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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Premature baby ruling: Your reaction
Charlotte Wyatt
A High Court judge has ruled that doctors can refuse to resuscitate a seriously ill baby if her condition worsens.

Debbie Wyatt was 26 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to baby Charlotte, who weighed one pound. Both parents made an emotional appeal to the judge not to allow the doctors to let their daughter die.

However, doctors at the Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust argued that Charlotte's live would be dominated by pain and suffering and that she will not survive beyond infancy as her lungs are so severely damaged.

Do you think the ruling was correct? How will the decision affect the laws and practices concerning premature babies?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

A difficult decision for any one person to have to make
Kay, Sheffield, UK
This was a very sad case, and a difficult decision for any one person to have to make. However, I feel the right decision was made. We have become so obsessed with medical advances and how they can help us live, that we often neglect the more important issue of quality of life. Clearly this poor baby's body is not up to living, as she has previously been resuscitated, and the most humane thing to do at this time is let her life take its natural course.
Kay, Sheffield, UK

Why should a young baby have less right to life than the rest of us? Unless you or I ask the doctors to withdraw treatment, they try to resuscitate us by all reasonable means!
Dave H, Stetten, Germany

This is such a sad situation. I feel desperately sorry for her parents but am convinced that the judge has made the right decision.
F. Hall, London

My heart goes out to the family, but I think the decision is the right one.
Derry Long, Flitwick, UK
My heart goes out to the family, but I think the decision is the right one.
Derry Long, Flitwick, UK

I have very mixed feelings on this issue. I feel desperately sad for Charlotte and her family, they are going through a really hard time at the moment, however I also feel that the judgment was right. Doctors may have a duty to preserve life, but this should not be at all costs, the cost in this case is a young baby in a great deal of pain.
Emma Ford, Storrington, West Sussex

I sympathise with the judge who has had to make a very tough decision. I see no difference between refusing life-prolonging treatment to a baby and to an elderly person.
Martin, England

Looking at it from a detached point of view I think the judge has made the right decision. Just because we have the technology what right have we to keep a baby alive through artificial means if all they have to look forward to is a slow painful eventual death. However I must add that I can only begin to imagine the anguish Mr and Mrs Wyatt must be going through, you are in all our prayers.
Matt Ballard, Burnham-On-Sea

Having been through several miscarriages I can totally sympathise with these parents
Christine, UK
What a sad, sad story. Having been through several miscarriages I can totally sympathise with these parents. But no matter how hard it must be for them, I still think the ruling was correct. In cases like this it would be selfish to make this poor child suffer any more. After all, it's not about killing a child, it's about not prolonging her suffering if her body tries to give up. And as Christians they should take comfort over the fact that she will feel no pain in heaven and she'll be there to welcome them when their time comes.
Christine, UK

As a parent myself I can feel sympathy for the Wyatt's family, but it is sad that this case has had to come to this. I think the doctors where right to fight this issue. Yes, we have the technology to keep people alive, when it would be natural for they to pass away, even if they are a premature baby. But is it right, sorry I think not.
Martin Cooper, Fareham Hants

I feel so sorry for all the people involved here,
Mike Cookson, Bolton, England
I feel so sorry for all the people involved here, the parents, the doctors and little Charlotte herself.
Mike Cookson, Bolton, England

This decision could start a very worrying precedent. Even people in pain, or with multiple disabilities should have a right to live.
Avital Dines, Scotland

On balance from what little I know of the case I believe the judge has got it right. Tough and rough as it has to be on the parents it surely cannot be right to resuscitate a baby to endure more pain. When its body says enough, enough it should be. Having said that I am pleased I wasn't the one to give judgement.
Terry, York

This is such a very, very sad story, however surely in our hearts of hearts we must know that this is the kindest thing to do, rather than subject this child to a life of pain and suffering. Let's praise her parents for their love and conviction that they were fighting in her best interests, but now leave them to privately spend whatever time they have left with their daughter.
Alex Silverman, Surrey, UK

What a decision for the judge to make.
Steve, Ipswich
What a decision for the judge to make. I think, however, he has made it with the up most sensitivity and respect towards Charlotte and her parents. I hope Charlotte does get to experience the world outside the hospital and at least in the time she does have she will feel totally loved.
Steve, Ipswich

A tragic case and a terrible decision to have to make. I am torn between both sides and respect the position of the judge who listened to both sides before making his decision. I couldn't possibly put forward an argument for either side without wanting to hear all the evidence myself. Even then, I would be loath to come to a conclusion. We needed a wise man with all the learning and experience to be able to make such a judgement and a High Court Judge is the person in our society to do so. I respect his decision, but my heart goes out to all those involved including the Judge.
Tim H, UK

