Thursday, June 30, 2005

Three different women

Regretfully, I confused Karen Ann Quinlan with Nancy Beth Cruzan in yesterday’s post. Therefore, I have erased the erroneous paragraphs from yesterday’s post, and replace them with the following.

Here is a little background on Karen Ann, as described by her family on the website of the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice in Newton, NJ. She was born in 1954 in Scranton, PA. She was adopted and had two younger brothers. She was described as very outgoing, well-liked and well-rounded.

At the age of 21, in 1975, she had been dieting for two days on only bread and water. She then went to a party, at which time she consumed alcohol and possibly narcotics. Feeling tired, she then fell asleep in a bedroom of the house where the party was happening. When she was found, she was not breathing.

She was rescued and stabilized. She was on a respirator and fed through a feeding tube. After one year of battling the hospital for the permission to remove her from the respirator, her parents won their case in the NJ supreme court to be allowed to wean her off the respirator. This was done so that she would die.

But, she didn’t. She continued to breathe on her own, and did so for the remaining ten years of her life. She died in 1985 from pneumonia.

It should be noted here that not only did Terri and Karen both suffer from a similar “persistent vegetative state,” but they were not subject to the same cause of death: dehydration due to remove of food and water. Therefore, their brain weight should not be compared to each other based on the condition they were living with, but based on the condition they died from.

Karen's case brought these difficult end-of-life care issues to the forefront, and the pro-euthanasia movement used this as an opportunity to push the deadly "living wills." (Some have even called Karen a "right-to-die activist." How can a woman be an activist pleading for her own death if she is in a vegetative state?!)

We must wonder what Terri’s brain weight was prior to the removal of nutrition and hydration. Also, what is the brain weight of similar women, such as Nancy Beth Cruzan, who suffer from severe brain injury?

So, the conclusion is that these medical examiners ought not be comparing Terri’s death to Karen’s death, but to Nancy’s death. Nancy died from dehydration due to the removal of her feeding tube.

While we are on the topic of Nancy Cruzan, I would like to point out something that few people know. Nancy’s father Joe committed suicide by hanging himself a few years after Nancy's death. You may read about this from the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force.

I work closely with Theresa and Kevin Burke of Rachel’s Vineyard, and have come to a fuller awareness of the trauma that abortion brings not only to the lives of women who have experienced abortion, but also to fathers, siblings, grandparents, friends, and society at large. Instances of suicide among post-abortive women as well as other high risk behaviors such as alcoholism, drug use, eating disorders and “workaholic-ism” are very high among these post-abortive individuals.

We can only wonder what the long-term emotional, physical, mental and spiritual after-effects of euthanasia would be. Was Nancy’s father suffering thinking he may have made the wrong decision? Did he feel trapped by the rhetoric of the pro-euthanasia movement that had kidnapped his rational though? Did he feel he had no one to talk to about this difficult decision he had helped to make to end his daughter’s life?

A man recently wrote expressing his grief over his grandmother’s death in the 1990’s. She had been alert and active, yet disabled, requiring feeding through a tube. Along with her sisters and brothers, she decided the best thing would be to have her feeding tube removed so she would no longer be a burden to the family. This young man was very troubled by this decision, and has said it haunts him to this day. I pointed out the fact that bereavement work has yet to venture openly to help the survivors of euthanasia heal.

I challenged him to consider developing such a program. “Perhaps God is calling you?”


  1. Do you mean he hung his self after Nancy's death? You stated it was after Terri's death

  2. you're right, Jasmine. thank you for pointing that out, and i apologize. correction has been made.