By Bobby Schindler
On March 18, 2005, my sister, Terri Schiavo, began her thirteen day agonizing death after the feeding tube – supplying her food and water – was removed. Terri was cognitively disabled and had difficulty swallowing and therefore needed a feeding tube. Terri was not on any “life support”, nor was she sick or dying. Nonetheless, she received her death sentence ordered by Circuit Court Judge, George W. Greer of Pinellas County Florida.
Greer’s order to remove Terri’s feeding tube was in response to her estranged husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, requesting permission from the court to kill his disabled wife. This was after Schiavo began cohabitating with his fiancée and stood to inherit Terri’s medical trust fund, which at the time was close to $800,000.
However, more disturbing was that the judge ruled to kill Terri, despite her mother and father pleading with Schiavo, and the court, to allow them to take her home. In fact, a guardian ad litem urged Judge Greer to refuse the dehydration request. Instead, this legally-required protector of Terri was dismissed from the original case by Greer and no replacement was ever appointed.
March 31st marks a very sad day; and this year, it will be the ten year anniversary of Terri’s death. Rush Limbaugh described it this way, “the day our country hit rock bottom”.
Terri’s case divided the nation and it will be discussed in high schools and college medical ethics classrooms for years to come. It is the anniversary of the death of a young woman who simply had a disability and needed basic and ordinary care to live, and a family who wanted to love and care for her just as she was.
With it being the 10 year anniversary, calls from the media have increased. Most of the articles are excoriating Governor Jeb Bush for his defense of Terri when he was the Governor of Florida back in 2005. But I have noticed one question has been asked more than others – “What, if anything, has changed since Terri’s death?”
Yes, things have changed – they’ve gotten worse. Exactly how many persons are being killed like Terri every year is difficult to know, although I think the numbers would shock us. What we do know is that we have a very active and aggressive right to die movement.
There are many dynamics involved to successfully convince our general public that it’s “okay” to dehydrate and starve a human being to death. If I had to point to one of the major accomplishments, it is how the right to die forces have been able to reclassify feeding tubes as “medical treatment”. However, just as effective is how they’ve influenced the masses to buy into the notion that some persons are in fact, not persons. Consequently, these human “non-persons” have no “value” and can be killed.
This should be frightening to read. But it is true. Even more frightening is how this ideology has impacted and been accepted in our culture, in particular, our health care community.
This, along with changes in public policies, now puts life and death decisions in the hands of physicians, hospitals boards and ethics committees – basically strangers – in the place of family members.
After Terri died, my family’s experience, contesting this powerful right to die movement, led us to establish the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, which seeks to raise public awareness of the looming culture of death, and to educate the public about care potentialities. Most importantly, however, is to help families in situations similar to what we experienced – loved ones in danger of being killed, like Terri.
Indeed, the calls from families for help have increased, and increased significantly, as the years have passed.
Why is this? How has the right to die agenda been able to efficaciously shift our attitudes to the point that is has become everyday practice to starve and dehydrate a person to death. The issue may see complex, however it seems to me that the answer is very clear. It is because they lie.
I saw it in my sister’s case and I see it in the stories from the families who call us. And one of the most pathetic lies out there is that killing someone by denying them food and water is a “peaceful” and “painless” experience, and the patently absurd notion that it is a “death with dignity”.
It’s important to differentiate that Terri’s condition, and countless others like her, is quite different from a situation where it may be medically appropriate to withhold food and fluids because a person is actively dying and their bodies are shutting down, no longer able to assimilate their food and hydration.
Nonetheless, the never-ending propaganda about the peaceable nature of forced dehydration compelled me to make public this image of my sister created from my memory. This (right) is what Terri looked like just before she died. It was horrible to see.
And yet, Schiavo’s attorney falsely told the public during a press conference, just days before Terri’s death, that she looked “beautiful”. This is what they want you to believe, not the harsh truth about the madness of what we permit in the rooms of hospitals, nursing homes and hospices every single day across this country.
These are the hard facts my family and I will have to live with for the rest of my life: After almost two weeks without food or water, my sister’s lips were horribly cracked, to the point where they were blistering. Her skin became jaundice with areas that turned different shades of blue. Her skin became markedly dehydrated from the lack of water. Terri’s breathing became rapid and uncontrollable, as if she was outside sprinting. Her moaning, at times, was raucous, which indicated to us the insufferable pain she was experiencing. Terri’s face became skeletal, with blood pooling in her deeply sunken eyes and her teeth protruding forward. Even as I write this, I can never properly describe the nightmare of having to watch my sister have to die this way.
What will be forever seared in my memory is the look of utter horror on my sister’s face when my family visited her just after she died.
Those pushing this agenda will certainly deny this, they have to. But there was a reason the court ordered that no cameras or video be permitted in Terri’s room while she was being killed. They claimed privacy issues. My family knows otherwise. And they do too.
So when will this heartlessness end? When will the lies end? When will the American people decide this insanity has to stop?
I don’t know. But I do know this – the lies will never end.
Full Article & Source:
I Will Never Forget the Look of Horror on My Sister Terri Schiavo’s Face the Day She Died.
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Honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man’s kindness during Christmas had a lasting impact on one family.
The convenience store at 24th and Brooklyn sells canned foods, soda and candy, but the compassion is free.
“We had nothing under the tree, we didn’t decorate our tree or nothing until that day he blessed us,” said Danielle Wrinkle about the store owner, Howard Bettis.
He opened the store because the neighborhood didn’t have one. Rhonda Robinson works there.
“I told Howard she doesn’t have anything for Christmas, and the kids don’t have anything. And just out of the blue he said ‘we are going to adopt them, we are going to adopt them,’” said Robinson.
Full Article, Video & Source:
Pay It Forward: Convenience store owner adopts family over the holidays
BIRMINGHAM, AL–It’s harrowing video from a house fire in Alabama where a young child escaped by jumping from a second story window.
Kerry Jackson is heard in the video, yelling for the child to jump. He caught the dramatic moments before firefighters arrived on camera.
“I really didn’t have an emotion running through me at the time. It was just like I need him, we need him to jump,” said explained.
Jackson’s cousin caught the little boy. They heard another child may be trapped, so they ran to the back. A woman in the video is heard yelling, ‘There’s a child inside.'”
“People’s lives were in danger, people screaming. Everybody in community came together to help one another,” Jackson explained.
Neighbors couldn’t get to one child, but a firefighter did. After giving the child to EMTs, he fell to the ground.
Full Article, Video & Source:
3-Year-Old Jumps From Burning Home
Just blocks from “The Happiest Place on Earth,” in one of the richest counties in America, Demond, Ashley, and their four kids have been living in a cramped, run-down motel room for a year and a half. Between the six of them, they share one bed and one small couch. Surprisingly, they aren’t welfare cases; Demond and Ashley both work full-time at Walmart. But like thousands of other families in Orange County alone, they struggle to save enough to pay the first-month/last-month/security deposit that landlords require. And so they’re stuck.
“It eats up all your money so you can’t afford to move,” says Ashley, “Even if you could afford an apartment of your own, with kids, and the rent, you can’t save any money to do anything except stay here.” To compound the problem, Ashley’s mom had an eviction when Ashley was living with her – a fact that shows up on Ashley’s credit history. So Demond and Ashley pay $1300 a month for the dubious privilege of living in a single motel room where the kids aren’t even allowed by the management to play in the parking lot. For Christmas, they’d like nothing more than to get out of the motel and into a stable home. (Continue Reading)
Full Article, Video & Source:
New hope for motel kids
Alabama cop buys shoplifting grandmother eggs
Dear Brittany Maynard, I Feel You, Cancer is Tough
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It started with a lunch trip to Chick-Fil-A and ended with an unlikely friendship. You might’ve seen a picture floating around Facebook or Twitter of an Independence police officer spending his lunch break with three boys.
Not only has the picture gone viral, much more has developed beyond the lens. Officer Lewis Logan has an important task. He has three tiny people he needs to question.
“Hi. Hi. How are you?” Officer Logan asked.
“Hi Officer Logan,” four-year-old Finley Leiboult said.
Before this week, officer Logan had never met the Leiboult boys.
