Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bush vs Bush – The Hypocrisy Continued

In 1999, Governor George W. Bush signed the “Texas Futile Care Law,” which allowed hospitals to withdraw life support from patients, over the objections of the family, if they consider the treatment to be nonbeneficial.

Sun Hudson, a six-month-old boy with a fatal congenital disease, died Thursday after a Texas hospital, over his mother's objections, withdrew his feeding tube. The child was apparently certain to die, but was conscious. The hospital simply decided that it had better things to do than keeping the child alive, and the Texas courts upheld that decision after the penniless mother failed, during the 10-day window provided for by Texas law, to find another institution willing to take the child .

Today, the family of Spiro Nikolouzos is fighting to keep the St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital from turning off his life support. This 68-year-old grandfather is kept alive by a ventilator, a feeding tube, and an emergency appeals court order. His life support could be cut off at any moment. A nursing home is willing to take him if his family can show that he will be covered by Medicaid after his Medicare runs out. Otherwise, the hospital gets to pull the plug.

Meanwhile, the Terri Schiavo case in Florida gets the big national exposure. For 15 years, this woman has been in a persistent vegetative state without any hope of recovery. Her husband has insisted that his wife did not wish to be kept alive under artificial conditions. Her parents, however, have other ideas.

A Republican-lead Congress has decided to push federal legislation aimed at specifically at prolonging the Florida woman's life. On Saturday, President George W. Bush announced that he would cut short his vacation to sign this new bill.

Hypocrisy is alive and well in the Bush administration. George W. Bush was willing to pull the plug on the terminally ill in Texas, but is now adamant about preserving the life of a woman that’s been in a vegetative state for 15 years. I don’t pretend to know all the details on this extremely complicated, emotionally-charged situation, but I can’t help but think that this is political grandstanding in the worst possible form.

Mark A. R. Kleiman blog summary

Houston Chronicle news story on Spiro Nikolouzos

The Texas Futile Care Law
E.P. Sunday, March 20, 2005