A Cup of Water

Dana Cody

As this issue of Lifeline is being prepared for publication it is just days after the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Because of Roe we have an entire generation emotionally invested in seeing that abortion remains legal. For the individuals persuaded by Roe to “terminate a pregnancy,” to even imagine that Roe and its death ethic could be overturned is to acknowledge their part in an unspeakable holocaust.

Another holocaust is in its early stages, mounted once again in the name of privacy and choice. This choice is the right to refuse medical treatment. This sounds harmless until you remember that the partakers of Roe are legislators, judges, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and bioethicists who have a sphere of influence in which they can persuade families to pursue the death ethic when the use of life-sustaining treatment is in dispute, even where providing such treatment may be medically suitable. LLDF receives call after call for help in just such situations. In providing legal advice in response to the calls where cessation of treatment will result in hastened and forced death, we have learned that it is the standard of care in the medical community to remove nutrition and hydration from individuals, even in cases where providing such “treatment” is wanted and medically appropriate.

In point of fact, using the term “life-sustaining treatment” to describe administering foods and fluids via a feeding tube demonstrates that the death ethic has already permeated our culture.

Those who live by the death ethic decry legal intervention to save the life at issue and claim they want to leave the “private decision” to the family. Slowly but surely those emotionally invested in the death ethic facilitate the growth of the new victim class. We believe that is what is being attempted in the case of Terri Schiavo. (1)

The guests at our annual dinner sat in stunned silence after viewing a videotape of Terri, which clearly shows Terri is conscious, interactive and struggling to live. LLDF is doing its best to see that Terri does not become the next disabled person to join the new victim class.

One LLDF case that didn’t receive the national notoriety of Schiavo was that of the hospitalized elderly man who told his grandson he was thirsty. Because the elderly gentleman’s feeding tube had been removed, his grandson had to quench his thirst by repeatedly moistening a paper towel so that grandpa could suck water out of it. This continued for thirty minutes while his grandson, the only family member who did not want the feeding tube removed, held the towel in place. It is because of cases like that of the elderly grandfather that LLDF has resolved to stick to our motto, “No case is too small.” Grandpa wasn’t concerned that his case receives national notoriety or set precedent to save others—he just wanted a cup of water.

15 years ago LLDF was established to provide innocent and helpless human beings of any age a trained and committed voice against the threat of death, and to support their advocates in the courtroom. LLDF will continue in their resolve to help these individuals until they are no longer calling for help.

We know we couldn’t do it without you.