Head First: Church screws the least of these...again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Church screws the least of these...again.

According to Britain's Daily Mail,

The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.

Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.

And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions."


I guess this isn't surprising, coming from the church that owes it's existence to the adultery of a king. I'm way uneasy about putting a decision like that in the hands of humans.

26 comments:

Kc said...

This is almost unbelievable and truly sickening.

True health said...

As an Anglican I'm frequently embarrassed by the blathering nonsense that is often espoused by our leaders. However, on this score (and am not just being contrary for the sake of it) we do truly have to start questioning this mentality of "Life at all costs". Child exposure wasn't that uncommon around the time of the early church.

Very often these children would never even have survived the womb without the intervention of the Gods in the White Coats.

It's the same at the other end of life too. If we invested more in palliative care rather than just trying to keep people alive indefinitely I think we'd have a healthier view of life & death.

RF2R2 said...

I have to tentatively agree with you, true health. My recent thoughts about abortive practices in and out of the womb deserve a second look by evangelicals. I'm not as sure as I once was that all abortions or assisted deaths are neccessarily murder. The grounds for this argument is, as you say, that modern medical practices have made us able to extend life far beyond what was possible in ancient times even when the only evidence of life is a mechanical stability of the body carried out not on the bodies energies, but by machines. Part of me wonders if keeping a person in a vegetative state for 10 years, with an enormous bill that someone is going to have to catch, is really a wise stewardship of finances. I think the same argument may possibly be applied, in some cases, to late term/post-partum abortions. It may seem horrible, but life is not the most important thing to a god who sent bears to eat children for simply making fun of his prophet - I guess the next question is, "What is?"

Recovering said...

I agree with you Dorsey. I do think, however, that if the only thing keeping a person alive is a machine and life without a machine is improbable at best, it gets hard...

...My oldest daughter (Rebekah) was unhooked from her machines 4-5 hours after she was born. They probably could have kept her alive longer but she had an inoperable birth defect and it was inevitable she was going to die on or off the machines. I remember the moments early on in the ordeal, though, wrestling with what God would have me do if they could stretch her life out indefinitely on machines...

...my point is - it can be a difficult call in some circumstances.

Recovering said...

P.S. - I am in no way in agreement with rf2r2...wow...logic like that is intellectually bankrupt and extremely dangerous. What a slippery slope you are on.

Spiritbear said...

This is not about abortion though it could be used to fight that battle. Its about leaving people for dead. Jesus teaches us to respect life. Abortion is the unwinnable battle over when life begins, this is a born person who even a satan worshipper would have to admit is alive.

I want to loosely use the Good Samaritan illustration. Had the man been left for dead, he would not have survived, however the good samaratin intervened. Apparently that was righteousness. So I think as humans (and Christian) but just as humans, we need to help anyone we can help. This makes me wanna puke

RF2R2 said...

Exactly what part of my comment was, "logic... that is intellectually bankrupt and extremely dangerous,"? I can understand if you disagree with me, but do the christian thing and help a brother out. This is the internet isn't it? I thought we were supposed to talk about stuff here? If you think I'm wrong, then, by all means, help me out; I'm just looking for a discussion instead of leaving arguments unanswered in my head.

RF2R2 said...

And, btw, you hit on exactly what I was getting at with your first post: artificial extension of life at the expense of other responsibilities is a tough issue to engage because, as spirit bear says, "Jesus teaches us to respect life." The problem is that living isn't the end of everything, so it shouldn't be the end of all argument either.

I want to engage this conversation for the glory of god; not because I love death and want to kill debilitated people or children.

dorsey said...

I have two relatives (one who is my age) who were born with severe mental disability, to the point where they cannot feed themselves or verbally communicate. I don't know whether their lives have been worth anything or not, but their mothers love them terribly. The point is that it's not for me to decide. The bishop would have left them for dead.

We're not neccesarily talking about extraordinary measures or keeping people in persistent vegetative states (although those babies are included in this discussion). We're talking about babies who could live, but are too much trouble. That's what we're talking about, convenience.

