I mean, my reactions are pretty much what you would expect. This completely wipes any autonomy from Donna in determining her own quality of life which is just bad in all sorts of ways. It is a type of violation that I have come to think of, in my own practice, as medical rape.
I suppose one of the most striking things about my reaction is how frightfully typical of doctors this is. There is still this attitude among a lot of the MDs that every death is a failure. So they push. They spin. They present information in ways that give them the opportunity to try again. They make people feel guilty for wanting to forgo treatment and remain comfortable for as long as possible. I had a woman in her 70s who was diagnosed with lung cancer and said that she absolutely did not want chemo. She had seen friends go through it and she was old enough to start seeing the friends around her pass away. She made the, I feel quite reasonable decision, to opt out of chemo and look only at palliative and comfort measures. Every goddamn oncologist in the hospital came to her and explained to her that it was treatable, that she could be cured. They pushed so hard she started to feel guilty and let them run a series of tests that she had, initially, declined. All she wanted was to maintain her quality of life. Her doctors essentially vetoed her decision and pushed her into curative focussed care. The last I heard, she was going home to be followed by one of our oncologists but that palliative care had gotten involved and was advocating heavily for her. And every night I had her I reminded her this was her body and her choice.
That’s what this comes down to. It was Donna’s mind and her choice. She knew, she understood what it meant to continue on with the Human/Time Lord Biological Metacrisis and the DoctorDonna. She felt her quality of life was better, that she was better having done the things she had while traveling with him and was unwilling to lose all of that. Even if it meant her mind burning. But that would have been a failure for the Doctor. The first proper companion death since Adric. And he couldn’t stand for that. It wasn’t that she didn’t understand what she was doing, she did. She absolutely understood everything. That was the point. He just couldn’t standby and let her make that choice so he took it from her. Forced her to live a life that she considered less fulfilling. Indefinitely. With no memory of what she could have had. Which I suppose is a small mercy, at least she didn’t live in misery and regret.
The Doctor made this decision about him, as all doctors do. About what he could accomplish, about who he could save, about how much loss he could handle. It should never have been about him. There was another, more important player in this decision whose voice was silenced through selfishness.
I think a lot of people would agree with this. The famdom’s tendency to discount Martha, who seized her agency, and to overlook Donna, who has her choices taken away from her, really bugs me.