Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The case of a premature baby in France, where the parents are demanding that medical treatment be discontinued and while the doctors believe that the child needs more time, is not a case of euthanasia, as the media has reported, but rather a case of who has the right to decide to withdraw medical treatment.
The story published by France24.com titled: Baby euthanasia case spurs debate in France - concerns a baby boy, Titouan, who was born prematurely on August 31.
“We made this decision over a week ago,”
“Who wants their son to live the life of a handicapped person? Maybe some families want this, but we don’t.”The article quotes Professor Fabrice Pierre of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at University Hospital Center of Poitiers (CHU) who said:
“If we want to be able to fully understand the consequences [of the haemorrhage], we can’t rush this. We need a few weeks to evaluate his condition.”
“Currently, we are not giving him intensive treatment; we are simply giving him life support to give us the time to do a proper evaluation.”
Normally the parents or guardian have the right to decide to withhold or withdraw medical treatment. Sometimes the decision of the parents or guardian is not in the best interests of the patient. In France, it appears that the decision is made by the doctors. The article states:
... the 2005 law also puts the decision in the hands of the doctors. Faced with the repeated demands of Titouan’s parents, CHU’s neonatal unit sought out the advice of an ethics panel. They have yet to make a decision.
Labelling this case as euthanasia creates a false impression of what euthanasia is and is not. Euthanasia is to directly and intentionally cause the death of a person. It is usually done by lethal injection and it is a form of homicide.
If the doctors withdraw all treatment from Titouan, and if he dies, it would be a natural death, unless they lethally inject him or intentionally dehydrate him to death.