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PHI 2396 Chapter Notes -Brain Damage, Visual Impairment

Course Code
PHI 2396
Andrew Sneddon

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Conditions of the boy
Severely retarded
Brain damage through menindistic
No control of body, limbs or bodily functions
On life-support since 5-months old
Has a shunt; drains excess cerebro-spinal fluid from the head to another body cavity
from which it is expelled or absorbed
Legally blind, partly deaf, cannot walk, stand or feed himself
No method of communication
Basically he was just breathing but not alive or can do any normal functions of a normal human
Parents wanted to stop treatment and pull the plug. They wanted the boy to die with dignity
rather than continue to endure a life of suffering
The superintendent of family and child service filed a child case saying the child was “in need of
protection”. He asked for custody of child
The Provincial Court Judge ruled against the case and handed the child back over to the
If treatment could only prolong a life inflicted with an incurable condition, rather than cure or
improve the patient’s condition, the interest of the state to preserve life is overridden by the
wishes of the people whose duty it is to make the decision
Laws should be structured to preserve, protect and maintain human life and therefore it could
not sanction the mercy-killing
Always in favour of life
No parent or court can put a value on life regardless of their disability
No one can know exactly how they are feeling and thus make decision for them. You can’t think
they would want to end their life because it is not up to par with a “normal” person but they have
never experienced how “normal” is and therefore they might be happy just how they are.
This is like saying, the life of a handicapped child is less valuable than a normal child and
therefore it is not worth preserving
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