Mom and Dad Wanted Me Dead

This is bizarre.

A doctor can't be held liable for resuscitating a baby who was born without a heartbeat and survived with severe disabilities, the state Supreme Court says.

The baby's parents filed a malpractice lawsuit after the baby's 2004 birth. They claimed doctors in Vancouver, Wash., were negligent when they continued to resuscitate the baby for almost half an hour, after he was born without a heartbeat.

The parents also said the medical team should have gotten their consent before continuing to revive the baby.

But the Supreme Court justices say the doctor can't be held liable for failing to stop resuscitation efforts on a baby. [source]

More detail can be found in the Washington State Supreme Court opinion here. Nichole Stewart-Graves was 35 weeks pregnant in 2004 when she began having contractions. She went to the hospital with her husband, Todd Graves. Up to that point there had been no problems in the pregnancy. Nurses detected that the baby's heartbeat was failing and Nichole gave permission for an emergency C-section. She was then placed under anesthetic.

When the baby was born doctors could not detect any heartbeat and began working to resuscitate him. After 24 minutes the baby's heart began to beat. He survived but is permanently disabled with cerebral palsy, mental retardation and many other serious problems. He will require extensive care for his entire life. The parents named their baby boy "Liam."

The parents sued the doctor, the hospital, and everyone else in sight on the grounds that they should have let little Liam die. Yes, that's right - not "wrongful death" but "wrongful life." They say the doctors actually worked too hard to save their baby's life.

The court opinion is strange to read because Liam is, technically, the one filing the suit. His parents speak on his behalf. So you get odd sentences like "Liam made the same allegations as his parents regarding the lack of informed consent and negligence for continuing the resuscitation." Apparently, we are supposed to believe that Liam really wanted to die and the evil doctor should have just read his mind.

It is undeniably true that Liam will never have a normal life. Nevertheless, he has Life, and all life is a gift from God. It is not our place to give it or take it. Had God wanted Liam to die, then nothing the doctors did would have helped. The fact that he was saved suggests God wants Liam on this Earth - alive.

We see similar things when unborn babies are pre-natally diagnosed with conditions like Down's Syndrome. Parents often decide to abort such babies because they won't have "quality of life." This is the first step down a very slippery slope. Once we begin deciding that some lives just aren't worthwhile, where does it end? A lot of old people don't have much quality of life, either. How about poor people? Blind people? Mentally ill people? Where does it end?

Fortunately, in this case the Washington Supreme Court agreed that the doctors were not negligent. They were simply doing what doctors are supposed to do. Justice won in the end, but this case truly has no winners. Unlike some parents who develop a heroic love and dedication for disabled children, this couple clearly wishes their son had never been born. It is unclear to what degree they are involved in his care. It sure sounds like they regard him as a burden rather than a blessing.

If, someday, Liam is able to understand what happened, what will he think? Mom and dad wanted me to die? What a horrible way to go through a life that is already hard enough.

Hat tip: WWWtW

1 comment:

Donald Douglas said...

Thought I'd forward this along. You haven't stopped by my blog since our disagreement on Ron Paul. I'm not the only one who notes he's attracted the wildest whacked-out fringe members: