Monday, March 21, 2005


It's still hypocrisy

I wasn't going to blog about Terri Schiavo now that the weekend is over, but Malkin wants to debunk this meme so badly, I figured a couple more points ought to be made.
Tom Maguire beats me to the punch in dissecting this popular new meme. Read his entire reality check.
Maguire raises some interesting questions, but I'm not sure he settles the matter.

To make a long story short, Maguire claims that
No evidence at all is presented that the decision in the case of Sun Hudson was made based on finances; none of the newspaper accounts linked by Mr. Kleiman refer to the mother's insurance status at all. The entire basis for this accusation seems to be the comment made by the Chief Medical Officer at St. Luke' discussing the Spiro Nikolouzos case...
Here's a legal brief that seems to support this view about the Texas Futile Care Law. The CMO was probably referring to money as a reason that no hospitals would accept Mr. Nikolouzos, which invoked the "10-day rule" under the law.According to LeanLeft, to whom Malkin also links, the confusion arises from a series of Houston Chronicle articles with headlines like "Decision hinges on patient’s ability to pay."
The truth is, predictably, very different and much more complicated.
Okay, so maybe this is a "bad meme rising", as LeanLeft would have it. However...
Two articles by Leigh Hopper in the Chronicle have painted the respective patients’ cases in emotional terms:
[T]he family of Spiro Nikolouzos fights to keep St. Luke’s from turning off the ventilator and artificial feedings keeping the 68-year-old grandfather alive. . . .

St. Luke’s notified Jannette Nikolouzos in a March 1 letter that it would withdraw life-sustaining care of her husband of 34 years . . .

* * * * * * * * * * *

The baby wore a cute blue outfit with a teddy bear covering his bottom. The 17-pound, 6-month-old boy wiggled with eyes open and smacked his lips, according to his mother.

Then at 2 p.m. today, a medical staffer at Texas Children’s Hospital gently removed the breathing tube that had kept Sun Hudson alive since his Sept. 25 birth. Cradled by his mother, he took a few breaths, and died.

“I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. Inside of me, my son is still alive,” Wanda Hudson told reporters afterward. “This hospital was considered a miracle hospital. When it came to my son, they gave up in six months …. They made a terrible mistake.”
She also insists on quoting the patients’ distraught family members on the question of the patient’s medical status:
Spiro Nikolouzos, a retired electrical engineer for an oil drilling company, has been an invalid since 2001, when he experienced bleeding related to a shunt in his brain. Jannette Nikolouzos, 58, had cared for her husband at their Friendswood home, feeding him via a tube in his stomach. Her husband couldn’t speak, she said, but recognized family members and showed emotion.

On Feb. 10, the area around the tube started bleeding, and Nikolouzos rushed her husband to St. Luke’s for emergency care. Early the next morning, she said, the hospital called and said he had “coded” and stopped breathing and had to be placed on a ventilator.

A neurologist told her, she said, that he is not brain-dead and the part of the brain that controls breathing is still functioning. Although his eyes were open and fixed when he first was placed on the ventilator, he has started blinking, she said. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * *

“I wanted y’all to see my [infant] son for yourself,” Hudson told reporters. “So you could see he was actually moving around. He was conscious.”
Note that in neither of the quotes above is the family member’s statement reflective of medical reality. The fact that a patient with severe neurological damage blinks or moves in no way indicates that the patient is “conscious” or has intact personality or cognitive functions.
Are we spotting any parallels? Maybe with a statement like this?
"We laugh together, we cry together, we smile together, we talk together," Mary Schindler told reporters. "Please, please, please save my little girl."
So where is the outrage, as Mark Kleiman asks? The Texas cases may not be based on their inability to pay, but they're still cases of the plug being pulled over the objections of family members. The question still remains: Why is Terri Schiavo the only one with a prayer vigil outside her care facility?