Talk about a rock and a hard place. This story has made national news for about a week or so now, and it’s one of those things that is really hard to hear. The specific medical details of Jahi McMath‘s situation have been understandably kept under wraps, not only for US HIPAA laws, but also because she is a minor. What we do know is that she went in for a relatively routine tonsillectomy procedure and ended up medically brain dead due to complications. Since then there has been a struggle between McMath’s family and the hospital where she is being cared for.
At one point it was ruled that she could be taken off of life support, but then the family was given until December 30th to appeal. Now, after spending the Christmas holiday together in her room at Oakland’s Children’s hospital, McMath’s family has stated that they are preparing to move Jahi to a different facility before Monday’s legal cutoff date. According to Jahi’s uncle Omari Sealy:
“It looks like we may have found a miracle to keep Jahi alive.”
This story has made me really think about what I believe as a pro-choice person.I’ve known since I was a pre-teen that I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of long-term life support. My great-grandma went into a coma when I was 6 and my family held out for over a year before taking her off life support. It seemed wrong to me then, and that has stayed with me ever since.
That being said, I would bet that most kids under the age of 16 have never seriously considered this idea. Even if they have, they aren’t legally old enough to make that choice I would guess (though I might be wrong, at least in some areas). So who is left to choose but the family standing by? No one. So I think it’s Jahi’s family’s choice, and no one else’s. As hard as it may be to wrap my head around.
Ever since this debacle gained national attention, Jahi’s obviously loving family has received tons of offers from groups and facilities willing to help Jahi. As much as I wouldn’t want to be on long term life support myself, I kind of see this as inspiring.According to Attorney Christopher Dolan, the family’s attorney, a group of Catholic doctors have reached out to the family to find help at a long term facility:
“They told us there is a bed, they care for children like her all the time. They believe they can provide her with care and support and treat her as if she’s a living person.”
Now before the comments erupt with cries of “the taxpayer is paying!” The family has made it clear that their insurance will cover the costs. They have also made it clear that their plans to move her will be more cost effective than keeping her where she is. According to Dolan:
“It is hard to believe (that the cost will be covered by insurance). Somebody is doing the right thing. They have not put a time limit on this girl’s life. She is covered and that’s all that’s important.”
Here’s what it comes down to. Do I agree with their decision? Not really. I wouldn’t make the same decision for myself, if I had the choice. But the choice, legally, is theirs, and I think it should be honored.