Joseph Maraachli, one year old (pictured above with his father Moe Maraachli), suffers from a degenerative neurological condition which has left him in a vegetative state and in need of a respirator. Neither his doctors nor his family believe he has much chance of living. But when doctors ordered Joseph's breathing tube removed, his family refused and attempted to appeal the decision.
Thursday, an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed the appeal effectively giving state sanction to the negligent homicide of Joseph Maraachli. I say negligent homicide because euthanasia isn't legal in Canada except by means of what is called "passive euthanasia". You can kill a human being for compassionate reasons by starving or suffocating in cases such as this. And as the state refuses to acknowledge the real active nature of this killing, what else is it but negligent homicide?
Joseph's parents, accepting that he would inevitably die from his condition, wanted the hospital to perform a tracheotomy so that they might take Joseph home and allow him to die peacefully and not from the suffocation induced by removing his breathing tube. The couple had a daughter nine years ago with the same condition who was allowed to die peacefully this way. But the doctors refused citing the possibility of complications.
Joseph's breathing tube was scheduled to be removed yesterday. Family Day.
But Joseph's parents got themselves a new lawyer. And apparently he was able to point out that the judge only compelled Joseph's parents to give their consent not that the breathing tube be removed, meaning that they could defy the order, stay Joseph's execution and force the hospital to appeal to the Office of the Public Guardian, which could overrule the requirement that they consent.
This process has bought the Maraachli's time and they are now trying to have Joseph transferred to a hospital in Detroit.
Not being a medical expert, I can't really determine which death is the most humane. Suffocating is obviously not a pleasant way to die and it is assumed by the parents that allowing Joseph's illness to slowly take his life is the best way for him to go. With other forms of euthanasia illegal in Canada, these are the only options.
And just to head this off. This naturally gives fodder to "death panel" hysteria. A death panel isn't quite what this is because barring some medical miracle Joseph is going to die regardless. It's how he is going to die that is at issue. So don't even start.
Ont. couple's appeal to bring baby home dismissed (external - login to view)
Dying Ont. baby's fate up to Public Guardian - Windsor - CBC News
Long fight for baby Joseph's life not over yet