Sunday, January 24, 2010

Isaiah May Fights in Court For Life

There is a world full of developed nations who have for years had a single payer health care system such as the one Americans have been discussing since Obama became President. It is a complex issue. Many Americans are already covered. A significant number are not. We are a leader in research and development. For those who have health insurance, delivery of services is quick and efficient. There are too many people who are not covered. But destroying the system we have could make things difficult for everyone.

One of the thorniest issues is that of rationing health care, of deciding when doctors should walk away from a living patient. The Canadian courts and medical bureaucracy are dealing with just such a situation.

Isaiah James May is a baby boy whose continued survival is at the center of a battle between his parents and Canada's medical bureaucracy. When he was born on October 24, 2009, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, depriving his brain of oxygen. World Net Daily quotes as follows the letter from the Alberta Health Services in which they gave their reasons for terminating life support.

"There is no hope of recovery for Isaiah," reads a letter from Alberta Health Services delivered to Isaiah's parents and dated one week before the health care system intended to pull the plug on the baby it has determined irreparably brain damaged.

"Your treating physicians regretfully have come to the conclusion that withdrawal of active treatment is medically reasonable, ethically responsible and appropriate," the letter states. "We must put the interests of your son foremost, and it is in his best interests to discontinue mechanical ventilation support."

The parents, Isaac and Rebecca May promptly appealed the deadline, citing developmental milestones reached by Isaiah such as pupil dilation, opening his eyes and moving his limbs. He has defied predictions by gaining weight and growing. Mr. and Mrs. May took their son's case to Canada's courts. They have until January 27 to appear in court with an independent expert who will deliver a report of Isaiah May's prognosis. This report will determine whether or not Isaiah receives continued life support.

The parents had sought a 90 day reprieve. Alberta Health Services wanted to wrap up a decision in 30 days. Isaiah has defied predictions that he would never urinate, grow or even live past 3 days. The parents are praying for continued miracles and continued divine intervention.

Every society makes displays of its commitment to core values. A statue in the park, a light display on a government office building and national holidays commemorate everything from the founding of a nation to its war dead, from its workers to its feelings of gratitude to G-d.

A core value that separates modern nations from Sparta and from Pol Pot's Cambodia is the idea that a human being is more than a profit loss statement. Civil law is predicated upon the belief that our lives are entrusted to us but do not totally belong to us. That belief inspires the prohibition in most jurisdictions against committing suicide.

There is something profoundly dehumanising about sitting in judgement over the value of a life. It reduces a human life to the level of a corporation being dissolved in bankruptcy court. There is a malignant temptation in human nature to view those of lesser means and abilities as children of a lesser god. This ultimately demeans us all.

The border between the disabled and the dependent is not a towering wall. Every day, those of us who are robust and healthy slip past the border separating those who are healthy and economically productive from those who are disabled and incapable of being economically productive. Indeed, the traffic sometimes goes in both directions. There have been miraculous recoveries from vegetative states. The presence of hope from knowing that we do not know everything keeps us humble and protects us from despair.

Everyone should be encouraged to fight death as long as they wish to do so. To cling to life and the hope that it will be good is a primal urge. It is an illusion to believe that those who cling in the face of diminished hope are taking from the rest of us. To the contrary, they are enduring that the times of our lives that are racked with pain and infirmity will have dignity and meaning.

The Mays deserve our prayers, encouragement and support. Theirs is a battle for hope and for a future for their son. It is ultimately a battle that we will all face. In encouraging them, we are giving solace to those who in the future will fight for life against daunting odds. A life is not a profit loss statement. It is a gift on loan from G-d. If we lose sight of that, we are all diminished. Sphere: Related Content

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