“It is a huge supposition to think they do not feel hunger or thirst.”

So says Dr Laura de Rooy, a consultant neonatologist at St George’s Hospital NHS Trust in London writing in response to an article published in the British Medical Journal of the placement of disabled infants on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).

The LCP was developed to help push those clinging for life off the cliff, so to speak. The elderly and terminally ill. It defines the “care” for patients no longer deemed fit for life in the much-vaunted free NHS. Free for those healthy enough to survive it, maybe. But I digress.

Severely disabled infants have been placed on the LCP. Starving a baby to death. Brings new meaning to the term “care protocol,” no? More:

Earlier this month, an un-named doctor wrote of the agony of watching the protracted deaths of babies. The doctor described one case of a baby born with ‘a lengthy list of unexpected congenital anomalies’, whose parents agreed to put it on the pathway.

The doctor wrote: ‘They wish for their child to die quickly once the feeding and fluids are stopped. They wish for pneumonia. They wish for no suffering. They wish for no visible changes to their precious baby.

‘Their wishes, however, are not consistent with my experience. Survival is often much longer than most physicians think; reflecting on my previous patients, the median time from withdrawal of hydration to death was ten days.

‘Parents and care teams are unprepared for the sometimes severe changes that they will witness in the child’s physical appearance as severe dehydration ensues.

‘I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby.’

According to the BMJ article, the doctor involved had presided over ten such deaths in just one hospital neonatal unit.

One British nurse has the guts to call the practice what it is:

Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice paediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticise the use of death pathways for children.She said: ‘The parents feel coerced, at a very traumatic time, into agreeing that this is correct for their child whom they are told by doctors has only has a few days to live. It is very difficult to predict death. I have seen a “reasonable” number of children recover after being taken off the pathway.

‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die.

‘I witnessed a 14 year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth when doctors refused to give him liquids by tube. His death was agonising for him, and for us nurses to watch. This is euthanasia by the backdoor.’

And this is the system we rush to emulate because it’s far more compassionate? Read the rest.

Oh, wait, a parting thought from the doctor:

Some say withdrawing medically provided hydration and nutrition is akin to withdrawing any other form of life support. Maybe, but that is not how it feels. The one thing that helps me a little is the realisation that this process is necessarily difficult. It needs to be.

To acknowledge that a child’s prospects are so dire, so limited, that we will not or cannot provide artificial nutrition is self selecting for the rarity of the situations in which parents and care teams would ever consider it.

Loving a child on the fringe  will no longer be an option in an IPAB world (H/t: Pundette). The choice to love a baby whose life will be deemed too costly for living won’t be ours alone to make. The Peter Singers of the world will reign.

Scary thought, isn’t it?

Back to cleaning and cooking for me, avoiding the news and politics and all. This real-world stuff is for the birds.


“This is about ethics, not science”

So argues Wesley J. Smith in response to a new, non-invasive fetal genome test:

The news that scientists can test a fetus’s genome through non-invasive means presents a crucial challenge to the moral integrity of society. Will these tests be used by parents and doctors to help prepare the family for a potentially special-needs child? Or instead, will this science accelerate the ongoing search and destroy mission to eugenically cleanse our progeny? In other words, will the fictional world of Gattacanow become fact?

Alas, based on current trends, it would seem so. We increasingly feel entitled not only to have a baby, but to have a baby of the kind and nature we want. Already, 90 percent of babies whose prenatal tests show that they will be born with genetic conditions such as dwarfism and Down syndrome, are prevented from being born. Pressure on expecting parents to abort the “defectives” was so clearly demonstrated that the late Senator Ted Kennedy and former Senator (now Kansas Governor) Sam Brownback co-sponsored the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Condition Awareness Act, requiring that genetic counselors be neutral with regard to the options of birth or abortion. IVF embryos are already being genetically screened before implantation, with unwanted nascent lives thrown out as medical waste — including those with a detected propensity to adult onset diseases. There is even advocacy published in prominent bioethics journals arguing on behalf of “post-birth abortion,” that is, permitted infanticide if the baby that is born does not suit the needs and desires of the parents. And let us not forget that sex-selective IVF and abortion already happen — the latter of which the president of the United States wishes to remain legal.
This particular well could have no bottom. Imagine if scientists discover a genetic component to homosexuality. At least some of our gay brothers and sisters would not be allowed to live. Not only that, but the screening could easily include testing for what are essentially cosmetic issues. Already we have seen IVF advertised as a means of determining hair and eye color.

