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Catholic hospital dehydrating immigrant woman to death

As Wesley J. Smith says, for shame. Forced exit goes to a new level in the United States: An ostensibly Catholic hospital, Georgetown University Medical Center, is presently dehydrating Rachel Nyirahabiyambere to death against the unified wishes of her family and without even the legal fig leaf of claiming that this is what she "would have wanted." The reason given is naked cost rationing. The court refused to appoint an attorney for Rachel herself and instead appointed an unrelated guardian for her who had been selected by an attorney paid by the hospital. This faux "guardian" expressly justifies her unilateral decision to dehydrate Rachel on cost grounds:

Hospitals cannot afford to allow families the time to work through their grieving process by allowing the relatives to remain hospitalized until the family reaches the acceptance stage, if that ever happens,” Ms. Sloan said in an e-mail. “Generically speaking, what gives any one family or person the right to control so many scarce health care resources in a situation where the prognosis is poor, and to the detriment of others who may actually benefit from them?”

That's a guardian? No, a guardian is supposed to be concerned for the best interests of the ward! This is utterly horrible and scandalous. May God judge those who are doing so. Rachel is still alive at this time. We can pray that the family will somehow obtain legal help allowing some sort of emergency stay of the death sentence. And the local bishop should revoke the hospital's "Catholic" status.

Comments (41)

This is disgusting. Turns out when push comes to shove; the indigent immigrant is just as expendable as unborn babies in the eyes of the progressive "Catholic." Well, we no longer have to philosophize about the past practice of using human beings as fire kindling, now we can read aspiring theologians and canon lawyers assure us that dehydration does not constitute torture when administered in the name of financial prudence.

Oh and what is the threat posed by "Anti-Western Christianity" again? Not as civilized as us, is that it?

Legally, this is especially shocking. In the United States, there is supposed to be _some_ notion that these things are done according to the wishes of the patient and that the family has some recourse against this sort of raw power and rationing move. This isn't Canada. WJS believes that if they had known whom to turn to legally at that point an appeal could have been sustained just on the basis of the judge's refusal to appoint an attorney for the mother. Is it possible that it isn't too late now that the story has come to light?


I have been trying to read about this today, but it's difficult. What I don't understand is this: if the primary form of care she needs is the insertion of a feeding tube, why hasn't she been transferred to a nursing home? And since when does the defendant get to name the plaintiff's guardian?

Between this, Baby Joseph, the kangaroo cout that is currently trying Phil Kline and the practical media blackout of the Gosnell case -- what's scariest of all is that there is so little outrage about it?


This exchange between the court-appointed guardian and one of the victim's sons is very revealing;

“Ending someone’s life by hunger is morally wrong and unrecognized in the culture of the people of Rwanda,” one son wrote to Ms. Sloan.

Ms. Sloan said that she listened to the family but that “respect does not mean acquiescence.” In e-mails to the sons, she wrote: “You have asked for understanding about your culture and that is exactly what I am trying to do. Feeding tubes are not part of your culture, are they?”

Feeding tubes are not part of your culture, are they?

The cold, calculated condescension is breath-taking. Excellent reporting by The NY Times reporter on this gruesome story.

Assuming the NYT has presented the case fairly, it looks as though the family is united only in its desire to have somebody else take care of their mother. 'Don't kill her- that's not the Rwandan way. But don't inconvenience us with her presence either- we're Americans now!' The "business" that is ostensibly part of a Jesuit enterprise, itself still notionally a Christian institution, has not coated itself with AMGD. But the kids? No glory there either. Unless the Times is doing its usual fair & accurate wrt life issues.

David, I think that's a terribly unfair way of characterizing this situation, and I am disappointed in you. The children recognized that they would need at least some professional help in caring for their mother in their homes. They are united in not wanting her to be dehydrated to death. That is _very_ clear. To say that they are united "only" in wanting someone else to care for her without their involvement is extremely prejudicial. Do you not think that caring for a stroke patient in the home would normally involve visits from a home health care professional, at least at some times?

