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'Baby Joseph,' center of right-to-life debate, dies

Sept. 28, 2011 at 2:58 PM

WINDSOR, Ontario, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A 20-month-old Canadian boy who sparked a right-to-life debate in Canada and the United States has died at home, his family said.

Joseph Maraachli was born with a degenerative brain disease in Windsor, Ontario, and died Tuesday afternoon with his parents and other family members at his side, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The child made international headlines and became known as "Baby Joseph" after doctors at a hospital in London, Ontario, refused to perform a tracheotomy to allow the infant to breathe, saying it was futile. They also recommended removing a breathing tube.

His mother, Sana Nader, and father, Moe Maraachli, launched a legal battle that resulted in a U.S. Catholic group called Priests for Life funding flying the child to a hospital in St. Louis, Mo., where the tracheotomy was performed.

The infant returned home in April and drew international support from right-to-life groups opposed to doctors removing life-support measures.

A private funeral for the boy was scheduled Wednesday before burial beside his sister, who also died at an early age of a neurological disorder, the CBC said.

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