A “Fragile Superhero” Shows the Inherent Value of Children With Disabilities

KadenHave you heard about “fragile superhero” Kaden Casebolt? 

Kaden is a five-year-old boy born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a very rare disease that makes a person’s bones extraordinarily brittle.

Meeting with Kaden’s mom while she was still pregnant, doctors recommended she get an abortion. They informed the expectant mother there was a 95% chance her son wouldn’t survive birth. But even if he did, doctors said he wouldn’t survive long after.

Kaden’s mom declined to abort her preborn son. In an interview with BBC3 this summer, she says she made the right decision. 

Although Kaden has had over 40 broken bones requiring frequent surgeries, he “loves life.” Kaden is fascinated by superheroes, and he enjoys playing with his superhero action figures. He’s particularly fond of Superman, who impresses Kaden with his flying skills and suit.

“I think Kaden loves superheroes so much because he feels like he is one,” his mom said. “He’s already overcome so much, and he can still do the impossible.”

The doctors who recommended abortion were wrong, something Kaden’s mom says is evident in her son’s happiness and great potential.

“I’m very glad that I didn’t listen to the doctors who told me that he wouldn’t live, or walk, or do anything,” Kaden’s mom said. “If I did listen to them, then I wouldn’t have a strong little boy doing everything they said he couldn’t do.”

Every person deserves a chance at life. But too many preborn children with disabilities are aborted and denied the opportunity to live happy lives.

Thankfully for Kaden, he has parents who understood the infinite value of their son. They chose life.



This article was originally written for the Indiana Family Institute.


 

UK Doctors and Judges Sentence Another Innocent Baby Boy to Death


Update (6:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Despite ongoing efforts by Italian and Vatican diplomats to secure Alfie’s release, the hospital has removed the boy’s ventilator, and his hospital room has been surrounded by police officers. The English judge appears obstinately committed to his decision that Alfie’s life is not worth living, notwithstanding video published by LifeSiteNews earlier today showing that the toddler is “lively and alert.”


Update (2:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship in hopes that English authorities will release him for treatment at a hospital in Rome with ties to the Vatican. His doctors, resolute in their efforts to prevent the boy from receiving treatment elsewhere, planned to remove him from his ventilator today. The big question right now is whether the English are as determined to murder Italian citizens as they are to murder their own?


29789950_2042672899282211_9078872337536778240_nI am angry and upset that, for the second time in less than a year, the English legal and medical systems are conspiring to condemn a sick baby boy to death against the instructions of his parents.

Alfie Evans, who is now 23 months old, was taken to an English hospital in December 2016 to be treated for a lung infection. Some time later, he slipped into a coma. Doctors have been unable to diagnose Alfie’s malady, although they assume he has a mitochondrial disorder.

In February, the High Court in London agreed with doctors that the boy should be removed from life support, and the UK Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision. “Alfie’s brain had been so corrupted by mitochondrial disease that his life was futile,” the judge wrote in the decision. Alfie’s parents, on the other hand, want to take Alfie to an Italian hospital with ties to the Vatican for treatment.

Whether Alfie will be given the opportunity to receive treatment in Italy is still to be seen. The inappropriately named European Court of Human Rights rejected the family’s request to seek treatment elsewhere, and the hospital plans to remove life support today.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 9.20.28 PMThe ongoing case brings to mind Charlie Gard, who was murdered under similar circumstances by doctors and judges last summer. Gard’s parents brought him to a London hospital in October 2016 for breathing problems when he was three months old. Gard was subsequently diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. In January 2017, he had seizures and fell into a coma. Claiming that the seizures had caused irreversible brain damage, Charlie’s doctors petitioned an English judge to grant them the ability to end his life, despite the ongoing discussions between his parents and an American doctor who was willing to administer an experimental treatment that might have saved Charlie’s life. Hospital officials prevailed in court (just like with Alfie, the European Court of Human Rights refused to hear Charlie’s case) and removed Charlie from life support last July.

Justice Francis, the High Court judge who heard Charlie’s case, ruled that “it is in Charlie’s best interests” for the hospital “to permit Charlie to die with dignity.” In his ruling, Justice Francis rejected the objections of those who ask why courts should make these decisions and override the rights of parents:

“The duty with which I am now charged is to decide, according to well laid down legal principles, what is in Charlie’s best interests. Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process; why can the parents not make this decision on their own? The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

It is morally reprehensible for a judge to claim the power to decide whose lives are worth living and whose lives are not. Furthermore, it can only be described as a blatant infringement on parental rights when doctors and judges attempt to override decisions by parents regarding medical treatment for their children.