Full Article, Video & Source:
Impromptu lunch with a police officer turns into a fast friendship for 3 brothers
Do assisted suicide supporters really expect doctors and nurses to be able to assist the suicide of one patient, then go on to care for a similar patient who wants to live, without this having an effect on their ethics or their empathy? Do they realize that this reduces the second patient’s will to live to a mere personal whim—one that society may ultimately see as selfish and too costly?
Right now, twenty-nine-year-old Brittany Maynard is standing on a virtual window ledge, while the crowd below shouts its support for her “right” to jump. She says November 1 will probably be the day she kills herself.
Brittany is a beautiful young newlywed. Tragically, Brittany has a brain tumor that is expected to end her life in the near future. She and her family have moved to Oregon so she can legally take a doctor-prescribed lethal overdose, to avoid the suffering she expects as she approaches death.
Maynard has also joined with “Compassion and Choices” to promote their campaign to legalize physician-assisted suicide throughout the United States. In the last few weeks, C&C’s video telling her story has gone viral and been picked up by news organizations all over the world, including People magazine.
Groups supporting physician-assisted suicide now call the promotion of Ms. Maynard’s story “a tipping point” in their decades-long push to gain public support for changing laws.
A Different Point of View
I am a registered nurse with forty-five years of experience caring for many suicidal people, both personally and professionally. I also lost a beautiful, physically healthy thirty-year-old daughter five years ago to suicide. After a sixteen-year battle with substance abuse, my daughter committed suicide after visiting suicide websites and reading Final Exit by Derek Humphry, the founder of the Hemlock Society (the former name of Compassion and Choices). The medical examiner called my daughter’s suicide “textbook Final Exit.” It was not an easy death for her, or for those of us who loved her.
While I am sure Ms. Maynard is sincere and well-meaning, campaigns like hers can have a devastating impact on vulnerable people like my daughter, and be misused to promote a one-sided debate on legalizing assisted suicide.
Unlike most suicides, assisted suicide involves two parties. It’s worth looking at the impact of this agenda on both of them.
Groups promoting assisted suicide routinely dismiss suicide victims like my daughter as collateral damage, while some even provide how-to instructions that can be accessed by any depressed person. The central focus of the legal agenda is the frail elderly. Consistently, the median age of people taking their lives under Oregon’s assisted suicide law has been seventy-one. Less than 1 percent are under thirty-five years old. And there is a generation gap on this issue. As the Newark Star-Ledger has reported: “A recent poll showed that people over 65 oppose assisted suicide by a 12-point margin while those under 35 support it by 18 points.”
Brittany Maynard’s position is consistent with that of others in her age group. Yet the elderly—the people overwhelmingly affected by these laws—say “No.” They know how hard it can be to convince younger generations that they still have lives worth living and worth respecting. Others who strongly disagree with C&C are the people with disabilities who belong to groups such as Not Dead Yet. Those with disabilities face a great deal of bias from able-bodied people who seem to think people with their conditions are “better off dead.”
Ironies abound in this debate. For example, when a convicted murderer tries to discourage efforts by lawyers to stop his or her execution, this is often considered as a sign of stress or mental disorder, while a sick person’s wish to die is considered an understandable and even courageous decision. How do we reconcile the two views that a lethal overdose is the ultimate punishment for a convicted murderer and, at the same time, the ultimate blessing for an innocent terminally ill or disabled person?
Healing or Harming: What about Those Who “Assist”?
Then there are the medical professionals being called on to “assist.” Few people would seriously consider legalizing friend- or family-assisted suicide. The inherent dangers of this type of private killing are much too obvious. So the goal is to lend this act professional respectability by promoting physician-assisted suicide—or, more accurately, medically assisted suicide, since nurses also are necessarily involved when the assisted suicide occurs in a health facility or home-health situation. Many people are not aware that groups such as C&C oppose conscience rights for medical professionals like me, as well as for hospitals that believe that helping to terminate a life is unethical.
