Sunday, November 05, 2006

Euthanasia: Doctors Want It in UK--UPDATED

Give parents the choice of killing their severely disabled children after birth with medical review, say doctors.

It says "active euthanasia" should be considered for the overall benefit of families who would otherwise suffer years of emotional and financial suffering.

Deliberate action to end infants' lives may also reduce the number of late abortions, since it would allow women the chance to decide whether their disabled child should live.

And don't forget the doctors making the decisions.
Such mercy killings are already allowed in the Netherlands for incurable conditions such as severe spina bifida. John Harris, a member of the official Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University, welcomed the college's submission. "We can terminate for serious foetal abnormality up to term, but cannot kill a newborn," he told The Sunday Times. "What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the foetus at one end of the birth canal but not the other?"
Indeed. The converse can be asked as well. Another doctor says this:

Dr Pieter Sauer, co-author of the Groningen Protocol, the guidelines governing infant euthanasia in the Netherlands, said British medics already carry out mercy killings and should be allowed to do so in the open. "English neonatologists gave me the indication that this is happening."

But the paper quoted John Wyatt, consultant neonatologist at University College Hospital, as saying: "Intentional killing is not part of medical care... once you introduce the possibility of intentional killing you change the fundamental nature of medicine. It becomes a subjective decision of whose life is worthwhile."

Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People said: "Euthanasia for disabled newborns tells society that being born disabled is a bad thing. If we introduced euthanasia for certain conditions, it would tell adults with those conditions that they are worth less than other members of society."

Already, mothers receive late-term abortions for serious health conditions like the ubiquitous and subjectively vague depression.

UPDATE: By the way, the picture used for an article about this is of a preemie bigger than my sons were when they were born. One died. The other one is in the kitchen learning his multiplication tables.

The boys were born at 24 weeks gestation. One pound, eight ounces (at birth--he dropped serious weight after that) or 750 grams at birth. There are doctors today who recommend that these children be denied medical care. Death.

My son is moderately disabled (he doesn't know this.) Slow development, lung problems, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, autism, nearly every milestone years behind, executive functioning problems.

Life was transcendent bliss and hell at the same time for the first few years. It still isn't easy. My trials with my son have lead me to levels of empathy, patience and understanding on the one hand and frustration, isolation and rage on the other hand. I had to relearn how I looked at life. And I'm so glad to have had the opportunity.

And yet, we are lucky. Some parents have children who require round-the-clock care and do live in hell and their child was bigger and born later than my sons. Some children are suffering because of medical mistakes. Do you see the temptation for a doctor who just screwed up big time?

No one can predict life and death or level of disability right after birth in so many cases. One child who was on ECHMO, who I thought for sure would die, lives today. How do you know which way it will turn out? What if you make a mistake? What if a doctor believes a baby will turn out fine...and doesn't?

UPDATE: Sister Toldjah linked to my piece (double posted at Gina Cobb while I was guest-posting there) and says this:
Sounds like there are a few (too few) voices of sanity on this issue in the UK. I’ll be very eager to read about the results of the “ethics review” for this proposed “option.” I’m usually reluctant to throw the Hitler card on the table, but I can’t resist doing so here because what the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology are suggesting sounds all too familar.
Her link goes to this and I just had to share the article. It is horrifying:
March 24, 2005 – The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum features an online display showing how German physicians under Adolf Hitler (and even before Hitler came to power) had created a euthanasia program to kill those deemed “unworthy of life.” According to the Museum: “The victims included the mentally retarded, the institutionalized mentally ill, and the physically impaired.”

The Museum noted: “The ‘euthanasia’ program required the cooperation of many German doctors, who reviewed the medical files of patients in institutions to determine which handicapped or mentally ill individuals should be killed. The doctors also supervised the actual killings. Doomed patients were transferred to six institutions in Germany and Austria, where they were killed in specially constructed gas chambers. Handicapped infants and small children were also killed by injection with a deadly dose of drugs or by starvation. The bodies of the victims were burned in large ovens called crematoria.

The roots of Hitler’s euthanasia program began in 1920 with the publishing of an essay by Dr. Alfred Hoche and law professor Karl Binding. The essay, “Releasing Persons from Lives Devoid of Value,” recommended a new medical ethic to deal with mental patients and those whose lives were considered worthless.
Who gets to decide what kind of life has value? Doctors? Hospital administrators? How about Insurance Companies?

While some people think Gay Marriage is a slippery slope, there ain't nothin' like Euthanasia to get a moral avalanche started.

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