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Baby RB -- Suffering Perhaps, but Pleasure Too

Posted Nov 03 2009 10:01pm

Hearings in the Baby RB case began yesterday.  (BBC video with court sketches here )  (Sketch to the right from Daily Mail )  


The mother told of her one-year-old son's "intolerable suffering."  She agrees with doctors that Baby RB should be allowed to die.  Her solicitor said "RB's mother has sat by her son's bedside every day since he was born."  "Every day she has seen the pain he experiences just to survive."  "In deciding to support this application, she has listened to and consulted with some of the best doctors in the world. Their view has been unanimous."  (Mirror)
On the other hand, the evidence indicates that Baby RB's brain is not affected, and he can see and enjoy music and stories.  "[T]here's no doubt that he showed a different quality of bonding when he was being held or massaged by his mother." RB has interacted with his parents "in a way that they described as him smiling" despite the fact that his control of his facial muscles is severely limited and he has problems opening his eyes.  ( Guardian )
While UK courts do allow withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment over parent objections, the cases usually involve children whose suffering clearly outweigh benefits.  Here, it seems the balance is not quite so lopsided.
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