Bruce Edwards/Postmedia News filesAn examination room at Stollery Children's Hospital. 27-month-old "Baby M" was on life support at the hospital as a legal battle raged on over her case.
'Baby M' dies in Edmonton hospital after short life, long legal battle
CALGARY — A two-year-old Edmonton girl allegedly abused by her parents has died after the Supreme Court of Canada rejected a request to keep her on life support.
Sources confirmed that the toddler died Thursday night at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton after being removed from a ventilator.
The parents, facing child-abuse charges and being held at the Edmonton Remand Centre, had asked the Appeal Court of Alberta that they be allowed to visit their daughter one last time.
“My understanding is that [the parents] have been taken to the hospital and were allowed 20 minutes, as per court order,” said Michelle Davio, spokeswoman for Alberta Justice. “They were separate visits.”
Earlier in the day, the parents of Baby M lost a last bid to keep their daughter on life support — and avoid being charged with her murder.
The Supreme Court of Canada rejected their request for an emergency stay, which would have kept the toddler alive long enough for the court to hear an appeal of the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision to let the girl die.
The sanctity of human life is one of the core values of our society and justice system, but life is not without end
The two-year-old has been in a vegetative state for months, ever since paramedics were called to her Edmonton home on May 25 to find her emaciated — she weighed only 13 pounds — and with a head injury. Her twin sister was also malnourished, at 16 pounds.
The sister is now in foster care, as is an older brother, who had also been living in the home but wasn’t injured.
Her 34-year-old parents are charged with aggravated assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide the necessities of life, charges that are likely to be upgraded now that the child has died.
Carissima Mathen, an associate professor who specializes in constitutional law at the University of Ottawa, said there was an argument for keeping the child alive long enough to hear the case. However, the court does not have to explain why it would not hear the appeal.
Tim Caulfield, a specialist in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, said the previous rulings were all sound.
“The decision was so sensible. [The judge] touched on all the factors, the religious belief issue, she touched on the potential conflict of interest issue. At its core, this was really about the best interest of the child and she really kept the focus on there,” he said.
Denied bail after their arrest.
National Post, with files from The Canadian Press
November 28, 2013,The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear an appeal in the case of an Alberta child who was taken off life support over the objections of her parents, who were charged in her death.
After the two-year-old known as Baby M was removed from her home in May 2012, doctors declared her to be permanently comatose and recommended removing life support.
Her parents, who were charged with assault and criminal negligence in the case, fought the decision in court, citing their love for the child and their religious beliefs.
The courts sided with the doctors and the Supreme Court refused to stay the Alberta court order.
The child died shortly afterwards and her parents were charged with second-degree murder and criminal negligence causing death.
As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for refusing to hear the appeal.