A Delaware father is fighting his ex-wife, the medical establishment and the court system for the life of his 23-year-old daughter, left brain-damaged by a 2006 drug overdose, in a case with striking parallels to the 2005 death of Terri Schiavo in Florida.
“She’s committed no crime and doesn’t deserve to have this death imposed on her,” Randy Richardson told the Wilmington, Del., News Journal of his daughter, Lauren Marie Richardson.
She was injured by a drug overdose in 2006 and has never recovered fully from the brain damage she suffered, he said. Court records reveal she was pregnant at the time and was kept on feeding tubes and a breathing machine in Christiana Hospital until her baby girl was born in February 2007.
She’s no longer in need of the breathing machine, and now a court order has been issued, and appealed, that could allow the removal of her feeding tube, and her resulting death, the newspaper reported.
The Schiavo case, on which WND reported exhaustively, ended in March 2005 when Terri died, despite a battle by her parents to overturn a court order allowing the same treatment, the removal of her feeding tube.
A priest who was with Terri Schiavo during her final hours in this life later told WND society has it all wrong ? because it does not understand the difference between a futile treatment and a futile life.
Father Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life, said even healthy people, if brain-injured, are in danger under the current precedent of cases.
“Terry left no indication that she wanted to be deprived of food and water. Yet the courts insisted that this happen. Nor was Terri lacking a family ready to care for her, without complaint. Yet they were not allowed to,” he said.
The courts gave permission to her husband, who was living with another woman, to order doctors to withhold food and water from her.
“Many people fear that they will be given all kinds of machines and medicines against their will,” Pavone told WND. “What they should fear is exactly the opposite, namely, that even when they indicate that they want appropriate treatments, these will be denied them.
“Laws vary from state to state,” he said, “but one of the most dangerous flaws in the law is that which considers food and water to be ‘medical treatment’ rather than ordinary human care. When we return from a meal, we don’t say that we just ‘returned from our latest medical treatment,’” he said.
In the new case in Delaware, a court last week awarded guardianship of the 23-year-old to her mother, Edith Towers, who has told the newspaper her daughter would want artificial life support ended.
Randy Richardson, meanwhile, has filed an appeal of the ruling from Master Sam Glasscock III of Delaware Court of Chancery giving that guardianship to Towers.
Randy Richardson told the newspaper the daughter he once knew is no longer there, and she did not leave any documentation of her desires in such circumstances, but he maintains she has made progress, no longer needing a ventilator, and could be able respond further at some point, with time and therapy.
“We just want to give her a chance,” he said.
He and the Delaware Pro-life Coalition recently documented her response and reaction to family members while being cared for at a nursing home.
Randy Richardson said his desire is to take his daughter home and let her live whatever is left of her life in dignity.
The mother, through her attorney, declined comment except for a statement describing the situation as “painful” and “very sad and very private.”
But in court records the mother testified her daughter told her she never wanted to be left hooked up to life support, the newspaper said.
Richardson, who was divorced from Towers when their daughter was young, however, disputes that. And he said his ex-wife never talked about the alleged statements before she filed for guardianship.
Glasscock concluded that the mother’s testimony was “clear and convincing” and the medical evidence concludes the 23-year-old is “in a persistent vegetative state” and that “no improvement ? can be expected.”
“When is society going to realize that God is the Creator and He will decide when it is our time to go?” asked “bruinsb” on the newspaper forum. “Let’s do as Jesus commanded us to do and ‘love one another.’”
“Didn’t we learn our lesson from the Terri Schiavo case? She was dehydrated to death and it all unfolded during Passion Week leading up to Easter Sunday?,” he continued.
Judie Brown, of the American Life League, the case was a “sad commentary” on the plight of the family members battling over the woman’s “best interests.”
“Her story is a testimony to the growing philosophy in this country that some, because of their condition, are better off dead than alive,” Brown said. “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.
“This family is in our prayers. 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 court 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,” she said.
WorldNetDaily has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002 ? far longer than most other national news organizations ? and exposing the many troubling, scandalous, and possibly criminal, aspects of the case that to this day rarely surface in news reports. Read WorldNetDaily’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of the life-and-death fight over Terri Schiavo, including over 150 original stories and columns.