By John Jalsevac
NEW ORLEANS, July 25, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A New Orleans grand jury decided Tuesday not to indict Dr. Anna Pou, a doctor who was accused of murdering four patients during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Pou had been charged by Louisiana’s attorney general on 10 counts, including second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.
Earlier this year two nurses who had admitted to administering lethal doses of medication to patients at the same medical center were offered immunity in return for their testimony before the grand jury.
Pou and the others have consistently claimed that while they did administer potentially lethal doses of medication to some patients at the Memorial Medical Center, they did so not to end the patients’ lives, but to relieve unbearable pain.
Witnesses have dramatized the conditions at the medical center during the days following hurricane Katrina as being akin to a war zone. During that time whole sections of New Orleans were submerged in water, the city was without electricity, and the heat and humidity were stifling. Over 30 patients at the Memorial Medical Center died before the center was able to be evacuated some days later, some of them allegedly as a consequence of high doses of pain killers administered by Pou and the nurses.
"All of us need to remember the magnitude of human suffering that occurred in the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, so we can be assured that this never happens again and that no health care professional should ever be falsely accused in a rush to judgment," said Dr. Pou during a press conference following the announcement that she would not be indicted.
"Today’s events are not a triumph, but a moment of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the storm and a tribute to all of those who stayed at their posts and served people most in need."
Pou told the press that upon hearing the news that the case against her would not go forward she was, "at home with my husband and I fell to my knees and thanked God."
Attorney-General Charles Foti, who charged Pou and the two nurses, has consistently declared his belief that the doctor and two nurses illegally killed their patients. "This was not euthanasia," Foti was quoted as saying when the details of the case first emerged. "This was homicide."
Foti said in announcing that he was filing charges against Pou and the nurses that he and his team of investigators, "spent almost 10 ½ months investigation and, after all of this, can only come to the conclusion that this crime has been committed."
The attorney general responded to the jury’s recent decision saying, "I regret their decision."
"The dedicated employees of the attorney general’s office have done their duty as required by federal and state law, and I am very proud of our efforts on behalf of the victims and their families," he said.
While Pou has garnered some significant public support, with some even praising her as a "hero" for her actions following Katrina, others have pointed out that cases like these are a slippery slope for the medical profession.
When the story about the actions of some medical personnel in New Orleans first broke in 2005, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Executive Director Alex Schadenberg had responded, saying, "Not to mitigate the extreme nature of the circumstances, but the euthanasia cases in New Orleans unveils the very problem with legalizing euthanasia: Who makes the decision?"
"Hippocrates recognized the fact that physicians are capable of being healers and they are capable of being killers," Schadenberg explained. "In order to protect patients, Hippocrates declared that a physician must ‘do no harm’ to their patients. Euthanasia in New Orleans proves to the world how easy it is for people who consider euthanasia as an option, to go from being healers to killers."
While Pou has escaped indictment on criminal charges, however, civil suits have been taken out against her by the families of three of the patients who she was accused of murdering.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Editorial: The Cruelest Irony of All - When "Those Who Heal You Will Kill You"
New Orleans Doctors Kill Patients Rather Than Leave Them to Looters, Then Flee
Doctor Charged in Katrina Deaths Denies Committing Murder, Euthanasia
Doctor and Two Nurses Arrested For Hurricane Katrina "Euthanasia" Nightmare
Court Documents: Hospital Gave Lethal Injections to Patients During Hurricane Katrina