Monday, March 21, 2005

Where's the consistency?

Pursuant to state law, the doctors pulled little Sun Hudson's breathing tube Tuesday. The 6-month-old, born with arms, legs, and lungs that were too small due to dwarfism, wiggled in his mother's arms, gasped for a few breaths, and died.

The physicians at Texas Children's Hospital told Sun's mother, Wanda Hudson, time and again that his condition was incurable, that her son would never be able to live free of tubes, that it was only a matter of time until his inevitable death arrived. She refused to believe them, hoping beyond hope that something, someone, anything could save her son. Forty other hospitals declined to offer care to Sun, saying further treatment would be pointless. To the very end, Hudson pleaded with hospital officials not to pull the plug on her baby. They did it anyway.

Hospital staffers had the legal right to remove Sun's breathing tube due to a 1999 Texas law signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush. The law allows doctors to end a patient's care when a hospital ethics committee finds that further treatment would be futile, even if the patient's family objects. Under the law, family members get 10 days after a committee's futility finding to try to find another hospital to accept their loved one, but if they can't find a willing facility, or if they can't pay for the treatment, the plug gets pulled, no matter how vigorously the family disagrees.

Where was Bush's "presumption in favor of life" when he signed that law? Where were the defenders of Terri Schiavo when Sun's life was on the line last week? Where were the years of impassioned legal appeals on Sun's behalf? Where was the emergency, last-minute congressional intervention before Sun breathed his last?

Wanda Hudson just lost her son. She'd like some answers.


Blogger SJ said...

The 'emergency Congressional intervention' came to appease the religious right that seems to be ruling our country through the mouthpiece of our president.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Rurality said...

I had not heard of that story - thanks for the link.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous the Free Voice said...

You said it best in a previous post: "both parties are tossing around the Schiavo situation like a political football".

I do not trivialize this matter, my family suffered a loss in a similar manner a few years ago, minus the legal battle.

While I see nothing wrong with prolonging life, there is a limit as to how far you should go. What is the point in dragging the life of someone who does not know they are living it and have no hope of returning?

With the Sun Hudson case, the hospital should have allowed the media to see him per the mother's wishes, albeit without turning it into a media circus. If Sun could truly have never lived free of tubes and would have died on his own long before he could actually know what living was, I have to support the hospital's actions. It is sad and unfortunate, but we are not all given the same amount of time on this earth.

With the Shiavo case, I understand why the husband feels his wife should be allowed to die, but I do not understand why he refuses to allow her parents to carry the burden of keeping her body alive. There is obviously a despute as to what her wishes would be, and we'll probably never really know as the people that were closes to her can't agree.

I have to say, I'm troubled by the phrase "keeping her alive", as I can't really think of Shiavo's current vegetative state as living.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous the Free Voice said...

Sharp Knife has a great post on this:


12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wha? Michael Schiavo not evil? Must be lies!


12:38 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Free Voice, I largely agree with your first comment. Life should be the top priority in these kinds of situations, but I have to wonder whether a woman with a liquified cerebral cortex really experiences anything remotely similar to life as we know it.

Sharp Knife's post isn't great; it's just another attempt to use a tragic situation, as Tom DeLay and Harry Reid did, as a battering ram against one's political opponents. I see no reason to praise that.

WN, I have to wonder why Michael Schiavo would subject himself to so many years of intense public scorn when he could have just divorced his wife a long time ago and forgotten all about her. Lots of commentators who've spent as much time with him as I have -- none -- are quick to say it's because he's selfish and greedy and doesn't want the inconvenience of a divorce. Who knows? Maybe they're right. But maybe, just maybe, he's willing to endure the scrutiny and hatred because he still actually loves his wife and wants to see her final wish carried out.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as the money thing goes, there's relatively none left. Michael Schiavo's lawyers (and his in laws') stopped accepting payments years ago. And that malpractice settlement wasn't all that big to begin with.

I think that this is just a really complicated affair - one that does not easily lend itself to today's snap judgments and sound bytes. The only clear thing is that this is a private, personal affair that should have been left up to a family to decide - not the federal government.


5:54 PM  
Anonymous the Free Voice said...

"Life should be the top priority in these kinds of situations, but I have to wonder whether a woman with a liquified cerebral cortex really experiences anything remotely similar to life as we know it."

That was the point I was hoping to get across.

11:30 AM  

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