(Wesley J. Smith / First Things) – The time has come for your baby to die,” a doctor told the grieving parents of a catastrophically ill baby. No, this wasn’t the ongoing Charlie Gard case—so prominent in the news today—in which United Kingdom doctors and judges have told Charlie’s parents that their son’s life support will be removed, no matter what they want. (Charlie has a rare terminal mitochondrial disorder.)
Rather, that blunt declaration was uttered in 1994 in Spokane, by a doctor to the parents of Ryan Nguyen, who—born at just twenty-three-weeks gestation—was on kidney dialysis and struggling for his life.
Then as now, doctors declared that further life-sustaining treatment of the child was “futile” and would only prolong his suffering. Then as now, desperate parents sought court relief against their son’s being pushed into the grave sooner rather than later. But then, unlike now, a court in Ryan’s case temporarily blocked the removal of treatment, pending trial. CONTINUE