Parents of a severely ill baby girl in British Columbia say they will not give up their fight to gain full custody and treat her with cannabis oil, despite dropping court action that sought greater control of her care.
A lawyer for Justin Pierce and Michelle Arnold withdrew the application on Wednesday because five-month-old Mary Jane Pierce has been breathing without a ventilator for two weeks.
But the couple still hope to show they deserve full custody and the right to give her the oil at an upcoming protection hearing. The Ministry of Children and Family Development obtained temporary custody in August and will hold a hearing to determine whether to make it permanent.
"We are not dropping the fight for cannabis oil. We still want to give it to her," said Arnold. "I'm so angry that she's on so many strong medications that adults, full-grown adults, will die from."
The Chilliwack, B.C., couple have been working with the hospital to help provide her care and say she could be discharged as soon as two weeks from now.
The baby was born premature at 25 weeks and has been in hospital ever since with serious health problems including seizures, which the parents say were helped by cannabis oil treatment.
The family's court battle began in August when the ministry obtained custody and swiftly moved to remove the baby's ventilator and place her in palliative care.
Pierce and Arnold, both 21, won a temporary injunction to keep her on life support. At a subsequent hearing, the ministry agreed not to take her off the machine without the couple's consent.
A lawyer for B.C. Women's Hospital told court last month that the cannabis oil did nothing to alleviate the girl's seizures and might have instead increased them.
Penny Washington said the extensive medical treatments were taking a toll on Mary Jane, who has cerebral palsy and suffers bleeding in her brain.
"In my view, it's becoming inconsistent with human dignity," she said.
The couple's application to gain greater decision-making power over Mary Jane's care was to be heard Wednesday in Chilliwack Provincial Court.
Lawyer Erin Haupt said she withdrew the application because the baby's improving health took away the urgency of the matter.
Haupt said the girl has made remarkable progress in the past two weeks. She still needs some support to breathe, but no longer needs the ventilator.
"The parents are very excited that she is getting better and better, and they want to show that they can be parents, so that's how we're proceeding," she said.
"It's fantastic, given a couple weeks ago we never thought we'd be in this position. They are very, very hopeful that she will at some point be able to be discharged."