A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge reversed his own ruling, permitting Casey Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, to remove her father’s food and hydration (via feeding tube), which will result in his death by starvation and dehydration. Kasem’s wife of 33 years, Jean Kasem, is fighting for the life of her husband, with her attorney, Steve Haney, calling the judge’s decision, “the functional equivalent of a death sentence.”
Growing up in the 70’s, I was introduced to Casey Kasem’s easy to recognize voice as each week he counted down “American Top 40” hits for almost four decades on a radio show heard around the world. Kasem was also the voice of the character Shaggy on “Scooby-Doo” cartoons for 40 years.
According to reports, Kasem is stricken with dementia and Parkinson’s; typically, treatable conditions. Once Kasem begins the process of dying by having his food and water removed, he will endure a death that no family member should ever have to witness. It is cruel and barbaric and could take days, and often weeks to play itself out, torturing not only the patient, but those who love him as well.In stark contrast, St. John Paul II who also had Parkinson’s, was afforded a feeding tube as part of his end of life care, and subsequently died naturally.
I watched my own sister, Terri Schiavo, anguish through almost two weeks without food or water and there are no words that can properly describe the inhumanity. In her last days, we would not permit our mother to visit Terri, in an effort to spare her additional torment, as blood pooled in Terri’s eyes, and her skin and lips were terribly cracked because her tissues were lacking any moisture. Terri’s body turned different colors of blue and yellow and her breathing became so rapid, it was as if she was outside sprinting. I could go on.
Indeed, the disagreement between Kasem’s family also raises the issue of the dangers of health care initiatives. It places the interpretations into the hands of “quality of life” minded family members, healthcare professionals, hospital boards and ethics committees, not to mention some Judges who have no regard for the dignity of human life.
Make no mistake about it, countless conscious and unconscious persons die by deliberate starvation and dehydration every year. Typically, we only hear of the cases in which there is a family disagreement or in cases where there is a celebrity involved. And with an accepting culture, laws that permit this behavior, and a government controlling our health care system under the guise of “compliance”, this scenario will become more common and the pre-mature death of our medically vulnerable loved ones will increase significantly.
We live in a very troubled and an increasingly dangerous America. Our culture has lost sight of God’s supreme right over when life begins and when it ends, and has “turned on its head” the true meaning and value of suffering and compassion.Those of us who wish to defend life in all stages, especially for the most vulnerable, are demonized when we ask the obvious question: where is the humanity in deliberately denying someone’s most basic rights – food and water? Tragically, what was once considered barbaric has now become part of everyday life.