I Judge You Unworthy of Life

What you may not be aware of, as I was not as recently as a year ago, is that killing life judged unworthy of life is already happening quietly in this country.

A year ago last January, 83-year-old Marjorie Nighbert suffered a stroke. She was left with severe physical disability, including difficulty swallowing, not uncommon in stroke victims. A feeding tube was inserted so that she could receive nourishment.

In 1992 Marjorie had designated that her brother be given power of attorney for health care for her. He directed that the tube feeding be discontinued. The tube was removed.

Marjorie, of course, became hungry. She repeatedly asked those caring for her in the nursing home for food. But the order was clear, and legal. Marjorie was to be starved to death. She would have died unnoticed behind closed doors had it not been for the conscience of one staff member who saw Marjorie touch a nurse’s arm and ask for food. He told a priest, who contacted the local chapter of Right to Life, who reported Marjorie’s situation to Florida’s Health and Rehabilitation Services. The case went to court. Ultimately the judge ruled that Marjorie not be fed on the basis of her not being competent to ask for food. The employee who reported the incident was fired. Marjorie died on April 6, 1995.

The above is from the 1996 article "Targeting the Vulnerable" by PJ King, RN, appearing on the Ohio Right to Life Web Pages.

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