Now that baby Joseph is home, having had a tracheotomy and breathing on his own without a ventilator, it is important to once again consider why this legal battle occurred and why the Ontario government needs to change the Health Care Consent Act. The fact that Joseph is breathing on his own, without a ventilator, proves that the request that a Tracheotomy be done was appropriate and was not extra-ordinary, excessive or burdensome. It would be good to find out why the hospital actually refused to do a Tracheotomy when their proposed plan of treatment was to cause him to die of asphyxiation?
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) became involved in the baby Joseph case because of the way that the Consent and Capacity board and the Ontario Superior court decided to withdraw the ventilator from baby Joseph without the consent of his parents. The error in judgment by these legal bodies affects us all.
The meaning and value of life cannot be assessed by medical tribunals and the court and it is not measured in years, months, or days. It is measured in the giving and receiving of love. Love is the greatest quality of life that there is. This is the lesson that the Ontario/Canadian medical system needs to learn. This is what they are blind to.
Who has the right to decide.
The baby Joseph case was about who has the right to make medical treatment decisions and what is in the best interest of baby Joseph. The Children's hospital in London Ontario wanted to withdraw the ventilator from Joseph, which would likely have resulted in him dying, grasping for air. The family wanted to bring Joseph home to care for him in the same way that they cared for their first child who died of a similar condition 9 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 Baby Joseph case was not about futile care.
The baby Joseph case was different than previous cases because the family was not requesting treatment or care that was futile, excessive, extra-ordinary or burdensome. The family simply wanted to bring Joseph home, which required that a Tracheotomy be done to enable Joseph to breath.
Not about euthanasia.
Some people have suggested that withdrawing 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 legal system in Ontario is unfair.
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 decision. This is where the inequality begins. The doctor/hospital have nearly unlimited financial resources to hire a top lawyer who has experience in this area of law. The family often has limited resources and sometimes hires a legal aid 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 prohibitively expensive for the family to bring a case to the Superior Court and yet the doctor/hospital has no fear of the cost because the health care institution has significant legal resources provided by the taxpayer. Because of the inequity in the legal defense, case after case has resulted in decisions by the Consent and Capacity board or the Superior court supporting the doctor/hospital. The law's inequality has resulted in a growing body of precedent-setting cases that have increased the power of the doctor/hospital to make medical decisions against the wishes of the family. 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 from the taxpayer, that is spent to fight families (taxpayers) 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.
The Rasouli case
This is why EPC sought and become an intervenor in the Rasouli case. The Rasouli case will determine if doctors are required to obtain consent before withdrawing life support. This means that the Rasouli case will determine that a doctor is required to obtain consent to withdraw a respirator, or even fluids and food. It is euthanasia to cause a persons death by withdrawing fluids and food when that person is not otherwise dying. Death is then caused by dehydration.
You also need to protect yourself. You can protect yourself by contacting EPC and ordering the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal care. The cost for this legal document is only $25.00.