Saturday, April 09, 2005

Culture of Death in Georgia and Belgium

[Please note interesting Updates at bottom -- Are Terri supporters being played by a Democrat -- or not? -- Ed.]

It appears that Living Wills are simply a racket in Georgia (and elsewhere?) -- instead, please consider a Will to Live.

I (and many others) have previously highlighted the tragic plight of Mae Margourik who may be experiencing forced dehydrated and starvation.

This point is not clear at this time. WorldNetDaily has an important update which suggests nutrition and hydration may be taking place, but we have no independently confirmed evidence one way or the other at this time (I have also written an email to the LaGrange News reporter covering the story).

To summarize:

Mae Magouirk of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration [see note above -- Ed.] at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Magouirk suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.

Furthermore, under Georgia law, if there is no power of attorney specifying a health care decisionmaker, such authority is given to the closest living relatives. Mae's brother, A. B. McLeod, and sister, Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, are both still alive and capable of making such decisions. They opposed Mae's transfer to hospice, and are fighting to save her life. But in spite of the lack of a power of attorney, and the fact that there are closer living relatives who should be given precedence by Georgia law, Ms. Gaddy sought an emergency appointment as guardian from the local probate court. The probate judge, Donald Boyd (who, I am told, is not an attorney and does not have a law degree), granted Gaddy's request, thereby giving her the power to starve and dehydrate Magouirk to death, though such an action is contrary to the provisions of the living will.

Mae's granddaughter is also sole beneficiary of Mae's will.

My questions to Joel Martin at the LaGrange News:

1) Is Mae receiving hydration and nutrition presently?
- Some are reporting she is.
- Mae's nephew, Kenneth Mullinax, suggests she is not (per your and others' reports).
- What does the hospice say?

2) Is it true that Mae's granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, did not have a medical power of attorney prior to April 1, 2005?

3) Is it true that Georgia law provides that the closest living relatives shall have medical authority if there is no medical power of attorney?

4) Is it true that the probate judge Donald Boyd is not an attorney and does not have a law degree?

What is deeply troubling to me is that it appears we can negotiate the terms of a living will away as if it never existed at all.

Here is my best understanding at this time:

In her living will, Magouirk stated that fluids and nourishment were to be withheld only if she were either comatose or "vegetative," and she is neither. Nor is she terminally ill, which is generally a requirement for admission to a hospice. . . .

Two weeks ago, Magouirk's aorta had a dissection, and she was hospitalized in the local LaGrange Hospital. Her aortic problem was determined to be severe, and she was admitted to the intensive care unit. At the time of her admission she was lucid and had never been diagnosed with dementia.

What good is the law if it does not protect us? The details are still flowing on this case, but if her living will is as has been reported, we have a serious problem with lawless law in this country.

And, how rare are these occurrences of dehydration and starvation?

Not very rare at all according to Ron Panzer:

Ron Panzer, president and founder of Hospice Patients Alliance, a patients' rights advocacy group based in Michigan, told WND that what is happening to Magouirk is not at all unusual.

"This is happening in hospices all over the country," he said. "Patients who are not dying – are not terminal – are admitted [to hospice] and the hospice will say they are terminally ill even if they're not. There are thousands of cases like this. Patients are given morphine and ativan to sedate them. If feeding is withheld, they die within 10 days to two weeks. It's really just a form of euthanasia."

Fortunately, Blogs For Terri is all over this case here, here, here, here and here. Also, contact information here and here.

Do we really want people who have glaucoma and a heart problem to starved and dehydrated to death?

Meanwhile, in Belgium. . . .

Michelle Malkin has a very important update on baby killing (no, not abortion, but baby killing outside the womb after birth).

From the Lancet:
Nearly half the newborn babies who died in Flanders over a recent year-long period were helped to die by their doctors, a new study reported yesterday. Paediatricians in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium either discreetly stopped treating the babies or, in 17 cases, illegally killed them with lethal doses of painkillers.

