Pulling The Plug – Like It Or Not
“Death squads” are alive and well. And they have nothing to do with the President’s health-care system.
A teen in New Zealand was forced off life-support, and lived to talk about it. Here is an excerpt from a First Things blog. (First Things is a religion-friendly, right-leaning periodical of intellectual thought that was run for many years by Judeophile Father Richard John Neuhaus. It has enjoyed much contribution by Jewish writers; its masthead today includes a young YU grad as a Junior Fellow.)
A teenage girl whose life support was switched off by a New Zealand hospital against her family’s wishes defied the odds to recover and returned home this week — walking and talking. Doctors forecasted that Kimberly McNeill, 18, would never recover from her severe injuries and 15 days after being transferred to Auckland City Hospital, authorities turned off the life support machine, the New Zealand Herald reported Sunday. Defying the odds, she pulled through and this week, two months after the wreck, which nearly claimed her life, returned to her parents’ home in Napier, on New Zealand’s North Island, to continue her rehabilitation, Hawkes Bay Today reported.
This is why we need Torah law to guide our moral lives. For if we are not created in G-d’s Image, if morality is left up to mankind to define, than there is nothing to stop such purely secular thinkers from defining morality out of existence. Thus more helpless, unborn babies have been murdered since Roe V Wade, than were Jews murdered in the Holocaust. At the other end of life, the secular world now uses economic and other forms of convenience to justify putting the weak, helpless, elderly, and vulnerable to death. Recall the tragic case of Terri Shiavo, for example. This is the very opposite of Judaism, which has always put a high premium on the inherent value of human life.
“With God, nothing is impossible.”
As I sit here reading Raymond’s beautiful response, I pause to briefly look up to smile at a picture of my friend’s grand children. They are 4 beautiful healthy, perfect in every way, very active boys (5,3,2 and 9 months). With each pregnancy,
after every scan, the doctors told Niki something is terribly wrong with the baby. “You and your husband should seriously consider undergoing an abortion”. They did not but chose, instead, to put their trust in God who would help them to accept whatever the outcome. He is now five years old and perfect. Whatever the doctors saw and whatever was going through their thoughts, what ever they feared, did not happen. Not with the first, nor the second, nor the third and not the fourth. Niki and her husband heard their words repeated with each pregnancy and with each child said to themselves “we cannot allow an abortion but chose to trust in God, whatever the outcome, He will see us through”. They did and He did and He still does. Not every story has a beautiful – in our view – ending but every story where God is central has the riches of His blessings and strengthens our faith.
These stories deserve intense scrutiny. were the doctors just mistaken in their prognosis? perhaps entering into their decision making was a judgement that a diminished life is not (as) worth saving. or perhaps they felt a need to ration. the latter two factors, ones that are particularly troubling to almost all orthodox Jews, are becoming particularly acute wrt the elderly. I can easily see society deciding these issues differently than the dictates of halakha. We may well have to deal with treatments not covered by either a government or standard insurance.
that said these cases have little to do with the halakhot of care for a suffering individual judged terminal or one who is provably and systemically unable to breathe. Poskim are hardly of one mind on these types of unfortunate situations.
the sad part is that although there would technically be blood on their hands in our eyes had she died, that is legal on a socialized health care system. Its how it is there, Canada, and how it will be here is Obamacare stands. I pray that doesn’t happen. I don’t look forward to working in healthcare under those circumstances.
As Kimberly’s father I can tell you that from our heart a miracle of some type happened with our daughter. She had diffuse axonal injury which has a very poor outcome and influenced doctors to remove her from care against our wishes. In fact people have recovered from this but a very low percentage.
When it is your own child it is natural to give one hundred percent to even the smallest chance of recovery. We wanted to give Kimberly this chance yet the doctors as group for whatever reason did not, acted against our wishes and invoked their legal priviledge to terminate care. Ironically, this may have been what saved her and our rock solid belief that there is nothing that the Light of God cannot heal. For this and the alternative medical knowledge we had we are truly grateful.