Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baby Isaiah Case - Euthanasia or not?

The case of Baby Isaiah May has been discussed in Canada and internationally. Baby Isaiah was born with the umbilical cord around his neck after a 40 labour in Alberta. He was not breathing when he was born but was revived and sent to the Stollery Children's hospital in Edmonton Alberta.

After approximately 90 days of receiving care, the parents of Baby Isaiah - Rebecca and Isaac May, were told that the hospital would withdraw the ventilator from Baby Isaiah.

The parents went to court to request another 90 days of care to give Baby Isaiah a chance to further improve. When speaking with Rebecca May, she made it very clear that they hoped to be able to bring Isaiah home and care for him. She understood that Isaiah may not survive very long and if he survived, that he may be profoundly disabled, but she was willing to care for him and love him, no matter what happened.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has supported the wish of the May family to give Baby Isaiah a chance to improve to the point where they could bring him home.

The very first email we sent out to support the family stated that if Baby Isaiah were removed from the ventilator, that if he died, it would not be euthanasia but rather a natural death. This comment remains correct.

The reason the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is supporting the May family is that the precedent that would be set if the court did withdraw the ventilator against the wishes of the family would have very wide ramifications.

Modern bioethics has bought into futile care theory. Futile care theory originally focussed on withdrawing treatment when it became futile, burdensome and ineffective. Over the past decade, and more, futile care theory now focusses on withdrawing effective treatment from patients that are deemed to be futile.

The ventilator is effectively providing oxygen for Baby Isaiah, who is growing and physiologically thriving with the care. The hospital and the physician view Baby Isaiah as being futile and believe that they are wasting the resource of the ventilator on a futile patient.

If the May family loses this court case consider where the issue may go next. People with alzheimers or dementia, people with profound disabilities, and more.

Next consider how such a legal precedent could be used if euthanasia ever became legal in Canada.

We need to support the May family. They have asked that Baby Isaiah be given 90 more days on the ventilator and they are wanting him to have a chance to improve to the point where they can take him home and love and care for him. What is so wrong with that?

If you have not joined the facebook page, Prayers for Baby Isaiah James link to: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?v=wall&gid=167085117294

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