TeachingmyTwo and I discussed this very scenario last week. If a genetic trait for homosexuality were discovered, can’t you see laws protecting the elimination of gays? It’s not illegal to abort a girl, because that’s choice, but it would be to abort a gay male, because that would be … discrimination. More:

Many neo-eugenicists assure us that these decisions will all be laissez faire, that is, based solely on “choice.” But that is a fantasy. There are already calls among the Medical intelligentsia to offer prenatal genetic testing to all expecting mothers, not just those who are “at risk,” with the clear intention that the eugenic abortion rate increase. One could easily envisage laws that restrict coverage for children with serious prenatal detectable health conditions. And the raw power of peer pressure could make it very difficult to permit genetically determined babies from being born with serious illnesses or disabilities.

The march of science cannot be stopped, we are told. But this is about ethics, not science. What we do with our technological prowess is what matters. The answer to the evil potentials of the coming genomic screening is to strengthen our commitment to human life and deepen our capacity to love.

Smith always has his finger on the pulse of the ethics of science, good bad and ugly. Ross Douthat at the NYT gave it a go this weekend as well:

 But given our society’s track record with prenatal testing for Down syndrome, we also have a pretty good idea of what individuals and couples will do with comprehensive information about their unborn child’s potential prospects. In 90 percent of cases, a positive test for Down syndrome leads to an abortion. It is hard to imagine that more expansive knowledge won’t lead to similar forms of prenatal selection on an ever-more-significant scale.

Is this sort of “liberal eugenics,” in which the agents of reproductive selection are parents rather than the state, entirely different from the eugenics of Fisher’s era, which forced sterilization on unwilling men and women? Like so many of our debates about reproductive ethics, that question hinges on what one thinks about the moral status of the fetus.

From a rigorously pro-choice perspective, the in utero phase is a space in human development where disease and disability can be eradicated, and our impulse toward perfection given ever-freer rein, without necessarily doing any violence to human dignity and human rights.

Disease and disability can be eradicated. Who, though, defines “disease and disability”? If 90% of Down Syndrome babies are discarded as waste with no afterthought, what will happen when gay, those with the genetic marker for addiction, depression or Alzheimer’s join them in the trash heap? Will there be no end? Will parents be able to choose not to have that transgendered kid or the one with supposed gender identity disorder? What about one too dark? Too fat? Too tall?

This will test those who champion “choice” above all else.

H/t: HA headlines

So I’m a “fanatic” for opposing infanticide, eh?

So claims the editor of the journal which published the article supporting infanticide baby-killing  “after-birth abortion.” After all, it’s “morally irrelevant” that fetuses and newborn infants are “potential persons.” Shame on me, I’m preventing “proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society,” according to Julian Savulescu, the aforementioned editor who adds:

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Emphasis my own. What Savulescu calls “reasoned engagement” was the fact that this isn’t a new arena of bioethics, but a different application per se, of arguments established by Peter Singer among others. Since bioethicists claim infants are no different in capacity than fetuses, and since it’s also legal to abort fetuses, then it should also be legal to “abort” infants. Not a new proposal. Just “reasoned engagement.”

Tina Korbe at Hot Air adds:

Once upon a time, abortion advocates would accuse pro-lifers of “slippery slope logic” when those pro-lifers suggested it was only a matter of time before someone would use the abortion advocates’ arguments to defend infanticide. According to Savulescu, that began to happen a long time ago — and it continues to happen today. Turns out, it is a slippery slope, after all. If humans don’t have a right to life from the moment of conception, when does the right to life kick in? The moment a human becomes a person? When is that? Who determines when? The standard becomes movable — and, consequently, impossible to uphold.

Absolutely, and it’s why our culture shamelessly plumbs the depths of the culture of death. If lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly aren’t sacred, then the life of no one is.

Why bioethicists believe it’s “morally irrelevant” that fetuses and newborn infants are “potential persons.”

