by Hilary White

HOUSTON, May 8, 2006 ( – Andrea Clark, the woman at the centre of a battle over the rights of patients not to be killed by their doctors, died peacefully of natural causes at St. Luke’s Episcopal hospital on Sunday at about 3 pm. Her new attending physician reported that Andrea’s heart naturally stopped beating. Andrea received the last sacraments of the Catholic Church on Saturday.

After suffering brain damage during surgery, the ethics committee at St. Luke’s voted behind closed doors to remove her from life support even though she was not terminally ill and had expressed her desire to live.

Clark’s family issued a statement saying “We hope that the battle that we fought for our sister will bring to light and bear witness to the horrible acts committed in the name of ethics in hospitals across the state of Texas.” A Texas law gives hospitals the power to decide if a patient’s life is “worth” maintaining against the wishes or beliefs of patients or their families.

Mark Pickup, founder of HumanLifeMatters, the Canadian affiliate of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, encouraged the people who had advocated on Andrea’s behalf. Pickup said, “So many people stood up for this defenseless woman. Andrea died naturally, without pain, surrounded by loved ones. It is all any of us can wish for at the end of our worldly lives.”

Andrea was left unable to breathe on her own after developing bleeding on her brain after open-heart surgery and needed a ventilator. She was also on a dialysis machine. Andrea told her family she wanted life sustaining treatment to continue until her natural death. Although she had suffered damage to her motor functions, her mental capacity was not affected.

The story caught the attention of the pro-life world and the hospital received floods of emails and phone calls on Andrea’s behalf. On May 3rd, the family announced that Dr. Matthew Lenz would be taking over her case and that the hospital would continue to provide life-sustaining and appropriate treatment.

Mrs. Melanie Childers, Andrea’s sister, told media that actions by pro-lifers around the world made the difference. “I think we should all be glad that this is an issue in which such a passionate and large group of people have chosen to wage war. Once these people get started, they are like a steamroller—they are going to run through the opposition.”

Under the principles of Bioethics, the philosophy that drives most hospital ethics committees, the preference is no longer for life, but for “quality of life,” which can be judged subjectively by doctors. Activists in the euthanasia movement have been very successful in using this trend to propose relaxing of laws against euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide in nearly every jurisdiction in the western world.

Read previous coverage:
  Alert Woman Threatened With Death After Houston Hospital Votes to Remove Life Support

Hospital Served “Cease and Desist” Order After Threatening Life-Support Removal

Success in Fight to Save Andrea Clark: St. Luke’s Hospital Backs Down