Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Culture of life or culture of politics

Spiro Nikolouzos has been diagnosed in a persistent vegetative state since 2001.  A patient at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, he is ventilator-dependent and receives artificial nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube.  On March 7, the Houston Chronicle reported that St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital had invoked the Texas Advance Directive Act and determined that further treatment would be medically inappropriate and would be discontinued in 10 days unless another facility agreed to accept his transfer.

Since then, the Nikolouzos case has bounced from trial court to one Houston appellate court and then to another Houston appellate court and back to trial court.  The bottom line (as reported in Friday's Houston Chronicle) is that the patient's family has been given until Wednesday to produce proof that a hospital or nursing home has agreed to accept Mr. Nikolouzos.  Failing that, it would the hospital's prerogative under the Texas statute to discontinue life-support against the interest of the family.

The Texas law that allows hospitals to cease life-support against the interest of the family if the family is unable to pay was signed into law by then-Governor George Bush. Today, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has sought an independent medical opinion to justify new legislative action in the matter of Terri Schiavo.

We have headed into uncharted and dangerous waters here. As suggested in How dare you, Joe, political leaders are heading off the deep end in search of what they perceive to be political advantage. I am a cynic you suggest Judge DeLay? It is sincere pursuit of the culture of life, you say? The family of Spiro Nikolouzos is united in wanting him kept on life support. They are in your home state of Texas. Where are you when his life is in question.

I am steadfast. Our political leaders have no business in this domain.

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