Recently I represented a criminal defendant and did a plea agreement for him. He had been charged with obtaining prescription drugs using a forged prescription. When the judge asked him why he did it, he said it was because his teeth hurt and he couldn't afford the $100 doctor bill to get a valid prescription and he could not afford the dental appointment, either. His story seemed credible (tone of voice, body language, etc) and the judge apparently believed it because he agreed to some terms in the plea agreement that he normally wouldn't have.
Now, in many cases, people who obtain pain medication do so simply because they are drug addicts or are self-medicating for mental problems that have otherwise gone untreated. But this did not appear to be one of those cases.
Because his condition was not imminently life-threatening, he was not entitled to medical treatment as a matter of law. While his could not be excused, it made me wonder once again how many social problems that we could alleviate -- even solve -- if only people had the right to a doctor and proper medical treatment. People in this situation don't know where to turn. I'm not sure I would know where to turn.
This appears to be yet another example of why we need a national health care system. The defendant in this case now has a criminal record, with all of the life choice limitations that it imposes. This is a travesty. When will this madness end?