A no-win situation, unfortunately, and I feel the judge reached the only decision he could. Sometimes it is kinder to let go a child who is suffering that much, painful as that is. The Wyatts have had eleven months with their daughter - some parents don't even have that. My deepest condolences to the family.
Jo Caswell, Uxbridge, UK

Every human has the right to life
Lauren, Oxford
I completely disagree with the ruling. Every human has the right to life. Whether they have little chance of surviving, they should be allowed to live. I know she's surviving but everything should be done possible to help her. I do feel for the parents as this is a very sad end.
Lauren, Oxford

This is all about the NHS saving money. What right has anyone to not adhere to the parents' wishes? This ruling has made me feel physically sick and I am no radical pro lifer
SB, UK

It's a horrible, horrible decision for anyone to have to make, but in my opinion the right one has been made. It is impossible to comprehend the pain that the baby is in, and it would be an act of kindness to stop the pain. Having said that, the parents' pain is also impossible to understand, and my thoughts are with them.
John, Edinburgh

This is a terrible decision
Stuart Hurst, Wigan
This is a terrible decision. Although I am not a doctor, I am sure that the child's lungs - and probably heart could be transplanted later in life. Pain can be controlled and as the child grows, and continues to survive, new medical techniques could change the way she lives.

I remember reading about a baby who was on a life support machine, and doctors wanted to turn it off as they said she had no brain. In reality, she did, but her head was full of fluid, and once drained and procedures (some of which were new) were followed, her brain expanded and developed as it should have done. Doctors only ever have opinions. They are not god - trusts just care about profits. What's wrong with caring about life?
Stuart Hurst, Wigan

Thankfully this is now over. There are no winners; the parents, how can you not feel dreadful for them. The doctors, an awful predicament for them too. The poor child herself, one can only hope that there is an afterlife where she can be happy. Finally the Judge himself must have agonised long and hard over this terrible decision. My deep sympathies are with them all.
John, Nottingham

My heart goes out to the parents of Charlotte. At least the medical professional had taken into account what they thought was in Charlotte's best interest unlike the millions of unborn babies that are destroyed. I still worry that the medical profession treat us as a drain on their budgets rather than human beings deserving treatment and care irrespective of the financial cost.
Peter Scadding, Nailsea, UK

This is a heartbreaking case, with no winners
Alf Coles, Colerne, Wiltshire
This is a heartbreaking case, with no winners. My thoughts go out to the family.
Kate, Oxford

The court has acted sensibly. Indifferent doctors usually have better judgement than emotional parents. Of what I have read of this case the child deserves to suffer no longer.
MarkoInBangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

This has to be the right decision. The right to life does not entail the necessity to prolong life at all costs and in all cases.
Alf Coles, Colerne, Wiltshire

What a sad, sad story all around, with no happy ending whatever the verdict was. Let's just hope that this tiny little girl does not suffer too much more...
Carlo, Phoenix, USA

I feel so sorry for Baby Charlotte and her parents. She is striving to survive against all the odds but the doctors want to play God. Even if she does not survive beyond infancy, surely she is entitled to whatever share of life she can get, however brief - she will never have another chance. She is grasping onto life with all her strength - surely everything should be done to help her in this. I feel very, very sad about this judgment.
Laura , Bexleyheath, Kent

I disagree with the court ruling, having just had a 5 week premature baby boy with my partner and having gone through that heartache and worry, the infant should be given every possible chance unless both the heart and brain have ceased functioning completely irrespective of other organ damage
Andreas Adamou, Wells Somerset

I cannot imagine how the parents feel at this time
Mc, NW, England
I cannot imagine how the parents feel at this time, knowing they cannot do anything for this precious little child. I do however think this is for the best. Baby Charlotte would not have been able to live, but only to exist. I think the judges have got it right but my thoughts are with the child's family.
Ian Mc, NW, England

Outrageous, says a lot about the age we live in if the decision to resuscitate somebody even becomes an issue.
Bilal, London, UK

I think that this is the most compassionate decision which could have been made in the circumstances. My sympathies are with the parents as I cannot begin to imagine the agonies they must be going through
Jill Weekes, Boston UK

A victory for humanity. Why put this child through so much misery purely on the whim of her selfish parents? At last common sense has taken precedence in an English court of law.
John Harding, Bolton, UK

This is a typical example of doctors trying to play God. When will they learn? Our prayers go to her and her family.
Stephanie, Gosport, UK

Although I can see the parent's point of view I do not believe keeping the child alive is in her best interests. Sometimes as tragic as it is a person is just not meant to be here and forcing them to stay past their time is inhumane. I know it's not the same but animals seem to get treated a lot fairer than humans when it comes to pain and suffering.
Helen Forman, Arnold, Nottingham

