Jada Ruiz-Jones is a nine-month old infant. She lies in an Akron hospital, in the pediatric ICU, and she has been in the hospital for four months. She is blind and deaf. The pupils of her eyes are fixed and dilated (as in figure A. She takes spontaneous breaths “occasionally”. When she was admitted she had retinal hemorrhages like these.
From the information given in the news reports, this child has a very low Pediatric Coma Score–the descriptions are of an infant with severe brain injury and loss of brain tissue. Jada’s brain has been so damaged it is being broken down by her own body–in a process known as autolysis. These patients have what is referred to as “respirator brain“.
People do not recover from these injuries. Jada can be kept on life support for a long time, depending on the quality of her nursing care, but eventually she will get a bedsore or a pneumonia which will lead to systemic sepsis and death. She could get a feeding tube and a tracheostomy, but her doctors are reluctant to do so, as she will never be able to leave the hospital.
All this makes me angry. I really dislike it when people injure those who cannot fight back. What makes me more angry, is the man who is accused of inflicting the injuries, Jada’s father, is fighting to keep the child on life support. His lawyer calls it a “parental rights issue.” Now, at present, Mr. Jones is merely accused of beating his child. If Jada dies, though, he could be charged with murder.
Parental rights are not to be sneezed at. But parental rights should not be used as a screen to escape punishment. Had Jada not been Mr. Jones’ child, this would not even be an issue, and the very large conflict of interest would not arise. Parents, ideally should have their child’s best interests at heart. It is deeply immoral to grow your own victim.