Saving Emilio

Should the state be allowed to pull the plug on your family without your consent?

This is a scary question that’s getting more and more attention lately, as states and hospital corporations are increasingly looking to cut costs and unplug people they deem “futile.”

It’s downright Nazi-istic, and we are called to fight this every step of the way.

Texas is a state that has been particularly loathsome in this area. They have a law (signed by allegedly “pro-life” governor of Texas, George W. Bush) called the “Futile Care Law,” which takes the individual liberty away from the family, and allows hospital corporations to unplug you (against the wishes of the family) if they deem you “futile.” This is way too much power in the hands of corporations, and it strips life-and-death decisions from the family in order to kill people and free up hospital resources.

In an unprecedented perversion of American tradition, Texas is saying “Take my liberty, and give me death!”

Monday I signed an affidavit affirming the dignity of those on life support and had it notarized and faxed. That’s where I’ve been….

Here is the press release on this case:

March 20, 2007

Contacts: Diane Coleman & Stephen Drake
(708)209-1500, exts. 11 & 29; 708-420-0539 (cell)
Bob Kafka
512-431-4085 (cell)

National Disability Group Supports Efforts to Save Emilio Gonzalez
Activist Nick Dupree provides affidavit about the dignity of life as a ventilator user

Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group, is strongly supporting efforts to save the life of Emilio Gonzales, a seriously ill infant whose life may end on Friday, March 20 under the infamous Texas “futility law.”

The Texas chapter of Not Dead Yet has been part of the effort to overturn the current draconian “futility” statute in Texas – an effort that has been effectively stonewalled by the special interests of medical facilities, medical professionals and bioethicists.

Unfortunately, reversing the latest implementation of this statute can’t wait for a change in the law. Emilio Gonzales, who is 16 months old, will die next week when the Children’s Hospital of Austin removes him from a ventilator.

Attorney Jerri Ward, representing Emilio’s mother Catarina Gonzales, is moving on multiple legal fronts to prevent the implementation of the impending death sentence. Today, she filed for a Temporary Restraining Order against the hospital to prevent the planned removal of Emilio’s
ventilator. She has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and has claimed that the hospital’s actions represent unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to news reports, Emilio’s use of a ventilator lacks “dignity” and merely “prolongs death,” according to the ethics committee at Children’s Hospital.

A powerful affidavit submitted by disability activist Nick Dupree contests those characterizations of life on a ventilator. 26-year-old Dupree has been on a ventilator since he was 13 years old.

“I do not consider living with a ventilator a burden that makes my life unworthy of being lived. I do not, and have never, considered it an assault on my human dignity and person,” says Dupree in his affidavit. Dupree also writes about his brother Jamie. Doctors wanted to “give up” on
Jamie when he was 12 months old and intubated. Due to his mother’s insistence, Jamie was given a tracheostomy and sent home on a ventilator. Jamie is 22 years old now.

It’s a good thing there were no “futility laws” enabling doctors to overrule Jamie’s mother when he was 12 months old.

Not Dead Yet opposes futility laws as an unconstitutional denial of due process, purportedly authorizing state sponsored medical killing. “We need to get rid of the futility law threatening the life of Emilio Gonzales and others like him in Texas,” said Diane Coleman, president of the
group. “Any theory that the ethics committee procedure satisfies due process requirements is ludicrous.”


UPDATE: the hospital has granted a stay of execution until April 10.
Read more here.

That we fight for those on the margins is incredibly important, more important than I can adequately put into words.