Life, death, and The State

In Canada an infant has a terminal condition. He’s on a ventilator now, and is expected to die without it, unless he has a tracheotomy. The doctors, the committee, and the judge have ordered his ventilator removed. His parents want the doctors to perform the tracheotomy so they can take him home to live as long as he can and then die with his family. The doctors, the committee, and the judge say he can’t have the tracheotomy – because it’s too risky. The hospital won’t let the parents be alone with their child – because that would be too humane, I guess. The parents can’t take their child to a hospital in the US because the right papers haven’t been signed. Even ignoring morality and humanity, it seems to make no sense at all.

I’d like to think there is more; that it’s not simply the Canadian authorities’ determination to be the ones deciding who lives and dies, and when, how, and where they die; but really I’m afraid that’s all there is to it. The State must have the power of life and death, and no impulse of mercy or reason can be allowed to interfere.

UPDATE 15 March 2011: The boy’s parents have transferred him to a US Catholic hospital , which will review his case.

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4 Replies to “Life, death, and The State”

  1. I’d like to think that this kind of thing stems from a misguided effort to be kind to all involved – baby and family – by not putting them through an operation that would probably prove futile. But it sure doesn’t seem like they are thinking of anything but the bottom line, which, as we all know, is one of the huge issues with state run health care. Ultimately all decisions must be financial ones, not human ones and health care is impossible to not be a human issue.

    1. Government-run health care is an area where fiscal and social conservative’s concerns should align. It threatens our religious and civil liberties; it will drive us into tax serfdom; and it will finally bankrupt the state both financially and morally.

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