Brandon, if you're going to suggest that there is a financial threshold beyond which it's worth it to keep someone alive, then you must logically applaud the serial killer who murders the young mother who was just insured for a million dollars. From a stewardship standpoint, her survivors are in a much better position. (that's the dangerous part-- but I still adore you, you crew cutted rascal).

True Health said...

All this 'end of life' stuff runs much deeper than simple 'convenience' as you suggest Dorsey.

Billions of $ are spent on medical research each year all aimed at prolonging life as long as possible. We do have to ask ourselves if we spent the money just caring for people in their suffering whether that might not be better ... as in the hospice movement, or good old fashioned nursing.

We seem to have some pretty warped priorities when we dispose of the lives millions of healthy babies through abortion but then spend 000's trying to bring a child into the world who nature would otherwise 'abort' naturally.

RF2R2 said...

dorsey said,
We're talking about babies who could live, but are too much trouble. That's what we're talking about, convenience.

Then I absolutely agree with you - killing someone because they are an inconvenience seems like murder to me, but what I'm concerned about is that we may miss the bigger picture by being so passionate about protecting life.

Brandon, if you're going to suggest that there is a financial threshold beyond which it's worth it to keep someone alive...

That isn't what I'm suggesting at all. I am proposing that there are serious costs involved in keeping a naturally dead person (baby or otherwise) alive beyond the capabilities of their own body to sustain itself. I mean, do you tell the african tribeswoman that she is a murderer for not seeking and purchasing the best medical care to heal her deformed child? Even more to the point, do you tell the promiscuous(sp?) teenage mother that she must somehow fork up the cash to support her disease ridden baby? And if she doesn't foot the bill should we expect society to pick up the slack? I agree that under normal circumstances she (or her guardians) should be required to care for the child, but I think there comes a point where we have to let go and simply acknowledge that we live in a cursed and difficult world where hard choices must be made.

As true health said,

We do have to ask ourselves if we spent the money just caring for people in their suffering whether that might not be better...

dorsey said...

It doesn't need to be either/or. We have to do both. The difficulty with issues like this is that each side runs to extremes to prove their respective points.

"All this 'end of life' stuff runs much deeper than simple 'convenience' as you suggest Dorsey.

I didn't mean to suggest that it's only convenience, but there's no denying that convenience will come to play a role, much as it has with the practice of abortion.

Brandon, again, I'm not referring to the situations where the inevitable is simply postponed. Artificially pumping blood through a dead body is not life. To be frank, I don't know which situations the Bishop is referring to, either, and it's the lack of definition that alarms me.

seƱor jefe said...

It seems the issue here has little or nothing to do with the sanctity of life. It has more to do with the "burden" on the mother/father.

If the mother/father don't want to deal with a lifetime of caring for a less-than-"perfect" child, then the value of the child is of little matter.

It's the same argument used for birth-control, condoms, abortion and the like. It's the same pursuit of perfection that leads people to plastic surgery, eating disorders and hair transplants.

Our priorities are truly f-ed up!

Ultimately, this issue is really about the integrity/unconditional love of the parents, not the value or normalcy of the child.

Recovering said...

Brandon - After reading all the comments, I'm not sure I was understanding you initially.

I think it is intellectually bankrupt to attempt placing any dollar value on life or the hope of recovery. What are the costs, anyway, except arbitrary numbers charged by doctors, hospitals, and their vendors? I agree with Dorsey that there is probably nothing wrong with unhooking a person with no hope of survival from life support.

But what is life worth? I don't mean to sound trite, but in redeeming us God said one lives of His chosen is worth as much as His own...This bishop's lack of clarification leads me to believe that life may be much cheaper to him than to God says it should be.

Steve said...

Dorse says: I don't know whether their lives have been worth anything or not, but their mothers love them terribly.

Jeff says:If the mother/father don't want to deal with a lifetime of caring for a less-than-"perfect" child, then the value of the child is of little matter.

