Human Exceptionalism

Futile Care Theory: Baby Joseph Goes Home

Good news: Baby Joseph, who doctors and bioethicists at London Health Sciences Centre (Ontario, Canada) wanted to die sooner rather than later, has gone home with his parents.  Readers of SHS will recall that  the hospital both attempted to impose a “futile care” life-sustaining treatment withdrawal on their patient–and then refused to perform a tracheotomy that would enable his parents to take their son home to die.

Pro life advocates and others protested and the story made the news.  Priests for Life then paid to have Joseph examined and treated as the parents requested in the USA.  The tracheotomy turned out to be medically efficacious, adding heft to the concern that the hospital’s motive was ultimately, the right to be in control.  From the story:

The child known as Baby Joseph who is at the center of an end-of-life debate is now home. Fifteen-month-old Joseph Maraachli (Muh-RAHSH’-lee) left Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis before dawn Thursday and flew with his parents and 7-year-old brother back to Canada, exactly one month after receiving a tracheotomy. The Rev. Frank Pavone of New York City-based Priests for Life, which lobbies against abortion rights and euthanasia and paid for Joseph’s transfer to St. Louis, confirms that the family is back in their home in Ontario.

Remember, futile care theory isn’t about denying treatment deemed futile because it doesn’t work, but because it does.  In other words, the doctor and administrators were actually saying that continuing Joseph’s life was inappropriate.  That should scare everyone, regardless of your political persuasion.

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