By Wesley J. Smith
Editor’s note. There is a second story on the passing of Baby Joseph here.
Baby Joseph, who was the subject of a bitter futile care theory lawsuit that involved two elements: First, Canadian doctors and hospital administration wanting to end all life-sustaining treatment for the terminally ill boy so he would die. But they also refused a tracheotomy as medically unwarranted, even though it would permit Joseph’s parents to bring their son to die at home. Priests for Life paid for a transfer of the case, and the surgery was performed successfully. Now, Joseph has died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. From the Fox News Network story:
“The baby who in March was hours from being pulled off life support at a Canadian hospital but was rescued by a pro-life group that brought the boy to the U.S. for treatment, died Tuesday night in the comfort of his own home in Windsor, Ontario. ‘Baby Joseph’ died with his mother Sana Nader, father Moe Maraachli at the home, CBC News reported. ‘It seemed like a relaxing breath, like he was OK. It didn’t seem like he struggled,’ Nader said, according to the report. ‘It was God’s way of telling us his last breath was OK.’”
Joseph’s parents were proved correct medically about the boy’s benefiting from a tracheotomy. They said it would allow them to bring their boy home to die–-and that they would be able to manage his care outside a hospital setting-–and that is precisely what happened. The doctors wrongly said it would be a horror, but in reality, they weren’t making a medical judgment. Rather, they sought to impose their values on the family regarding the value of Joseph’s life.
That surgery gave Joseph an extra seven months, during which he was surrounded by the love of his family and received proper care. The Canadian doctors and all the noted bioethicists (like Peter Singer) who wanted to end all treatment except comfort care, and who complained angrily about the transfer, were saying that time wasn’t worth the effort and money. In effect, they contended they have the right to declare when extending life when that is wanted is not a “benefit,” which turns the very purpose of medicine on its head. Think about how dangerous it would be if doctors or bioethicists get to decide whose life is and is not worth living.
Joseph’s parents thought those final months were a treasure. Doctors and bioethicists wanted him buried seven months ago. That, in a nutshell, is to what the Futile Care controversy boils down.
If we accept the futile care premise, it won’t stop there. Indeed, as I have repeatedly shown, the idea of unilaterally refusing wanted efficacious treatment based on quality of life judgmentalism is already extending beyond the ICU. That’s why this entire bioethical agenda must be cut off at the root.
This appears on Wesley’s terrific blog.