Legalized Murder In
America - Death By Starvation

By Phil Brennan

Increasingly across America, the sick and elderly, some with terminal illnesses, are being murdered simply by withholding food and water.
When a new edition of his book "Forced Exit, The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder" was published, author Wesley J. Smith couldn1t have known that America was so far down that slope that Florida courts were ordering the killing, in a most barbaric way, of a disabled but conscious woman.
Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and an attorney and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, wrote the first version of the book six years ago.
He decided that an update was needed as a result of the increased pressure by advocates of assisted suicide and those backing euthanasia, which they call "mercy killing."
Smith notes that "health care" policies have gone well beyond euthanasia at the request of the sick person. Today doctors and families are taking the life-and-death decision into their own hands and purposely withholding food and water to kill the patient.
Often the intention might be good, such as to save the patient from a terminal disease and pain. But the result, Smith says, is the same: It is an act of murder. Even if the patient consents, euthanasia is a form of suicide.
Already, assisted suicide and euthanasia have been made legal or deemed acceptable in European countries, as well as Australia and South Africa.
The Doctor Decides
In America, he writes, there is now a movement promoting what is known as the "futile care" theory - when a doctor decides on his own that when a patient1s quality of life is not worth living, further medical care would be futile and could be denied.
"Today," Smith writes, "there is a systematic, nationwide attempt by many in the bioethics movement to impose futile care upon the populace through formal hospital protocols that give anonymous ethics committees the power to turn thumbs up or thumbs down to wanted medical treatment deemed 'inappropriate.1"
Those protocols, he warns, are already designed to "stack the deck" against the patient if the doctor or hospital wants to refuse treatment.
Now a new threat has emerged, dramatized by the horrific case of Theresa Schiavo: the demand that patients deemed no longer worth saving be killed by the inhuman process of "dehydration" - refusing nourishment to conscious, cognitively disabled people who need feeding tubes to stay alive. In other words, condemning them to an excruciatingly painful death by starvation.
The practice has become commonplace in America, Smith told
"Dehydration of cognitively disabled patients occurs in all 50 states in the United States of America," Smith explained.
"Quite often it occurs to conscious people who could feel the 10- to 14-day agony that dehydration entails. The only way it gets stopped is if family members disagree on the medical course. Absent family disagreement, this happens as a matter of routine."
When Smith published the new edition of his book, the case of Theresa Schiavo, who collapsed from cardiac arrest in 1990, had only just been brought to his attention. Since then it has become a national cause celebre thanks to a court decree, temporarily stalled by an injunction, ordering that she be put to death by dehydration.
'When Is That Bitch Gonna Die?1
The case of Terri Schiavo is a classic example of how far America has traveled down the road to legalized euthanasia and officially sanctioned death sentences for the disabled.
Smith reviewed the Schiavo case for
"In Florida, in order to dehydrate somebody there has to be a finding that the patient is unconscious, which is what Judge Greer has done in the Schiavo case.
"But if anybody has seen a video of Schiavo available on [now], the video shows they will see that she is no way unconscious. An unconscious person is utterly unreactive - in fact that1s how it1s basically defined in Florida law."
On one video a doctor is shown asking Terri, who has her eyes closed, "Please open your eyes, Terri" - and her eyes flutter and open.
In another video her mother comes over to her bed, leans down and says, "Hi, sweetie, how are you?" and Terri looks over, sees her mom and gets a huge smile on her face.
That, says Smith, is not a mere reflex; "that is recognition of a mother and the enjoyment of being loved. To say that she1s unconscious is unconscionable."
Incredibly, the court has these facts, Smith said.
"And the court has other facts that it is also ignoring. Michael Schiavo, Terri1s husband, filed a medical malpractice suit regarding his wife1s injury that caused her to be cognitively disabled. He promised that he would provide her care for the rest of her natural life because she1s not on intensive care or anything of that sort. He brought to the jury a rehabilitation expert with a plan to help Terri get better, but as soon as the money was in the bank, which was $750,000 in a trust fund for Terri," he refused to allow any rehabilitative treatments whatsoever.
