Rachel Bohannon

12-year-old gunshot victim declared in ‘vegetative state’ now talking: will make full recovery

Rachel Bohannon
By Rachel Bohannon

October 9, 2012 (Texas Right to Life) - A 12-year-old boy, whose doctor claimed he was in a “persistent vegetative state” after suffering a gunshot wound to the head, is now talking and receiving physical therapy at a Dallas hospital.

On August 6, Zach McDaniel was shot in the head as a bystander when he got caught in the crossfire of a drug deal gone bad. He was rushed to emergency surgery in Abilene, placed in a drug-induced coma, and then transferred to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth on a ventilator.

Upon transfer, Cook Children’s staff claimed that Zach’s prognosis was poor, and that part of his brain had been removed during surgery. They pressured Zach’s parents to sign an organ donation consent form.

However, a brain scan later revealed that Zach’s brain was intact. The staff said that there must have been miscommunication between the two hospitals.


But just a week later, the hospital convened an ethics committee, an entity under Texas law that has the power to terminate a patient’s care after 10 days. It was the committee’s opinion that any further care for Zach would be futile, and moved to terminate care. Zach’s parents pleaded for the hospital to give him time to recover. But because of procedural mistakes, the committee did not technically convene, and their ruling didn’t stand.

Three days after that, Zach was able to breathe on his own. Yet, on that same day, Zach’s doctor secretly withdrew Zach’s food and water, then slipped a “Do Not Resuscitate” order into his chart without his parent’s knowledge or consent. Dehydration can cause—among other serious problems—cardiac arrest. But with the DNR in his file, if Zach did need help, the hospital would have done nothing to save his life.

When Zach’s mother, Jessica, discovered the DNR and realized that her son wasn’t receiving food and water, she was alarmed and called Texas Right to Life for help.

Texas Right to Life’s legislative director, John Seago, advised Jessica to confront the doctor. Removing a patient’s food and water without the approval of the hospital’s ethics committee is illegal. However, the secret DNR was legal under Texas law. John promised Jessica legal aid if the need arose.

When Jessica confronted the doctor, he reluctantly reinstated the food and water and removed the DNR order, but claimed that Zach was in a “persistent vegetative state.” He made it clear that he no longer wished to treat Zach, and advised Jessica to find another place to take her son.

With John’s help, Zach was moved to the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, where doctors were hopeful and said that Zach had a survivable injury. Doctors there slowly weaned Zach off the sedatives in order to bring him out of his drug-induced coma. Now, Zach is fully conscious, talking, and receiving physical therapy.

John Seago details Zach’s recovery: “Zach has regular short term and long term memory capacity. He has had both a successful brain surgery, and reconstructive surgery to repair his skull from damage caused by the bullet.

“Currently, he is in the process of moving to a full in-patient rehabilitation facility where they will help him recover fine motor skills and the ability to walk again. He was in a drug-induced coma for so long that his body has to relearn these simple functions. However, his doctors expect him to have a full physical recovery, with the only lasting damage being weakened vision in his left eye.

“Zach’s recovery is a victory for Life, and a testimony that we should fight for all innocent human life without making arbitrary quality of life judgements.”

To keep their son alive, Zach’s parents were forced to fight an unethical Texas law, the Advance Directives Act, that allowed a physician to place a possibly life-ending DNR in Zach’s chart without their consent or notice. The Act also empowers doctors and hospitals to terminate all care against the patient’s will and the will of his family, even if they have the means to pay.

I am thrilled to share Zach’s story with you today. His has a happy ending; but unfortunately, cases like his are becoming more common, and don’t always end as well as Zach’s. Sign up to receive our breaking news alerts, and learn of these cases as they happen.

Reprinted with permission from Texas Right to Life

Editor’s Note: Due to a Disqus error, the comments for this story are located under another story here. The comments that are currently under this story are from the story New York Life Chain stretches 19 miles long, report says.

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights. Shutterstock.com
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon / Shutterstock.com
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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