It shouldn't be _anyone's_ way to dehydrate a patient to death--particularly not Christians. The hospital has acted absolutely, utterly cold-bloodedly. Notice that the hospital agreed to pay for her nursing home care only after it was agreed that she would be killed in short order! But of course the hospital wouldn't agree to that when there was any question of her actually living.

The children are not being cold-blooded but the hospital and the so-called "guardian" most certainly are. There is no comparison.

I certainly agree that given the desperate nature of the situation now, and now that it has been brought home to the children, they should be willing to take the measure of taking her into their own homes with the feeding tube and simply getting along as best they can even without medical assistance. Since the only alternative is her death. That is certainly what I would do in their situation. It seems entirely plausible that in stalling earlier, realizing that they didn't have the wherewithal to care for her _properly_ at home, they didn't really believe it would come to this.

At this point, however, it's not even clear that that would be allowed. The guardianship has been given to a death-lover who makes no bones about her priorities. According to the article, Sloan has said _in so many words_ that even if money were available only so-called "palliative" care would be appropriate--meaning, "People like this should die, and I'm going to use my power to make sure that this woman does die."

This is utterly sickening. I cannot help wondering what the actual legal set-up is in Virginia, but they certainly should have some recourse. Had they known whom to contact earlier, it seems they might have been able to get some help.

We should not be fooled: this sort of thing is going on EVERY DAY in most hospitals in the United States, Christian or otherwise. It's just not typical that those in charge admit so baldly that they hold human life to be so dispensible. Every day in US hospitals, terminally ill patients (or sometimes just eldely or chronically ill patients) are routinely being morphined to death (yes, when they are not in pain, and when other less-deadly pain medicines are available) and dehydrated to death (even when the smallest hydration drip would save them from dying in this inhumane way). And we must not think that a living will is going to save our loved ones from having this done to them. Hospitals routinely use the living will to take these decision out of the hands of the family in order to justify their use of morphine and dehydration to speed along patients, usually on the grounds that the person has "no quality of life" or (this happened to me when my mother was dying) that the family is not "facing reality" and is expecting the hospital to keep the patient alive indefinitely.

Christians must not think that the problem in this case is that neither the patient nor the family are being given their rightful "choice" of medical treatment. Whether we (or our own family or our legitimate "guardians") choose to hydrate or not, or to use death-inducing morphine when it is not necessary to control pain or not is irrelevant. God has not given it to us to choose the moment or the means by which He will usher us into the next world. Hydration is neither an expensive nor an extraordinary treatment (would we expect the hospital to provide, let's say, heart-bypass surgery on this dying woman? of course not). This situation goes way beyond the fact that this is an immigant woman, or that she has not health coverage. And I repeat, we must not be fooled: this sort of thing goes on all the time at hospitals all over the United States. Consciously or otherwise, many Christians are falling into the trap of reasoning as the world does, and have opened the gate wide to that Trojan Horse, Choice. We should not be at all surprised when we reap the results of our insistence that we be allowed to control our own destiny in every other aspect of life. I am terribly sorry for this poor woman and her family and only wish I could believe that this case is not typical of what happens to most dying people in the United States today.

Debra, were you successful in your battle with the hospital in your mother's case? (If you don't mind my asking; otherwise, ignore the question.)

In some states, I think that having an extremely rampaging health care statement and a carefully chosen person given one's DPA for healthcare can help. I believe that in Michigan, armed with such documents (and I do mean "rampaging," including clear statements of the patient's desire for hydration by tube if necessary), a family could block this kind of inhumane treatment. But that takes a legal savvy that this family didn't have. It's not even clear that they had a good lawyer when the legal wrangle was going on. Terribly, terribly sad, and now possibly too late.

One thing that pretty obviously happened here was that the children did not realize that the hospital really would kill her by dehydration if they did not take her home. That's one lesson to take away: If you're given the option of taking a beloved family member who is on a feeding tube into your own home and maintaining nutrition and hydration, grab the option while you have it, before the option is taken from you.

Apparently the paralyzed family placed their faith in the institution's advertised Catholicism and its First World resources. They won't make that mistake again, but they have been too passive and irresponsible. The bulldozing by the courts is not as surprising, as Georgetown's decision is predictably shameful.

