This is rich: A pediatrician for a hospital wanting to cut off the life support of a baby because he is seriously disabled–although cognitively fine, as discussed here before–says that the hospitals like to follow what mothers want in cases such as this. From the story:
The parents of the chronically disabled one-year-old, who can only be identified as RB, are locked in a court battle over whether he should be allowed to die. Prof Bush, a world-renowned expert in paediatric care, said both parents were ‘genuine, loving and caring’ and that he respected both their opinions. But he told the court: ‘As a paediatrician I think the views of the mother are something that should always be taken very, very seriously. ‘That’s not to trivialise the views of the father but I think most paediatricians would find it very difficult to overrule the views of the mother, unless there was clear evidence that the mother was unreasonable.’
That seems awfully convenient to me. How many times have we been told over the last twenty years that there is no difference between the sexes ? That point aside, I wonder whether–if the mother wanted the baby’s care continued and the father didn’t–we would be hearing that the mother just can’t face the facts because she is so invested in her baby. We’ve certainly seen doctors and ethicists say that in other cases. Indeed, futile care cases in Texas, Michigan (Baby Terry) and Washington (Baby Ryan) saw doctors/ethicists testifying to just that point.
Surely, cases such as this, where it is clearly no slam-dunk and one parent wants the child to live, that is where any benefit of the doubt should be honored. What matters most is the baby’s interests and welfare, and I don’t think we are yet to the point that ethicists will say unequivocally that it is in the baby’s best interest to die when it he or she is cognitively normal and enjoys music, etc.
With this case, the dehydration/ventilator cases are moving from the cognitivey disabled being deemed lives too burdensom to live, to the physical. It is a very scary time to be a disabled person who is expensive for which to care.