The study, published in The Lancet, examined the deaths of every baby who died within a year of birth in Flanders between August 1999 and July 2000. The results of a survey on the causes of death were stark: paediatricians who responded to the survey admitted they had taken "end of life" decisions in more than half the cases. Most commonly, that involved withholding or withdrawing treatment because physicians believed the baby had no real chance of survival or the baby had no chance of a "bearable future".

In 40 cases, opiate pain killers were used in doses with a potentially life-shortening affect. In 17 cases, a lethal dose or lethal drugs were administered. Overall, the research yielded information on 253 out of the total of 298 infant deaths in the region over the period. The lethal doses of painkillers, which broke Belgian law, were mainly administered to babies less than a week old.

Most were premature babies with severe congenital malformations or handicaps and what was described as a poor quality of life, or very premature babies with severe brain damage. Four fifths of the doctors who completed an "attitudinal survey" agreed that "the task of the physician sometimes involves the prevention of unnecessary suffering by hastening death".

The Lancet introduces this piece via (emphasis added):

End-of-life decisions for critically ill infants Physicians are increasingly confronted with end-of-life decisions concerning critically ill babies and infants. Veerle Provoost and colleagues report that more than half of deaths among critically ill neonates and infants in a study in Belgium involved physicians making end-of-life decisions. The study also shows how three-quarters of physicians believe that making end-of-life decisions was a necessary part of their work. . . .

Did Hitler really win World War II after all?


Tom Maguire has very important updates and perspective as well on Ken Mullinax.

And there may be more than the usual enmity between Mr. Mullinax and Republicans - in the last week of the 2004 race, Dem candidate Bill Fuller's house (which doubled as campaign HQ) caught fire.  Per this story the police did not immediately see anything suspicious about the fire, and I have seen no follow-up; however, some local Dems suspected foul play. . . .

So, my questions for the nephew, Mr. Mullinax. . . .

Last fall, prior to the election, there were some Democrats who were concerned that Bill Fuller may have been the victim of foul play.  Was his house fire of last October investigated to your satisfaction?  Did you then, and do you now hold the view that your candidate may have been attacked by a fringe right wing group?

I imagine my point is obvious.  Trust, but verify. . . .

The local LaGrange paper provides a more balanced view.

Straight Up with Sherri has lots more - scroll around.  And here is an interesting comment, from which I excerpt this:

The details are many, but in short, the grandmother is not being denied anything, but refuses herself to eat (there never was a feeding tube).

Worth noting - according to Mr. Mullinax, Mae Magouirk has a hereditary ailment that hospitalized her sister (his mother) in 2002 (and she is not well now); it may well be that she is quite familiar with her care options and prognosis, and has been clear about her wishes in discussions with the granddaughter.

UPDATE:  I am going to come up aces on this.  We have exchanged e-mails; Mr. Mullinax ducked my specific question about Hilliard and Fuller, but told me that he was an aide to Paul "Bear" Bryant and Gov. George Wallace (Dem.) and has been a public servant in Birmingham and Washington for many years.  I have sent off a  follow-up asking Mr. Mullinax if he could focus on a yes/no response to my seemingly simple questions - did he work for Ike Hilliard and Bill Fuller?

Time will tell.

Read the whole thing.


Wizbang! is on the story also with a different take than Maguire.

I just spend 20+ minutes speaking to Kenneth Mullinax, who is the nephew of Mae Magouirk. . . .

Here are some things you probably don't know unless you have followed the story closely.

• Mae Magouirk can (could) eat on her own. (to a point) Ken and his family have been feeding her Jello and she can swallow water. The problem is that she can not get enough nourishment to heal without the feeding tube.

• As of Monday she was asking if she could go home. She is (was) far from a vegetative state. The lack of food has however caused her to become "not lucid lately" as Ken put it. Earlier in the week she recognized and greeted all the members of her family who went to visit.

• David Gives [see comments below -- Ed.], who was the lead attorney in the Schiavo case, has volunteered his services.

Meanwhile, is she receiving hydration and nutrition. . . ?