And, up in Canada, there is the case of Baby Joseph -- all his parents have asked for is a simple tracheostomy so they *can* take him home.

It's about having the power of life and death over people. I think it was CSL who said, "they will let you have your religion in private, and then they will make sure you are never alone."

The principle applies in this case, I think.

Neither the NYT nor the FT pieces gives enough backstory. The children are described as dithering over the course of nearly a year. They have jobs, etc. The Times notes that the mother had insurance but lost coverage when- here is where I am prepared to lay some responsibility on the kids- she moved to Va. to care for her grandchildren. 'We have earned master's degrees, one of us teaches at a state college, we have slowly and painfully learned many of the tricks of navigating the bureaucracies and regulations that plague the land of the free, and, Mom, do you have insurance?'

So, stroke in April, we're into March, even if a declaration of nonrecoverable PVS or whatever the term of art is wasn't handed down till June or July, that seems to be plenty of time for the children to have pooled their resources, tapped their networks, and come up with a solution- Aunt Betty in Kigali has a friend who does hospice care, or we've scraped up enough money for a year of at-home care'- or something that would allow GU finally to discharge her into her sons' care.

Yes, the Jesuits are right up there with the Times on life issues, the 'guardian' makes the Times house ethical columnist look like JPII, and the cause of ecumenism cannot be helped by the way the Jesuits are treating the widow of the Baptist minister.

But that doesn't make it okay for the kids to dither for nearly a year, does it? A more fleshed out story would help.

No taxpayer should be forced to pay for this woman's care, and if a charity refuses to do so, that's tough luck. It's up to the family to do the best they can under the circumstances.

Most charities I know of means test the people who apply for help.


You've got an awful lot of work ahead of yourself clearing the healthcare system of people for whom the taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill.

I agree that the family seems to bear some responsibility here - but then the courts should go after the family, not order the poor woman's execution.


SOMEONE CALL THE BISHOP. The Vatican has set clear guidelines for ordinary care. If the bishop won't act, send a letter to the papal nucio in Washington, DC. Bishop Olmsted acted in Denver to remove the Catholic status of one of their hosptials for sanctioning an abortion. This hospital should be examined by the bishop and the judge and "guardian" (!) should be publically called out. I'll bet the guardian is not Catholic.

The Chicken


Are you thinking Phoenix? I don't think it was Denver - that's where I live and, for most of the last twelve years, worked at one of the Catholic hospitals.


Yes, probably Phoenix. Sorry. I was typing from memory. I should have checked. At least I got it in the Western United States, so I get partial credit, right : )

The Chicken

Of course!

Mark Butterworth, I am not amused. The hospital has no right to dehydrate the woman to death. As long as she is in their care, they owe her ordinary care. They have no more right to remove her feeding and hydration than they have to refuse to keep her clean. The same for the nursing home to which she has been transferred. It might have been licit to find some way to court order the children to take her home and care for her there, but whoever presently has her under their care has no right to dehydrate her to death. This is basic.

David Brandt, look at it this way: Suppose the hospital had said to the children, "You are dithering and stalling. It's been nearly a year since your mother had her stroke, and you haven't figured out what to do with her. If you don't arrange to transfer your mother out of our bed, we are going to bring in Jack Kevorkian and have him give her a lethal injection." (Or transfer her to a nursing home only on condition that Kevorkian be brought in.) If they had done that, and if the execution were scheduled for today, I would like to think that you would not be spending pixels in repeated comments talking about how we need more backstory, how the children haven't covered themselves with glory, and how they and the hospital are both to blame because the children dithered.

This isn't about money. This is about murder. The medical establishment is killing this woman who is, whether rightly or wrongly, within their care, by deliberately withholding her absolutely basic needs of nutrition and hydration. At this point we should be way beyond talking about the fact that the children should not have dithered. Just as we would be in any other case where the medical establishment willfully and deliberately kills someone to free up a bed and resources. Deliberately dehydrating a patient to death is utterly heinous. No omission or presumption on the part of the children comes close.

