‘God should decide’ when baby dies

Should the baby be made to live or allowed to die?

Let me set the context with something from the BBC:

A woman fighting to stop doctors ending life support treatment for her sick 11-month-old son has told a judge that God should decide when he dies.

Specialists at King’s College Hospital said giving further treatment to Isaiah Haastrup is “futile, burdensome and not in his best interests”.

They said he is profoundly disabled, but can feel pain.

Isaiah’s mother, Takesha Thomas, and father Lanre Haastrup, both 36, want treatment to continue.

Ms Thomas, a Pentecostal Christian, said: “For me, I don’t think it is right to say who should live or who should die. If God wants to take the person, He will.”

She told the judge: “When I speak to him he will respond, slowly, by opening one eye.

“I see a child who is injured. He needs love. He needs care. I have it. I can can give it.”…

A specialist treating Isaiah had told the judge that in his opinion the boy would not improve.

He described Isaiah as “profoundly disabled”, and said that he could not breathe independently.

The judge has ruled that medics involved in Isaiah’s case cannot be identified.

Barrister Fiona Paterson, representing King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, told the judge that overwhelming medical evidence showed that stopping treatment was in Isaiah’s best interests.

The hearing is expected to end on Wednesday.

I find this interesting. What is essentially going on here, from the mother’s point of view is:

Doctors should work, of their own volition, to sustain the life of this baby. If God should want this baby to die, it should be over and above what the doctors are doing.

The problem is, this makes no sense, because it can be completely reversed and still maintain the same logic and yet opposite outcome:

Doctors should work, of their own volition, to sustain the life of this baby. If God should want this baby to live, it should be over and above what the doctors are doing.

So if this couple really want to leave this baby’s life in the hands of God, then either path is justifiable, and the choice to let the baby pass away is arguably more morally justifiable.

This latter point is because one can often synonymise nature with God’s will. To not do anything is to leave things properly up to God. To work really hard to sustain this baby’s life is to fight against nature and, to some extent, God’s default state of affairs. After all, we didn’t design nature, even though we can do things to mitigate its effects.

It seems that the couple are also saying that the doctors’ wills are opposite to God’s will.

Furthermore, they are presupposing God’s will. How do they know that God wants the doctors to sustain the life of the baby? The mother has just as much epistemic right to think that God wants the baby to die. Actually, she has more epistemic foundation to believe this since the cosmos is stacked in such a way that the baby cannot survive without huge hospital cost and intervention, without pain, and it would die without such help. This looks like God wants this baby to die – or at least the evidence favours this over the opposite.

The final issue is this quote: “For me, I don’t think it is right to say who should live or who should die. If God wants to take the person, He will.”

The mother is contradicting her own words because she is demanding that doctors go over and above nature to sustain the baby’s life – that she has the right to “say who should live” by demanding that the doctors allow the baby to live and then see if God thinks it should die.

This is a whole bunch of flawed thinking.

[EDIT: Apologies for my lack of compassion in posting this, but I am trying to separate out the horror of nature and its effect on parenting, from a theological and philosophical point.]

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