"If you don't have money in this country, you're nothing. You're not a human being."
Because she had no health insurance, no nursing home or other facility in the area would take on the hospice care of her last days, which were quite clearly numbered in any case. There was no serious question of her lingering even for months, let alone years. Terminal cancer doesn't let you do that. So no bank was going to be broken nor annual report ruined by caring for her.
Baylor Regional Medical Center, gave her family 10 days notice and then pulled the respirator themselves. They pulled it, without asking her, while Tirhas was still conscious and perfectly aware that she was being deliberately suffocated. They pulled it while her family was there to watch the process, even though the family disagreed with decision. Tirhas suffocated consciously and knowingly for about 15 minutes.
All for the crime of having no health insurance. All for the crime of being an immigrant. All for the crime of being black.
How can they do that? Good question. There's a law in Texas, which was signed by George W. Bush when he was governor, that allows them to do that. It allows them to say that you won't survive anyway, so we will simply stop caring for you, whatever your wishes about the matter.
Now a lawyer who worked on the law said that money had nothing to do with any such legal decisions and only clinical matters are considered.
But I am perfectly certain that the 12 institutions the hospital says they contacted for transfer to hospice care would have been perfectly willing to accept the transfer if Tirhas Habtegiris, or her family, had had health insurance.
So I think Tirhas' brother, Daniel Salvi, is pretty close to correct in saying, "If you don't have money in this country, you're nothing. You're not a human being." At least pretty close to correct down in Plano.
I'm also pretty certain that the powers that be in the hospital are not willing to confront that possibility, since they are not willing to be interviewed to defend their decision. After all, the law is on their side, so they don't have to defend a damn thing.
Oh, by the way, Mrs. Claus is doing fine after her gallbladder surgery.
Of course, I was curious, so just I plugged that very distinctive name into Google and Google News to see who might have had something to say about it. A couple of Texas TV stations were the only ones who appear to have picked it up--that and a handful of liberal blogs like mine.
So far, you don't hear of James Dobson talking about it, and I don't believe you will. You don't here of Tom DeLay threatening judges over it, and I don't believe you will. You don't hear Glenn Beck beating the tom-toms on talk radio for years over it, and I don't believe you will. Nor Bill O'Reilly, nor David Limbaugh, nor Jeb Bush, nor Bill Frist, nor Dick Cheney, nor Arlen Spector, nor any of those sterling Senators and Representatives who trumped up Terri's Law.
There's no promotional or political mileage to be gained by championing the right to life of a black African immigrant with no health insurance. Not in Texas. Not in Washington. Not anywhere else. There just isn't. So you won't hear of George W. Bush interrupting his vacation to fly to Washington on Tirhas Habtegiris' account. And even then, as Shakespeare once put it, "That was in another country, and, besides, the wench is dead."
My friend the Anchoress has an excellent blogroll where you might have read all you ever needed to know about Terri Schiavo, and what the Anchoress calls the fight against the Culture of the Deatheaters. Here are a few of them: View From the Pew, Gateway Pundit, Oh How I Love Jesus, La Shawn Barber, Captain's Quarters, Musing Minds, Cartago Delenda Est, and Polipundit.
To set up this list, I visited their current pages. As of this evening there is nothing at all on any of them about Tirhas Habtegiris, the Baylor Regional Medical Center, or the law in Texas which allows the latter to make the decision unilaterally to pull the plug on the former.
And certainly no mention of the fact that George W. Bush signed that law.
Do you suppose that could be because Tirhas didn't have any health insurance, was a legal African immigrant, or was black? Or is it just because these fine bloggers haven't yet heard of the incident?
I would like to think the latter, so if anybody catches anything new that they might have said about it after I post this, please place a comment here citing it. Or any other new blogs of note referring to it, for that matter.
There's no villain of a husband to revile, there's no court system--whose judges you don't like anyway--to excoriate, and no Knights in Shining Armor in the political party of your choice fighting against all odds to prevent the atrocity.
There is simply no drama in a few poor immigrants at the bedside of a young woman subjected to a legal execution just a shade more unpleasant that the ones Texas carries out with such gusto on its murderers. There is no drama even in the executioners, who are also the judge and jury: unnamed members of the Baylor Regional Medical Center Clinical Ethics Committee.
Without real drama, what do our political Drama Queens of the Blogosphere have to write about?
They could, of course, like Hannah Arendt, examine the banality of evil in anonymous doctors deliberately deciding who lives and who dies in the name of "clinical ethics". But then they would actually have to read Hannah Arendt, and they wouldn't like her much.
If my blogging friends tried to write about it, they would have to confront the issues, like legal immigration, like health insurance, like de facto power of execution being deputized by state law to anonymous doctors, beyond whom there is no appeal. These are the sorts of issues that don't reinforce your own view that you have all the answers, merely because you don't like Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, or Markos Moultisas Zuniga.
If they're willing to try, I wish them luck.