Parents win right-to-life case

  Life groups across the UK are welcoming the decision of a judge to allow a severely disabled baby to be kept alive. Mr Justice Holman's ruled yesterday that Baby MB should remain on a ventilator for the time being. In making this judgement Mr Holman rejected the arguments from a number of medical specialists that baby MB, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, had an 'intolerable' quality of life and that it was in his best interests to be 'allowed to die'. Niall Gooch, a spokesmen from LIFE, said: "This was an extremely difficult case, and our hearts go out to all those involved in such an agonising decision. We do not believe that life must always be preserved at any cost. However, we believe that this is a wise and humane decision. Baby MB is a human being, regardless of any disability, impairment or medical condition. Despite his condition, he has substantial cognitive function and his parents say that he is able to interact with them. As Mr Justice Holman noted, MB is not unconscious and seems to be able to hear, see and feel the world around him. "A verdict that allowed MB to be taken off ventilation would have set an alarming precedent concerning decisions made by the able-bodied about the quality of life of the disabled. Many severely disabled people whose lives may appear intolerable to an able-bodied person are in fact able to derive enjoyment from life. All they ask for is support so that they can get on with their lives in the best possible way. We know, for example, that Baby MB enjoys watching films and television. "We question the right of anyone to decide whose life is intolerable and who should be allowed to live. Judgements about 'quality of life' are well-meaning, yet dangerous for those who may fall short of our arbitrary standards of what is 'tolerable.' We are also worried that considerations of cost may be creeping in to decisions about the continuation of treatment of the disabled - that 'quality of life' is being used as a smokescreen for decisions taken by NHS trusts that are primarily economic rather than clinical."

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