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Wednesday, May 23, 2007



It's terrible that the hospital wanted to act against the wishes of the parent, but by the bishop's own admission, denial of life support in this case would not have constituted euthanasia.


This is the first post on this blog I completely disagree with. The headline is uncharitable at best. Did the doctors really want to kill this baby? Or were they merely acknowledging the reality that this child had a terminal illness for which there is no cure.

When does artificial means to extend life become cruel and unethical? Even the Bishop seems to have sided with the hospital.

Implying that the doctors are baby killers (at least in desire) is unworthy of this blog.

Thankfully God had mercy on this child to deliver him from the pain his parents were insisting on putting him through ini their grief.


I don't know the specifics of this case but from the article it sounds like what was being 'removed' was extraordinary care - which as the Bishop said is very different from the Terry Schiavo case. I can certainly understand that the mother wanted to hang onto every breath her child could take, but it doesn't sound like what the hospital did was immoral. Maybe handled poorly in terms of being sensitive to the mother's desires to find another facility to take her daughter, but I don't know that it was immoral.

And I agree with Jason - you don't know the doctors wanted to 'kill' this baby and it seems incorrect to say so.

Someone please correct me - am I wrong?


I appreciate the nuance contained in the posts above, but I do not fell that they override the CAVEAT that the parents did not want the extraordinary means stopped.

Apply the hospitals position to a different scenario. Great grand dad has terminal cancer, but wants to live a little bit longer. Extraordinary means are required. Who gets the decision, the patient or the doctors?

A decade ago they had a nut case governor in Colorado? His name may have been Lamb? who proposed rationing healthcare to seniors on the premise that it wasn't cost effective to keep seniors alive with terminal illnesses, or illnesses that significantly effected their quality of life.

The day is coming when we will be debating such cases.

O tempora, o mores!


I was baptized & confirmed by Bishop Aymond, who also served as the parish priest for a friend when he was growing up in Louisiana. I have no doubt that Bishop Aymond's judgment is sound and that he is compassionate. It is clear that even though life support was continued, it did not and would not save the child. This is sad, but is false hope for the parents a better option? Or prolonged suffering for the child?

Having said this, the law deserves some attention. Perhaps if it appeared that life support would extend the life of the suffering patient for years--rather than months, as in this case--the transfer to comfort care would be more understandable. But then perhaps it would seem like God's will that the patient be kept alive.

One concern of mine is what role the finances of the patient's family plays in this delicate balance. If the family were paying cash, would the "transfer" to less costly care be as rapid? What about patients who received Medicare or Medicaid? When does it stop being about the good of the patient? Living in Texas, knowing about this law scares the heck out of me. Bishop Aymond's judgment I trust; the judgment of hospital staff and doctors in the area where I live? Not so much... And let's not even talk about the medical billing offices...


Based on the information we have (or at least the information I have) it would have been morally permissible, as the bishop said, to move to "comfort care." Therefore it is incorrect and rash to say that doctors wanted to "kill" the child, since withdrawing extraordinary treatment is not euthanasia.

The question is whether the hospital has the right to withdraw extraordinary treatment against the wishes of the patient, or, in the case of children, the patient's parents or guardians (but the answer to that question has no effect on whether the act itself is euthanasia or not).

Put another way, does the hospital have an obligation to provide treatment which is not in itself morally required?

Do patients/parents have the right to demand of hospitals treatments that are not morally required?

Great grandpa can decide for himself if he wants to place the burden of extraordinary treatment on himself, but is it moral for parents to place that burden on a child, causing him suffering just to extend his life a little while, when there is no reasonable hope for a cure?

If not, then the parents would not have a moral right to make such a decision (we don't have a moral right to do what is immoral).

On the other hand, there have been times when parents have made such decisions, trusting in God, and God provided a miracle.

These are sticky issues and I don't have enough knowledge to make a judgment. But the questions perhaps need to be asked.


I think Seamas is correct in winnowing the question to whether the hospital had the right to withdraw extraordinary treatment. Assuming that the treatment that Emilio was receiving was indeed extraordinary (and I do not know if this was at issue or not), then it would seem to be most in accord with our common law and statutory schemes to allow the child's parents to make the decision as to whether the care should be continued.


I have to say that I, too, read the story without my moral conscience being piqued, although future problems did come to mind. The issue, at least to my limited mind/understanding, revolves around extraordinary measures/treatment. I think it is a bit troubling that the parents were ignored this time, although perhaps appropriately this time; but I'll wager in the near-future this decision will be made illicitly...when the cost of care will decide the issue over parental objections.

We're quickly coming to a Brave New World; unless these issues are hashed out a bit better, then the culture of death will greatly expand.


The way this case has been presented in the Dallas media was a bit different from what you've got here.

According to the local fishwrap the parents were working against a very short time period allowed for the location of an extended care facility. The time period is cited in state regulations for cases such as these so an inordinate amount of expense isn't incurred. The hospital administration was cast in the role of bean counters more interested in the bottom line than compassion for a stricken family.

While the bishop's point was valid and I know the child had no hope for recovery short of a miracle, it still irks me to have life or death decisions reduced to counting the dollars and cents. Color me needlessly soft-hearted but I've always sided with the family on this one.

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