As a Christian and a healthcare provider I've got to say I think laying blame is a bit of a red herring here. This situation may well have come about due to one party or another not living up to their responsibilities the way they should have; but here we are, not merciful enough to prevent one of God's created from dying of dehydration.
As Christians our mission as healthcare providers transcends the weak and arbitrary Secular philosophical underpinnings provided by the medical community, and cuts to the heart of demonstrating Gods mercy, the value he places on his creatures, and the courage he provides when we stand up for these vulnerable souls. In the past many battles for human dignity have been won right here, battles over slavery, abortion, race, and poverty, a few Christians stand up and do the right thing and the light shines, sometimes so brightly that ever our enemies are forced to join hands with us. I am sure that at the end of time God will not look at me and ask why I wasted money providing water for one of his dying children.

Lydia, you really are my favorite reporter. And I really am unhappy to be in any sort of disagreement with you.

But- your Kevorkian example seems inapt. Do we now believe that medical care is primarily the responsibility of the State, or of institutions which, while ostensibly Jesuit (or Baptist, etc.), are effectively creatures of that State? Or do we continue to believe that the family is centrally responsible for education, health and general welfare of the family members, even of ex-generation family members?

If the latter, then this seems not to be a rerun of Schiavo. The state and GU are not conspiring to kill the woman while leaving the family absolutely powerless. If GU did pull the Kevorkian trick, it would be at least instructive in the sense of Solomon. If it were me, I'd say "Get the discharge papers ready; I'll be right over." End of Part One of the story. Part Two would then be how poor son David with no medical training and no spare millions takes care of his mother at home.

In this case the kids sound very much as though they expect that GU- or somebody (anybody? reverse NIMBY, Anybody But Us?)- takes care of their mother in perpetuity. Discharge her to us? Oh, no- she's your problem, you keep her! But you have to keep her alive, on your dime, d'y'hear?

GU, willfully engaging in, apparently, subsidiarity as well as Dr Deathism, is clearly _a_ villain. But is GU the only villain here, and why may we not look at the role played by the family?

I believe, David, that for the hospital--who willy-nilly has her care--to dehydrate her to death is as bad as it would be for the hospital or nursing home to call in Dr. Kevorkian. You don't agree, is that right?

I think our disagreement here is over the degree of evil involved in deliberately making somebody dead by removing the basic care of food and water. That is presumably why you consider the analogy inapt.

I _think_ that if they did the Kevorkian move, you would not take the same approach that you are taking, right? By the way, if Solomon really had had the baby cut in half, that would have been a deep-dyed evil, agreed? He was faking it to discover the real mother, which is why we call him wise rather than a baby-murderer.

Morally, this is exactly like the murder of Terri Schiavo: Deliberately dehydrating a helpless woman to death is deliberately dehydrating a helpless woman to death.

Legally and as a precedent, it's a great deal _worse_ than the Schiavo case, as in America it has previously been some protection of helpless people from this particularly horrific form of killing that there was some requirement at least to make a pretense that the act was what the patient would have wanted. That pretense is here abandoned and she is being killed for naked reasons of the "good of society." You'll notice how much shorter of a legal process was involved here than in Terri Schiavo's case? That's because they didn't have to jump through any hoops of pretending to show that this would have been her wish. It's a move of raw power, killing the innocent and helpless.

Here's a test case for you: A woman gives birth to a baby. Just an ordinary, helpless baby who needs bottles and ordinary baby care. She won't take it home, won't take responsibility for it. She discharges herself from the hospital and disappears without the baby. There are no other family members.

The hospital and everybody else says, "It's not the responsibility of the state to take care of this baby. It's the responsibility of the family." So they lay the perfectly helpless baby in a closet for weeks on end without food or water until it dies of dehydration. Maybe they give it some drugs occasionally to stop it from screaming.

If the hospital did that, would we want to be talking more about the abandoning mother or about the incredible, deep, heinous evil of the hospital that would do that to the helpless baby, simply leaving it there with no food and water? Would this be an apt time to discuss the question of "whether the state is responsible for abandoned children"?

