Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Judgment in the case of the disabled child "Mercy death"

A little girl allowed to die

When Nancy Fitzmaurice was born blind and suffering from hydrocphalus, meningitis and septicaemia the outcome for her was a life in which she would be unable to talk, walk, eat or even drink.

That life was to be spent at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital where she would receive round-the-clock care, while being fed, watered and medicated through a tube. Not a quality of life that any parent dreams of for their child.

Nancy’s devoted mother, Charlotte - who gave up work to dedicate her life to the care of Nancy – discovered the limits of how much suffering she could let her daughter endure after routine surgery left 12-year-old Nancy screaming in agony.

Charlotte decided enough was enough, and made a choice no parent should ever have to make. After 12 heartbreaking years of watching her daughter suffer, she took the only course of action she felt was left to them both: to end her child’s life.
The fight for peace

In a landmark case, Charlotte and Great Ormond Street fought on behalf of Nancy, to give her the right to die.

Charlotte’s presented a 324-word statement to the court, pleading for mercy and begging the system to understand that her daughter should no longer suffer. Charlotte explained that her daughter longed for peace.

Justice Eleanor King at the High Court of Justice agreed.

Justice King was able to look beyond what had been allowed in the past, noting Charlotte’s love for Nancy and declaring a ‘great admiration’ of her dedication to her daughter when presenting her ruling. A ruling that set a precedent as the first time a child breathing on their own, not on life support and not suffering from a terminal illness, would be allowed to die.

Charlotte Fitzmaurice describes the final day of Nancy’s life;

    The last day was the hardest of my life. It was absolutely horrifying. I miss my beautiful girl every day and although I know it was the right thing to do, I will never forgive myself. It shouldn’t have to be a mother’s decision to end their child’s life, doctors should be able to take that away from you.

Assisted death is a moral minefield. There is no black and white. There are papers written, activists protesting, and laws up for debate all over the world on the subject.

What is probably more definitive is the way that a parent knows their child. A decision like the one Charlotte had to make could not in a million years be one that was made lightly. I hope she is kind to herself over the coming years.

Nancy’s mother Charlotte shared the picture above on her Facebook page and was flooded with loving comments from friends and family. In response to her friends’ and family’s support, Charlotte explained that when she recently found this picture;

    I was taken back to that beautiful day, when my 2 best friends asked if Nancy could be their bridesmaid. What an honour it was to be able to see my girl coming down that aisle as I knew I would never ever get to have that pleasure as seeing her as a bride, but they made it happen for me and I will cherish that memory forever. I miss her so much xx.

Rest In Peace, sweet Nancy 

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