Monday, March 14, 2011
A little boy, named by the press "Baby Joseph," has been given a chance at life. A Canadian, Baby Joseph has been in the public realm over the last several days. In short, this thirteen month old baby was born with a progressive neurological disease that is fatal according to the Canadian doctors attending him. He was put on a respirator to help him breathe but once the diagnosis was made, the doctors wanted to remove the child from the respirator because the physicians felt there was no hope in saving him. However, his parents objected to this move and went to court to obtain an order directing the hospital and the medical staff to keep Joseph on the breathing aid and to get another opinion regarding his prognosis. The court denied the parents and the hospital staff was set to remove the respirator.
After this, a call went out to US hospitals to take the baby and perform a tracheotomy on the child and evaluate his condition. Several hospitals throughout the country denied their request. Finally, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center of St. Louis agreed to accept the child. Late Sunday night, the parents, Baby Joseph, and Father Frank Pavone, director of the organization known as Priests For Life, flew to the St. Louis facility. Today, the child is being evaluated by the medical staff to determine the best course of treatment for the little boy who clings to life.
Life is sacred. It has no price tag, yet the hospital and Canadian health care system seems to have put a price tag on the head of this little boy. Undoubtedly, the child's condition is fatal. His prognosis is not good and will likely remain as such. But the fact of the matter is that we have a responsibility to continue to provide treatment to those among us who are in the final stages of life. This is not an economic decision, nor can it ever be allowed to become one. We have no right to withdraw treatment such as a breathing tube to sustain life because life is sacred. We are made in the image of God who created our very soul and because He is the Creator, our lives are holy. That does not mean that everyone lives a holy life. To the contrary, most of us do not! But we all deserve every effort to keep us alive and comfortable should we find ourselves in the state that Baby Joseph is.
We cannot and must not allow any kind of health care system that is devised here in the United States to ignore the fact that each life has a right to the best of care till we die. We cannot and must not allow the medical community or insurance companies to dictate the terms of life because life will then, indeed, be marked with a price tag. How much is a child in the condition of Baby Joseph worth? He produces nothing. He has yet to make any mark on society outside his family. He is just there and every day that passes, his medical costs continue to rise unchecked. Who will be paying for this part of his life? All of these questions have no answer, of course. And, yes, there is a crisis in the American health care system when it comes to what seems to be overinflated charges that needs to be addressed. We must find answers to these questions and more but not at the expense of human life no matter what stage of life it happens to be in.
Baby Joseph is in an institution which clearly values life. SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medial Center should be thanked and congratulated for standing by its Catholic principles and philosophy. Life is indeed sacred and Baby Joseph is just one reminder of this fact! Let us pray for this child of God and his family that all will be according to God's will and that whatever that will may be, peace will, in the end, reign.