The point is that there are people surrounding this woman who _could feed her_, just as there are people surrounding such a baby who _could feed him_. They are the ones confronted with the child. They are the ones who have, rightly or wrongly, _ended up_ with the care of this helpless person on their hands. In that circumstance, your or my theoretical libertarianism is irrelevant to the question: Who is killing this child? Who is killing this woman? It is the people who are deliberately withholding basic sustenance to make her dead so they can get her off their hands. That is a level of evil that I cannot help feeling that you are not really grasping.

But is GU the only villain here, and why may we not look at the role played by the family?

The family has successfully absorbed the;"work the angles of the welfare state" ethos, which is why the court appointed an outside guardian. After it became clear Georgetown was not bluffing and began dehydrating, the family should have agreed to absorb the expenses. We all could have benefited from their witness. However, nothing they failed to do is as odious as what Georgetown did do; remove life-sustaining care and betray Christ.

The Church avoided sclerosing into a sect by demanding that the Christian demand perfection of himself, not that he demand it of his neighbor. In this case, those within the Christian community failed to act any better than our pitiless culture.


I agree with you. If she's under care, it must be provided by a Catholic Hosp. My point is that the hospital is under no obligation to keep her in one of their beds.

As for cleaning up the mess we've made of forcing people to pay for others' care, it would take a revolution to begin to deal with it.


It seems you are rather deliberately missing the point.

The State (in the generic), the courts, any healthcare facility - NONE of them have the right to murder a patient (whether quickly by lethal injection or slowly by dehydration and sartvation) because someone else refuses to take responsibility for them.

If this patient were a male homosexual with no known family who had advanced AIDS with no possibility of recovering and was in need of basic care with no one to finance it - you can damn well bet we *never* would hear of the hospital naming the "guardian" for the patient and collaborating with the courts for a judicial order of execution by dehydration.


My point is that the hospital is under no obligation to keep her in one of their beds.

Thing is, though, Catholic hospital or not, once she's _in_ their bed they are obligated not to kill her to get her _out_ of the bed.

That's what's so horrible about this: They don't want to continue providing her care, so they are *making sure she dies*. That's absolutely explicit: That's why the hospital agreed to pay for her nursing home care only _after_ the guardian was appointed who planned to withdraw all food and water.

"Who is killing this woman? It is the people who are deliberately withholding basic sustenance to make her dead so they can get her off their hands. That is a level of evil that I cannot help feeling that you are not really grasping."

I think recourse to the story, skimpy as the details therein are, would be useful. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/us/04immigrant.html?_r=4&pagewanted=1&hp

It might be useful to repeat a central distinction between this case and its Schiavo antecedent. Here, GU tried to discharge the woman fir eight months. GU did not say 'She's ours, you can't have her back, and we're gonna kill her.'

Now. Do let us grant for a moment that I might not be the Jack Kevorkian fan that I've been twisted into here. I grant that the hospital is at fault, the state is at fault, and the 'guardian', like every 'medical ethicist' I've ever heard of, deserves horsewhipping. It is additionally a scandal, in the sense that giving scandal is a sin, that Catholics are actively tugging at the plug.

Nevertheless, the six adult children are apparently _also_ the ones "deliberately withholding basic sustenance to make her dead so they can get her off their hands." The degree of culpability of the four children in Rwanda cannot be assessed; but a basic fact of our lovely immigration system is that, when you sponsor someone, adult or minor, you agree to be financially responsible for that person for the first five years of that person's American residency. So it's not just the extralegal parent-child familial obligation that applies, but this special sponsored-immigrant obligation that the two American children appear to be shirking to death.

Yes, do let's insist that the hospital should drive itself into bankruptcy and take the university down with it too before killing, causing to be killed, or allowing to be killed, anyone who gets dumped off on them.

But don't let's go lionizing the children in assuming out of thin air that they've done everything they possibly can to rescue their mom from the maws of Moloch. Don't let's pretend there's one and only one villain here, or one party behaving with murderous irresponsibility. Thanks.


I think recourse to the story, skimpy as the details therein are, would be useful.

Not quite sure what the point is there. I linked the story and have read it.

