My husband has been looking over those 1000 ennumerated so called federal rights that gay activists claim they're being denied. Have you seen the list? The number is completely bogus. They simply counted any mere mention of the word marriage in the law and said that each mention was a separate instance of rights being denied...very little substance.