No one here can forget the spectacle made over the death of Terri Schiavo, whose brain had died long, long ago. But in Texas, the law George W. Bush signed as governor allows doctors to inform the family that further treatment is hopeless (and costly) and Pull the Plug. Literally.
In the latest case to escape the Culture of Life warriors, Tirhas Habtegiris, a young woman and legal immigrant from Africa, was CONSCIOUS and responsive when removed from a respirator and allowed to die.
Let me rephrase that: She was killed by doctors who removed the ventilator keeping her alive. And this action was fully legal under Bush's "economic considerations" law. Her body was ravaged by cancer, but she was alert. She was responsive.
"They handed me this letter on December 1st. and they said, we're going to give you 10 days so on the 11th day, we're going to pull it out," said her brother Daniel Salvi.
Salvi was stunned to get this hand-delivered notice invoking a complicated and rarely used Texas law where a doctor is "not obligated to continue" medical treatment ....
She wasn't white. Politicians did not speculate on her diagnosis via video tape. Conservative religious zealots did not picket the hospital. She didn't have insurance. Ventilator treatment is expensive. Baylor did not want to incur any more expenses. So they removed a conscious woman from a respirator.
THIS is the true face of "compassionate conservatism" and of the phony "culture of life". They don't give a rat's ass, as long as the insurance will pay the bill. No insurance? Good-bye, you die.
...Tirhas still responded and was conscious. She was waiting one person.
"She wanted to get her mom over here or to get to her mom so she could die in her mom's arms," says her cousin Meri Tesfay.
Ten days was not enough time, they say, to get a mother from Africa to America.
The family and hospital desperately tried to get Tirhas moved to a nursing home but they say no one would take her.
"A fund issue is what I understand. Because she is not insured and that was the major reason the way I understood it," Salvi said.
A statement from Baylor Plano disputes that and says the hospital did its best to comply with the family's wishes in every way.
Still, on the 11th day, Tirhas Habtegiris was taken off the respirator and died.
This infuriates me. They made such a huge deal over Terri Shiavo, over whether or not she would have wanted it. This girl did NOT want it, she was able to say it out loud, she was fully alert and conscious, and they wouldn't even wait for her to be able to see her mother one last time? I'm at a loss for words.