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Parents fight for their baby's life; Independent Inquiry Urgently Needed

Summary: 
Inclusion BC calls for an independent inquiry into the issues related to the threat of the removal of life sustaining support for baby Mary Jane Pierce and the role and involvement of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Parents fight for their baby's life; Independent Inquiry Urgently Needed

New Westminster, B.C., August 13, 2015 – Inclusion BC calls for an independent inquiry into the issues related to the threat of the removal of life sustaining support for baby Mary Jane Pierce and the role and involvement of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Annette Delaplace, Inclusion BC past president and parent of a daughter with cerebral palsy and complex medical needs says, “The presence of a disability is not sufficient reason to end life sustaining treatment in the short or long term. Many Canadians with disabilities, including those born with or having acquired complex medical needs and life-long disabilities live full lives in their community.” All too often the presence of disability is used to withdraw or withhold life sustaining medical support and intervention. 

“This is an extraordinarily hard time for parents,” says Jackie Carpenter, president of Inclusion BC and the parent of a son with a disability. “More than anything, parents need support. They don’t need to be in court, defending their right to parent.”

Mary Jane’s parents reported they were pressured and misled into signing an interim custody order, which gave the Ministry legal authority to transfer Mary Jane to palliative care, remove life support and let her die. They were told that their epilepsy would render them unable to care for Mary Jane and if they refused to sign the custody order, all future children would be removed from their care.

Parents with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities frequently feel unduly subject to the power of social services and child protection systems. In this case, the parents were coerced and threatened to sign the interim order.

“At five months, Mary Jane has fought hard to survive a premature birth and a serious illness. She’s already beat the odds and her parents remain committed to her right to receive ongoing medical care,” states Faith Bodnar, Inclusion BC’s Executive Director. With respect to the pressure to sign the interim custody order, Bodnar added, “It is unconscionable that this family was pressured to sign a custody order that would result in the death of their daughter; the very thing they were fighting to prevent. Quite frankly it is morally corrupt.”

Pierce and Arnold won a temporary injunction to stop the transfer and to keep Mary Jane in the hospital on a ventilator, but their plight to save their daughter's life has just begun. This life and death struggle impacts all people with disabilities and their families, including those who require medical supports. Inclusion BC is fully committed to ensuring that all those with disabilities, including Mary Jane receive the medical support and care they need to maintain their lives.

Inclusion BC is a provincial federation which for more than 60 years has advocated for the rights of people with developmental disabilities and their families to access the supports they need to live full lives in the community. We are a strong federation including over 70 member agencies, families with children with special needs and adults with developmental disabilities and community champions. 

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Quick Links

Parents of baby Mary Jane Pierce win temporary injunction to keep her on life-support - CBC News

B.C. parents battle for baby’s life - Vancouver Sun

Inclusion BC website:
www.inclusionbc.org

Contact:

Danielle Kelliher, Communications Director
604.777.9100 x. 527 (office)
dkelliher@inclusionbc.org

Faith Bodnar, Executive Director
604.777.9100 x. 516 (office)
fbodnar@inclusionbc.org