Saturday, October 09, 2004

"Oh little body, do not die"

Oh little body, do not die.
The soul looks out through wide blue eyes
So questioningly into mine,
That my tormented soul replies
"Oh little body, do not die
You hold the soul that talks to me,
Although our conversation be
As wordless as the windy sky."

So looked my father at the last,
Right in my soul before he died,
Though words we spoke went heedless past
As London traffic-roar outside.
And now the same blue eyes I see
Look through me from a little son,
So questioningly, so searchingly
That youthfulness and age are one.

My father looked at me and died
Before my soul made full reply.
Lord, leave this other light alight
Oh little body, do not die.

('A Child Ill' - John Betjeman)

It's rarely that a news item's so depressing as to stop blogging for a day or so. But the decision of 'good Christian' Mr Justice Hedley to allow baby Charlotte Wyatt to die, and its media coverage, was enough to make one despair. The media debate was almost entirely devoted as to whether or not the child should be allowed to die - completely missing the key issue of who should take that decision.

You can argue the case both ways. The doctors obviously thought the life-saving treatment was a form of torture - prolonging the agony but only postponing an inevitable end. To the parents the issue was simply one of keeping their child alive.

The person to make the decision should, in nearly all cases, be the parents. Not doctors, not judges. Who has the best interests of the child at heart ? Apparently a judge and some doctors, who are so confident of their rectitude that they are being kept anonymous. Only the Times seemed to find this judgement disturbing. The Guardian, and all those who believe that the State, not parents, are the arbiters of 'family life', and who want to protect murderers but kill the sick, old or unborn, were chuffed to bits - especially as the parents were Christians.

Who loves that child the most ? To ask the question is to answer it.

We've seen a barrage of sickening 'if they really loved her they'd let her go' (this guy has a lot to answer for) opinion over papers from the Guardian to the Mail (Bel Mooney), from people who have every right to an opinion (I don't know what I'd do myself in such a case) but who can't put themselves in those parents shoes. It should be their choice. Instead, they've had to listen in tears to a judge telling them why, when their baby next stops breathing, the medical staff of the 'National Health Service' they've paid for all their lives will disconnect her tubes and hand over a limp form for the parents to feel the final heartbeats. Bloody great.

"She's gone"
"I'm sorry. We tried so hard to save her. Then we decided not to bother any more"
"We know you didn't do all you could, Doctor

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