Most are aware of the baby who died in England this week after appeals by the parents who fought to keep him alive. The facts are what were they really trying to achieve? While no one wants to see their infant taken surely one must look to the future to understand the life that one would live. There is also the question of who would look after him when the parents are no longer in a position to provide for him?
In New South Wales there is a huge reaction to the government’s decision to privatise group homes in which severally disabled people are housed. This presents the other side of the debate.
Handicapped children are usually placed in homes designed to look after them. Parents on the average can’t cope with the demands of such a child, let alone when he or she grows into adulthood.
The weight of a handicapped person who has no ability to move without support and cannot even use a toilet without help is impossible for aging parents to manage. They are dependent on providers who can deal with this. So why are these people allowed to live when death in early life would, surely, be a better option?
Religious principles are at stake here if children are allowed to die because of a handicap. Then there is the measure of disability and the arguments of right and wrong would stir the population even further. One can see that by the level of support from the public for the parents of the above mentioned child who died just before his first birthday.
This is an issue communities need to come to terms with especially as the cost of long-term care for such people is growing out of proportion. The bottom line is what kind of life does such a person live. If there is no possibility of a life beyond requiring someone to do every task for them is it such a bad thing for the parents to surrender them to their fate.
Keeping children alive on life support and being caught up in the emotions of the moment is not practical. The question is who is to decide when life is not worth living? It is surely too big an issue for even a court to rule over. It takes this into the realm of mercy killing and the awful consequences of thinking one has made a mistake. This is a test for all and only when one knows all the circumstances can such a decision be made.