It might be useful to repeat a central distinction between this case and its Schiavo antecedent. Here, GU tried to discharge the woman fir eight months. GU did not say 'She's ours, you can't have her back, and we're gonna kill her.'

Good luck to the kids if they tried to get her back now, or any time after the murderous guardian was appointed. In any event, the hospital is deliberately killing her by dehydration. That's the far more important point. Again, deliberately killing a patient by dehydration is what it is.

Now. Do let us grant for a moment that I might not be the Jack Kevorkian fan that I've been twisted into here.

Actually, on the contrary: I strongly suspect that the place where our disagreement lies is that you do not agree with me about the depth of the evil of deliberately dehydrating a patient to death. Hence, far from being a "Kevorkian fan," you deny the analogy. As far as I can tell (but please correct me if I am wrong) you think there is _something_ about a caregiver's deliberately withdrawing and withholding fluids from this stroke patient until she dies that is morally importantly different from actively killing her as Kevorkian killed people, which is why you said the analogy was "inapt."

Nevertheless, the six adult children are apparently _also_ the ones "deliberately withholding basic sustenance to make her dead so they can get her off their hands."

Absolutely not. The children want her alive. The guardian and hospital want her dead. The difference there could not be more stark. Again, the very fact that you could make this comparison makes me _strongly_ guess that you don't see the act of deliberately killing off a patient by dehydration as being as bad as I think it is, or you could not analogize it to the economic neglect and irresponsibility of the children, who nonetheless want their mother to live and are distraught that she is being dehydrated to death.

Don't let's pretend there's one and only one villain here, or one party behaving with murderous irresponsibility.

The children may well be or have been irresponsible. The hospital is murderous. Very, very deliberately so. I think you must not really see this. One doesn't have to "lionize" the children to see the distinction between their waffling and presuming that someone else would take care of their mother, on the one hand, and the cold-blooded killing being carried out (against their wishes) by the guardian in collusion with the hospital.

Again, I can't help thinking that you would agree with this distinction if the killing were actively done. What if the hospital called someone in to shoot her or cut off her head. Would you still be saying that the children were "murderous" just like the hospital and the gunman?

I'm actually trying to clarify the place where we disagree, not to "lionize" anyone.

The children do see that dehydrating her to death is wrong. That much is clear. Just as presumably they would see that killing her in other ways is wrong. That doesn't make them great and wonderful. But there are some people who stopped the feedings previously being given her and who are continuing to withhold that nutrition and hydration though they could provide it and though she is within their care. And the hospital and guardian quite deliberately set this train of events in motion *so that she would die*. The children did not do that.

Perhaps an area where we differ is that I am unsurprised to find the Jesuit hospital going, in effect, 'Kolvenbach, Kevorkian, same same'. It is proper, yet impractical, to expect moral behavior on life issues from a hospital. In recalling Dr Nathanson's life recently, we had occasion to see the names of all the ostensibly Christian hospitals wherein he perfected his deadly little art. After our daughter, named in part after our favorite Rwandan refugee, was born, the ob/gyn at the Christian hospital, with the picture of John Paul II on his wall, was all but shocked at our obstinate refusal to consider getting my wife's tubes tied. The story of the modern world in a single phrase is that Josef Mengele was a doctor. Perhaps this is not sad realism but over-the-cliff cynicism. Our culture is the pits, and but for the slender promise of Matthew 16 the Church is no comfort. (Getting the current, less Schumeresque cardinal archbishop to go whole hog and anathematize Georgetown, as has been suggested, would be a matter of giving in to the deepest wishes of the faculty, to be explicitly rather than de facto secular.) Nor can we reasonably expect the State to stand up for rights the local Church defends so underwhelmingly. The state long ago destroyed the extended family and is well on its way to destroying the nuclear family as well.

So, when the State, the hospital, and the 'husband' gang up on Terri Schiavo, she hasn't a chance. Her family was not allowed- not allowed- does that distinction mean anything? the Schiavos were not allowed to rescue their daughter. Who prevented Rachel Nyirahabiyambere's sons from rescuing her? Only the Nyirahabiyambere sons themselves.

