To pull the plug or not?

I’m touched by the story of the British couple fighting to keep their terminally ill child alive. My initial reaction was that the parents of that little boy should be allowed to do whatever they want with their son after all, they’re his parents.

I feel like the only time the rest of us should intervene is when there’s a case of child abuse and children are for instance being starved, molested or subjected to child labour.

But where parents are only attempting to save their kids, I think we should leave that decision to them. So in this case, as long as they’re paying the hospital bills and giving their baby round-the-clock attention, doctors and courts of law should stay out of it, right?

But then I started thinking more and more about this and other tough scenarios and I’m not so sure anymore. If the therapy and experimental treatment these parents are hoping will help their son doesn’t work, he will still die.

I know that sounds harsh and no offence to this family and others grappling with the same but if I were the baby and I was brain-dead or had some other debilitating condition, I would not want anyone to prolong my pain. I would also hate to be a burden to my parents or whoever was tasked with taking care of me.

I cherish my independence and the thought of being bedridden for the rest of my life and having someone else change or feed me for years on end terrifies me and that is why I would understand if my caretakers opted to let me rest.

That would give them a chance to enjoy their lives and maybe even try to have a healthy baby.

That said, I don’t know if I would have the courage to take someone off life support, especially if it were my own child, parents, siblings or even spouse.

Like the British parents, I would be hoping for a cure or miracle for my loved one and I’m not sure I’d be able to live with the guilt, knowing I’d authorized the doctors to end someone else’s life.

I wish we didn’t have to make these life and death decisions but we do and at the end of the day, I think it’s up to each one of us to do what we think is best for those close to us.

Of course there are people who don’t really care and would rather not deal with the inconvenience so this would be an easy call for them.

That is why many disabled children are abandoned at their grandparents’ homes or worse, left to fend for themselves on streets in much the same way some children grow up only to neglect their parents on the pretext of being busy with their own lives.

So much for the widely held perception that having children is the best insurance for old age. You better have a back-up plan just in case your children opt to pull the plug rather than stay at your bedside!

Rwanda Decides