The Daily Kfnork points to an article about moves in Holland to legalize killing babies that cannot survive on their own. As most of my readers know, I'm just about as against abortion and such as it's possible to be, but I'm not as outraged by this practice as DeoDuce. Why? The answer is near the end of the article itself:
However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States but that such practice is hidden.
"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in the United States. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."
Even before hospitals and doctors existed, one of the most fundamental and difficult duties of a midwife was to kill babies that could not survive on their own. After birth the mother was in too much shock to know what was going on -- and the fathers were kept out of the birthing rooms partly for just this reason -- and if the baby was severely deformed or injured the midwife would kill him or her and tell the parents that the child died while being born. That's how it's been for thousands of years. Mercy killings are, in my opinion, far different than abortions or killings done for the sake of convenience.
Under what circumstances are these killings performed?
Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life such as spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a blistering illness.
...a child with painful wounds similar to burns covering most of his or her body.
...having to wrap each tiny little infant finger with Vaseline gauze and then cover it with gauze to prevent the hand from webbing and contracting.
...never being able to hold your child tight because if you did, their skin would blister or shear off.
...a child who will never know what it’s like to run, skip or jump, or to play games with other children because even the slightest physical contact will injure his or her skin.
...a child who screams out each time it is bathed because the water touching its open wounds creates incredible pain.
...a diet of only liquids or soft foods because blistering and scarring occur in the esophagus.
...an active baby with his knees soaked in blood from the normal act of crawling.
...a teenager with stumps for hands, the affected fingers long gone.
This is the nightmare of life with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)
In other cases, babies simply can't survive without life support, and even with it they won't live very long. So do we have a moral duty to spend thousands of dollars to extend the life of a doomed baby from one month to three months? Thousands of dollars that could be spent treating other patients with curable maladies? I don't know. Is it worth the health risk for a mother to carry and deliver such a baby even when his or her condition is known far in advance?
Even thinking about the problem makes me ill, and I pray that I'm never faced with such a decision. However, as with battlefield mercy killings and adult euthansia, I don't think the solution is as simple as "never under any circumstances".
It's been pointed out to me, from another article, that the final decision wouldn't fall to the parents but to the doctors, which I think is ridiculous. It's one thing to allow the next-of-kin to make life decisions based on what's best for their loved one, but it's another to allow a council of government doctors to make decisions based on what's best for the socialist health care system.