The usefulness of revisiting the Times piece is the opening scene itself. The master's-degreed sons are visiting their mother in the nursing home. How did they get past security? What are they doing there? Has the Times been called in to document a daring daylight rescue attempt?

No, Junior has brought his boombox to lay down some soothing tunes before turning to the reporter and waxing self-pitiful about how this is all out of his hands. "Now we are helpless spectators," says the young SUNY lecturer.

The way in which this is worse than the Schiavo case is that there is not a thing preventing the family from rescuing their mother. Let us return to the scene in the Times story. The date of the visit to the nursing home is not provided, but it seems reasonable to assume that the Times reporter visited after the 19th, i.e. after the death by dehydration had begun.

I dunno, if I had two master's degrees and enough pull to get a New York Times reporter to visit my mom with me, maybe if I saw she was being deliberately killed I wouldn't just wring my hands and utter mawkish noises. Maybe I'd risk arrest and take her right on out of there. Maybe, if I were there in my mother's room with the reporter & all, and Dr Jack walked in with a syringe of Sweet Goodbye, I would chest-bump him the hell on back out into the hallway. Maybe it is as simple as that. Maybe the kids with the master's degrees can't figure out where to buy bags of saline or how to insert and maintain an intravenous feed. Maybe the staff at the nursing home is all tough hombres, ex-special forces guys with orders not to let any patients escape. Dudes tough enough to prevent even survivors of the Rwandan holocaust from busting their mom out of the joint, if the sons wanted to save their mother's life?

Yes, yes, monstrous Jebbies, evil university hospital, indifferent State. I get all that. The modern state, the modern health-care establishment, doing what they do, disappointing but surely no longer truly surprising. Why, Lydia, are you unable to see, and thus be truly appalled, that what is worse is the sons standing around giving shruggishly Clintonian lip service to the silly notion that they are not in fact all in favor of the hospital taking their mother, if the only cost to them is their mother's very life?

Well, I think if they did now try to rescue the mother, the police definitely would be brought in to fight them off. Legally, yes, it has been taken out of their hands. Not at all sure they could fight her out of there. At this point, yes, I think they would not be allowed to take her home.

Myself, I think their greatest crime was stupidity. They didn't think it would come to this.

You think they were disingenuous when they argued with the guardian by e-mail about dehydrating her to death? I don't.

I think they aren't in favor of the hospital taking their mother. I can understand people not getting into a physical fight over it. Nobody did for Terri, either. I'm not sure that's evil, and I'm pretty certain it would have been futile. There's a difference between not physically fighting to save a person being murdered with the full collusion of the state, on the one hand, and really being in favor of the killing, on the other.

Are you seriously implying that the sons are _lying_ when they say that they are opposed to her being killed this way? That they are secretly relieved that the medical establishment is killing her off for them?

And I still don't quite understand how all this squares with your saying that the analogy to Kevorkian was inapt. Now you seem to be agreeing with the analogy but saying that the kids must in their hearts be on the side of the killers. Was that just a mis-statement earlier that the analogy was a poor one?

"If this patient were a male homosexual with no known family who had advanced AIDS with no possibility of recovering..."

What about one with a family? Sorry, but if this case involving a female escapee from Rwanda's killing fields proves anything it is this; all who land on the wrong side of the quality of life\drain on resources equation are disposable.

The big problem, really, is that the court got involved. Scripture says of disagreements among Christians:

1Cor 6
[1]When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
[2] Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
[3] Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!
[4] If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church?
[5] I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood,
[6] but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
[7]To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
[8] But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren.
[9]Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,
[10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
[11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Shame on GU taking the matter to court, likely knowing this would be the outcome. What ethicists do they have on staff? Even if they could not keep her, they have an ordinary moral responsibility to do no harm or to not let others cause FORSEEABLE harm. Cowards! Of course, from what little I know (always dangerous to argue from modest knowledge) Georgetown is so far off the liberal end as to not deserve the name, Catholic, and if this is the case, I hope they are either made to reform or lose the right to be called a Catholic hospital.

The Chicken

Shame on GU taking the matter to court, likely knowing this would be the outcome.

