Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Lauren Richardson: A Life Saved


Readers of SHS may recall the Lauren Richardson situation: Lauren experience a catastrophic brain injury and was diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state. Her mother wanted to remove her tube sustenance and her father resisted. Litigation ensued. At the 11th hour, Lauren's parents have come together in agreement to her live. From the story:

After gaining nationwide attention nearly a year ago as the focus of a court battle between her estranged parents--with her father arguing for her right to life and her mother countering that her final wishes were being violated--the 24-year-old severely brain-damaged woman will be going home with her father.

Her parents, Randy Richardson and Edith Towers, resolved their differences and ended their nearly two-year legal battle amicably with a joint guardianship agreement. "This resolution does exactly what we wanted all along," said Randy Richardson. "It gives Lauren a chance. We get to take care of her and give her the opportunity to heal."

Towers said she never wanted to pull life support from her daughter, but felt bound by a promise she made to Lauren. Before Lauren's August 2006 heroin overdose that caused her brain damage, Towers said her daughter asked her not to allow such measures if she ended up in a vegetative state.

In January 2008, the Delaware Court of Chancery awarded guardianship to Towers because of testimony about Lauren's wishes.

Richardson, fearing for his daughter's life, then took his case public with the help of pro-life groups. After a report in The News Journal, other news outlets followed, with nearly all noting the similarities to the 2005 Florida legal battle over Terri Schiavo --where Schiavo's husband wanted to remove a feeding tube, citing his wife's wishes, while her parents opposed ending life support.

What a wonderful result. And this points to the value of the struggle to save people like Lauren from dehydration. Sometimes circumstances change--as in the Jesse Ramirez case. And sometimes hearts and minds change, as here.

Bravo to Lauren's parents. Our most fervent best wishes to them and their daughter in the years to come.


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