Friday, March 12, 2010


The 16-year-old boy had a urinary tract blockage. His parents had God. No one sought medical treatment and the boy died from heart and kidney failure – a completely preventable medical condition. Now the parents have been sentenced to prison for criminally negligent homicide.

The issue brings up all kinds of problems: freedom of religion, thou shalt not kill, child abuse. Oh crap, it just goes on and on and the shades of gray really complicate things. What if the same were applied to a family who had a standing DNR and pulled life-sustaining treatment from their terminally ill 15-year-old daughter? How do we reconcile the two viewpoints? Each had a child that was allowed to die. 

Perhaps it all comes down to hope. In the first case, the teenage boy had a simple complication that could have been treated with meds, giving him the opportunity to exist. In the later example, the girl was terminally ill and was being kept alive by machines. She had no hope of recovery. 

Even with such a distinction (very black and white) there is the issue of disability? Could we then argue that a child with a significant disability and who will not live past into double digits is therefore terminal and should be allowed to die? What of cancer patients? At what point do we draw the line?

I'm not sure I have the answer for you, but I can make judgments in my own mind that seem good. But it comes down to perspective. Personally, I think the parents who withheld medical treatment for a preventable disease are nuttier than a hoot-owl and I feel little sympathy for the outcome. If we get close to those gray lines, it becomes harder to figure out. 

The funny part is the parents probably believed – really believed – that God would just save their son. Just because someone believes doesn't make it truth or reality. I'm sure they think they felt God talking to them or through them or around them. That don't make it so. They can feel God all they want (or think) but science shows us we have a dead kid.

1 comment:

Sky Girl said...

This issue has been addressed on a couple of tv shows I watch recently. Both involved whether to provide life-sustaining medical treatment to premature babies that were just viable but going to have major medical disabilites for the rest of their lives or possibly not live more than a few weeks. These are the complicated issues of our times and ones I am glad I did not have to face with my babies.