The Corner

Jahi Becomes a Federal Case

As the state court has permitted Jahi McMath’s mother to present evidence from a doctor who has examined Jahi and believes she does not meet brain death criteria, lawyer Christopher Dolan is making a federal case out of it. From his press release:

After exhausting all available avenues to work with the State Department of Vital Statistics, Alameda County Department of Public Health, County Coroner’s Office and County Counsel, to have Jahi McMath’s incomplete, and invalid death certificate (not even signed by an attesting physician) rescinded, and her basic human rights restored…

The suit requests that the Federal Court order restoration of Jahi McMath’s fundamental Constitutional rights and declare that she is not brain dead as per the criteria established under California Law.

The lawsuit also seeks to have the Court deem unconstitutional the brain death statute as it provides no mechanism by which evidence can be presented that the original determination of brain death is no longer valid in the face of significant scientific and medical evidence of brain function like that currently demonstrated by Jahi McMath.

That last bit seems a potentially winning argument to me regardless of Jahi’s condition.

I believe in brain death and once thought Jahi was certainly dead–to the great irritation of many who usually agree with my opinions.  

But I also wrote that my eyebrow would rise if her body didn’t deteriorate as usually happens pretty quickly in brain death cases.

Now, two years later, Jahi has not deteriorated–not unprecedented, but rare–and a prominent neurologist whom I know and trust, has personally examined her, believes she no longer meets brain dead criteria. My eyebrows are past the crown of my head!

I think the proper course here is for there to be a full-bore, transparent reopening of this case.

If Jahi is not dead, she deserves it.

So does neurological science, because if her brain function has indeed reversed from “dead” to “profoundly disabled,” it is unprecedented and requires intense study.

So does the integrity of the system. No one should be forced to stay dead if facts on the ground change. Moreover, if the facts have not changed, it is important for the public to know.

Let  me be clear. I am not saying she is alive. But I am saying there is sufficient doubt to warrant another hard look. And I don’t understand why some are so angrily and emotionally invested in her being dead.

HT: Thaddeus Mason Pope

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