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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Does the Baby Joseph Case Involve Euthanasia?

In his article, The Baby Joseph case affects us all, euthanasia expert Alex Schadenberg who is actively working to save the baby's life, says it is not a euthanasia case; it's about who decides medical intervention:
Some people have suggested that to withdraw the ventilator from baby Joseph would constitute an act of euthanasia. This is not true.

Euthanasia is an action or omission that directly and intentionally causes the death of another person with the intention of relieving suffering. Euthanasia is a form of homicide.

If the ventilator is withdrawn from baby Joseph, he is likely to die, but he may survive. If he dies, his death would be caused by his medical condition and not because of a direct and intentional action or omission. Even if the intention is to cause his death, the reality is that his death is not direct because it is caused by his medical condition and therefore is not euthanasia.
I respect the work of Alex Schadenberg and his group the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, but I disagree with his assessment that this case is not about euthanasia. There are two ways to commit euthanasia, one by direct action and one by neglect and he says this is not by neglect. I disagree when a simple procedure available to pretty much guarantee the baby's ability to breathe on his own without choking on built-up fluids.

Many pro-euthanasia doctors call pneumonia the elderly's "friend." Why? Because if a patient whose life is "not worth living" develops pneumonia the disease is left untreated, antibiotics are denied, and the patient dies of pneumonia. But he really died from deliberate neglect of the medical condition. It's possible he could survive the disease. Would that make the attempt on his life less sinister? There is nothing extraordinary in the use of antibiotics, especially in the U.S. In fact overtreatment with antibiotics is a problem.

In the case of Baby Joseph, the hospital expects the baby to die when the ventilator is removed, but they will not provide a simple surgical procedure to give him the best chance. Does removing the ventilator guarantee the child's death? Maybe not. People defy medical expectations all the time. Nevertheless, in this case, it certainly looks like attempted euthanasia by neglect similar to refusing antibiotics for the elderly patient with pneumonia.

As Schadenberg explains, the case is also about who decides and an extremely dangerous precedent for all of us if the hospital overrules the parents. As he says:
The issue is, who has the right to decide? Does the hospital and doctor, or does the family have the right to decide on how to care for their terminally ill child?...
If I have a massive stroke, I am not competent, I am unable to swallow effectively and I have not indicated in any way what I would want in such a circumstance and my wife would like an intervention done to allow me to be effectively fed, but the doctor says no, what will happen?

The precedents that have been set by the baby Joseph case and similar cases would force my wife to hire a high-priced lawyer to defend her right to provide reasonable care for me. She would face a well-paid lawyer who is financed by the hospital.

If the Consent and Capacity Board sided with the hospital she would be forced to appeal the decision to the Superior Court, which would cost an excessive amount of money, simply to defend her right to have basic care provided for me.

In the courts, legal precedents, like the baby Joseph case, would be used to convince the judge that the decision of the doctor and the hospital is correct.

We are all at risk, unless decisions like those made in the baby Joseph case are reversed.
Schadenberg is right. This case affects all of us. When we fight for the rights of Baby Joseph and his parents, we are fighting for ourselves and our own families. We have all see the massive abuses committed by liberal judges especially over the life of babies yet unborn. Let's fight their attempt to usurp God's authority further by extending their power over the rest of us.

Unfortunately, a similar case is happening right now at Georgetown Hospital where a woman is being dehydrated to death against the family's wishes. (See here...)That this dangerous precendent should take place at a "Catholic" institution is appalling but we can expect to see much more of it as "cost cutting" measures take precedence over life itself.

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