For the historically literate, Alfie and Charlie’s cases conjure up images of Nazi Germany, where doctors routinely euthanized the “unfit,” whose lives, in the eyes of politicians and doctors, weren’t “worth” living.

Lest we forget, physicians take an oath to “do no harm.” Although doctors shouldn’t be forced to provide care with which they personally or professionally disagree, they have no right to prevent parents from taking their children to another medical provider for treatment that may potentially prolong or improve the quality of life.

While the doctors involved in these two cases clearly overstepped their professional prerogative, they could not implement their murderous schemes without the legal support provided by English law and judges. Any government that presumes it has the power of life and death over its innocent citizens is tyrannical and monstrous. Any government that violates the natural right of parents to make medical decisions for their children is illegitimate, acting without authority, and flaunting the natural order, God’s law, and His design for human society.

Pray for little Alfie and his parents, both of whom are in their early twenties. Pray for the English authorities to repent and change direction. And pray that the American people will wake up and recover the conviction that life is sacred, lest our nation follow in England’s footsteps.

Is abortion constitutional? Let’s ask the founders

Supreme_CourtIs abortion constitutional? The Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade (1973) that an expectant mother has a “fundamental right to abortion.” According to Supreme Court logic,  this right to abortion is protected under the penumbral right of privacy supposedly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

To see whether the Roe decision is an accurate interpretation of constitutional rights, it is important to understand the intentions of the authors of the Constitution. Did they advocate legal abortion protected by the Constitution?

One of the most authoritative sources for learning law during the founding era was William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. Blackstone, a distinguished English jurist, was so well-liked by the founding fathers that he was the second most frequently cited thinker in the American political writings of the founding era. American law students studied his work so religiously that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that “Blackstone is to us what the Koran is to the Muslims.”

Blackstone affirmed in his Commentaries that an individual’s right to life is an “immediate gift of God.” This right to life is legally binding “as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.” Per Blackstone,

“For if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion, or otherwise kills it in her womb; or if any one beat her, whereby the child dies in her body, and she is delivered of a dead child; this, though not murder, was by the ancient law homicide or manslaughter. But at present it is not looked upon in quite so atrocious a light, though it remains a very heinous misdemeanor.”

Interestingly, Blackstone also explains that fetuses “in the mother’s womb” are legally considered “to be born.” Thus, the law considered a fetus to be his or her own person, independent of the mother.

From these commentaries, the founding fathers learned that any abortion perpetrated after the stirring of an infant in the mother’s womb was a “heinous misdemeanor.”

American courts upheld this traditional common law approach in characterizing abortion as a misdemeanor. Founding father James Wilson, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and original U.S. Supreme Court justice, taught his law students that,

“With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and, in some cases, from every degree of danger.”

Similarly, St. George Tucker, a Madison judicial appointee and professor of law at the College of William and Mary, explained in his celebrated legal treatise on American law that it is  “a great misprision [misdemeanor]” to “kill a child in its mother’s womb.”

Laws in American states criminalized abortion from the beginning. For example, Virginia law outlawed the practice of using “potion” to “unlawfully destroy the child within her [womb].” These laws were crafted by many of the same individuals who framed the Constitution.

It is therefore inconceivable that the framers intended constitutional protections for abortion as a “fundamental right.” Indeed, the framers believed the opposite. From their perspective, the unborn child has a fundamental right to life, a right that would be infringed by an abortion that ends his or her life.

A “fundamental right to abortion” does not exist in the Constitution or its amendments. It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to argue that the authors of the Constitution and its amendments intended to protect abortion under some vague and unwritten “right to privacy.” That so many courts and judges have for so long upheld a legal doctrine antagonistic to the Constitution reveals the rogue nature of the modern judiciary.


This article was written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.


 

Why We Must Keep Fighting for Life

3DE361EE00000578-4644268-The_10_month_old_boy_also_has_brain_damage-a-46_1498586584367Western society has truly become a “culture of death.” Three recent news stories illustrate this unfortunate development:

1. Charlie Gard is a ten-month-old with a rare genetic disorder that has put him in a coma. An American doctor offered the family a potentially life-saving experimental treatment for Charlie, and the family soon raised over $1.6 million to cover the expenses.

Charlie’s story took a turn for the worse when his London hospital refused to permit his parents to take him across the Atlantic for treatment. His doctors believed that since he would likely be disabled if the treatment were successful, “it is in Charlie’s best interests to permit Charlie to die with dignity,” a sentiment echoed by a British judge after Charlie’s parents sued.

According to the judge, “Although the parents have parental responsibility [in making medical decisions for their children], overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

Charlie’s parents fought valiantly for the right to secure potentially life-saving treatment for their child, appealing the decision to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Justice was denied, however, when the ECHR refused to intervene earlier this week, allowing doctors to end Charlie’s life.

