Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

A Law Unto Themselves?

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

A Law Unto Themselves?

Article excerpt

As visitors to the Channel Islands--Jersey, Guernsey, and those other inhabited rocks lying between England and France--will know, they are and are not quite British. Now the Islands' Royal Court has set a cat among the United Kingdom's pigeons by ruling that food and water may lawfully be withdrawn from a patient who had suffered brain damage only three weeks before.

The court heard that on 4 September 1995, five-year-old Michael was found underwater in a Jersey swimming pool apparently having been submerged for between ten and fifteen minutes. The boy's father attempted resuscitation, which was continued by an ambulance crew, and heart activity had resumed by the time the boy reached the hospital. Dr. Henry Spratt, the hospital's consultant pediatrician, told the court that although Michael opened his eyes the day after admission his condition rapidly worsened and he began to have severe spasms. After a brain scan revealed the extent of Michael's injuries, he was transferred to a specialized unit at Southampton Hospital on the English mainland where his condition stabilized sufficiently to allow his return to Jersey.

On 26 September, twenty-two days after the initial injury, Michael's father formally requested the hospital to cease feeding his son on the grounds that the boy was in great distress and that he should be enabled to end his life peacefully, with the greatest dignity and the least distress. The hospital promptly petitioned the Royal Court, the Islands' highest legal authority, for permission to withdraw feeding tubes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.