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Wednesday night I was surprised by a guest — the mother of an infant on a ventilator (search) in a Texas hospital. I was surprised in that it appeared to me — and to everyone who whose e-mail I have read thus far — that the woman is, to put it politely, "troubled." But, if there is a silver lining, it is in the justice system, which I am prone to have some not so nice thoughts about. I am impressed with the way the Texas courts are currently treating her problem and treating her. There is no good, or perfect answer, but the court is trying.
For those of you who did not see the segment, the mother's baby has been on a ventilator since his birth in September. The hospital and doctors say there is no hope for the infant and would like to remove the life support. The doctors say the baby will then die. The "troubled" mother believes her baby just needs water.
The hospital has gone from court to court to ask that it be able to remove the ventilator. The trial court said yes. The mother believed that the hearing in the trial court was unfair and incomplete. I have no idea whether she is right or not. She then went to the court of appeals to challenge that order. It would be "easy" for the appeals court to simply rubber stamp the trial court and affirm the decision - especially when the mother may be a difficult litigant. Instead the court of appeals has put a "hold" on the trial court's decision until it can give the matter full consideration which could be very soon.
What I much appreciated about the hospital, and the two courts — regardless of their decisions — is that they are carefully weighing the matter. They are not simply dismissing her because she is "troubled" and saying what are very odd things. They are granting her dignity and listening to her — even if in the end they rule against her. (To put it crudely, and not to make a direct reference to her, disturbed people have rights and are entitled to dignity. We need to be ever more vigilant to protect the rights of those who may not be able to protect themselves.)
The courts are also protective of a baby — who can't talk and ask for help. They are protective in that they are carefully weighing a decision that could be irreversible. The hospital is also to be admired — the hospital wants to do what is right and is asking a court for guidance and direction.
There is no great, or perfect answer in this very tragic situation, but it is worth noting our system DOES work when full dignity is given to all parties and when full consideration is also given to all parties. In a perfect world, a magic wand could fix this poor baby and help this poor mother. We don't live in that perfect world.
Her lawyer is also doing a good job. The mother needs an ally, and needs an advocate. The lawyer is standing by her. I have no idea what the lawyer thinks about the case, the mother, the future of the baby, but his job is to be her advocate. You may wonder why he is standing by her — that is his job. I am sure that the court is very pleased she has a lawyer — the job for the judges would be a million times harder if the mother had to represent herself.
Whatever is decided by the court, the judges will be criticized by those who disagree. I hope the critics this time cut the judges some slack.
By the way, I reluctantly post the video from last night's segment on this topic. At first I did not want to post the video because I felt it might not be kind to the mother since she appears very troubled to me. Then I decided otherwise since I think it does show you the difficulty of decisions courts face. Click on the link in the video box above to watch it.
I was also told that the mother was the one generating the publicity on the case and that lawyer was not. I suspect he did our show to help control his client. He does have a "run-away" client. He does not have an easy job at all. [This answers e-mail No. 8 below.]
Frankly, publicity on this case is important — it shows how we as a society handle these life or death matters and also tells others about their rights.
Here are some e-mails, many about another life or death case:
E-mail No. 1
Terri Schiavo (search) is in limbo, not alive but not dead. After so many years, her parents should stop the torture.
E-mail No. 2
I am beside myself over the Terri Schiavo case. How can people treat life with such little regard? Criminals in death penalty cases are given more respect. At least the method of death for them is instantaneous and painless.
E-mail No. 3
As I was writing the last memo, you were interviewing an MD regarding some infant children. All the children he is talking about could without doubt see dramatic improvements in their health primarily because the children are small and fresh bodies that can benefit from the stem cell growth.
Mannatech has a wonderful program to help children of parents who cannot afford treatment of this nature.
This companies products are the future of the health industry however the medical establishment and drug companies will interfere with the progress as much as possible because as you know their program deals with money and not wellness.
Thank you for your kind attention
Dr. Thomas E. Miller DDS
P.S. Greta you have a wonderful position to change the health of America.
E-mail No. 4 — Note: Sun is the baby in the Texas hospital
Your interview with Baby Sun's mother was painful to watch because she is acutely psychotic. Can the doctors of the baby take the mother to court to have her declared incompetent so they can take him off life-support?
Va. Beach, VA
E-mail No. 5
I try to watch your show every night and on the nights when it is impossible, I TiVo it and watch it the next day! Tonight, I was very touched by the interview with the mother who is in conflict with the hospital about their recommendation that her baby be removed from life support. I really want to compliment you on how you handled that mother, Greta. You were very respectful to her and listened to her without judgment. When it was appropriate, you spoke with her attorney but you also treated her with respect.
There may be people who might be quick to judge this mom but I would certainly caution against that. None of us know how we might respond mentally or physically to the reality of a very sick baby and all that comes along with that. I am sure that this poor mom is just devastated after carrying a pregnancy for 9 months and then being faced with all of her hopes and dreams for her little angel not materializing.
Thank you for being patient with her Greta and listening to her respectfully. She really needs it right now and I sure do pray for her and her little baby and that she has the strength to handle whatever happens.
Victoria E. Levie
Baton Rouge, LA
Mother of 2 children
E-mail No. 6
Let me see if I understand this... Her son, Sun, came to her from the Sun that makes the grass grow? And she asked the Sun what her son, Sun, needed to get better? And the Sun said that her son, Sun, would get better by giving him water? Wouldn't that be rain?
That woman should still be in the psychiatric hospital until they determine what kind of drugs she blew her mind on during her pregnancy. I wish you would have asked who was paying the hospital bills.
See you on the television tomorrow!
E-mail No. 7
Congratulations on keeping a straight face while talking to Sun's mother. I don't know how you did it.
ANSWER: It was quite easy for me to grant dignity to his mother. This is a very serious case. It is life or death for this baby and the mother loves the baby.
E-mail No. 8
I know you are a lawyer, so please don't take offense. Please read past this old joke to get my point regarding the mother's attorney:
Q: What is the difference between a catfish and an attorney?
A: One is a scum-sucking bottom feeder (and the other is a fish).
This sort of joke epitomizes the lawyer who appeared on your show tonight. This man is either very incompetent, or very media-hungry — or probably both. How can any honest professional accept a case such as this? I'm not talking about the issue of the baby on the respirator. I am talking about his obviously mentally-ill client. This woman has no case to present to the court because she is delusional and all of her reasons for maintaining this child's life are incoherent and based on schizophrenic-type delusions. This woman is in no mental position to make competent and compassionate decisions for her son and her attorney knows this. Someone should have her declared incompetent and appoint a guardian ad-litem for her child.
But what really stymies me is why this scum sucker would allow his client to appear on your show and make a spectacle of herself in front of all America. I thought an attorney's job is to PROTECT the client instead of enjoying media exposure at the client's expense!
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