Thursday, April 07, 2005

It's Happening Again:

Georgia Woman Being Starved and Dehydrated


85 year-old Mae Magouirk of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Magouirk suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.

Furthermore, under Georgia law, if there is no power of attorney specifying a health care decisionmaker, such authority is given to the closest living relatives. Mae's brother, A. B. McLeod, and sister, Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, are both still alive and capable of making such decisions. They opposed Mae's transfer to hospice, and are fighting to save her life. But in spite of the lack of a power of attorney, and the fact that there are closer living relatives who should be given precedence by Georgia law, Ms. Gaddy sought an emergency appointment as guardian from the local probate court. The probate judge, Donald Boyd (who, I am told, is not an attorney and does not have a law degree), granted Gaddy's request, thereby giving her the power to starve and dehydrate Magouirk to death, though such an action is contrary to the provisions of the living will.

I have spoken to Kenneth Mullinax, Mae's nephew, and he has confirmed all the above. He also tells me that he believes that Ms. Gaddy has no bad motives, but is simply misguided and mistaken. Mullinax said that Ms. Gaddy has testified in court that she has "prayed over" Mae, and is convinced that it is "time for her to go". Whether the fact is relevant or not remains to be seen, but apparently Ms. Gaddy is also the sole beneficiary of Mae's will.

Kenneth has told me that they need help in getting the word out, and bringing Mae's case to the media's attention. Given the amount of coverage of the Holy Father's death, that may be difficult. But we have to raise the visibility of this case. They have another hearing coming up, and Kenneth indicated that they also may need expert assistance, both legal and medical.

The similarities of Mae Magouirk's situation and Terri Schiavo's are obvious: Once again we have a family divided over what care should be given to a seriously ill relative. And once again, we have a judge playing God with someone's life. But what is different, and in a sense worse, is that Mae is being deprived of food and water in clear contravention of her own stated wishes, and at the request of someone who should have no standing under Georgia law.

More information is available at Blogs For Terri. If you want to contact Kenneth Mullinax to get more information or to offer help, you may e-mail him at mockingbird@compuhelp.net.