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April 21, 2005

No Slippery Slope Here: British Court Orders Baby To Be Allowed To Die... Against the Wishes of Her Parents

The Death Express picks up steam:

Rejecting a bid by the parents, a British judge on Thursday upheld a court order allowing doctors to let a critically ill baby die if she stops breathing - a move doctors say is the only humane way to end the child's suffering.

Eighteen-month-old Charlotte Wyatt can hardly see or hear and weighed about a pound when she was born prematurely. Her brain and other organs are so seriously damaged that she has "no feeling other than continuing pain," according to physicians.

Darren and Debbie Wyatt, who believe in preserving life at any cost, sought to overturn a court order granted in October.

But Justice Mark Hedley was not persuaded by the parents' pleas.

"I am quite clear that it would not be in Charlotte's best interests to die in the course of futile aggressive treatment," Hedley ruled Thursday at London's High Court.

Disclaimer: I actually agree with the judge, given what I know (and I don't know much; I'm assuming these are all the true facts).

But I agree with him only in the sense that if it were, in fact, my baby, I'd come to a similar conclusion. Call me heartless or call me a pessimist, but I do think sometimes there's no point trying to fight the inevitable.

But. But. But.

We are again confronted with a situation in which the parents of a stricken child see their wishes thwarted by a representative of the State. Again-- a judge, of course. Who else?

I may agree that this is the best course of action. But I would never be so arrogant to impose my stupid opinion on the parents of the poor child.

If the parents want to try to keep this poor baby alive, why should they not be allowed to do so? How can a judge be so arrogant as to substitute his opinion on the matter for the parents'?

I didn't know they handed out the Wisdom of Solomon at law school. I didn't know that a JD grants you such godlike insight and king-like power over the life and death of your subjects.

Thanks to the TeamHammer blog, which would be an oustanding blog, if only they got rid of that superfluous male member of the team.

Breaking News: The baby in question was just proposed to by Michael Schiavo, who also filed a malpractice claim against the British NHS.

Caveat: It has been correctly pointed out that the Brits, having a national health-care system, of course empower the government to make these sorts of decisions, partly for cost-reduction purposes.

Update: Joshua says I'm wrong to rely on the court's rendition of the facts. He offers this link to SaveCharlotte.com

Charlotte's the little girl's name, by the way.


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posted by Ace at 02:24 PM

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