Social Work Law
The law protects the rights of every citizen. However, when these rights conflict, someone’s rights must be constrained to protect the other individual (Citizens Advice, 2018). According to Davies (2018), the case of Isaiah Haastrup, highlights the complications that can surface when doctors and parents have differing views about medical decisions for children. The parents did not agree with a decision made by the court based on medical experts’ advice (BBC News, 2018), (Henricson and Bainham, 2005).The appeal court based their ruling on evidence that the proposed argument by the parents claiming that his conditions would be improved by oxygen therapy.
From history, the British established the Human Rights Act in 1998. The legislation is highly implicated in the medical practice. The Act gives the British better access to human rights by permitting convention issues cases to be dealt with in the U.K courts (Hammond, 2014);(Dyer,2018). Public authorities are also inclined to adhere to the act when convention issues arise. From Article 2, the right to life Act states that public authorities are bound to protect life (Hammond, 2014);(Mowbray,2005).
Arguments have been raised that the decision made to kill Isaiah was the best decision based on expert advice. Isaiah’s parents wish to keep their son alive by using hyperbaric oxygen therapy were faced with opposing views. The parents failed to provide evidence to support their claims which allowed the original ruling that led to the switching off the life support (Caroline, 2018);(Dyer,2017). The proposed treatment was ruled to be ineffective and with low chances of improving Isaiah’s condition. However, the law contradicted to its statement of the right to life. The Act requires public authorities and medical professionals to protect and sustain life where possible. In this case, they did the opposite by deciding to kill Isaac. However, the act advocates for the sustenance of life where possible (Caroline, 2018);( Barbareschi, 2018). According to the available evidence, the decision to disconnect Isaiah’s life support can be concluded to be reasonable and the only logical step at the time.
Article 6 of the Act requires that a conventional case must be accorded fair trial. The public authority should not act in an incompatible way with the conventional right (Hammond, 2014); (Shaw, 2018). The ruling did not provide a fair trial to Isaiah’s parents. Mr. Justice MacDonald who ruled for the switching off of the life support had based his evidence on heard concepts that the treatment proposed would not work (Caroline, 2018);(Hendricks,2018). The medical practitioners did not perform the procedure to ensure solid evidence that the treatment was not going to work. However, the evidence was drawn from five hospitals that examined Isaiah. The ruling relied so much on the evidence and ignored the parent’s views. Isaiah’s mother had reported that her son had responded to her voice and touch which was ruled out as the flattering voice of hope (Caroline, 2018) ;(Thornton and Thomas,2009). The public authority acted against conventional rights. The ruling was solely based on harsh evidence and did not consider the parent’s intuitional wishes.
Article 10 states that in a conflict with other legislation such as the Children Act 1989, the decision made by the court must put the child first while also considering the rights of the parents (Hammond, 2014);(Davies,2016);(McDougal and Cheng,2018). The court acted in Isaacs best interests by ending his misery. Isaac suffered from low consciousness; he was blind, deaf, and had dystonia. However, the parents’ wishes should have been considered to ensure fairness. The treatment option suggested by the parents could have been tried before being ruled out.
BBC News. (6th March 2018). Isaiah Haastrup: European judges reject appeal over life-support https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43305383 [Accessed 14th October 2108]
Caroline Davies. (2018). The funeral of brain-damaged baby Isaiah Haastrup to take place; Boy’s parents fought a legal battle in UK courts against life support being withdrawn. The Guardian (London, England). Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/31/isaiah-haastrup-funeral-brain-damaged-baby [Accessed 14th October 2108]
Citizens Advice. (2018). When can a public authority interfere with your human rights. Retrieved from: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/civil-rights/human-rights/when-can-a-public-authority-interfere-with-your-human-rights/ [Accessed 13th October 2018]
Davies, D. (2018). UK parents lose legal battle to keep baby with brain damage on life support. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/feb/23/parents-lose-legal-battle-keep-brain-damaged-uk-baby-isaiah-haastrup-life-support [Accessed 14th Oct. 2018].
Hammond. (2014). Human Rights: Human Lives. A Guide to the Human Rights Act for Public Authorities. Retrieved from: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/human_rights_human_lives_a_guide_for_public_authorities.pdf [Accessed 14th Oct. 2018].
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McDougal, M.S. and Chen, L.C., 2018. Human rights and world public order: the basic policies of an international law of human dignity. Oxford University Press, USA.
Thornton, J. and Tromans, S., 2009. Human rights and environmental wrongs: incorporating the European convention on human rights: some thoughts on the consequences for UK environmental law. Journal of Environmental Law, 11(1), pp.35-57.
Mowbray, A., 2005. The Creativity of the European Court of Human Rights. Human Rights Law Review, 5(1), pp.57-79.
Henricson, C and Bainham, A (2005) Human rights obligations and policy supporting children and families. Available at
Hendriks, A.C., 2018. End-of-life decisions. Recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. In ERA Forum (pp. 1-10). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Dyer, C., 2017. Father is banned from visiting brain damaged son as High Court battle continues.
Shaw, T.M., 2018. The Future Nexus of African Foreign Policies, International Institutions, and Developmental Regionalism. African Foreign Policies in International Institutions, p.403.
Dyer, C., 2018. Doctors can stop ventilating 11 month old boy brain damaged at birth. BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online), 360.
Barbareschi, S., 2018. Do judges make… life? Una cronaca della vicenda giudiziaria del caso Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust c. Evans. Cultura giuridica e diritto vivente, 5.