Put this way... being a parent and having children sure sounds like the most selfish act in the world. And I can't say I completely disagree, although most of us don't want to view it that way. MOst us us see the act of parenting as self-less (of giving oneself to another), but it's probably not when it's broken down.... it's about us, the parents.

If our kids make a "D" in social studies (not speaking from personal experience of course) it reflects on us. If our kids don't succeed in sports, or on stage or get a good job and contribute to society... it reflects on us. If our kids are borm malformed, physically disabled or with severe down's syndrome... somehow it reflects on us.

Their existence isn't worth anything without us as parents there to define them and give them meaning. Almost sounds like those old records I keep in the garage and only pull out when I move... but I won't throw them out because they are important to me. I don't know... just kind of strunk me this morning.

sandytrif said...

I have heard about this from another web sight. I am saddened by the thought that this could happen. But history repeats itself often enough, that I should not be surprised.

From a medical standpoint, I wonder if my daughter would be here today~as she was born with cancer. Is that something that the church of England would say is death worthy. Also in my own case being a cancer survivor, how do you pick and choose which diseases are "curable" and which one do you say~nothing can be done, let her die.
Sandy

Mrs Zeke said...

Well I am glad my atheist dad and only a Christian on Sunday at the time mom did not subscribe to this "church".
I would not be here since more the once they and I were told there was no hope. I may not have much value but I know our daughter does, the very child I was never suppose to be able to have. I am still breathing, so Ill take some good advice and not "let the bastards get me down".

It also occurs to me that we are so very arrogant. First we thirst after the knowledge to help people born ill then we decide who has the "quality" of life to have it. We must be amazing in out own sight. Adults in there right mind are a different story they can decide what they want. Some parents can go to the extreme in there hope. But we never know who we are letting go of when we turn and say "well even if they live what kind of life is that?" I have heard those words said so many times I wonder if the person saying them really cares about the person or about there lack of being able to change it to what they want.

Its like the person who says there is no morality and then calls the cops when there stolen from...does not add up. I'm am not a do everything to keep them alive all the time person. I provided palliative care to people in the last years . I have seen children in there hospital beds look there parents in the eyes and say "no more I am done with this" and "It not gonna work I am going to die". In cases of infants if there is any doubt then how could we do anything else but support them and see what happens. It is rare in babies if there is not really anything that can be done that care from the outside helps. I don't think this is about them though. I think and forgive me if I am wrong this is about the difficult kids like I was. I lifelong set of problems and hard for parents to have any "normal " life. Comfort has become such a dirty word.

Take care

shelly said...

This is not about abortion though it could be used to fight that battle. Its about leaving people for dead. Jesus teaches us to respect life. Abortion is the unwinnable battle over when life begins, this is a born person who even a satan worshipper would have to admit is alive.

(Emphasis mine.) Exactly.

IMO, this is something that ought to be decided on a case-by-case basis. I don't necessarily agree that this has anything to do with convenience, but everything to do with figuring out what's in the sick baby's best interest. If there is some hope for life, then the baby ought to be kept alive, I think. But if there is virtually no hope for them, barring a complete and total miracle? Hrm...

Food for thought at any rate.

nathaniel adam king said...

I love you.

JimmyBob said...

Hey Dorse. I'm with ya on this. I think they should at least give it a good try. Cost is only a factor because of how much they've decided to charge. And their charges are sometimes ridiculous.

We got our bill from the hospital from when our daughter had to go to the emergency room for stitches. We were there for a total of two hours, more than half waiting, and the total bill was about $3,000. Our insurance covered all but $700.

I wonder what they're charging for sick babies in England?

At any rate, why would the bishop be concerned with "high financial cost"? Is the Church of England hurting financially?

True Health said...

I think you're all being a bit naive and unrealistic here. Of course cost is a factor in health care.

FYI all health care (except dental treatment) is compleltely free in the UK. However there is a body called the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) which decides whether certain treatements should be available on the National Health Service ... and cost is a factor in that. Big pharmaceutical companies dont like it because it sometimes rejects their products because they are simply too expensive for the tax-payer to foot the bill.

