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March 15, 2005
Texas A Signatory To Groningen Protocol?

CNN reports that a Texas court allowed doctors to override a mother's wishes and euthanize a severely afflicted five-month-old baby from a withdrawal of medical care:

A critically ill 5-month-old was taken off life support and died Tuesday, a day after a judge cleared the way for doctors to halt care they believed to be futile. The infant's mother had fought to keep him alive.

Sun Hudson had been diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder called thanatophoric dysplasia, a condition characterized by a tiny chest and lungs too small to support life. He had been on a ventilator since birth.

Thanatophoric dysplasia is an unpleasant and rare form of dwarfism that occurs once in about 35,000 births in the US. CNN does not properly describe the prognosis of the disease, however. It is not always fatal, although nearly so in the neonatal stage. Usually, thanataphoric dwarves (the name is Greek for "death bearing") only live for hours, or days at the most. Once a baby gets past the neonatal stage, survival is possible, although the child will never have hope for a normal life. The limbs usually have significant deformities and the spinal column as well.

What makes this case significant is that Sun Hudson had lived for five months, which presumably meant that he could have survived longer and perhaps even overcome some of the difficulties of his affliction, although that was a long shot. The mother clearly wanted to continue the treatment, but Texas law allows doctors to pull the plug over the objections of the next of kin by refusing treatment. Wanda Hudson had the option of moving Sun to another hospital, but all refused to accept him. The state had him put to death on the wishes of the medical establishment.

That surpasses even the Groningen Protocol, which specifically calls for parental approval before euthanizing infants. Understandably, this case has its share of difficult decisions, but it's hard to understand how the court can overrule the wishes of the next of kin in making a determination to kill a child, simply because the doctors didn't want to go on treating him. Something tells me that we've stumbled over a line here, and what's on the other side has little purchase and a long fall. (via The Corner and CQ reader Meryl)

UPDATE: Thanks to CQ reader Mark, we have more of the story:

In what medical ethicists say is a first in the United States, a hospital acting under state law, with the concurrence of a judge, disconnected a critically ill baby from life support Tuesday over his mother's objections.

Here's an indication why the court may have decided to overrule the mother:

In the Hudson case, the hospital encouraged the mother to go to court and agreed to pay her lawyer after concern arose about her mental state. She said "the sun that shines in the sky," not a man, fathered her child and would decide its fate. She repeated her belief Tuesday. ... Ms. Hudson said she'd made no funeral plans and would not attend if one were held. She said her parents, who did not talk to the news media and disapproved "of my talking about the sun," might be present.

But perhaps this may not be the last time we see a case like this:

Ms. Hudson's lawyer, Mr. Caballero, is also involved in another Houston case, that of 68-year-old Spiro Nikolouzos, a retired electrical engineer. St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital wants to remove him from life support, but the patient's wife, Jannette, has gone to court to force continued care.

Like Mark, this case has its arguments on both sides, but I fear a very bad precedent has been set. The next one to pay may well be Jannette Nikolouzos.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 15, 2005 8:44 PM

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» Baby Hudson--A Revisit from Sue Bob's Diary
Baby Hudson, about whom I blogged here, died today. He died because the Hospital prevailed in the Probate Court where its lawyers filed a motion to take Baby Hudson off his respirator against the wishes of his mother. [Read More]

Tracked on March 15, 2005 10:05 PM

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Tracked on March 15, 2005 11:37 PM

» Culture of Death - Redux from Musing Minds
Captain's Quarters has the story on the 5 month old child in Texas who was euthanized against his mother's express wishes. Part of their reasoning was that the mother said the baby's father was "the sun in the sky". The child had an extreme form of d... [Read More]

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Terri Shivao was just the beginning. Now the courts are taking over. The proof is right here. Courts ordered doctors to pull the plug on a baby overriding the mother's wishes. Oligarchial sanctioned murder is coming folks. It started a while back(rea... [Read More]

Tracked on March 16, 2005 7:20 AM

» Infant taken off Life Support from JivinJehoshaphat
I find this statement in the CNN article to be truly odd: "'Texas Children's Hospital is deeply saddened to report that Sun Hudson has died,' the hospital said in a statement issued Tuesday." [Read More]

Tracked on March 16, 2005 8:31 AM

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Tracked on March 21, 2005 11:10 AM

» Remembering Sun Hudson from ProLifeBlogs
Several readers have written to remind me of Sun Hudson, a child whose life support was removed against his mother's wishes last week."I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. Inside of me, my son is still... [Read More]

Tracked on March 24, 2005 10:37 PM

» Remembering Sun Hudson from ProLifeBlogs
Several readers have written to remind me of Sun Hudson, a child whose life support was removed against his mother's wishes last week."I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. Inside of me, my son is still... [Read More]

Tracked on March 24, 2005 10:37 PM

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