Human Exceptionalism

Schiavo Brother Tries to Save Another Life

It is very scary when a state wants to dehydrate a citizen. That happened several years ago in the Haleigh Poutre case in Massachusetts.  Haleigh was a 12-year-old child abuse victim beaten viciously by her step father into unconsciousness. Within days of her injury, doctors said she would never awaken and the state immediately sought court approval to dehydrate her to death. Luckily for Haleigh, the bureaucratic requirements took enough time for her to prove her doctors dead wrong by awakening. Today, she is moving on with her life–no thanks to the state social workers who advocated for her death rather than her life until she became clearly conscious.

In New York, a court has removed a wife from guardianship of her apparently unconscious husband, and the court appointed guardian wants him dehydrated to death on advice of doctors. Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, has stepped in and asked to be named guardian. From The Leader story:

In 2007, Sara Harvey was removed as her husband’s guardian when a judge ruled she was ill-suited to care for him and did not follow the advice of medical professionals. The county was named Gary Harvey’s guardian. In 2009, Chemung County planned to remove Gary Harvey’s feeding tube on the advice of doctors, but the move was blocked. A do-not-resuscitate order remains in place. Later in 2009, Schindler joined Sara Harvey’s cause, saying she had the right to regain guardianship of her husband and take him home to care for him there.

After filing his guardianship request, Schindler said: “I have raised the question many times, ‘How can Chemung County, guardian of Mr. Harvey, be acting in his best interest when they, in fact, tried to kill him?’ From all indications, it appears that Mr. Harvey has been warehoused and denied the opportunity to receive the care and rehabilitative services that would benefit his condition.”

I have seen cases where guardianship was removed solely because the family member wouldn’t agree to dehydrate. I don’t know if that is the case here. But even if she is unable to personally provide his care, that doesn’t mean her opinion about her husband’s continuing existence should be disregarded. As Bobby Schindler told me:

How ironic. When my sister’s husband wanted her dehydrated, we were told that spouses should decide. Now, when the spouse doesn’t want him dehydrated, her opinion apparently doesn’t matter.

Go, Bobby! Go!

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