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Disabled Woman Starved to Death

Death by Committee: What the Groningen Protocol Says About Our World, and Where It Might Lead Next

Vermont Poll Showing Majority Back Assisted Suicide Found Faulty


DISABLED WOMAN STARVED TO DEATH – Three family members were indicted on first-degree murder charges in the starvation death of a disabled woman.

Paul McMahon, Debra McMahon and their 18-year-old daughter Kimberly McMahon were arrested shortly after the indictments were returned by an Anderson County grand jury. They were held on $1 million bond each in the death of Debra McMahon’s sister, Karen Dreager, 35.

When Dreager, disabled from birth by cerebral palsy, was found dead Aug. 31 in the McMahons’ home she weighed about 50 pounds. A medical examiner ruled she starved to death. [8Dec04, AP,; 10Dec04, N Valko RN]


DEATH BY COMMITTEE: WHAT THE GRONINGEN PROTOCOL SAYS ABOUT OUR WORLD, AND WHERE IT MIGHT LEAD NEXT — When news of the Groningen Protocol surfaced in October, it was reported in the Grand Forks Herald, though I didn’t read of it, nor apparently did many others…

It is an intriguing title, but it should enter the history books as shorthand for an appalling brutality…The Groningen Protocol is the proposal of doctors in the Netherlands for the establishment of an “independent committee” charged with selecting babies and other severely handicapped or disabled people for euthanasia.

The original article provides some of the key details:
Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child’s life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12. The hospital, beyond confirming the protocol in general terms, refused to discuss its details.

 “It is for very sad cases,” said a hospital spokesman, who declined to be identified. “After years of discussions, we made our own protocol to cover the small number of infants born with such severe disabilities that doctors can see they have extreme pain and no hope for life. Our estimate is that it will not be used but 10 to 15 times a year.”

A parent’s role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent’s wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors.

The AP carried a second story, and Drudge broadcast the news to the cyber world: The protocol was already in effect, and at least four babies had been deemed disposable, and killed.

This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of “independent committees” to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a death penalty committee for innocents. Once begun, it is impossible—simply impossible–to limit the concept with any bright line. Abortion, of course, has always been limited by the physical act of birth, and once out of the womb, only the most extreme “reproductive rights” advocates have argued that the baby’s natural right to live can be compromised by the mother.

But now the Netherlands has gone farther–much, much farther. If the “severely retarded” may be killed upon appropriate motion, second, debate, and majority vote, why not the moderately retarded? Why not the mildly retarded? Why not, in fact, anyone the “independent committee” deems as usefully dispatched.

Incredibly, the nation’s elite media has turned a collective blind eye to this story, though the Los Angeles Times did, on the day following the Drudge headline, find time to put on the paper’s front page, above the fold, the story that Salmon and Steelhead May Lose Protection, but not a column inch of ink for a radical leap past Kevorkian land into the regions of Mengele…

Four years into the new century, and one can only guess where it will end. I do not think it is safe to bet that these next 96 years will be less bloody than the years 1905 to 1999. [Hugh Hewitt, 12/02/2004,;]


VERMONT POLL SHOWING MAJORITY SUPPORT ASSISTED SUICIDE FOUND FAULTY — A recent poll conducted by the Zogby Ininternational polling firm claims a strong majority of Vermont residents support assisted suicide.

One problem: the poll never used the phrase “assisted suicide” when questioning respondants.

Nearly 80 percent of the 500 Vermont residents poll say  they favored assisted suicide, but were only told about the process used. Pollsters found that 78 percent supported a bill to “allow a mentally competent adult, dying of a terminal disease, the choice to request and receive medication from a physician to peacefully end suffering and hasten death.” 

Death with Dignity Vermont and End of Life Choices, two groups backing  legislation to make Vermont the second state to legalize the practice, sponsored the poll.

Dr. Robert Orr, head of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, a group of doctors disability groups and religious leaders who oppose euthanasia, says the terms used do matter. “Several research articles have shown that how a question is worded makes a major difference in results,” he told AP. 

Dr. Orr indicated that a half dozen previous polls show fewer than half of Vermont residents bacl assisted suicide when more accurate wording was used about the practice.    [,  January 7, 2005]