Here I present one recent case in which Life Legal’s intervention saved the life of a patient scheduled for cancellation of appropriate medical care. It’s important to note that, while the case was of vital and unique significance to the patient and his family, and while we at Life Legal always adopt their viewpoint as our own, the patient’s predicament was nothing new to us. As a matter of fact, having brought this intervention to a successful conclusion, we are now involved in five more-or-less similar cases. Such is the count as I write these lines. By the time you read them, it is almost certain that more cases will have been added to our total.
La Dondrous “Don” Green is a 68-year-old man who, in July of this year, was a patient at Kaiser Permanente in Riverside, California. Though he suffered from many underlying health challenges, his primary diagnosis was severe sepsis with organ dysfunction. As part of his treatment, he underwent dialysis three times a week.
Eventually, following protocols all too common in such institutions, the hospital determined that dialysis, which was absolutely necessary for Don’s continued existence, should be accounted as “non-beneficial treatment.” In other words, the patient was sentenced to death. His wife, Rebecca Green, reached out to Life Legal. That’s when we intervened to save Don’s life.
Life Legal affiliated attorney Sadie Daniels took immediate action — and engaged the assistance of medical experts who were not subject to the convoluted mandates of the hospital’s “ethics” committee. The hospital itself was sufficiently impressed with these efforts that it refrained from disregarding the legal issues involved. Hearings were scheduled in Riverside Superior Court.
As is typical in such cases, these procedures advanced on a tight, almost frantic schedule. So when I say that eventually Don’s legal team scored a victory, the word “eventually” has to be understood in context. Sadie Daniels had to act fast.
Don’s dialysis was rescheduled. Don’s “DNR status” was reassigned to “full code” — which means that all ordinary actions would be taken to preserve his life. Eventually, being a military veteran, Don was transferred to a V.A. facility whose ethics committee didn’t need to be persuaded to keep him alive.
Sometimes, people who are pro-life on abortion ask me why Life Legal spends so much time and effort on cases like Don’s. After all, they suggest, Don is elderly and burdened with numerous medical complaints. He’s going to “die anyway.” I answer that we’re all going to die anyway. I’m going to die anyway. You’re going to die anyway. As soon as we juggle away the transcendent value of human life with formulations such as “die anyway,” we undermine our capacity to defend children threatened with abortion.