Rallies for Baby Joseph Maraachli Taking Place This Weekend

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 3, 2011   |   1:28PM   |   London, Ontario

Unable to get a hospital to perform a tracheotomy so they can bring him home to die, supporters of Joseph Maraachli and his parents are putting together rallies to support his right to be treated and go home.

Baby Jospeh Maraachli is the subject of controversy as his parents are fighting a hospital that wants to remove his breathing tube. They want the boy to be able to die peacefully at home with his family, but the hospital will not perform the tracheotomy. Instead, they asked Ontario’s Consent and Capacity board for permission to remove the breathing tube and a judge recently agreed with the doctors’ position.

London Health Sciences Centre said no agreement has been reached between the parents and the hospital and that it would only transfer the dying boy home without performing a tracheotomy, which the parents want because they believe it will alleviate Joseph’s suffering as he dies from the condition that will ultimately take his life.

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, founded by the family of the young woman whose former husband won a court ordfer to kill her in a painful strvation and dehydration death, are working together with pro-life and disability rights advocates for rallies to support Joseph and his family.

“Baby Joseph is a frightening example of how vulnerable patients suffer when the dignity of their life is not respected,” said Bobby Schindler, spokesperson for the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network. “We urge as many people as possible to join us this weekend to support this family in their effort to simply bring their child home to die naturally.”

On Saturday, they will headline a prayer gathering at noon at London Health Sciences Centre’s Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario and will host a rally that evening. On Sunday, they will host another prayer gathering at the hospital at 1:00 p.m.

“Baby Joseph Maraachli’s family has rejected an offer from the London Health Sciences Centre to transfer the young infant boy home and remove the breathing machine there. The family continues to plea with the hospital to give their son a tracheotomy and to let them care for him at home,” Schindler told LifeNews.com.

“Bobby Schindler and Brother Paul O’Donnell, representatives for the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, will be traveling to Canada to advocate for Baby Joseph and his family. They will be joined by Pat Mahoney of Christian Defense Coalition along with human and disability rights groups and faith organizations from Canada and the United States,” the brother of Terri Schiavo added.

Right to Life of Michigan, a leading pro-life group in the state where Joseph’s parents hoped to take him to a hospital that would perform the procedure so he can go home, weighed in on the debate.

The group says it supports the family and told LifeNews.com, “A team of volunteers that has rallied around Joseph Maraachli and his parents has been consulting with RLM since early last week when there was some discussion of transferring Baby Joseph to a hospital in Michigan.”

“Though negotiations between the family and the Canadian hospital no longer involve a possible transfer to Michigan, Right to Life of Michigan remains keenly interested and involved in monitoring this tragic case,” said RLM legislative director Ed Rivet, who has been in daily communication with the team in Canada and has carefully reviewed the primary document being used to deny Joseph’s parents the right to direct his medical care.

“The facts and events surrounding this case are convoluted, but the position of the hospital is clear. The medical team believes that Baby Joseph should have a medically-orchestrated death, rather than allow him to be taken home and given hospice care by his family,” Rivet said. “That not only violates Joseph’s right to compassionate end-of-life care, it completely tramples on his parents’ rights to make decisions and care for him. The medical establishment is wrongly substituting their values and ethics for that of the parents.”

Rivet said his group sides with the family and its request for a tracheostomy tube to be inserted so that Joseph could breathe on his own and then be allowed to go home. He cited a ruling by the Ontario medical Consent and Capacity Board (CCB), which sides with the hospital, that Joseph should die immediately by removing the ventilator and sedating him. The CCB report admits the parents’ request is a viable option and shows the medical establishment’s bias against the family’s wish to care for their son.

“A tracheostomy would likely provide for a longer period of life, however, in our view would not result in improvement of well-being and could reduce quality of life,” the report admits.

“We stand strongly behind the rights of Joseph’s parents and we urge the hospital to swiftly respect those rights and return Joseph to the loving care of his family,” Rivet added.

Father Frank Pavone, who became known as the “Terri Schiavo Priest” for his role in trying to save the life of a Florida woman in 2005, has joined the fight to save Baby Joseph and says he will pay for a medical transfer to a hospital willing to do the procedure.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital say the neurodegenerative disease has left Joseph in a vegetative state, but they have released video footage showing the child responding to his family.