In the United Kingdom, a mentally disabled couple has agreed with a court decision to allow their sickly ten-month-old baby to die after finding out he has a genetic neurological condition. In July 2014, the pair welcomed Jake into their family and one month later he was admitted to the hospital because he was having seizures.
The Daily Mail reports that his parents, who can’t be named for legal reasons, have an extremely low IQ and both have been diagnosed with a learning disability. In fact, his mother’s disability is so severe that she wasn’t legally allowed to be represented in court and needed a “friend of the court” to look after her interests.
Unfortunately, Jake has been suffering from epileptic encephalopathy of infancy and has not been able to feed properly. He stayed in the hospital from July-December 2014 and was then placed in foster care. But Jake’s condition has continued to deteriorate and doctors do not believe he will live long enough to see childhood. His pediatric neurologist said, “Jake is both life limited and life threatened as a consequence of his underlying neurological condition. I would not expect him to survive early childhood, recognizing that some children do survive longer that we expect given the severity of their conditions.”
Keep up with the latest pro-life news and information on Twitter. Follow @LifeNewsHQ
However, the doctor admitted that Jake would not die in the near future if he received medical support. He explained, “Death in the next few days or weeks or months would not be unexpected, whichever course of treatment is followed.” Currently, Jake is at London’s teaching hospital and his doctors believe he won’t be able to take in nutrition eventually and will require more medical support.
Although Jake’s parents want their son to recover, they said they don’t want him to suffer and believe withholding treatment may be best. His mother said they do not want him on a breathing machine or placed on “the electric machine” to restart his heart. Additionally, she said she does not want her son to undergo CPR.
The judge presiding over the Family Division of the High Court, Sir James Munby, thought the mother’s request demonstrated that she understood the severity of her son’s health. He said, “If I may so, it is a very illuminating illustration of how somebody who has [the mother’s] limitations nonetheless understands the fundamentals here. We all know what she means when she refers to ‘the breathing machine’ and ‘the electric machine’, and shows that she understands the fundamental issues and is able to express a very clear view about it, which is an entirely understandable and indeed appropriate view.”
He added, “In terms of simple humanity, parents must have as much time as they want, not least because it may be a distressingly short time, with their much loved baby.”
Ultimately, Sir James decided that some medical treatment could be withheld, including bag and mask ventilation, invasive or non-invasive ventilation and cardiac resuscitation. The judge said, “The tragedy is that, even with all the miracles of modern medical science, there is distressingly little we can do.
If I may say so, they [the parents] have borne themselves, each of them, with great dignity in immensely distressing circumstances.”
Then, the judge ruled that if Jake develops a serious infection, doctors could withhold antibiotic treatment. Thankfully, he did say Jake could receive any pain medication he needed even though he believed “such medications might reduce his respiratory drive and, if in an end of life situation, might therefore shorten his life.” He also ruled that the parent’s wishes should be respected and they should be consulted concerning any major medical decisions. Sir James concluded, “[There is] absolutely no reason at all why their views, their wishes, their feelings should not be taken fully into account.”