Medical groups such as the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Nurses Association oppose legalization of physician-assisted suicide. The AMA has said that allowing physicians to participate “would cause more harm than good,” observing that “physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
When I worked as a hospice nurse years ago, our guiding principle was that we neither prolong nor hasten dying. I felt great satisfaction helping my patients and their families live as fully and meaningfully as possible until natural death. We nurses not only made sure that our patients were physically comfortable—we also helped with spiritual, emotional, and practical concerns.
Unfortunately, with the help of the media, assisted-suicide groups have had some success trying to convince both medical personnel and the public that natural death is agony and that medically assisted suicide should be a civil right. Yet this drive for totally controlling death profoundly changes the medical system, even for people who may recover or who may live with disabilities—and for patients who would never consider suicide.
The Ethical Impact
Society has long insisted that healthcare professionals adhere to the highest standards of ethics, as a protection for society. Without that clear moral compass, it has been said, the physician is the most dangerous man in society. The vulnerability of a sick person, and the inability of society to monitor every healthcare decision or action, are powerful motivators to enforce such standards. For thousands of years doctors (and nurses) have embraced the Hippocratic standard that “I will give no deadly medicine to any one, nor suggest any such counsel.” Erasing the bright line doctors and nurses have drawn for themselves—which separates killing from caring—is a decision fraught with peril, especially for those who are most vulnerable.
As a nurse, I am willing to do anything for my patients—but I will not kill them nor help them kill themselves. In my work with the terminally ill, I have been struck by how rarely such people say anything like, “I want to end my life.” I have seen the few who do express such thoughts become visibly relieved when their concerns and fears are addressed, instead of finding support for the suicide option. I have yet to see such a patient go on to commit suicide.
This should not be surprising. Many of us have had at least fleeting thoughts of suicide in a time of crisis. Imagine how we would feel if we confided this to a close friend or a relative, who replied, “You’re right. I can’t see any other way out either.” Would we consider this reply as compassionate, or desperately discouraging? The terminally ill or disabled person is no less vulnerable than the rest of us in this respect. And to think that an entire society, through its laws, can give such a response—to you, and to anyone with a similar health condition—may be the ultimate form of suffering.
Do assisted suicide supporters really expect us doctors and nurses to be able to assist the suicide of one patient, then go on to care for a similar patient who wants to live, without this having an effect on our ethics or our empathy? Do they realize that this reduces the second patient’s will-to-live request to a mere personal whim—perhaps, ultimately, one that society will see as selfish and too costly? How does this serve optimal health care, let alone the integrity of doctors and nurses who have to face the fact that we helped other human beings kill themselves?
Stories like Brittany Maynard’s can feed into a society that is fascinated by tragic love stories, but does not understand how such stories are used as propaganda to promote a dangerous political agenda that can affect us all—and our loved ones.
Personally, I will continue to care for people contemplating suicide or who have made an attempt regardless of their age, condition, or socio-economic status. I reject discrimination when it comes to suicide prevention and care. I hope our nation will do so as well.
Nancy Valko, RN, ALNC, is a longtime writer and speaker on medical ethics issues who recently retired from critical care nursing to devote more time to consulting and volunteer work. She is also a spokesperson for the National Association of Pro Life Nurses.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAY/CNN) – Every once in a while in sports the results don’t matter.
Hundreds of cross country runners were in Minnesota for a race, but the winner from the event was someone who didn’t even place, but instead showed compassion for a fellow runner.
Devils Lake senior Melanie Bailey carried an injured and distraught Danielle Lenoue, who runs for Fargo South, across the finish line at the EDC cross country meet at Ponderosa Golf Course near Glyndon.
“I was past the 2-mile mark, I was right around the corner from the finish line,” Lenoue said. “It happened instantly, like I was just running along and felt like a little pop in my knee and down I went. It was that fast.”
Lenoue’s left knee buckled during the race and she injured her patellar tendon.
“Just sobbing and everything, so I just started walking and I stopped cause I couldn’t go any farther and all of a sudden this girl comes up and she grabs my arm and she said ‘here, come on.’” Lenoue said. “And we just started walking and couldn’t walk at all. And she was just like ‘this isn’t working’ and so she said ‘here hop on my back.’ And she bent down, picked me up. She’s like half my size.”