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Friday, July 29, 2005

On Maria Korp: Spin Doctors

These paragraphs tell a tale of spin:
 The president of Right to Life Australia says she accepts that Maria Korp is a dying woman who is unlikely to ever regain consciousness. But Margaret Tighe describes this week's controversial decision by Victoria's Public Advocate, to stop artificially feeding Mrs Korp, as a gross abuse of human rights. Mrs Tighe, a pro-life campaigner since 1968, says the Melbourne mother of two should be cared for indefinitely in a nursing home irrespective of her deteriorating condition. The doctors' decision on Wednesday to halt artificial feeding would force nature's hand, she says. "I think it is a gross abuse of human rights,'' Mrs Tighe, 73, said today. "Her feeding tube has been removed and she will die of starvation and dehydration.
What does the first paragraph convey? By putting the statement that Mrs. Korp is dying together with the statement that she is unlikely to ever regain consciousness, the article leads readers to the conclusion that even Mrs. Tighe acknowledges that Mrs. Korp was dying and would no longer regain consciousness -- regardless of the ongoing dehydration and starvation. The article conveys the message that Mrs. Tighe is fighting to feed a terminally ill woman. But that's not what Mrs. Tighe said. What she said is that Mrs. Korp is dying now from dehydration and starvation. Prior to the withholding of feeding since Wednesday, Mrs. Korp was not dying. Probably the most damning clue to that came to me just now: Mr. Julian Gardner, who decided on terminating Mrs. Korp's life by dehydration and starvation, has never been quoted on a prognosis as to how long it will be before Mrs. Korp dies of her injuries. He only mentions a timeframe in the context of her dehydration and starvation:
 "ALISON CALDWELL: Now, her doctor has said previously that she could die within three weeks if she doesn't have food and water. Is that your understanding? JULIAN GARDNER: The medical advice is that it's difficult to be precise, but that it may be one to two weeks."
Oh sure, Mrs. Korp is dying now, but that's from dehydration and starvation. If they had kept her nourished with food and water, she would remain alive, probably indefinitely. I wish someone would ask him point blank: how long does Mrs. Korp have to live if she were to continue being fed and given water? No reporter has apparently thought to do so, and I have a cynical view as to why not.


Marcel said...

Thankyou for continuing to offer insight into the treatment of Maria Korp's case by the media and the public Advocate. I am astounded at the overwhelming silence from many in the community who you would espect to come to the aid of a woman sentenced to starve. I am 100% sure the wrong decision was made to remove Mrs. Korp's feeding tube. It is profoundly tragic that more can't be done to save her. In America they showed us the way to resond in the terri Schiavo case. How come Australians of faith haven't come out in a similar fashion?

A few youth activists for life and myself organised a protest outside the Aflred on Friday. We had the carry the entire burden for the pro life movement, fileding about thrity interviews, many of us being in our early twenties. Where was the back up from church leaders and ethicists? many people have to answer fro their absence in this debate. I am just so sad we live in a society where it isn't even controversial to be starving patients to death....

Marcel said...

Gosh my spelling was terrible there! Once again though, well done Jeff, the price of freedom is never ending vigilance.

Jeff Tan said...

You guys did great, and don't let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. I don't know about the ethicists and church leaders who didn't show up that day or on other days. I wasn't there either, and I'm very sorry for that. If anything like this comes up again, I'll be there with you. Don't let this, our having let you down, dampen your spirits. You're fighting the good fight.