Tuesday, February 19, 2008

False Compassion

False Compassion by Bobby Schindler

This month the sad case of Lauren Richardson made headlines. The similarities between her situation and my sister Terri Schiavo's are striking and deeply disturbing. Lauren suffered a profound brain injury in 2006, leaving her dependent on others for her care. Like Terri, she is not hooked up to machines, is not comatose and is unquestionably very much alive.

As in Terri's case, a judge, based on hearsay evidence that this is Lauren's wish, has decided to err on the side of death and starve and dehydrate this young woman until she dies. The judge is also convinced that Lauren is in the often wrongly diagnosed (and offensively named) condition known as "persistent vegetative state" (PVS). Unfortunately, some in the media have already begun their campaign to justify Lauren's needless and heartless dehydration.For example, recently on the Fox News Channel program "Hannity & Colmes," co-host Alan Colmes incorrectly referred to this brain-injured girl as being "brain dead" — a tactic often used by dehydration supporters in the mainstream media to dehumanize Terri throughout her ordeal.

As was the case with my sister, you will soon undoubtedly see the media drumbeat begin: "Just allow this woman to die," in order to somehow convince the general public that it is "right" to "end this poor woman's suffering." (Never mind the statement's inherent contradiction: if she is truly unconscious, she is not suffering.) However, Lauren is not dying, does not have a terminal disease and her brain injury is not killing her. Just like the estimated tens of thousands of persons in similar conditions, Lauren is only being sustained by the same thing we all need to live — food and water. And there is a loving father willing and wanting to care for his daughter.