Janet Rivera, California’s Terri Schiavo, Allowed to Receive Food and Water

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Janet Rivera, California’s Terri Schiavo, Allowed to Receive Food and Water

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 24
, 2008

Fresno, CA (LifeNews.com) — Twelve days after she was initially denied food and water, a California court ruled that Janet Rivera is entitled to the nutrition and hydration that a guardian revoked. Rivera is the latest disabled patient like Terri Schiavo to draw the attention of pro-life advocates because of her plight.

Rivera lost her right to food and water on July 14 when a court-appointed guardian removed her feeding tube despite her family’s wishes.

The 46-year-old had a heart attack on February 2006 and she never regained consciousness. She has been on life support for two years.

Fresno County Probate Judge Debra Kazanjian, in a Wednesday hearing, called the case "truly a life-and-death situation" and ruled for Rivera’s family, which is fighting to save her life.

Rivera’s brother, Michael Dancoff, told the Fresno Bee newspaper he was excited to hear about the ruling.

"I’m happy they’re giving her a second chance," he said. "I’m happy we’ll get to prove she’s not on her deathbed."

He says he believes Rivera, whom doctors diagnosed as being in a so-called persistent vegetative state, is still conscious.

"She looked at me and her eyes were open," he said. "She wasn’t dying. She wanted to live."

The ruling is only a temporary decision to allow Rivera to receive food and water while both sides of the debate fight next Tuesday in a full-fledged hearing to determine her fate.

At that hearing, Brian Chavez-Ochoa, an attorney who consulted with the Schindler family in the Terri Schiavo case and who is helping Rivera’s family, said the Riveras will be present at the hearing to plead Janet’s case.

Jesus Rivera, Janet’s husband, had been his wife’s conservator until June 17, when he was replaced for unknown reasons by David Hadden, the Fresno County coroner. At the hearing, Judge Kazanjian said that happened because Jesus Rivera was not able to adequately provide for Janet’s medical care.

Jesus, according to a Bee report, wants to allow his wife to continue to receive food and water and wants "her body to give out when it gives out between her and Almighty God and no one else."

"You can’t starve someone to death," he said.

Doctors disagreed and, after consulting them, Hadden decided to remove Janet Rivera’s feeding tube.

According to the newspaper, Hadden’s office released a statement saying he made the decision after "immense consideration" and due to Rivera’s "untreatable and irreversible condition and to prevent any and all suffering that she may be enduring."

"If this were a family member of mine, I would want the decision made by the group of physicians who are taking care of this patient," he added.

The newspaper said Hadden called the Wednesday ruling, an "appropriate course of action."

Rivera is currently admitted at the DeWitt Community Subacute Center in Fresno.


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