Life But At What Cost Ethical Delimma


I am just throwing this out there- Something I have been struggling with. I have always been anti-abortion and still am, but I have been struggling with an ethical issue. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law are both older first time parents. They married late in life. She is 42 and he is 49. They had a baby who had a condition that is considered incompatible with life called thanatophoric dysplasia.You can look that up on the internet if you wish. Most babies die in utero or shortly after birth. The usual and only prescribed treatment is theraputic abortion. Like my sister-in-law, I would still have chosen to carry to term. Unlike my sister-in-law, I don’t think I would have gone to extreme measures to try and save his life. In most of these types of cases Doctors will not go to extrordinary lengths. In my sister-in-law’s case, it was right after the Terri Shivo case and baby Moon case. I think maybe her doctors were influenced in not having a media circus or lawsuit around this case and were more cooperative than docotrs I have heard about in so many other similar cases. Anyway, they met with a lot of resistance, but in the end, the Doctors complied with their wishes. In order for Samuel (means God Hears) to survive he has a feeding tube and a ventillator. He was in PICU for 6 months. He finally came home but has round the clock in home nursing care. My brother in law doesn’t work and stays home full time with the baby and in home nurses. My sister-in-law has to work because the insurance they have is through her work. Eventually the insurance is going to cap out. Some have referred to him as the million dollar baby. I use to think life at all cost, but now I think I 'm not sure. At whose cost? Communities (Medicaid) would go broke if they tried to keep everyone of these and similar cases alive at all costs. Whose paying for it? There are limits -For instance it was pointed out to me, you don’t give life saving heart surgery to a 95 year old. Why? You are only prolonging the inevitable, and at what cost. Anyway, I have been questioning at what point would you draw the line. I think If I was in a similar situation, I wouldn’t abort and I would certainly try to carry to term, but I think after the birth I would have let nature take it’s course, and let God either cure him without medical intervention, or take him home. Of course that is only hypothetical, because I was never in that situation, just ontemplating what ifs. Anyway Samuel is a year and a half old today and hanging in there despite all his problems. Oh by the way, Doctors said he would not react with his environment, probably not smile, and be severly mentally retarded. Well he can sure smile and he is a cutie. Here is his website at Caring Bridge if anyone is interested Samuel’s website
PS; I of course know the stance of the Catholic Church on abortion, but what about their position (or do they have one)on taking extreme measures to preserve life at all costs? Or refusal of extreme measures?


Looks like no one wants to touch this with good reason - who could make these kind of decisions? I would never judge the people faced with decisions like this - it seems almost silly for someone outside the situation to offer guidance.

Perhaps other parents who have faced such trials? This is a personal matter to be discussed with a pastor and in held prayer.

No answer here - but know that I have added Samuel and his family to my prayer list.


I believe that the Church teaches that denial of basic elements, such as food and water (even if by feeding tube) is considered ordinary treatment, which cannot be denied as it’s only purpose could be construed as intending to kill the person.

But for extraordinary measures - they can be denied if the person is in the last stages of “natural” death (which may be your situation, even at that young age), and there is no hope of recovery.

I’ve probably missed the mark on this a bit, so an expert may wish to elaborate or make corrections.

Here is a web site that has a lot of information on this subject:

and an article that seems to be related:

and one particular article that relates a similar situation:

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