21 March 2005

President Bush flip-flops on the right to die issue

In an amazing discovery of contradiction, it is now being reported that President Bush, who is now repeating the GOP mantra that government must "err on the side of life" in the Schiavo case, once approved a law while governor of Texas that allows patients' lives to be terminated if they are unable to pay their hospital bills. Apparently, the president believes in a "culture of life," as long as it doesn't interfere with the profits of private hospitals and insurance companies.

The 1999 law has recently been thrust into the limelight following the death of 6-month-old Sun Hudson, who was born with fatal defects on September 25th of last year. Unlike the Schiavo case where the next-of-kin has consented to the removal of life support, the Hudson case was unique because the next-of-kin objected. "They made a terrible mistake," declared Sun's mother Wanda on March 15th in response to the hospital's decision to discontinue treatment for her son. The Hudson case is the first where the Bush law has provided for a life to be terminated against the wishes of the family.

But the president's legacy in Texas isn't done just yet. Spiro Nikolouzos is also scheduled to die under the same 1999 Bush law. Mr. Nikolouzos, a 68-year-old man on life support, has been an invalid since 2001 and is currently in a chronic vegetative state. Doctors at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital have determined that his condition is unable to improve and have decided to refuse treatment. The Nikolouzos family has challenged the hospital's decision and is currently in the courts trying to save Spiro's life. The outcome is still unknown.

President Bush has made strong statements regarding preserving the life of Terri Schiavo, even though it has been found by "clear and convincing evidence" that she expressed the desire to never be kept alive on life support. The president, unfortunately, is unwilling to take a stand for Mr. Nikolouzos and looked the other way as Sun Hudson's life was ended.

President Bush, however, has made his position clear. When it comes to life and death decisions, he trusts the judgment of the government over that of America's families.

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