"He also got $300,000 more for loss of consortium, and the money went to lawyers," Smith explained.
"Not one day, not one hour, not one minute of rehabilitation time has Terri been given so she could get better. It1s unconscionable.
"This despite that there are doctors testifying under penalty of perjury, not only is Terri not unconscious, but that they believe she could be better. There1s a speech pathologist who has testified most recently under penalty of perjury that he believes that Terri can be weaned from the feeding tube."
Smith said, however, that "as soon as the money was in the bank, Michael put a 'do not resuscitate' order on the chart, realizing back in the early 1990s he would inherit $750,000 if Terri died, and began to refuse medical treatment such as antibiotics for infections and so forth. In 1998, when Terri didn't die he filed a request with Judge Greer to be allowed to remove her feeding tube, and that1s how this whole business started."
In a stunning sworn affidavit, Carla Sauer Iyer, a registered nurse who was employed at Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center in Largo, Fla., from April 1995 to July 1996, while Terri Schiavo was a patient there, testified: "Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri's death. Michael would say 'When is she going to die?' 'Has she died yet?' and 'When is that bitch gonna die?'"
Others at Palm Garden also testified similarly in sworn affidavits. All swore that Terri had spoken to them frequently and backed Iyer's recollections.
Zeroing in on Michael Schiavo's possible motives, Smith emphasized that it was important to realize that Michael Schiavo is engaged to be married.
"He has had one baby by his fiancée, she is pregnant with a second child, they live together and want to get married, and the reason they can1t is that Michael's wife is still alive.
"It1s an astonishing statement of insensitivity that a judge would allow this man with incredible conflicts of interest both financial, if any money's left from that trust fund, and personal.
"It1s outrageous," he added, "to [allow him to] have anything to do with how his wife is treated, and yet Judge Greer just ignores these clear conflicts of interest, refuses to allow Terri1s blood family, who want to care for her for the rest of her life and want to give her the therapy that might make her better, to be her guardians, and instead is bound and determined and intent on dehydrating this helpless citizen to death."
Michael Schiavo has accused his in-laws, Bob and Mary Schindler, of trying to control his wife's assets, and "the Schindlers now suggest their son-in-law tried to strangle their daughter the night she collapsed and that's why he has fought so hard to keep her quiet," the Orlando Sentinel reported. Schiavo's attorney has denounced the accusations as "malicious" and "garbage."
In late August Gov. Jeb Bush asked a judge to delay setting a date for removal of the feeding tube so a guardian could be appointed.
The governor's intervention is "crazy," Michael Schiavo said. "This case has been in litigation for five years, and all of a sudden Gov. Bush wants to be involved? This isn't his concern, and he should stay out of it."
'An Extremely Agonizing Death'
In his book, Wesley J. Smith describes the intense suffering imposed on those being starved to death.
"Proponents of dehydration contend that deaths by dehydration are peaceful," Smith wrote.
Noting that "the patients we are discussing are not terminally ill" and that those who are conscious can feel hunger and thirst, Smith quotes Dr. William Burke, a neurologist in St. Louis, who described the agonizing process.
"A conscious person would feel it (dehydration) just as you and I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucous membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining. They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water. Death by dehydration takes ten to fourteen days. It is an extremely agonizing death."
The next step, Smith predicts, will be the abandonment of dehydration in favor a much simpler and faster way to kill - death by lethal injection, now popular in prison death chambers.
In his book Smith concludes by asking if we will "take the hard turn down the slippery slope towards a coarsening of our view of the afflicted, the dying, the chronically ill, the disabled, and those in pain or depression, to the point where we feel they have a duty to die and get out of the way?
"Will we choose to love each other, or abandon each other?"
In the case of Terri Schiavo, the authorities have chosen abandonment.




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