It was August 2007 when a 2-year-old girl drowned in an inflatable pool at her home in Sydney, Australia. While it may have been chalked up to another tragic accidental death, the parents' actions before the incident leave many heart-wrenching questions that are being brought to light during a current investigation.
The unnamed girl suffered from Rett Syndrome, a developmental disorder that can be severe. It's unclear how severely this particular toddler was affected, but clearly it was too much for the parents to handle, and they started looking into ways to euthanize the girl, or more plainly put -- to kill her.
After the mother raised the issue with a pediatrician, the Department of Community Services was notified and began investigating the family, who made no secret of their selfish wishes.
''Can you help me?'' the mother asked a social worker. ''I want to get an injection to put her to sleep.''
A recount from one of the investigators in the case is chilling:
"[The father] said that [the girl] was dragging us down. [He asked during a meeting with DOCS workers] why do they keep disabled children alive?"
The father also told a social worker: "What do we do with it? It's like a sentence, like we're dead.''
Only they aren't, and this little girl is.
I don't purport to know how difficult it is to raise a child with special needs, but based on the experience of friends and family, I know it can be excruciating and isolating and desperate. But they are still children, still lives that need caring for and love. If these parents weren't prepared or equipped to handle it, then there were options like support services and foster care, which social workers discussed with them.
But to decide that on your own, that your child's life is too hard for them to handle -- or worse for you to handle -- is heartbreaking ... and wrong. I hope it's not the case, and that it was a horrible coincidence. Until they're proven guilty we have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but there certainly are a lot of doubts.
Do you think euthanasia is ever okay in the case of a child?
Image via Cliff1066/Flickr