These folks have jobs, y’all, where they teach doctors how to make life or death decisions. Comforting, isn’t it?

Via Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke, an abstract of a journal article printed in The Journal of Medical Ethics discussing “Afterbirth Abortion,” or in layman’s terms, infanticide:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.


That anyone, let alone someone hiding behind the façade of “ethicist,” can suggest in a professional setting that (1) fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as you or me is deeply troubling for myriad reasons, least of all that it’s patently false. But to argue point (2)–even if you accepted the first invalid premise–requires a certain degree of willful ignorance: how can anyone argue that a newborn infant isn’t a person? It’s not a potential person. It’s a living, breathing, unique individual with needs, wants and desires. That a newborn cannot inform others of the needs, wants and desires isn’t unique to newborns. I just read pjKid a book about Helen Keller. She couldn’t communicate for years. Granted, to most “medical bioethicists,” that is sufficient for saying Helen Keller wasn’t capable of living life fully, therefore she should’ve been “aborted,” too. The final argument presented is one of sheer convenience: oh, bother. I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant. I shouldn’t have carried the baby. Why wrestle with the emotional haggle of giving the child up to someone who desperately wants a baby, dear me, I should legally have the right to just kill it. And my doctor agrees! I don’t like the kid’s kinky hair or dark brown eyes. Dammit, he looks like my mother-in-law. It cries too much! Ah, kill it! We’ll try again next time.

Smith comments:

So, if a woman has a mixed racial affair, she and her same race husband should be able to prevent gossip and embarrassment by killing the baby?  (I know of one such case, although the woman wasn’t married, she aborted simply because she didn’t want to have a mixed race child.)  Heck, if the baby’s life is worth so little, let’s harvest her organs and give them to those babies whose parents want them to live.

How unsettling to some that a few of us do want babies to live.

(What proof of Joe Klein’s opinion, no?)


Infanticide isn’t a crime, but littering is?

Infanticide by any other name: The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy

“The position that allows abortion also allows infanticide under some circumstances. . . . If we accept abortion, we do need to rethink some of those more fundamental attitudes about human life”

UPDATE: Linked by Pundette as a “Recommended Read.” Thanks!

Why is selling a newborn a crime?

At least the kid is alive, no?

A Drudge headline caught my eye yesterday:

Delaware Mom Agreed To Sell Newborn To Philadelphia Man for $15,000

And my first thought was, why is this even a crime? We’ve come so far, haven’t we, that the trafficking of an infant seems a better prospect than infanticide.

From the story:

A Delaware mother, along with a Philadelphia man, are facing charges after investigators allege the two agreed to the sale and purchase of the woman’s newborn son.

“I didn’t want to give my baby away,” said 33-year-old Bridget Wismer of Brookside Park, New Castle County Delaware.

Wismer, charged with selling her newborn for $15,000, said she did nothing wrong.

According to her, she had an agreement with friend, John Gavaghan, who wanted to help Wismer raise her son, Christian.

“He told me he would help out,” explained Wismer. “Whenever I needed something for the baby, I would call him. There was no organized thing.”

Wismer said she is already raising two children. She doesn’t have a job and she lives at home with her mother. Gavaghan doesn’t have any children but wanted one.

Peter Singer has argued that if we accept the premise of abortion, we must accept the notion of infanticide as well. In that vein, why is this a crime? If it’s “morally acceptable” to a noted bio-“ethicist” at Princeton who teaches doctors to ignore the Hippocratic oath, then why is the sale of a live infant a problem? OK to kill, morally offensive to sell?

No wonder Baby Joseph needed to leave Canada

The last post on Baby Joseph brought commenters all the way from Canada. Not very nice ones, I might add. But before posting the Canadian pleasantries, I’ll toss this up: Baby Joseph finally received his tracheotomy  Monday and will be soon be heading home. Yes, to die. At home. Surrounded by his family and in less pain from the breathing tubes.

I have never argued that his life could be saved with better care. Neither did his parents in the myriad articles I read. They just wanted Joseph to die peacefully at home where they could care for him rather than watching their baby writhe while he suffocated to death in a sterile hospital. The Maraachli’s fought the hospital’s decision in court and lost–lost the request to have a tracheotomy that would have enabled them to take Joseph home to die in peace.

