What happens to a society when it makes a conscious, reasoned choice that some of its members – the weakest and least able to defend themselves – don’t deserve to live?
In the classical western societies of Greece and Rome, it was considered the duty of parents to kill their own children if they were considered too weak or sickly to contribute. While we would consider this barbaric today (would we?), the reasons were sound. A deformed or sickly child would be a drain on scarce resources that would be better used to keep the rest of the family alive.
The only thing worse that I could imagine a parent having to go through than murdering their own child would be if the State, against their most devout wishes, did the job for them:
The parents of Charlotte Wyatt have been told that doctors are to be allowed to let their profoundly ill baby daughter die if they feel it is in her best interests. A High Court judge yesterday lifted a previous ruling that she should always be resuscitated, on the grounds that the two-year-old was now on a “downward rather than an upward trend”.(HT: Michelle Malkin)
Mr Justice Hedley heard an emergency application from doctors treating her that she had developed an aggressive chest infection and was unlikely to survive any moves to keep her alive.
“Medical evidence speaks with one voice, that ventilation simply will not achieve the end for which no doubt the parents would wish,” he said. Charlotte’s condition was said to be “deteriorating” last night. Her mother, Debbie, 24, from Portsmouth, still believes that if her daughter were ventilated she would recover.
But Mr Justice Hedley said there had been a “very significant deterioration in Charlotte’s condition”. It is the fifth time he has had to make a ruling about Charlotte’s treatment.
Doctors at St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth, had previously argued that her life was so intolerable that if her condition worsened they should be allowed to withhold treatment. Charlotte suffers from severe lung, brain and kidney damage. But her condition improved so much that last October the judge removed a ruling allowing doctors to let her die.
Her condition improved to the point last October that she was able to go home for a couple of weeks and live with her parents without any assistance from medical personnel. The child then developed a chest cold and has been re-hospitalized, a place where parents would normally expect doctors to act as healers and not Angels of Death.
But this is 21st century Europe. And the socialized medical systems that look upon humans as numbers on a chart rather than living, breathing, laughing, cuddling, thinking beings simply can’t tolerate an individual hogging more than their fair share of medical resources to stay alive. Best put the beast down, pat the parents on the head, and tell them to run along and not bother them with their silly notions of parental love and responsibility.
Welcome to the Brave New World.
I wish I could say I was surprised by this kind of thing but ever since it was revealed a year ago that Doctors in Holland had developed procedures for terminating the lives of infants who they considered unworthy of expending the time and resources in trying to save, this kind of outrage is simply the next logical step in the dehumanization of society’s fringe players, those who the godlike purveyors of medical wisdom have determined would be better off dead.
John Hinderaker’s words written at the time the Groningen story broke still haunt me:
â€œFor most of my life, I thought that philosophers could generate intellectual systems, independent of religious belief, that would, on a strictly rational basis, reproduce all of the essentials of the 20th century system that has worked well for this country. I no longer believe that to be the case. It seems appallingly clear, now, that the secular pathâ€”the road that has been taken by the Netherlands and almost all of western Europeâ€”leads inexorably to the view that men and women are cattle, and the only reasonable approach is to appoint a committee of wise men to decide when it is time for them to die.â€
In actuality, the Groningen Protocols as they became known, were not a set of guidelines designed to help in the decision making process to end an infants life. The Protocols were written to keep doctors out of jail. They were developed by lawyers so that doctors could stay one step ahead of the prosecutor in cases where children up to 12 years old were determined (in consultation with parents) to be either “incurable” or whose “quality of life” was such that they didn’t deserve to live.
Not that there would be much chance of a doctor anywhere in the socialized health care paradise of Europe being clapped in irons for not wasting medical resources on marginal, helpless human beings. It used to be that doctors were lionized for saving lives. Now they’re feted for saving money.
Those of us who argued during what became the Terri Schiavo circus that we were witnessing a “slippery slope” where against the wishes of a loved one, a human life could be terminated were called all sorts of names by those on the other side. “Hysterics” and “religious nuts” were two of the milder epithets directed against those of us who saw the fight to save Terri as a fight to preserve the dignity and value of all human life. Since then, I have come to see many arguments made by those on the other side as heartfelt and sincere as mine.
However, in the end, I thought that their biggest blind spot was in the probablity that it was a short step from Terri’s situation to what we are witnessing in Britain right now; the efforts by the medical community to take it upon themselves to decide – against the heartfelt wishes of a loving parent – to terminate the life of someone who, while gravely ill, nevertheless has battled courageously, clinging to life against all the odds.
The fact that many two year olds would have succumbed already is proof that whatever spark of humanity in this child, whatever level of awareness, whatever glimmer of understanding exists in the damaged brain of this little girl, it is directed toward a fierce, unbending determination to live. For that reason alone, she deserves every opportunity to do so.
My friend Raven, a medical professional who works with the profoundly disabled, is someone I always turn to on issues like this. Raven’s practical experience in dealing with all the end-of-life issues raised by Charlotte’s case as well as others gives her a special kind of authority that demands our attention. Commenting on remarks written by Charlotte’s mother (she has a website here) about what she’s been told by the doctors, Raven cuts to the heart of the matter:
Have to be allowed to dieâ€- what a statement. Is this humane? Has this child asked to be â€œallowedâ€ to die? Disabled children get sick more often than non-disabled, but that is not an excuse for state sanctioned murder. I have to wonder, as I always do, is this more about the costs associated with â€œmaintainingâ€ a life that so many deem not worthy of living.
Society should be ashamed. Ashamed that this barbaric policy is considered progressive.
I challenge everyone to go visit a child who has disabilites. Visit for awhile and tell me: Does this human being need to die? Is this human beingâ€™s life SO bad, so awful, that we must end this life? Are we so sure we KNOW what a quality life is that we can determine that another human has to die? Or should die? Iâ€™ve worked with thousands of these kids and I can say, without any hesitation, that every single child had a life worth living; they laugh, they smile, they cry, they touch, they communicate (not always with a voice, but they communicate). They learn to compensate for their disabilities and itâ€™s amazing to watch how they manage. Often these kids grow up to be so much stronger, emotionally, than any of us could ever hope to be. And they donâ€™t live with horrid pain and discomfort. THAT is such a LIE. And every doctor knows it. Charlotte deserves to live.
Read Raven’s entire article. She has, without a doubt, the most unique perspective on these issues I’ve seen.
How have we reached the point where a case like Charlotte’s is possible? Here are some thoughts I had on the Groningen Protocols and how it is only going to get easier to throw away human beings as if they were worthless bags of bones:
If the purpose of these protocols is mainly to keep doctors who practice euthanasia out of jail, who then speaks for the little ones? Who would stand up to a parent and say â€œThereâ€™s no reason to euthanize your child, the condition is treatable. Yes, it will cause problems and inconvenience in your life but this is what you signed on for when you decided to become a parent.â€
The answer is no one will be there. And one more step into the darkness will have been taken.
But donâ€™t worry, itâ€™ll be easier next time. And the next. Until there are so many â€œspecial casesâ€ and â€œunique situationsâ€ that it will be difficult to differentiate between killing for mercy and killing for convenience. In the end, it doesnâ€™t matter much does it? The people affected are just as dead.
I am open to opposing views on this case. I really would like someone to tell me that I’m being hysterical by talking about “slippery slopes.” I really hope someone can explain why what is happening to Charlotte is a good and necessary thing.
Maybe after telling me, you could look Charlotte’s mother in the eye and tell her the same thing.