Friday, January 28, 2005

Charlotte Wyatt Update

Good Christian Justice Hedley has upheld the court-imposed (and doctor-inspired) 'Do Not Resuscitate' order upon sick baby Charlotte Wyatt, granted against the wishes of her parents.

So if Charlotte stops breathing the medics can go and have a nice cup of tea.

A further hearing 'before Easter' will hear new medical evidence, assuming Charlotte hangs on till then.

This case is not simply about one sick child, but about who is best placed to decide on the interests of that child. In 99% of cases this is, and should be, the child's parents.

The presumption, or default position, should always be in favour of preserving life, and in favour of parents as the arbiter of the childs interests. Only if these conflict should the law be called upon to decide.

One can imagine a case where the parents wished the baby to die but the doctors thought she had a good chance of survival. In such a case a call for a legal ruling could be justified. What must be far more common are cases where doctors and parents agree that resuscitation (aka 'aggressive treatment' in Newspeak) is prolonging the agony and ultimately hopeless. Fair enough.

Remember this case ?

"She described how, when doctors refused her pleas for Luke to be given an adrenaline injection and handed him to her so that he could die in her arms , she ransacked medical cabinets in Luke's cubicle to find oxygen.

Doctors also refused to administer this, she said.Though her son had stopped breathing, she gave him oxygen in a final bid to save him. "But it was no use, my precious little boy died in my arms," Mrs Winston-Jones said last night. "I was begging and pleading with them to save my boy, but they said no."

"I got down on my bended knees and begged and begged for Luke's life," Mrs Winston-Jones said. "I was weeping and saying: 'For the love of God, my baby is dying. You can save him, you know you can. There is nothing in the court ruling that prevents you giving him adrenaline. Save my little boy.' But the doctor wouldn't do it."

The arrogance of doctors and judges in believing that they understand a child's best interests better than her parents do is breathtaking. When their understanding is that the child is better off dead, and they have the power to enforce their decisions against the wishes of a parent, only words like 'evil' suffice.

Other posts on this issue here and here.

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