February 24, 2024

A tragic call for euthanasia

Sydney “hippies” and their disabled daughter

Pablo Comas, Samantha Razniak and daughter Maia before the girl's death

the tragic drowning of a disabled toddler in Sydney an indirect consequence of
publicity given to the merits of legalised euthanasia? 

Three years ago, two-year-old Maia Comas
drowned in an inflatable pool. Despite a lengthy investigation which ended this
week, a coroner was still unable to decide whether her death in the beachside
suburb of Curl Curl had been an accident. But he did say that the circumstances
suggested “great irresponsibility” on the part of her parents.

Two months before her death, Maia was
diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a disorder that often leaves sufferers with
severe physical and intellectual disabilities. Her parents, 36-year-old Pablo
Comas and 31-year-old Samantha Razniak were shaken by the news.

Their ramshackle home was in the beachside
suburb of Curl Curl — “two hippies living in a house playing guitar,” in
Mr Comas’s words. They felt utterly unprepared for the burden of caring for
their daughter.

After the tentative diagnosis, they probed Maia’s
pediatrician about the legal and medical position of euthanasia for children
with incurable but non-terminal conditions. The doctor – who had never heard
such a request — responded “this is not an option under Australian Law and any
action causing harm in any way is a criminal act. Any action causing death
actively or passively would be considered murder.”

But Ms Razniak was at her wits’ end. She
rattled government social workers by telling them: “Do you understand that she
will grow into a young woman and have the mind of a 2 to 10 year old. The head,
hands and feet all stop growing.  I
don’t want to see my daughter become a monster, to become ugly… I’d rather her
die now than die slowly.”

When she was reassured by social workers
that she could get government support, she responded, that the only support she
was interested in was euthanasia. “I want to get on with my life and not see
all this ugliness – clinics, home disabled people, doctors.”

Mr Comas felt much the same. He once asked
a social worker: “Why do they keep children with these disabilities alive?  It doesn’t seem fair on the children.”

The social workers were alarmed by the
parents’ attitude, but the case seems to have fallen between the cracks. On
December 3, 2007, Maia’s visiting grandmother discovered her floating in a unfenced
wading pool. Her mother, who was a trained swimming instructor who was working
at a childcare centre, was too “freaked out” to revive her. Maia was pronounced
dead at a nearby hospital.~ The Australian, Jan 15