May I present the first feel-the-Canadian-love comment, from Magatha:

This post is inaccurate. The priests did not remove this baby “under cover of darkness.” In fact, they didn’t enter the hospital at all. Despite the misgivings of medical experts, the London hospital released the child to the priests willingly. They even provided medical transport and staff in order to take the child to the airstrip where the priests were awaiting the child. Oh, and the doctors did not delay baby Joseph’s transfer–it took the priests two weeks to find a hospital in the U.S. to take the baby. Approximately 12 hospitals, upon reviewing the baby’s medical charts, declined to take Joseph on as a patient. Furthermore, the doctors who were caring for Joseph have determined that the baby has no hope of recovery. This is not because they don’t want to treat him; it’s because this baby is, unfortunately, dying.

Here’s another fact that you may not be aware of: Joseph’s older sister, Zina, died of the same neurological condition about 8 years ago. At that time, doctors did acquiese to the parents’ request to trach her and send her home. She was in and out of the hospital with terrible infections and finally died in the hospital.

I would like to also point out that the St. Louis hospital that did finally take this poor child announced that they would reveal their treatment plans and would also be inserting a tracheotomy by the end of this past week. They made this announcement on Monday, Mar 14. It is now Saturday, March 19 and there have been no announcements as to how they plan to treat this baby, nor has he received a tracheotomy. Perhaps that’s because these doctors realize what a terrible position they are in–they’ve given hope to a family and must now take that hope away again. What a terrible situation for everyone involved.

Since you’re so concerned, Magatha, he did receive his tracheotomy on March 21st. But with Canadian press articles like this one, no wonder you’re so tormented. Yes, I was aware of Joseph’s older sister. I posted about the family’s heartbreak previously. The hospital didn’t “give hope to a family” only to take it away. From the LifeSite story:

Joseph was rescued a week ago from a Canadian hospital in London, Ontario  by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, who paid for a private specialized medical plane to take the boy to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri so he could have the medical procedure before his parents take him home, where he will likely die soon from a degenerative neurological condition.

Moe Maraachli, the baby’s father, released a statement saying, “Good morning all friends and family and supporters. Me and my wife we thank you so much for everything and for your praying to our baby Joseph ….today is big day for Joseph.”

The family fought to take their son home. To die. Like his older sister. His sister was given the tracheotomy. That’s why they wanted one for Joseph.

Continue reading

Which is safer, the bunny or the blender?

Via Jill Stanek, a fabulous ad from the American Life League:

Waiting for the liberal angst parade (and the PETA dupes) in 3, 2, 1…

And via Hot Air headlines this morning, another reminder why socialized medicine isn’t in the best interests of patients.  If state docs now tell patients that abortion is “safer” than a term pregnancy, what’s the benefit?  Lower costs for the state. It’s not safer, but it’s cheaper to kill a child before incurring prenatal medical costs, delivery costs, myriad vaccinations, those dreadful monthly checkups, etc.

From the Telegraph:

The guidance also says that women who are deciding whether to have an abortion must be told that most do not suffer any psychological harm. Until now, their advice has been that while rates of psychiatric illness and self-harm in women are higher among those who had an abortion, there was no evidence that termination itself was likely to trigger psychological problems.

Oh, really?

Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Patricia Casey, a consultant psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The message this sends out is very worrying. There are more than 30 studies showing an association between psychological trauma and abortion.”

No evidence at all, though I’m sure it’s cheaper for the state to assume the risk of future psychiatric care than the financial burden of bringing a new life into the world.

Exit question: what happens to the state when it exterminates its future tax base and the money all runs dry?

At last: Wesley J. Smith weighs in on Baby Joseph

Joseph Maraachli’s parents continue to fight for the right to take their son home

Additionally, they now have some aid from Fr. Frank Pavone–noted for his involvement in trying to save Terri Schiavo–and Priests for Life, who have volunteered to cover the costs to bring Joseph to the United States for a tracheotomy to enable him to go home to die as Maraachli’s daughter did eight years ago.