It's even worse than that. They took the matter to court *so that* this would be the outcome. This was their aim. Notice: The hospital agreed to pay for her care in the nursing home *only after* the guardian (chosen by their lawyer) had been appointed and had decided to dehydrate her to death--in other words, only on condition that she be killed within a short period of time so they would no longer have to deal with her.

They took the matter to court *so that* this would be the outcome.

It's facts like this which make me wonder how much longer decent men will be able to serve in law enforcement. They can still say "not my call, take it to court." Then the court hands down a ruling: dehydrate her as planned. The court has spoken, the cops must follow according to the law. Doing his job, preventing the family from getting back their mother, literally means being a moral accessory to murder (all of the rationalizations about his intent are liberal, bleeding-heart rubbish).

Seeing how the law works these days is why my family that worked in law enforcement are glad they're out and are no longer trusting in the system.

Alliance Defense Fund steps in, Va judge orders halt to death by dehydration. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/us/12brfs-JUDGEORDERSN_BRF.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

That nasty George Bush law comes into play again.

ObamaCare probably does away with this horror-producing piece of law, a vestige of Bush budget cutting (this woman is not the first in this situation; most of these cases turn out badly for the victim of the Bush law).

In the Houston case I thought it was pretty clear that, had the woman gotten adequate care early enough, the situation would not exist at all.

Check to be sure I'm not wrong, that the Obama law overturns this horrible Bush law, and if so, call your representatives in Congress and tell them to do the moral thing, stick with ObamaCare.

Stop wasting our time with "nasty George Bush law" nonsense. You're the laziest poster I've ever seen.

Maybe we should postulate invincible ignorance in commentator Darrell...?

Stop wasting our time with "nasty George Bush law" nonsense. You're the laziest poster I've ever seen.

So, you wish the thread would end, and you agree that these people in these situations should die?

I at least had an opinion. Somebody who can't make an effort to give thumbs down to the gladiator you want killed doesn't have room to talk, it seems to me.

You think the law is good? What's your point?

Mark, Lydia,

Had you not been such lazy readers, you could have found it yourself, I'm sure.

Bush signed the Advance Directives Act while governor -- it allows hospitals to notify people that their cases are hopeless, and after ten days, turn off the machines.

Here's the case that brought it to my attention, a 27-year-old woman, terminal, but still conscious and wishing not yet to die according to some accounts: WFAA account

Discussion of the case at Slate, "Do the Poor Deserve Health Care?":

You can look up the "Texas Advance Directives Act" on Wikipedia for more cases.

In almost all of the cases there is a common thread: Poverty, and especially the lack of money to continue care, or provide an alternative.

In 2005 even President George Bush proposed reforming health care nationally to take care of these people. Unless some Republican wag specifically inserted a specific denial in the bill (and most of them refused to participate at all), ObamaCare will fix the problem.

You are urging your representatives to keep ObamaCare on track, right?

Ed, you're such a troll. I considered not publishing your comment, because it's clearly thread-jacking, but I thought I'd give it one answer: I know and have known all these years all about the Texas law you are talking about. Pro-lifers have also been working to change it. It applies only in Texas (in case you didn't notice); what you doubtless don't want to know is that, misguided though it was, it was originally itself a reform of a hospital practice of giving people even less notice before cutting off their care. And as Wesley J. Smith points out, single-payer (for which we now have the Democrats' word that Obamacare is a "platform") is the straight road to rationing.

And finally, all of this is a distraction from the basic nature of _food and water_ and with the way that the medical establishment treats them. The medical ethics here are the problem. It isn't the pro-life conservatives who have been teaching the ethical attitudes of the "guardian." It is at least somewhat significant that the same type of people who opposed this woman's attempted murder are the same people who opposed Terri Schiavo's actual murder and are not those conspicuous for their support of Obamacare. What a coincidence. Perhaps you should check with your local medical ethicist at your local hospital or philosophy department. Find out whether they a) support Obamacare, b) support Sloan's reasoning, if not actually her actions, in this case.

You may now bag it on your silly "it's all about the evil George Bush" nonsense.

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