British High Court Judge Approves Euthanasia of Baby Charlotte

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 8, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British High Court Judge Approves Euthanasia of Baby Charlotte Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 8, 2004

London, England ( — A British high court judge yesterday ruled that Baby Charlotte, born three months premature, should be euthanized without further attempts to save her life through aggressive medical treatments. The decision has pro-life groups up in arms.

Charlotte Wyatt was born three months premature and has never left the hospital. She has brain damage and injuries to her lungs and kidneys.

Despite her condition, her parents, Darren and Debbie Wyatt, of Portsmouth, England, want doctors to continue doing everything possible to save her life.

But, Justice Hedley said the case evoked "fundamental principles that undergird our humanity" and ruled that doctors should be allowed to discontinue treatment, causing her death.

Hedley said it was in Charlotte’s best interests to allow her to die "a good death."

But, pro-life groups say that kind of language is used by euthanasia activists who want euthanasia and assisted suicide legalized in the European nation.

Nuala Scarisbrick of the British pro-life group LIFE warned that the decision takes the country down the slippery slope of determining "quality of life."

"Doctors have no training in measuring ‘quality of life,’" Scarisbrick said. "No one has. It is a subjective and dangerous catchphrase of the eugenics and euthanasia lobbies."

"Doctors have a duty to care for all patients, not to pick and choose according to some arbitrary and unscientific criterion," said Scarisbrick.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust took the case to the high court when doctors refused to provide further treatment for Charlotte, whose first birthday is in two weeks. Charlotte’s parents say the little girl is a "fighter" who should be given every chance.

Richard Stein, the Wyatt’s attorney, told the London Guardian that the couple is "very upset."

"They have asked me to say that they feel it was most important that the issues in the case have been aired in public because, as a result, everyone has had an opportunity to consider the extremely difficult issues faced by them and the numerous other families in similar positions," Stein said.

Mrs. Wyatt, is pregnant with the couple’s third child and they have a son, Daniel, nearly two. They said they will not appeal the decision.

Related web site:
Baby Charlotte decision puts England on Slippery Slope –
Click here to read it