Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fighting for Janet Rivera's Life

Janet Rivera (46) is the center of a new battle over the ethics of intentionally dehydrating a person to death.

Rivera has been in coma for the past two years, resulting from a heart attack.

Rivera's husband was recently replaced as her public guardian, after he experienced difficulties. The appointed Fresno County Public Guardian, David Hadden, decided that because she is unlikely to recover, that her fluids and food would be removed.

This decision is against the wishes of the Rivera family and Janet's husband.

Yesterday, Judge Debra Kazanjian granted an injunction and ordered medical staff to resume fluids and food for Rivera through a tube and to provide ventilator support, if necessary.

The case will return to court next week when a hearing will determine who has the right to make medical decisions for Rivera.

This is a very important case.

If the courts decide that the Public Guardian has the right to make medical decisions for Rivera, and that the Public Guardian can dehydrate Rivera to death against the wishes of the family, then everyone who does not have a legal advanced directive will be able to die by dehydration.

Remember, Rivera is not otherwise dying, she is cognitively disabled and unlikely to return to a cognitive condition. If people who are cognitively disabled can be dehydrated to death, then the lives of many people with cognitive disabilities will be directly threatened when they experience significant health problems.


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