Disability Advocates, Pro-Life Groups Upset Janet Rivera Lost Food, Water

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Disability Advocates, Pro-Life Groups Upset Janet Rivera Lost Food, Water

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 25
, 2008

Fresno, CA (LifeNews.com) — Disability rights advocates and pro-life groups are speaking up in the case of Janet Rivera, an incapacitated California woman who had her food and water restored yesterday. They say Rivera’s guardian was wrong to override her family and deny her the right to sustenance.

Rivera, 46, had a heart attack on February 2006 and she never regained consciousness. She has been on life support for two years.

As LifeNews.com has reported, on July 14 a court-appointed guardian removed her feeding tube despite her family’s wishes.

After obtaining help from pro-life attorneys, the Rivera family won a court order to restore the feeding tube while the case continues. Now, a hearing is set for Tuesday of next week to make a more permanent decision.

Alex Schadenberg, the director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, calls the dispute a "very important case" that could have devastating effects for patients.

"If the courts decide that the public guardian has the right to make medical decisions for Rivera, and that the public guardian can dehydrate Rivera to death against the wishes of the family, then everyone who does not have a legal advanced directive will be able to die by dehydration," he explained.

He said he’s worried that euthanasia advocates are pushing killing patients, even those like Rivera whose conditions aren’t as difficult as others.

"Rivera is not otherwise dying, she is cognitively disabled and unlikely to return to a cognitive condition," he explained.

"If people who are cognitively disabled can be dehydrated to death, then the lives of many people with cognitive disabilities will be directly threatened when they experience significant health problems," Schadenberg worries.

Meanwhile, Right to Life of Central California says it stands with the family of Janet Rivera in demanding she not be starved to death.

“It’s one thing to allow a family member to die of natural causes from their illness,” Josh Brahm, the director of education and public relations for the group, told LifeNews.com. “It’s another thing to remove basic care like food and water from a disabled person.

"Food and water is not extraordinary medical treatment. They are not therapeutic nor do they treat diseases. Food and water are basic necessities for life. Unlike removing medical treatments, removing food and water will guarantee death" Brahm explained.

Brahm said all patients should be closely monitoring the case and the legal decisions to come.

“People need to realize that this could happen to them too,” says Brahm. “There are similar cases all over the country. They’re just not getting the same media attention that Terri Schiavo did.”

Related web sites:
Right to Life of Central California – https://www.rtlcc.org
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – https://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca


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