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06 November 2006 @ 04:01 pm
Discussion time.  
A British medical college is advocating allowing euthanasia for "severely disabled" infants.

Current Mood: intrigued
Current Music: Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
la contessina del bosco di monte ciraulofishberryjam on November 6th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
When I was in highschool in my youthgroup ... our leader asked us the same question one day. And I, and most everyone else, said that euthanasia would be a good thing

and then our youthgroup said that this is how the nazi party started (don't know how true that is) ... but the general idea of disposing of the weak or flawed and how it can go horribly wrong in the wrong hands with the wrong minds

Really, I can see and understand both sides of the issue. On one level, humans are animals and like a cat that kills its kittens when something is wrong I think on some level it is primally instinctive for us to do the same BUT I also now that there are people who are disabled, even severely and how do we quantify severely?, that have been been wonderful and powerful blessings on their family, friends and the world. And to lose those souls would be a loss
The Archangel Robriel: Mechanistic Eyearchanglrobriel on November 6th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
I suppose it depends upon what your definition of "severely disabled" is, when it all comes down to it.

I have a friend who has a child who was born without part of his brain and as a result, he's severely autistic, severely retarded and has cerebral palsy. Oh yeah, and has seizures. You look in this kid's eyes and there is just nobody there, yet his body lives on.
Maybe the kid has a great quality of life, inside that shell, but I rather doubt it. He gets bedsores and bites through his lower lip when he has seizures. His limbs are contorted and spasm if he's left too long in one position. He has a breathing tube so he gets infections a lot.
His medical care has bankrupted his parents and destroyed their marriage. His Mom has -no- life and because she has no help with this kid (because medical insurance won't cover it) so she gets on average 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, which is starting to destroy her health. Her other children are trying their hardest to raise themselves and the Mom has told me how she despairs because she's letting the children who -do- have promise go unparented so she can tend to the abyss that is her son. There are days when she says she prays he'll just die, so she can have a life again, and then she has hideous guilt. Then she prays that she'll die, and then she has hideous guilt because who'll take care of him if she goes?
My friend terrified of what will happen to him once she and his father die. She doesn't want any of her other kids to feel like they have to throw themselves in front of the bus to take care of their brother the way she has, but she's seen what happens to the people like him in most nursing facilities.
His Mom would be the first one to admit that this child's life has been nothing but a trial for her - a nightmare that never ends. She's told me she wishes she'd have had an abortion, that she -dreams- about having had one. This kid has done nothing in his life but produce ruin and despair. He has given his parents no "golden shining" moments where it's all worth it, if only for that second.
Because I love my friend, I've found myself thinking "I wish he'd just die. This is endless torment for all of them" but unlike her, I don't have hideous guilt. I honestly wish he would, so that this family could grieve and then go on and salvage something of their own lives from all this.

To me, as long as the definition for who would fall into the category of "severely disabled" is extremely narrow and the final say is left to the parents, I have exactly zero problem with it. They're advocating "allowing" euthanasia, so that means the parents wishes on the issue would be taken into consideration. It's not like the state is whistling in and declaring some children a loss and dropping them while their parents scream. This is something every ethical VET will do for malformed and suffering puppies or kittens who have no chance of having a good quality of life. I just don't get why this is such a huge deal for human doctors to do.

I say the people who -do- have problems with it should have to sign up to raise these babies themselves. Knock yourselves out, guys. Maybe when your lives have been reduced to a total smoldering wreckage you won't have as much time to mind other people's business for them.
Noah Singman: Connie and Logannsingman on November 7th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
There is a huge qualitative difference between withholding care from a patient (triage, etc.) and actively terminating a life. It may make those physicians feel better to call it "active euthanasia" or "mercy killing" instead of "murder," but murder is what it is.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on November 7th, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
Okay. What's your position on abortion? For that matter, what is your position on suicide, either self-induced or assisted?
Noah Singman: Noah and Conniensingman on November 7th, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC)
Abortion of a fetus which is viable outside the womb I'd consider an unjustified killing. Suicide, with or without assistance, is fine.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on November 7th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
Okay. Consider this, then. No infant is able to care for itself right out of the womb. With that in mind, define "viable." If it's a case of cerebral palsy, that child can grow up to be an adult with thoughts, a career, and so forth. Same with MS, with basic bodily deformations, and so forth.

Now, consider the case that archanglrobriel mentioned in his comment to this post. A person in that condition will NEVER achieve the mental capacity to make informed, consenting decisions. A person in that state isn't even going to get to the point where he can feed himself, let alone become an "adult." There is zero quality of life, and more, this becomes an active drain on the quality of life for all those who are responsible for maintaining the life functions of that person. With that in mind, explain how this is any different from someone who is in a permanent vegetative state. If this condition was caught in time in the womb, you'd have no issue with the mother deciding to abort, but once it passes through the birth canal, that option is gone?
Noah Singman: Noah and Conniensingman on November 7th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
An excellent question. Defining "viable" becomes the tricky part, doesn't it? And it varies, too, depending on technology. However, in my first comment, I explicitly noted the difference between allowing someone to die and actively killing them. I wouldn't suggest that parents have an unlimited positive obligation to provide for their children. That's why I could accept a healthy, viable fetus being aborted if the life of the mother was endangered.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on November 7th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, defining "viable" as an operating term does become the sticky part. This is something that would need to be considered very carefully. However, at this time, the point is moot because euthanasia is not even an option that can be considered. Once the child has passed through the birth canal, the parents are assumed to bear an unlimited positive obligation to ensure the continuance of that infant's life. If the child dies of benign neglect or simple refusal of life-sustaining treatment, the parents can be brought up on charges, circumstances notwithstanding. This is the main thrust of the medical college's position, that to simply deny the entire question as valid has far-reaching effects on the quality of life of more than just the infants in question, and this based on a denial of the medical and ethical realities that DO exist in variation and circumstance.