Potential Euthanasia Victim Lauren Richardson Saved, Parents Reconcile

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 19, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Potential Euthanasia Victim Lauren Richardson Saved, Parents Reconcile

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 19
, 2008

Dover, DE (LifeNews.com) — Delaware resident Lauren Richardson nearly became a euthanasia victim this summer as her mother and father feuded over her life that reminded observers of the debate over Terri Schiavo. Richardson is a 24-year-old woman who overdosed on heroin in August 2006 while she was three months pregnant with a baby girl.

Doctors kept Lauren on life support until she delivered her baby in February 2007. Shortly thereafter, her parents began a fight over whether she should live or die.

Randy Richardson is battling Edith Towers, Lauren’s mother, who wants to remove her feeding tube and starve and dehydrate her to death in the same manner that Michael Schiavo subjected Terri.

However, on Wednesday, attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm, told LifeNews.com they reached a favorable settlement.

Because of religious conviction and heartfelt interaction with her ex-husband’s family, Towers decided to join cooperatively with Richardson’s father to care for their daughter and to drop her court request to remove Richardson’s feeding tube and water.

“Everyone deserves a chance to recover. Life should be protected—not destroyed,” ADF attorney Matt Bowman told LifeNews.com. “This change of heart and settlement has profoundly affected everyone involved. The miracle of life is not something that should be taken lightly.”

ADF indicates that a reconciliation between the parents ensued in September 2008 and they have now decided to settle the case, share joint guardianship of their daughter, and to care for Lauren at Randy Richardson’s Maryland home.

Bowman told LifeNews.com that Lauren is responsive enough to have cried over the news that her parents were getting back together.

"Lauren Richardson wept emotionally when her mother informed her of the settlement and the reconciliation of her parents, confirming to the mother that her daughter was aware and responsive," he said. "Both parents and their families continue to interact with her daily."

In January 2008, Richardson’s father, Randy Richardson, contacted ADF after the Delaware Chancery Court made a preliminary recommendation in the case, In re: Lauren Richardson, to give Towers sole guardianship to remove their daughter’s feeding tube.

ADF attorneys asked for a new trial and further medical evaluations to show that Lauren Richardson was responsive, that new science undermines the persistent vegetative state doctors terms Lauren, and that insufficient evidence existed to demonstrate that Lauren Richardson wanted to stop her own nutrition.

Though it had been alleged that Lauren Richardson once said years earlier that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive if there was “no hope,” her mother’s Christian faith and updates from Randy Richardson’s web site caused her to feel convicted that her daughter’s life had value and should be preserved.

The site described Lauren’s responsiveness to pain, music, family members’ voices, touch, and assisted exercise. It also expressed regret that Lauren Richardson’s daughter might never see her own mother.

Richardson’s family called on Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to intervene and save Lauren from an expected court order dictating her euthanasia death.

That didn’t happen, but the Delaware House of Representatives approved a resolution supporting Lauren.

As in the Terri Schiavo case, physicians were quick to label Lauren as having a persistent vegetative state — something Terri’s family called dehumanizing and medically inaccurate as patients have recovered from it.

Noted attorney and author Wesley Smith has written about Lauren’s case and he says he viewed a video Richardson’s father released and he says she seems reactive particularly when her father attempts to interact with her.

"Whether she is conscious or not is irrelevant to her equal moral worth as a human being," Smith adds.

"The fight in this case is over whether she lives as a profoundly disabled woman or is made to die slowly over two weeks by dehydration–as Terri Schiavo did," Smith explained. "If we did that to a dog, we would go to jail. Do it to a disabled woman who needs a feeding tube and it is called medical ethics."

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org
Life for Lauren – https://www.lifeforlauren.org

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