Some decisions don’t come easily...
I can still vividly remember the day my wife and I were travelling from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.
It is a long, lonely road and we had been strongly advised to stop for no one. But as so often happens things weren’t that simple because a car that had been tailing us for some time turned on some blue lights. So, was it a police car or was it a ‘cunning plan’ to get us to stop? We deliberated for a few moments, but we did eventually pull over. Much to our relief we discovered that the driver was a genuine police officer checking to see if we were ‘running drugs’. It seems that our ‘impeccable’ behaviour had aroused his suspicions!
Some decisions don’t come easily then. We were faced with a similar challenge last week when we were asked to sign a petition urging the Health Secretary to intervene in the case of a desperately sick 19-year-old. It reads ‘An NHS hospital wants to stop treating a 19-year-old girl who is conscious and wants to seek alternative treatment. But a Court of Protection order stops her and her family from publicly telling their story – she is only known as ‘ST’. This gives her no chance to make her case for life or to raise funds to pay for potential treatment. Please urgently intervene to stop the NHS from enforcing the end of her life and to allow her and her family to make her case in public’.
Now I am very aware that this is an emotive and complicated issue, and it would be all too easy to ‘rush to judgement’ but I did find the comments of ‘Christian Concern’ helpful. ‘Unlike in similar cases such as Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Archie Battersbee, the girl – anonymised by the court as ‘ST’ – is conscious, able to speak, and has instructed her own lawyers to argue that she should be kept alive and allowed to go to Canada for experimental treatment which would give her a chance of survival’.
As I understand it, two psychiatric experts instructed by the hospital have examined ST and have told the court that she has the mental capacity to make decisions about her own medical treatment, but a judge has concluded that she is unable to make a decision for herself because ‘she does not believe the information she has been given by her doctors’. Decisions about her life and death should be taken by the Court of Protection.
In the light of all this then, I have decided I should sign this petition, and for two very good reasons. Firstly, because I believe every single life is precious and secondly because I believe I can trust the advice of groups like Christian Concern. I find the arguments of the Chief Executive of Christian Legal Centre compelling when she writes ‘What can be more natural or rational for a seriously ill 19-year-old than to leave no stone unturned and to take every chance of survival?” I believe we should applaud ST for making it clear that if she is going to die, she wants to die, trying to live.
I could be mistaken and could be making the wrong call of course, but at least I have prayerfully considered it, and I can take comfort from these well-known words of Psalm 139 ‘Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed’.
Put simply, this assures me that ST will not die before her appointed time; God will make sure of that. And so, I will sign that petition while continuing to pray for ST and her devastated family.