A couple in Anhui province who sought out euthanasia for their one-year-old son suffering from brain damage had their application rejected, and the case has spurred further debate over whether the practice should be legalized in the country.
The child suffered severe brain damage after getting stuck on a conveyer belt last month and is now on life support and unable to breathe on his own, CRI reports.
“He suffered hypoxia, without a heartbeat and breath for eight minutes. Generally speaking, over four minutes of hypoxia will lead to irreversible brain damage,” said Jin Danqun, the doctor at Anhui Province Children’s hospital who is in charge of the boy’s treatment. Jin added that the boy recovering is “highly unlikely.”
The boy’s father, Xiong Zhengqing, and his wife applied for euthanasia, but the hospital rejected their request, saying that it would amount to illegal conduct.
“It will be rejected everywhere in the country. It’s illegal. Though he is ill, as long as he is alive, there should be respect for his life,” a spokesperson from a local civil affairs bureau said after the parents had attempted to plead their case. The bureau is now helping the family apply for subsidies from the public health insurance program.
While euthanasia is regarded as criminal homicide under the current legal system, more and more people have begun calling for its legislation, specifically for minors, after the media brought to light a number of stories such as this one. Last November, parents in Shaanxi pleaded for euthanasia for their four-year-old daughter suffering from eye cancer. The girl’s father said that the family couldn’t bear to watch her suffer any longer.
While recent surveys have shown that the majority of Chinese citizens have a tolerant attitude towards the practice, Yu Hai, a sociology professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, doesn’t see euthanasia being legalized in the country any time soon.
“Although many people subjectively identify with euthanasia, it’s hard to conclude that they would practice it in reality,” Yu said in a China Daily report. “It’s too early to practice euthanasia in the country right now. It might be more feasible to explore ways to make people die with dignity and lessen the pain,” he added.