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Patient’s civil liberties a missing consideration

The editorial by Ramesh Ponnuru summarizes many of the key points of two pieces of rival legislation related to mental illness. While the primary sponsors of the two bills would likely agree on many points if they sat face to face, there is a fundamental issue on which they, and many other informed people, disagree. It is the issue of balancing the civil liberties of someone with a major mental illness with the need for treatment and control. For instance:

•Should someone be forced into treatment or forced to take medications if they are psychotic but not dangerous?

•Should providers be able to talk to family members and coordinate care without the patient’s consent?

•If someone is not thinking coherently, do they get to choose?

There is no easy answer to this quandary, but it deserves to be considered on merit, not the politics involved.

Paul Wilson is president and CEO of Park Center. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.