The Iowa House has passed a bill that would prohibit a judge from overriding a parent’s wishes and ordering the withdrawal of life support from a child under the age of 18. Courts could only intervene if there’s conclusive medical evidence the child’s brain, heart and lungs are only functioning because of mechanical support.
“Children are not supposed to die…but that end-of-life care for children is something that parents must handle,” said Representative Ashley Hinson, a Republican from Marion. “This bill…clarifies that the court shall not override a parent’s or guardian’s interest when it comes to removing life support for their child unless it is proven that child is essentially dead.”
The bill had the support of 51 Republicans and seven Democrats in the House. Representative Mark Smith, a Democrat from Marshalltown who voted “no” on the bill, said the legislation sets up a scenario where a court couldn’t intervene if a child’s parents disagree.
“This is a terrible piece of legislation,” Smith said. “It is too bad that we are debating it tonight when we are close on the philosophical issues and could have drafted a bill that would have had…the vast majority of representatives supporting it.”
The legislation was drafted in response to a high-profile case in Britain. Last April a British court ordered 23-month-old Alfie Evans — who had a degenerative brain condition — taken off life support over the objections of his parents.