2. The parents of an Iowa boy (“Z.P.”) born with cerebral palsy successfully sued their doctor for failing to inform them that their baby would be born with the disability. They say they would have had their baby aborted if they had known about the disability.

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents. As James Silberman accurately notes, “If the right to kill unborn children exists, it follows that a doctor’s failure to inform the parents of an unborn child about the presence of an undesirable trait would indeed be a violation of that right.”

3. The Oregon Senate passed a bill (SB494) earlier this month that would have allowed nursing homes to starve disabled patients to death. The bill was introduced after Bill Harris sued the nursing home caring for his wife, Nora, who suffers from dementia. Harris wanted the nursing home to stop spoon feeding Nora.

Although Nora is dealing with advanced Alzheimer’s, she is still conscious and wants to eat. SB494 would have allowed the nursing home to withhold food and water from Nora until she starved to death.

Thankfully, the legislation recently failed in the House Judiciary Committee. Although the mere fact that the bill passed the Senate is remarkable and frightening, it is unsurprising, considering that Oregon was the first state to allow doctors to kill terminally ill patients who want to die.

Why We Must Keep Fighting

Human life is sacred. Every person, regardless of his or her disabilities or circumstances, has dignity and is inherently valuable.

Human life is beautiful. Anyone who has met the inspiring and beautiful people living with disabilities knows this to be true.

Those with disabilities offer so much to the world; most importantly, they provide the opportunity for society to grow in its compassion for the weak and vulnerable.

Those who have disabilities are no less human than you or me. Their humanity demands the same natural rights we all share, the most important of which is the right to live.

We have not been given the authority to decide whose lives are “worth living.” Abortion, euthanasia, and suicide are so destructive because these things demean human life.

Our shared humanity enjoins us to fight against these evils. We must defend the defenseless. We must speak for Charlie, Nora, and “Z.P.” We must not permit judges and legislators to change and manipulate our laws to allow for the murder of the innocent.

Who will defend the most vulnerable if we do not? I pray that we may never forget that their lives are immeasurably valuable, and I pray that more good people rise up to restrain the evil that has convinced far too many people that some lives are more valuable than others.

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito (Latin: Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it).


This article was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.


 

Oregon Legislation Would Allow Nursing Homes to Starve Dementia Patients

1200px-Oregon_State_Capitol_1

Nora Harris, 64, is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. Although she is conscious, she can no longer use utensils to eat and drink.

Under current Oregon state law, so long as Nora is conscious, her caretakers must offer her food and water and help her to eat and drink.

Bill Harris, Nora’s husband, believes that Nora would rather starve to death. He sued to stop the spoon-feeding last year but lost the case.

Oregon lawmakers are now considering legislation that would allow nursing homes and hospitals to starve and dehydrate patients like Nora.

Oregon Right to Life says SB494, which passed the Senate last week, “would allow the starving and dehydrating of patients who suffer from dementia or mental illness.” David Kilada, Oregon Right to Life’s political director, explained the legislation in a post on ORTL’s blog:

“SB 494 removes current safeguards which prohibit surrogates from withholding ordinary food and water from conscious patients with conditions that don’t allow them to make decisions about their own care. Currently, patients like Nora are given help with eating and drinking when they cannot do it themselves. This is not tube feeding or an IV—this is basic, non-medical care for conscious patients.

“The way these safeguards are removed is subtle. A cursory look at SB 494 might lead you to think it merely updates the law regarding advance directive. This is true, but there’s more. If the bill passes, it could allow a court to interpret a request on an advance directive to refuse tube feeding to also mean you don’t want to receive spoon feeding! SB 494 would also create a committee, appointed rather than elected, that can make future changes to the advance directive without approval from the Oregon Legislature. This could easily result in further erosion of patient rights.”

The patients who would be affected by SB494 aren’t comatose. They aren’t relying on ventilators, tube feeding, or an IV to stay alive. Instead, these patients are fully conscious and aware; they are simply unable to feed themselves.

Current Oregon administrative rules require that nursing homes offer their patients three meals and snacks each day. The facilities must also provide “assistance with eating (e.g., supervision of eating, cueing, or the use of special utensils).”

Patients can refuse to eat the food they are given, but Nora still expresses a desire to eat. SB494 would allow Nora’s nursing home to withhold food and water from her, even if she wants to eat and drink.

With its passage in the Senate, SB494 now moves to the House of Representatives. Oregon was the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1997 for terminally ill patients. Since then, a total of 1,127 patients have died from doctors giving them prescription medication to end their lives, according to a 2017 report by the Oregon Public Health Division.


This article was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.