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article imageLegal battle to remove comatose girl from life-support continues

By Darren Weir     Sep 16, 2012 in Crime
Edmonton - A legal battle is expected to resume in Edmonton next week, over whether to remove a 2-year old girl from life support, that has ignited an ethical debate. The girl was allegedly starved and neglected since birth.
CBC reports, on Friday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice June Ross ruled that the child be removed from life support, but her parents appealed and hours later an Alberta Court of Appeal judge granted the parents a stay, until an appeal can be heard.
Paramedics rushed the girl to hospital May 25, from her parents home, suffering from cardiac arrest and in a state of starvation. She had suffered a profound and irreversible brain injury, is comatose and on a ventilator and feeding tube to stay alive.
Two other children were also removed from the home, the girl's twin sister who was also starving but is now recovering, and an older boy who wasn't hurt and is now in foster care.
The parents of the child known as "M" are in custody, facing charges of aggravated assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide the necessities of life. They are fighting to keep the girl on life-support, citing their Muslim religious beliefs. But a lawyer for Alberta Children and Youth Services, which didn't offer an opinion on whether the girl should be kept alive, argues that the decision shouldn't be left up to her parents.
In her 15-page decision, Justice Ross writes, the parents "as devout Muslims and loving parents, they find it 'unthinkable to agree to limit or withdraw medical treatment' and they ask that the court honour (their) beliefs." "The court cannot do so where their beliefs come into a fundamental conflict with (the child's) best interests."
She also says, the parents "are, inherently, in a conflict of interest,” “I am left with a concern that their decision may, in fact, be affected by self-interest.” If the girl dies, charges against them could be upgraded to murder.
Ross writes that it's society's general understanding, "a life without awareness and totally supported by machines is not in accord with the best interests of any patient." "It is in (the child's) best interests that life-sustaining treatment be stopped is clear and uncontradicted."
The appeal hearing could be held as early as Wednesday.
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