By Hilary White

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida, July 11, 2008 ( – Another young person has been dehydrated to death in the same hospice in Florida where Terri Schindler Schiavo met her court-ordered end. Bradley Whaley, 26, was severely brain damaged by an overdose of drugs and was minimally conscious, according to media reports. He died July 2 after the Hospice of Florida Suncoast removed his food and hydration tube.

After Bradley’s collapse, his mother said she and her husband did nothing but “work, sleep and spend time with Bradley”. His family cared for him for three years but in the end they transferred Bradley to the Hospice of Florida Suncoast, the same hospice in which Terri Schiavo died after having her assisted nutrition and hydration tube removed.

Sue Whaley told the St. Petersburg Times that Bradley would “mouth” the word ‘mama’ and would kiss her if she leaned close enough.

Wesley J. Smith, a lawyer and critic of secular bioethics, wrote of the case that it illustrated the new medical ethics paradigm, based on “quality of life” criteria, in which patients who cannot speak or feed themselves are now at risk of being killed by dehydration.

“For more than ten years I have been telling anyone who will listen that unquestionably conscious cognitively disabled patients are being denied sustenance in every state in this country—so long as no family member objects,” Smith writes.

But the “bigger story”, he said, was the “blasé, matter-of-fact” way in which the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg Times covered the story. The Times gave a glowing biographical account of Bradley’s life in which the fact that he was killed by having food and water withdrawn was given a scant single line.

Smith comments that the Times “exhibited profound, nay, nasty, bias against the Schindlers during the Schiavo debacle”.

“Can you imagine the paper’s reaction had a dog or a horse been denied sustenance?”

The real issue, Smith says, is that profoundly cognitively disabled patients are now at risk wherever they are.

“The wall was breached allowing utilitarian bioethical values to come pouring in. Now, virtually anyone who needs a feeding tube and can’t make their own decisions—conscious or not—can and are being denied food and water.”