Tabitha’s Story and “Simon’s Law” in Idaho

Tabitha 16 months
Tabitha Grace

I have good news for you: Simon’s Law (now House Bill 578) was passed by the Idaho House of Representatives last week with a 63 to 5 vote.

Idaho law currently allows doctors to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, including nutrition and hydration, from a minor child without notifying or obtaining consent from parents.

Simon’s Law would close this loophole, ensuring that parents’ rights are protected during these critical times. No parent should have to worry that decisions about their child’s healthcare could be taken out of their hands.

Through working on this legislation, I have gotten to know Sandi Enzminger of Eagle, Idaho. She has showed up to every committee hearing, bringing her delightful family in tow. Her youngest daughter, Tabitha Grace, is always the star of the show—and for good reason.

Little Tabitha was born October 28, 2018. Shortly thereafter, her parents received a postnatal Trisomy 18 diagnosis.

Tabitha in Senate Gallery
Tabitha and her brother sitting in the House Gallery watching debate on Simon’s Law

They were stunned to hear the doctor explain that Tabitha, despite being stable, wouldn’t live a month. The potential benefits of the heart surgery she needed weren’t worth the risks, the doctor said. Adam and Sandi were told to take Tabitha home on comfort care and allow the disability and its associated health difficulties take their course.

Thankfully, Adam and Sandi fought for their daughter. They were able to take her to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, for heart surgery she couldn’t live without. Now Tabitha is a healthy and developing sixteen-month-old.

Here is what Sandi says about the importance of Simon’s Law to her family:

Shortly after Tabitha was born, we were informed that she likely had Trisomy 18. We understood then that her disabilities would be so severe that it was advisable to “let her die” of “natural” causes. Then, when we pursued heart repair surgery, we were told it was futile and would have little to no effect on the length or quality of her life.

Today, her heart and lungs are functioning normally without assistance. Her hearing is enhanced by hearing-aids, and she has the energy to progress in developmental milestones.

Although this journey has not been easy, time with Tabitha has been worth it. We strongly support Simon’s Law because we felt coerced into making life-ending decisions. We believe that it is only a matter of time before medical discrimination leads to secret “DNRs” for minor children here in Idaho.

When I asked Sandi why she fought so hard for her daughter, she responded, “We value life, and we trusted God to be bigger than any diagnosis.” Needless to say, it has been a blessing to have Sandi, Tabitha, and their family join us for committee hearings in support of Simon’s Law.

Parents should hold the ultimate medical decision-making authority for their children. Before a doctor begins withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, parents should be notified and given the opportunity to transfer their child to another medical provider, just like Sandi Enzminger was able to do for Tabitha.


This post was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

“Simon’s Law” in Idaho Will Protect Children and Parents’ Rights

SimonsLawSimon Dominic Crosier was born almost ten years ago. Although he lived only a short three months, his story is inspiring lawmakers around the country to pass legislation protecting the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their children—and Idaho may be the next state to pass one of these “Simon’s Laws” named in his honor.

It wasn’t long after Simon’s birth and postnatal Trisomy 18 diagnosis that his parents, Scott and Sheryl Crosier, began noticing that their son wasn’t receiving the same medical care as other children without the chromosomal disorder were getting. Simon had been born with a heart defect (which is common among Trisomy 18 children) and would need constant care from his hospital medical team until he became strong enough to undergo heart surgery.

Like most newborns, Simon loved snuggling into his parents’ chests. He would get especially excited when his older brothers came to visit him in the hospital or when music was played for him.

Yet when the dreaded day came that his oxygen levels began dropping, Scott and Sheryl were surprised the doctors and nurses didn’t do more to save their child. It was only after his death that it became clear the doctors had placed a do not resuscitate order in his file and had been withholding nutrition from him, all without notifying his parents.

After hearing Simon’s story, Rep. John Vander Woude (R-Nampa) introduced House Bill 519, legislation meant to make sure what happened to the Crosier family will never happen to a family in the Gem State.

The Idaho Simon’s Law would protect parental rights during critical times when parents need to be focused on their child—not worrying about whether their child’s healthcare could be taken out of their hands. This would be accomplished through:

  • Requiring parental notification before a doctor implements do not resuscitate orders or withholds life-sustaining treatment, nutrition, or hydration;
  • Granting parents a 48-hour period to decide whether they want to transfer care for their child to another facility or provider;
  • Allowing the family 15 days to make that transfer, during which time the “DNR” order cannot be placed in the child’s file and other treatment cannot be withdrawn.

We believe that children are intimately known and lovingly protected by their parents. It is well-established in Idaho law that parents have the fundamental right to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children—and Simon’s Law would build on that foundation.


This post was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

UK Doctors and Judges Sentence Another Innocent Baby Boy to Death


Update (6:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Despite ongoing efforts by Italian and Vatican diplomats to secure Alfie’s release, the hospital has removed the boy’s ventilator, and his hospital room has been surrounded by police officers. The English judge appears obstinately committed to his decision that Alfie’s life is not worth living, notwithstanding video published by LifeSiteNews earlier today showing that the toddler is “lively and alert.”


Update (2:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship in hopes that English authorities will release him for treatment at a hospital in Rome with ties to the Vatican. His doctors, resolute in their efforts to prevent the boy from receiving treatment elsewhere, planned to remove him from his ventilator today. The big question right now is whether the English are as determined to murder Italian citizens as they are to murder their own?


29789950_2042672899282211_9078872337536778240_nI am angry and upset that, for the second time in less than a year, the English legal and medical systems are conspiring to condemn a sick baby boy to death against the instructions of his parents.

