Now that baby Joseph Maraachli has gone to the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis MO, it is important to once again consider why this legal and media battle occurred and why the Ontario government needs to change the Health Care Consent Act.
The baby Joseph case was not about euthanasia.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition became involved in the baby Joseph case because the way that the decision was made will affect everyone. Many people have suggested that this was a case of euthanasia, but in fact it was not.
Some people have suggested that to withdraw the ventilator from baby Joseph would constitute an act of euthanasia.
Euthanasia is an action or omission of an act that directly and intentionally causes the death of another person with the intention of relieving suffering. Euthanasia is a form of homicide.
If the ventilator had been withdrawn from baby Joseph, he was likely to die, but he might have survived. If he died, his death would have been caused by his medical condition and therefore it is not euthanasia.
The baby Joseph case was about who has the right to decide.
The baby Joseph case was about who has the right to decide and what is in the best interest of baby Joseph.
The hospital wanted to withdraw the ventilator from Joseph, which likely would have resulted in his death in a short period of time.
The family wanted to bring Joseph home to die in their care, in the same way that they cared for their first child who died of a similar condition more than 8 years ago. The family asked that a tracheotomy be done to allow Joseph to breathe on his own, so they could bring him home.
The legal system in Ontario is not fair
A significant problem in Ontario is that the legal system is loaded against families. When a family and the doctor/hospital disagree about the treatment plan for a person, these cases are sent to the Consent and Capacity board for a supposed third-party decision. This is where the inequality begins.
The doctor/hospital have nearly unlimited financial resources to hire a top lawyer who has significant experience in this area of law.
The family usually has limited resources and will often hire a legal aid lawyer or a lawyer who lacks experience in this area of law.
When the Consent and Capacity board sides with the doctor/hospital, often the family will give up, but sometimes they appeal the decision to the Superior Court.
It is incredibly expensive for the family to bring a case to the Superior Court and yet the doctor/hospital has no fear of costs because the health care institution has nearly unlimited legal resources.
Because of the inequity in the legal defense, case after case results in decisions by the Consent and Capacity board that support the doctor/hospital.
The law's inequality has resulted in a growing body of precedent-setting cases that constantly increase the power of the doctor/hospital to make medical decisions against the wishes of the family. This must change.
The Ontario government must change the Health Care Consent Act. It is unreasonable that families are required to spend an incredible amount of money in order to defend their rights.
If doctors/hospitals have access to huge legal budgets that are in fact, taxpayers money, in order to fight families who are simply attempting to make medical care decisions on behalf of family members, then the system should also pay the cost for the family.
Ontario citizens should recognize that the great majority of precedent-setting legal cases have given more power to the doctors/hospital. The rights of each citizen in Ontario to make medical treatment decisions have been eroded. We hope that the energy that has been created around baby Joseph can be used to help other people by changing our health care statutes.
You also need to protect yourself. You can protect yourself by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and ordering the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal care. The cost for this legal document is only $25.00.