Although I can understand Charlotte's parents wanting her to live I strongly agree with the ruling
Eileen Amos, Milton Keynes, England
Although I can understand Charlotte's parents wanting her to live I strongly agree with the ruling as it is very unfair to let her suffer, she is so beautiful but she deserves to be at peace
Eileen Amos, Milton Keynes, England

This case has been titled the "Right to Life". Sure it is really about the "Right to a Dignified Death". Prolonging the pain and suffering of someone without their express consent without any interference can, in my view, only be humane. It begs the question of who's interest is coming first here?
Dave, London, UK

Issues like this must be decided by the parents and not the State. This decision demonstrates how this country is moving more and more to a totalitarian country!
Nigel Kilpatrick, Poole, Dorset

If the little girl had not been suffering any pain then her parents should have had the absolute right to decide her future. But she was suffering pain, and the parents wishes had to be over-ruled.
M, Windsor, Berkshire

As a mum myself I cannot begin to imagine what this must be like for Charlotte's mum and dad. I think the decision made is the right one for Charlotte. I hope that they can cherish every minute they have to spend with their daughter. My thoughts are with them and baby Charlotte.
Rosanne Taylor, Colchester, UK

Surely it must be the Parents' decision in cases like this. I was under the impression that Doctors save lives not end them.
John Adams, Dunstable England

Yes, the decision was right
Bill, Dunmow
Yes, the decision was right. It was/is clear that this child is being put through the mill for no purpose. Let it die in dignity and free up the hospital equipment for a baby that may just survive with it's help.
Bill, Dunmow

I am appalled. How can survival be against the baby's best interests? I am not a Christian, but it does not take a Nobel prize winner to see that this has been a political decision. I feel ashamed that my hard earned money can be spent funding wars and yet not to give a baby a couple of years of extra life. What an absolute disgrace. The judge's decision will serve to satisfy the barbaric instinct in individuals who take joy in people's lives being terminated. Personally, I feel terrible for the parents, who have been denied the fundamental right to protect their baby's life.
Anonymous, London UK

To me this seems like a form of passive Euthanasia - not saving another human being when it's possible to because it's supposedly kinder. Does this pave the way to the legality of euthanasia in this country? Euthanasia is arguably less controversial as the individual in question can often make the decision themselves...
Mark Stickley, Cambridge

This is a horrible decision, and sets a very dangerous precedent. Doctors take vows to protect and save life, not to play as gods, deciding who lives and who dies. First off, they are often wrong in their diagnosis - they have no way of really knowing if a child will live long, or not, or will be in pain later in life.
Jaimi McEntire, Missouri, USA

That is unbelievable! It is not the baby's fault that he/she was born in that condition. As long as that baby has a chance for life then everything should be done to give it that chance. This "I give up" attitude can not stand.
Brian Quinn, Pittsburgh, USA

What an awful situation to be in, if she were an animal in such pain we would be in no doubt that it would be better to let them go, but she is a tiny human being who is so very ill and they can do no more to help her. My heart bleeds for the parents and also the nurses and doctors
Sharon, Wales

That's the death of the medical profession. Nothing but moral cowardice - if she's so ill that she's not to be revived, why not kill her? It would be quicker and there's no moral difference. We passed the thin end of this wedge a long time ago and it's getting to the disturbingly thick end now.
Gordon, Edinburgh, Scotland

I agree with the ruling. It was obvious that the baby was in serious pain. Extending her suffering when there was no chance for her long term survival would be cruel. I still think as much as possible should be done to save other premature babies when they have a chance. But this one was going to die no matter what and should be allowed to die in peace rather than be tortured by futile medical treatment.
Rebecca, Fairfield, CT, USA

So parents no longer have a say on their own child's life?
Graeme, Reading, UK
So parents no longer have a say on their own child's life? This is sickening. She's made this far, let her see something of the world!
Graeme, Reading, UK

It is the right decision, heartbreaking though it is. I am a mother and can empathise with the parent's not wanting to let go, but so much medical intervention is cruel now.
Janice Davison, Wokingham, Berkshire

I think that ruling is the most upsetting decision I have ever heard of. A life is a life, and every possible care and attention should be directed to that baby. She has managed, with medical care, to keep fighting for life and just maybe one day she will be strong enough to undergo a transplant. Decisions, such as this, make one feel very afraid of being ill, because the doctors will not want to be bother in getting you better. My heart goes out to her parents, and also to that small mite, who is at the mercy of doctors who just do not want to do their job. What ever happened to the Hippocratic oath they are supposed to swear. There is a higher authority than doctors who does have the right to give and take life. Fight back little one!
B.Davis, Essex

Ruling absolutely correct.
Tom Watt, London

Difficult though it is, I think the judge made the right decision. If Charlotte is indeed never going to survive then how can it be the right thing to make the rest of her short existence nothing but pain? I don't think it is a matter of playing god - in fact, you could argue that the playing god role is really resuscitating her again and again. My sympathies to Mr and Mrs Wyatt.
Katherine, London, UK

