GOP ignores Texas right-to-die cases

A Houston hospital, acting on a law passed by Gov. Bush, is pulling the life support on a sick newborn.

Published May 3, 2005 2:46PM (EDT)

For now the White House, Rep. Tom DeLay and Sen. Bill Frist are remaining silent, but officials at a Texas hospital are preparing to take a sick newborn baby off life support, and are doing it over the parents' strong objections. The hospital's actions are legal, thanks to a state law signed into existence by then Gov. George W. Bush.

According to the Houston Chronicle, "Memorial Hermann Hospital has decided to remove from life support a 6-month-old girl whose leukemia has spread to her brain. The case is the third in Houston this spring to publicly test a 1999 state law that allows hospitals to discontinue treatment in futile cases 10 days after notifying loved ones of their intentions. The others involved a 6-month-old boy with a fatal form of dwarfism and a 68-year-old man in a persistent vegetative state."

After the newborn, Knya Dismuke-Howard, experienced a relapse in her leukemia, as well as other serious complications, "Memorial Hermann's ethics committee met Thursday and decided further care would be futile. They plan to discontinue treatment except for pain relief May 8."

"If you saw our daughter, you'd know why we have hope," the girl's mother told the Chronicle. "She's fully aware -- she opens her eyes when we enter the room and makes facial expressions, like moving her eyebrows or pouting. She's a trouper."

The paper reports, "The families delayed both [of the earlier] cases by appealing them to the courts, and in that time the wife of the man found a San Antonio nursing home to take him. The boy died after Texas Children's Hospital unplugged his respirator."

Sound familiar? Of course, it was Bush, DeLay and Frist who sprang into action during the Terri Schiavo controversy, passing midnight legislation in order to make sure every possible action was done to keep Schiavo alive, and to do it over the strident objections of her husband. Apparently scared off by the polling data that showed the GOP's right-to-life stand to be a loser, and reluctant to embarrass Bush in his own backyard of Texas, conservative right-to-life proponents are going to ignore these happenings in the Lone Star State.

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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