Alfie Evans, who is now 23 months old, was taken to an English hospital in December 2016 to be treated for a lung infection. Some time later, he slipped into a coma. Doctors have been unable to diagnose Alfie’s malady, although they assume he has a mitochondrial disorder.

In February, the High Court in London agreed with doctors that the boy should be removed from life support, and the UK Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision. “Alfie’s brain had been so corrupted by mitochondrial disease that his life was futile,” the judge wrote in the decision. Alfie’s parents, on the other hand, want to take Alfie to an Italian hospital with ties to the Vatican for treatment.

Whether Alfie will be given the opportunity to receive treatment in Italy is still to be seen. The inappropriately named European Court of Human Rights rejected the family’s request to seek treatment elsewhere, and the hospital plans to remove life support today.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 9.20.28 PMThe ongoing case brings to mind Charlie Gard, who was murdered under similar circumstances by doctors and judges last summer. Gard’s parents brought him to a London hospital in October 2016 for breathing problems when he was three months old. Gard was subsequently diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. In January 2017, he had seizures and fell into a coma. Claiming that the seizures had caused irreversible brain damage, Charlie’s doctors petitioned an English judge to grant them the ability to end his life, despite the ongoing discussions between his parents and an American doctor who was willing to administer an experimental treatment that might have saved Charlie’s life. Hospital officials prevailed in court (just like with Alfie, the European Court of Human Rights refused to hear Charlie’s case) and removed Charlie from life support last July.

Justice Francis, the High Court judge who heard Charlie’s case, ruled that “it is in Charlie’s best interests” for the hospital “to permit Charlie to die with dignity.” In his ruling, Justice Francis rejected the objections of those who ask why courts should make these decisions and override the rights of parents:

“The duty with which I am now charged is to decide, according to well laid down legal principles, what is in Charlie’s best interests. Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process; why can the parents not make this decision on their own? The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

It is morally reprehensible for a judge to claim the power to decide whose lives are worth living and whose lives are not. Furthermore, it can only be described as a blatant infringement on parental rights when doctors and judges attempt to override decisions by parents regarding medical treatment for their children.

For the historically literate, Alfie and Charlie’s cases conjure up images of Nazi Germany, where doctors routinely euthanized the “unfit,” whose lives, in the eyes of politicians and doctors, weren’t “worth” living.

Lest we forget, physicians take an oath to “do no harm.” Although doctors shouldn’t be forced to provide care with which they personally or professionally disagree, they have no right to prevent parents from taking their children to another medical provider for treatment that may potentially prolong or improve the quality of life.

While the doctors involved in these two cases clearly overstepped their professional prerogative, they could not implement their murderous schemes without the legal support provided by English law and judges. Any government that presumes it has the power of life and death over its innocent citizens is tyrannical and monstrous. Any government that violates the natural right of parents to make medical decisions for their children is illegitimate, acting without authority, and flaunting the natural order, God’s law, and His design for human society.

Pray for little Alfie and his parents, both of whom are in their early twenties. Pray for the English authorities to repent and change direction. And pray that the American people will wake up and recover the conviction that life is sacred, lest our nation follow in England’s footsteps.

Oregon Legislation Would Allow Nursing Homes to Starve Dementia Patients

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Nora Harris, 64, is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. Although she is conscious, she can no longer use utensils to eat and drink.

Under current Oregon state law, so long as Nora is conscious, her caretakers must offer her food and water and help her to eat and drink.

Bill Harris, Nora’s husband, believes that Nora would rather starve to death. He sued to stop the spoon-feeding last year but lost the case.

Oregon lawmakers are now considering legislation that would allow nursing homes and hospitals to starve and dehydrate patients like Nora.

Oregon Right to Life says SB494, which passed the Senate last week, “would allow the starving and dehydrating of patients who suffer from dementia or mental illness.” David Kilada, Oregon Right to Life’s political director, explained the legislation in a post on ORTL’s blog:

“SB 494 removes current safeguards which prohibit surrogates from withholding ordinary food and water from conscious patients with conditions that don’t allow them to make decisions about their own care. Currently, patients like Nora are given help with eating and drinking when they cannot do it themselves. This is not tube feeding or an IV—this is basic, non-medical care for conscious patients.

“The way these safeguards are removed is subtle. A cursory look at SB 494 might lead you to think it merely updates the law regarding advance directive. This is true, but there’s more. If the bill passes, it could allow a court to interpret a request on an advance directive to refuse tube feeding to also mean you don’t want to receive spoon feeding! SB 494 would also create a committee, appointed rather than elected, that can make future changes to the advance directive without approval from the Oregon Legislature. This could easily result in further erosion of patient rights.”

The patients who would be affected by SB494 aren’t comatose. They aren’t relying on ventilators, tube feeding, or an IV to stay alive. Instead, these patients are fully conscious and aware; they are simply unable to feed themselves.

Current Oregon administrative rules require that nursing homes offer their patients three meals and snacks each day. The facilities must also provide “assistance with eating (e.g., supervision of eating, cueing, or the use of special utensils).”

Patients can refuse to eat the food they are given, but Nora still expresses a desire to eat. SB494 would allow Nora’s nursing home to withhold food and water from her, even if she wants to eat and drink.

With its passage in the Senate, SB494 now moves to the House of Representatives. Oregon was the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1997 for terminally ill patients. Since then, a total of 1,127 patients have died from doctors giving them prescription medication to end their lives, according to a 2017 report by the Oregon Public Health Division.


This article was originally written for the Family Policy Institute of Washington.