I feel for the parents and Charlotte, but also for Mr Justice Hedley. What a terrible case to have to judge. God Bless all of them.
Bren McCartney, Finchampstead, Berks

A very sad story and it hurts as a parent to hear such about this, but in the end I think it is the right choice.
Ian, Reading
A very sad story and it hurts as a parent to hear such about this, but in the end I think it is the right choice. I just hope everyone spends sometime thinking about the family and Charlotte
Ian, Reading

I can't believe that any judge would rule over the wishes of that of her parents. I appreciate it's a very difficult case, but surely the parents wish is what matters more than anything. They love her, and want what they believe to be the right thing.
Allan Nicholson, Bradford.

It was a tough decision to make, which will not have been taken lightly. It was however the correct decision on a medical basis, as the damage already done to the baby may be significant and any more resuscitations will cause further damage. I do however feel extremely sorry for the family as the decision must be heartbreaking.
Andy, York UK

I do not believe the decision should be taken away from the parents. I feel so sorry for all concerned in this tragedy
Jo Evans, Fleet, Hants

This is the best ruling everyone could hope for. Although extremely sad, people have to remember that saving lives isn't the be all and end all; we must take into account quality of life as well.
Lu, West Midlands

I do feel sorry for the parents but I believe the judge has got it right. Don't let the little one suffer the pain anymore.
Neil Gibbs, Reading Berkshire

On hearing the news, I feel saddened that this little girl will be left to die. My opinion on this is divided. Logically I understand that the life expectancy and constant pain Charlotte will endure is beyond anything that could be considered acceptable. Logically it is right that she be allowed to pass peacefully. However, emotionally I fully understand the parents fight. If Charlotte were mine, I would have fought hard to prevent Doctors allowing her to die. This is so very sad; my thoughts are with Charlotte and her parents.
Athlyn Evans, Cardiff

I recall the phrase "where there's life there's hope". Did the judge wear a black cap when he delivered his verdict?
Peter Warren, Puckeridge UK

Nobody wins in these cases
Chris, UK
Any parent in this position will hope that their child is the one in a million that defies medical predictions but one also has to ask what difference the same facilities would make to other babies that need them. Nobody wins in these cases.
Chris, UK

Is there a right or a wrong answer here? I don't think so.
Melanie, London, UK

I think if the parents were reading this story about another couple who had the same situation, they would be able to see sense in letting the baby die. I completely sympathise with them, as nobody wants their baby to die but I think it is the only humane thing to do. A life of pain and suffering is too much for a child. My thoughts go out to the parents.
Catherine, New York

What has happened to the moral backbone that this country used to portray
Steve Winder, UK
What has happened to the moral backbone that this country used to portray? How can a human life be so callously wasted because doctors "THINK" the child may be in pain later on? I honestly do not know where the humanity, and sympathetic ear has gone towards the parents. I for one do not agree with this judgement and am ashamed that it the judge so deems this to be. Even a child has rights.
Steve Winder, UK

Thank God for common sense
Bill Stevenson, Leeds

Of course this is excruciating for the parents, but the judge's decision is impartial and has the baby's best interest at heart. You can only fight nature so long before it becomes cruel. And sadly there may well be 'viable' premature babies who need her crib.
Wendy, UK

Much as I sympathise with the parents of baby Charlotte, I would not wish any amount of suffering upon a little child. In my view, the correct decision has been made.
Jamie, Leicester, UK

A judge had to decide between two awful options
Peter Ford, Gatehead, Tyne & Wear
There wasn't a right result or a correct answer. Merely a Judge having to decide between two awful options. I'm glad it wasn't me.
Peter Ford, Gatehead, Tyne & Wear

I agree with the ruling, it would not be in the baby's interest to be revived and should die naturally. Even if she was revived there is no guarantee she would relapse again and die anyway. Its a very difficult choice and I my prayers go Debbie and her family.
Peter Hutchison, Sowerby Bridge, England

The child should not be made to suffer any more than she has already
Dave, Slough, UK
I agree with the ruling completely. I understand the trauma the parents must be experiencing, but I genuinely believe that it is clouding their judgement. The child should not be made to suffer any more than she has already.
Dave, Slough, UK

I think that the High Court ruling is the correct one. Just because Baby Charlotte can't show that she is suffering doesn't mean she isn't, and I think her parents will realise this in years to come. It is better to let her go than to let her suffer in pain and silence.
Laura, Manchester

The correct ruling. The baby's suffering is more important than the parent's longing to keep a child at all costs.
Cm, UK

I think it is the right decision. Although it will be heart-breaking for the parents, Charlotte will never be able to live a full life and has never been able to leave the hospital. Sometimes, like on this occasion, it is better to let go.
Lucy, UK




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