We’ve seen plenty of examples in America of faith-healing parents who refuse to take their children to the hospital because they think their prayers will fix the problems instead.
It’s awful, it’s unthinkable that these parents don’t trust science in this day and age, but it still happens.
Somehow, doctors in the UK just found something potentially worse:
Parents who let their kids suffer indefinitely instead of taking them off life support because they’re waiting for a “miracle” to happen.
No doubt parents are going through the hardest time of their lives in these situations, but if a doctor is saying there’s no cure available for your child and s/he’s only going to suffer from this point forward, they’re not trying to mess with you. They’ve done all they can, they’re telling the truth, and no “miracle” is going to change that. (Also, if prayer worked, wouldn’t the kids not need the life support systems in the first place…?)
“While it is vital to support families in such difficult times, we are increasingly concerned that deeply held belief in religion can lead to children being potentially subjected to burdensome care in expectation of ‘miraculous’ intervention,” the authors warned. “In many cases, the children about whom the decisions are being made are too young to subscribe to the religious beliefs held by their parents, yet we continue to respect the parents’ beliefs.”
Citing examples of the treatments involved, they argued that subjecting children to suffering with no scientific hope of a cure could breach article three of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture. “Spending a lifetime attached to a mechanical ventilator having every bodily function supervised and sanitised by a carer or relative, leaving no dignity or privacy to the child or adult has been argued as inhumane,” they argued.
Although the cases included Muslim, Jewish and Roman Catholic families, the biggest obstacle the authors said they faced were less established, “fundamentalist” evangelical Christian groups with roots in the African community.
Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “This is probably the most terrible situation for any parent, but the experience and advice of doctors must not be held ransom to religious beliefs, however strongly held.”
This isn’t just about faith. This is about parents who are willing to let their children suffer. No good parent would do that… unless they were completely brainwashed into thinking it was acceptable.
Part of the problem (if you can call it that) is that parents in the UK don’t have to worry about costs of prolonging treatment since the National Health System covers it. I wonder if fundie Christian parents in America would make the same decisions if they had to pay for it.
(Thanks to Dick for the link)