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Houston Hospital to Kill Sick Woman?

Hospital to 'kill' sick woman?
Ethics committee votes to pull the plug against family's wishes

An ill woman in Houston could die within days because a hospital ethics committee has voted to take her off life support – this despite the fact the 54-year-old is not in a coma, is not brain dead and wants to go on living, her family says.

On April 30, Andrea Clark is scheduled to be on the receiving end of a Texas law that allows a hospital ethics committee to terminate care with 10 days' notice, giving the patient's family that length of time to find a different facility.

"They just say, 'Well she's miserable.' Well, to me that's a quality of life decision that is up to her and her family," Lanore Dixon told KHOU-TV. "That is not a medical decision."

Dixon recently protested at the St. Luke's Hospital on behalf of Clark, her sister, who has been hospitalized there since November.

In January, Clark underwent open-heart surgery and later developed bleeding on the brain. A ventilator, which the committee voted to remove Sunday, helps her breath.

Talking about the Texas law, Dixon told KHOU: ""If their ethics committee makes a decision, it doesn't matter what the patient wants. It doesn't even apparently matter what the patient's condition is, because our sister is not in a coma; she's not brain dead."

Clark's family says though she cannot speak, they are able to communicate with her by moving her lips and blinking her eyes.

Columnist and attorney Wesley J. Smith, who wrote extensively on the Terri Schiavo case in Florida, chimed in on his blog:

"Note that the treatment is apparently being removed because it works, not because it doesn't – which means, in effect, that the hospital ethics committee has declared the patient's life to be futile."

Noting that the family wants Clark to live, Smith noted, "It is as if Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers wanted Terri's care continued but the hospital said no."

Smith described the Texas law as allowing "private decision-making that will result in death without even the right to a public hearing, to cross examine witnesses or a formal appeal."

Some have charged the law is meant to benefit insurance companies who want hospitals to get critical patients "off the books."

According to the TV station report, Clark's family is doing all it can to find another facility that will treat Andrea.

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