This CNN article, highlighted by bioethicist Wesley Smith, gives more history to Baby Joseph’s plight. The kicker:

If he is beyond hope, they want him to be able to receive a tracheotomy, where he can be transferred home and die in the care of family instead of in a hospital. Experts say even if the family is granted this request, caring for a child in this condition is an arduous task. Dr. David Casarett, director of research and evaluation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wissahickon Hospice, says patients at home with tracheotomies need monitoring to make sure the airway is clear of secretions, the skin is clean and dry and someone can make sure the incision at the tracheotomy site does not get infected. “A child’s care would be much more complex if a home ventilator is required, since the parents would need to manage the ventilator with the help of a nurse and respiratory therapist,” he said.

If the family wishes to undergo the “arduous task” of caring for Joseph at home, the family should have the option as they did for their daughter.  They know what’s involved in the “arduous task” and want to bring the “arduous task” home, so be it. Why should experts care how much of a burden their child will be at home? The Maraachli’s don’t care. They’ve done it before. Why? Because that’s what parents do.

Smith responds:

This is a very hard thing, and I see both sides to this aspect of the case.  But the request for a tracheotomy raises different ethical issues than requesting that life support be maintained in hospital. In my view, refusing the tracheotomy surgery is not a futile care imposition, since the surgery is not primarily intended to maintain the baby’s life, but rather is an elective procedure, to allow the parents to bring him home to die. That is a completely understandable, nay, laudable, desire on their part, but it presents a different wrinkle to the situation than the usual futile care dispute.  And let me emphasize: It wouldn’t be an issue if the hospital weren’t trying to force the baby off life support.

Read the rest and continue to pray that the Maraachli’s are able to bring their son home.

Baby Joseph in peril…again

From Lifesitenews an enraging update to this story:

LONDON, Ontario, February 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While things were looking up for the parents of Joseph Maraachli this past weekend, the picture has now become bleaker. In the latest twist in the case the London hospital where their dying son is being cared for is seeking to remove the parents’ decision-making power after they refused to have him taken off life support. Hospital security is also denying them private visitations.

The hospital has asked that the Office of Public Guardian be appointed to assume decision making powers of their son.  And oh, in the meantime, they can’t go into his room alone.   A security guard must be in the room with them at all times.  Why can’t they go in alone? A clue…

The hospital says nine specialists have confirmed he’s in a “persistent vegetative state,” but the family and their close supporters disagree.  Family members say Joseph is fully responsive to touch, particularly that he hates being touched by cold hands, tickles easily, and moves his head when his hair is brushed.  They also say he responds to loud noises by turning his head toward the sound.

The hospital has warned the family that they will be banned from the hospital if they try to take videos, which is preventing the family from documenting Joseph’s responses and movements…

Irregardless of what the purpose of the videos are for – what medical, ethical, moral, or legal right does a hospital have to prevent  parents of taking videos of their dying child – perhaps the last expression or interaction that they will see.  On what legal basis can they do this?

If this story turns your stomach, please read the rest of the article here.  You’ll find information on how to contact the hospital CEO, Ontario’s Premier and Opposition Leader to voice your outrage.

UPDATE: A “Featured Blog” at Pundit and Pundette. Thanks!

Miracles do happen

Teachingmytwo highlighted the plight of the Maraachli family’s fight to take their baby home to die in peace, surrounded by family. To do so, Baby Joseph would have to receive a tracheotomy, which the Canadian doctors death panel deemed “too risky.” The family took their fight to court. They lost. The baby would die in the hospital upon removal of his breathing tube.

In more direct terms: Joseph would suffocate in front of his helpless parents.

The Maraachli family knew Joseph had no chance of recovery.

They wanted to bring him home to die on his own terms, surrounded with love. Why? From Life Site News, heartbreak:

The Maraachlis’ daughter died from similar complications eight years ago, but in that case doctors performed a tracheotomy and they were able to take her home.  Joseph’s parents want the same for him.

Now he might have the chance.  From the Toronto Sun:

A dying Windsor, Ont., baby who was likely to be taken off life support this week at a London, Ont., hospital might instead be moved to a Michigan hospital.

The family wants to take Joseph home to die. Let’s pray doctors in Michigan help that happen. Pray. If you’d like to donate to help defray their legal costs, go here. For more updates, join the Save Baby Joseph Facebook page.