Magouirk update

At last, some facts from an actual newspaper and an actual TV station. I’m still puzzled about what’s really going on, but the judge has received the death threats that now seem to be normal when such cases are taken up by the wingnut media.

In response to my plea for some facts in the Mae Magouirk affair, a reader points me to an actual news story .

We now know that Ms. Magouirk actually exists, that there is an actual dispute about her care, and that the “Save-Terri” forces have arrived. (We know that last fact for certain, because the judge in the case has already received the obligatory death threats.)

What we don’t know is what her actual medical condition might be, what treatment she is or is not receiving, or what her granddaughter, who wants her kept in the hospice care, has to say about the matter.

There are unconfirmed blog reports that Ms. Magouirk has been moved to a hospital in Alabama.

One of Jane Galt’s commenters posts a story from the local newspaper. (No link, so I’ve quoted in full below.) The story notes that two of Ms. Magouirk’s grandchildren, not just one, oppose the nephew’s demand that she be moved, which makes the idea that this is an evil plot by the granddaughter to snuff out her grandmother’s life in order to inherit her money a little bit harder to believe.

Some of Jane’s comments are worth reading because they give a sense of just how weirdly conspiratorial the right wing can get around this set of topics. If the facts are as stated by the nephew who wants Ms. Magouirk moved, the granddaughter decided to discontinue life support after praying over the matter and deciding that Jesus wanted her grandmother to “come home.” That doesn’t deter some of Jane’s commenters from warning that the “militant atheists” want to kill all disabled people. Get a grip, folks!

One way or another, this is a significant story. Either the nephew’s accusations are true, in which case the hospice and the judge got some ‘splainin’ to do, or they’re false, in which case we have one more instance in which a judge is subjected to death threats at the whim of World Net Daily and cognate media.

Here’s the story from the La Grange (Ga.) Daily News, Friday edition, as quoted by one of Jane’s commenters:

LaGrange has its own feeding tube controversy, with family members at odds over medical care for an 81-year-old woman at Hospice LaGrange.

Ora Mae Magouirk has been in hospice since March 22, suffering from what granddaughter Beth Gaddy described in court papers as dementia, an aortic aneurysm and a blood clot.

Kenneth Mullinax, the patient’s nephew in Birmingham, Ala., said a hospice nurse told him that Magouirk had not received substantial nourishment since March 28. He wants a temporary feeding tube inserted until she can be evaluated for treatment at the University of Alabama Medical Center. A living will states that nourishment should be withheld only if she were in a coma or vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

Mullinax and the patient’s brother and sister — Lonnie Ruth Mullinax of Birmingham and A.B. McLeod of Anniston, Ala. — came here last Friday to arrange for a feeding tube and take her to the Birmingham hospital. That same day Gaddy received emergency guardianship in Troup

County Probate Court.

At a follow-up hearing Monday, the parties reached a settlement that awarded guardianship to Gaddy provided three cardiologists — James Brennan and Thomas Gore, both of LaGrange, and Raed Aquel of Birmingham — evaluate the patient, who would receive whatever treatment two of the three recommended. A final decision had not yet

been reached.

“They were all hugging necks when they left court,” said Probate Judge Donald Boyd. “I don’t know what happened.”

Boyd said Gaddy testified at the hearing that she feeds her grandmother Jello, chips of ice and “anything else she’d be willing to eat.”

“I think all of Mrs. Magouirk’s family has her genuine best interests at heart, but fortunately they disagree on what they believe would be best for her,” said Jack Kirby of LaGrange, attorney for the patient’s brother and sister.

“She (Gaddy) said, ‘I think it’s time she (her grandmother) goes home to Jesus, that’s she’s too sick and would not have a good quality of life,” Kenneth Mullinax said.

His complaints have been posted on Internet Web logs that have been in overdrive since the Terri Schiavo case.

“All of the Terri Schiavo people have come to our rescue,” Mullinax said. “This thing’s going national.”

On Thursday, the Probate Office, West Georgia Health System and attorneys in the case were inundated with phone calls and e-mails. “We need people surrounding that place (hospice), we need some activity,” one caller from Oregon told the Daily News, adding that she had called the governor’s office and attorneys in the case. The probate office got an estimated 50 calls from people saying things like, “I understand y’all are murdering people in Troup County” and “You’re euthanizing people.”

“We’re taking the posture of refusing to deal with those people because they’re not representing the responsible parties,” said West Georgia Health System President Jerry Fulks. “We’re focusing on taking care of the patient and her family.”

Fulks said he could not comment on an individual patient, but the health system’s policy calls for nourishment and hydration for hospice patients, sometimes through a feeding tube because of throat cancer or some other condition that prevents the patient from swallowing. He said there is a “reverence for life that our staff and our physicians and our volunteers all adhere to in doing the jobs they do.”

Mullinax said his aunt does not have a terminal condition, which is a requirement for admission to hospice.

Danny Daniel of LaGrange, the attorney for Gaddy and another grandchild, said doctors made the decision to admit Magourik into hospice.

Gaddy has been taking care of her grandmother for 10 years, he said. “They’re following the doctors’ recommendations and they want to do what’s in the best interests of their grandmother,” Daniel said, adding that hospice is providing “excellent care” for Magourik, a widow with no children.

Gaddy could not be reached for comment.

“The doctors can make her very comfortable again and give her a normal life,” Mullinax said. “That’s all we want for Aunt Mae … My aunt can’t live much longer without substantial fluids or nourishment. “I want the world to know that at Hospice LaGrange you have people who are not terminal being denied nourishment as a matter of course. This national debate has reared its head in Troup County, Georgia. It’s the damndest thing I’ve ever seen.”

He said he will “pursue every available avenue” to get treatment for his aunt.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com