A Life Hanging By Judicial Thread

January 31, 2008 09:00 AM
Lauren Richardson is 23 years of age and, due to a heroin overdose, is now in a persistent vegetative state. At the time of the overdose Lauren was expecting a baby, and reports indicate that she was "kept alive" to allow her to give birth, which she did in February of last year. Her daughter is now about to celebrate her first birthday, but Lauren may never have another birthday.

Of interest is that during the pregnancy Lauren is reported to have remained alive because she was on "feeding tubes and a breathing machine." Today Lauren has a feeding tube only. Her father argues that she has made progress since those early days and that she is doing a little better.

But there is a struggle going on regarding whether or not Lauren will live or die.

Lauren's case is more than a sad commentary on the plight of a family battling over what each of her parents believe would be in her best interest. Her story is a testimony to the growing philosophy in this country that some, because of their condition, are better off dead than alive. The question does not revolve around her life but more about what she would have wanted others to do in the event that she became someone unable to communicate her wishes.

Like Terri Schiavo before her, Lauren is not dying nor is she in a terminal condition. She has been diagnosed as someone in a "persistent vegetative state," someone who is very much alive but locked in her body and unable to express her desires to anyone. The only thing Lauren is relying on is a feeding tube without which she will starve to death. And as we know, the provision of nutrition and hydration is not a form a medical treatment but part of the human, compassionate care that should be provided to anyone regardless of their condition.

But Lauren's mother, who is Lauren's guardian, wants the feeding tube removed while Lauren’s father is fighting to keep Lauren alive.

We hope that in the interest of respecting Lauren's dignity as a human being whose future improvement or lack thereof is known only to God, the courts will listen carefully to those who argue in favor of Lauren's right to life. It is a tragedy beyond description when any human being's fate rests solely on the subjective opinion of others, some of whom truly believe that patients like Lauren have no "quality of life" and therefore are better off dead.

We are not suggesting that Lauren's mother has that belief but we do feel strongly that there are pressures on this woman that have resulted in her quest to her daughter's feeding tube removed. This family is in our prayers. Please keep them in yours as well.

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