The right wing media has been awash in the story of Mae Magouirk, an 81 year old woman who was checked into a hospice by her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, who claimed she had power of attorney and requested for her not to receive any nourishment or treatment. This followed a recent heart problem which had Magouirk in intensive care. Other family members intervened and went to court to insure that the woman would receive nourishment and treatment, arguing that she was not terminally ill, not in a coma, and that her own living will specified that nourishment was only to be withheld if she was comatose or vegitative. Now, operating under the assumption that what is being reported in the Worldnutdaily is correct – and I know that’s risky given their penchant for reporting false and exaggerated stories – there are some major differences between this and the Schiavo case that demand a different result.
First, if the grandmother really has a living will that says that nourishment and treatment are only to be withdrawn if she is in a coma or vegitative state, and she’s not in there currently, then that really is the end of the issue. The patient’s wishes, clearly stated in writing, are all that matter. Second, if Gaddy really did check her in to a hospice knowing what her living will said, and misrepresented her power of attorney (the article states that the hospice withdrew treatment based on that authority, but it turns out that she only had a financial power of attorney, not medical power of attorney), it is not unreasonable for her to be brought up on charges, perhaps even attempted murder. The hospice that she was admitted to should also be investigated for failing to follow the law.
WND is now reporting that the woman has been airlifted from the hospice to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, where she is being given nourishment, cardiac and neurological attention. If the facts being reported are correct (and yes, that’s a big “if”), that is the correct result. But people should bear in mind the critical distinctions between this case and Terri Schiavo. Every relevant issue is the opposite of what it was with Terri – she’s not vegetative or even comatose, and her clearly expressed wishes were to be kept alive and treated in this circumstance. If those things are true, then I don’t care who it is who wants to change it – a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend, or the government – the case is closed. And anyone who seeks to have the patient’s expressed wishes violated is guilty, if not of breaking the law, at least of moral bankruptcy.