Shaw's play The Doctor's Dilemma finds a group of London doctors deciding which patient among several to save, using a scarce treatment.
I heard the LA Theater Works production of the play for radio a couple months ago, and liked it so much I sought out the text.
Below is a speech expressing an alternative solution to the doctor's dilemna, one that was cut from the production I heard, but one I feel like sharing on the hallowed eve of All Saints' Day.
Sir Ralph Bloomfield Bonington: I am bound to say that I don't think it is possible in medical practice to go into the question of the value of the lives we save. . . . [L]ook at my practice. It is what I suppose you would call a fashionable practice, a smart practice, a practice among the best people. You ask me to go into the question of whether my patients are of any use either to themselves or anyone else. Well, if you apply any scientific test known to me, you will achieve a reductio ad absurdum. You will be driven to the conclusion that the majority of them would be, as my friend Mr J. M. Barrie has tersely phrased it, better dead. Better dead. There are exceptions, no doubt. For instance, there is the court, an essentially social-democratic institution, supported out of public funds by the public because the public wants it and likes it. My court patients are hard-working people who give satisfaction, undoubtedly. Then I have a duke or two whose estates are probably better managed than they would be in public hands. But as to most of the rest, if I once began to argue about them, unquestionably the verdict would be, Better dead. When they actually do die, I sometimes have to offer that consolation, thinly disguised, to the family. The fact that they spend money so extravagantly on medical attendance really would not justify me in wasting my talents—such as they are—in keeping them alive.