Charlotte Wyatt is a beautiful baby girl of 11 months who is also terribly ill. Born premature at 26 weeks, she has serious heart and lung problems. She has never left the hospital and is fed through a tube.
In the span of her very short life, she stopped breathing three times. Each time she was resuscitated. But doctors at the treating hospital in England do not want to revive her should her breathing fail a fourth time.
They say keeping her alive is futile and causing suffering. Her parents strongly disagree. They believe Charlotte, who is responsive to them, is not suffering. Their hope is that maybe she would live long enough and become strong enough to one day walk outside and see the sky and the trees.
Due to the parent’s conflict with attending physicians and the hospital, the dispute went before the British High Court where the judge sided with the doctors and hospital. That means should Charlotte enter into crisis again, she will not receive treatment but be left to die.
With this decision, England has chosen to follow in the path previous laid by the Dutch Parliament decades ago when they legalized euthanasia. As originally defined, euthanasia was limited in scope to mean taking the life of a terminally ill patient at the patient’s expressed request.
The main argument in favor of euthanasia, in the Netherlands and everywhere, has always been the need for more patient autonomy. Advocates assert patient rights, including the right to make their own end-of-life decisions. Yet, over the past 20 years, Dutch euthanasia practice has ultimately given doctors, not patients, the deciding vote on who should live or die.
According to the first official government study on the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands in 1990: 1,040 people (an average of three per day) were actively killed by doctors without the patients’ knowledge or consent. Since then, the killing of nonconsenting adults has been on the rise and expanded to include competent people with incurable illness or disabilities, patients who are not physically ill but depressed and desire to commit suicide, and incompetent people with such illness as Alzheimer’s because “they would have asked for it if they were competent.”
In addition to the rise in killing adults without their consent or knowledge, it is now standard practice in the Netherlands to withhold treatment from premature or disabled children as well as euthanize seriously ill children under the age of 12. The British Medical Journal, the Lancet, reported in 1997 Dutch doctors are killing approximately 8 percent of all infants who die each year. A fifth of these killings were done without the consent of parents. All occurred without the consent of the children.
Doctors in the Netherlands are also renowned for withholding treatment from psychiatric patients and the elderly. It is no secret that the elderly often avoid hospitalization for fear they will be put to death. In response to this trend, thousands of Dutch people carry papers or where bracelets that say “do not euthanize me.”
The most frequent reasons given for doctors ending the lives of patients without their knowledge or consent are: low quality of life and no prospect for improvement. This is the very reason now given for withholding treatment from Charlotte Wyatt.
But all of this is taking place an ocean away, right? What can it possibly mean to us here at home in the U.S.? Well let’s see.
- We kill thousands of children every day in America through abortion, some with the most brutal methods only moments before they are born.
- Hundred of thousands of unborn children kept in frozen storage are now targeted for sacrifice and human experimentation by proponents of stem-cell research.
- The American Medical Association wrote an opinion stating that severely disabled children born with anencephaly should have their organs harvested for transplant even before they die because death is inevitable.
- The Supreme Court of Florida has ruled that Terri Schiavo should be starved to death based largely on the misdiagnosis that she is unaware of her surroundings and unable to feel or interact with those around her.
- And we have legalized physician-assisted suicide in Oregon with attempts to pass similar legislation in California and Washington.
Based on these current trends and the historical influence European law has on American culture, I expect to see decisions like that concerning Charlotte Wyatt coming to a courtroom near home in the foreseeable future. That is unless the sleeping giant in America (the millions of self-identified Christians who have disengaged from the political and cultural warfare in our midst) wake up to fight against this tidal surge of death now overtaking our nation.