Thursday, January 19, 2023

Quebec court rules on moral quandary

In one of those almost-impossible moral quandaries that occur from time to time, Quebec's Court of Appeal has ruled that, contrary to the wishes of his parents, a Montreal hospital can permanently remove a breathing tube from a child who has been in a coma since falling into a swimming pool some seven months ago.

The boy has been in intensive care since he was submerged in a pool for 15-20 minutes last June. Somehow he lived, but has suffered serious and irreversible brain damage. Doctors say that he is technically breathing on his own, and that the tube is actually doing more harm than good, particularly given that removing the tube would allow the child to return home and receive much-needed physiotherapy.

The boy's parents insist that the tube should only be removed if the hospital is willing to restore it if things "go wrong". The Court of Appeal ruled that "the principle of preserving life at all costs is not absolute when the conditions for maintaining life are unacceptable". It ruled that the parents' objections were not in the boy's best interests, and were based on the hope that God would miraculously return the boy to the way he was before the accident.

The family is considering whether to accept the decision or to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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