Are we really saying that a treatment should always be given no matter what the cost?

I think the whole process of medical ethics starts a lot earlier than the point of treatment. If medical researchers started to discover that a treatement for a particular condition was going to cost £1million then they should say lets not pursue it.

And why are we as Christians so afraid of death. We of all people should be saying, there's nothing to fear about death ... we don't necessarily have to prolong the inevitable, maybe we can just learn to manage the pain and discomfort and love them til the end.

In some circumstances I think it'd be much more loving to cuddle a sick person til they die rather than seal them up in a room or machine with wires and drugs being pumped through them night & day.

Given the choice of spending £1million on a single treatment or on caring for hundreds of dying people in a hospice, I know where my money would go.

Recovering said...

I think true health makes an interesting point but I don't think this subject is really debatable unless many variables are defined first. There are just too many of these variables to speak about this in generalities. Things like age, prognosis, cost, geography, patient's wishes, religious/denominational considerations, etc. all complicate the matter.

dorsey said...

That's very true, and I think we've gotten off topic substantially. This discussion isn't about old people. They already have a remedy available to them. It's called a Living Will. They can (as I have) determine the degree of life-prolonging treatments they will receive and the conditions under which they stop.

Read the article again. The argument is whether to let doctors decide when to leave babies to die. Not just sick babies, but also disabled babies. Well, who decides what disabilities warrant life and which ones warrant death? This is not a life-at-all-cost issue, and it is neither naive nor unrealistic to suggest that this is a perilous line of thinking.

Sandytrif's daughter was given little hope as a newborn, yet I was honored with the privilege of singing at her wedding a couple years ago. Would she have been a candidate for this type of "compassion?" My reading of the article suggests that she might.

I laughed a little at the afraid-of-death comment. That's pretty easy to say when we're talking about someone else's death. Funny.

Recovering said...

Well put, Dorsey. I would argue that a formula for these kinds of situations would be inappropriate. I believe we need policies at hospitals that allow parents to make these kinds of decisions...why not leave it on their conscience? I think it is too subjective a subject - especially considering most Americans don't really care what God thinks - to dictate how these situations are to be dealt with.

True Health said...

My comments weren't about old people ... they're about the whole realm of life & death medical decision making, at whatever stage of life. I just don't think it's as straightforward as saying a Christian response is, "We should spend whatever we can to keep someone alive as long as we can". I do agree that we have to be very guarded because, like you say, it can lead to some very perilous conclusions.

And of course talking about death is always easier when you haven't got a personal connection, but sometimes that's the point. You need to determine principles BEFORE the crisis not in the midst of them. And sorry if it seems trite or "easy for me to say" but I think as Christians our attitude to life & death seems no different to any non-believer. The whole hospice movement has a much more Christian attitude, as does another of my medical heroes, Patch Adams.

The point that I made much earlier in the discussion was the the fact that medical intervention allows lives to be brought into the world that nature would never have allowed to. And yet perversley we bring to a premature end 1000's more that would have carried onto a full and healthy term.

It's not unrelaistic either, there are already countries where births before 25 weeks receive no medical intervention.

dorsey said...

Maybe it's my fault, but I dont' think we're talking about the same thing...

"My comments weren't about old people ... they're about the whole realm of life & death medical decision making, at whatever stage of life."

I understand that. My comments, on the other hand, regarded a far narrower aspect of the larger issue.

" I just don't think it's as straightforward as saying a Christian response is, "We should spend whatever we can to keep someone alive as long as we can"."

Who is saying that? I haven't heard that from anyone except you. It's a strawman argument.

"The point that I made much earlier in the discussion was the the fact that medical intervention allows lives to be brought into the world that nature would never have allowed to."

I don't disagree, but who decides where the line is drawn? Depending on how extreme you want to be on that particular line of reasoning, it could be argued that I should stop taking medication for my diabetes and let nature have it's way with me.

True health, I'm guessing that we agree more closely than this thread would suggest. I simply think that we have offered opinion here on separate issues.