Thursday, March 26, 2009

Extending Murderous "Choice" Beyond Pregnancy

Margaret Somerville weighs in on the ethics of allowing babies to die, discussing the controversial law suit against a Quebec hospital that decided not to remove the feeding tube from a disabled baby, despite the parents' wishes. She summarizes her article by saying that the baby Phebe case could help clarify the ethical and legal rights of disabled babies and disabled people in general. In fact, this case is going to show whether or not disabled babies have any rights left at all nowadays.

We know that from the prospective of the Supreme Court and the large part of our governing elite, (including the PM and the Justice Minister,) unborn babies have no rights whatsoever. But here is the case of a born baby, a baby that should therefore have all the rights that other children have, but who is treated as an unborn, whom the hospital has refused to abort.
Parents have the primary right and responsibility to decide for their children. But this right is not absolute and narrower than what one may decide for oneself. Competent adults can refuse life-saving treatment for themselves, but not for their children. Decisions must be based on a presumption in favour of life and the child's "best interests" must take priority.

Some people see not providing treatment to a disabled baby and its dying as a result, as being in the child's "best interests." That can be correct if the treatment is simply prolonging dying. But a decision based just on a "quality of life not worth living" criterion is not ethically acceptable.
Try telling that to all the abortion activists out there; to all those who believe that slaughtering a baby before he gets a chance to see daylight is an absolute "right" which is 100% indisputable and which every woman must be able to exercise at any time during pregnancy, at every hospital and, of course, at taxpayers' expense. Try convincing those who see nothing wrong with ripping the baby in the womb apart or injecting him with potassium chloride that it's wrong to let a baby who is already out of the womb to starve and dehydrate to death. Try explaining all that to a morally relativist crowd whose answer to all the above questions is "why not?"

Here, we have a couple that thought they might have a chance to exercise their implied "right to choose" and get rid of their "unwanted" baby several weeks past the legal deadline. And they were quite upset when they found out that they couldn't, that the hospital had chosen not to proceed with its initial decision to withdraw life-supporting treatment, keeping the baby alive without having asked them for permission first.

Baby Phebe's parents believe that their opinion should have prevailed over the one of the hospital and its ethics committee. If the court sides with the parents that will effectively extend the implied "right" of the murderous "choice" beyond pregnancy, allowing parents to demand euthanasia for babies whom post-natal disabilities have made "unwanted".

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