Florida Woman’s Family Goes to Court to Stop Feeding Tube Removal

By Hilary White and John Jalsevac

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, June 5, 2008 ( - Another Florida woman who receives food and hydration through a feeding tube, is at the center of a court case that is strongly reminiscent of the Terri Schiavo case.

Karen Weber, 57, was hospitalized after she suffered a stroke in December and receives food and hydration through a feeding tube. Her husband Raymond Weber has gone to court, over the wishes of her mother, to have the feeding tube removed so that she can be "allowed to die".

The Associated Press says that Raymond Weber argues his wife is in a "vegetative state" but his lawyer says that he does not want his situation "to turn into a Terri Schiavo-type circus". Attorney Colin Cameron said, "Mr. Weber is of the opinion that Karen does not want to live as a vegetable and that she would prefer the body to take its natural course".

In March, a judge ruled for Karen’s mother, Martha Tatro, and ordered that Karen’s feeding tube be maintained. The judge also appointed a committee to evaluate her condition.

Karen’s family says they will "be defending Karen to the end". The family says that Karen communicates using body language and told her family she wanted to keep her feeding tube in March and April. Karen shows signs that she is conscious and alert.

The attorney for the Tatro family, Joseph Rodowicz, said, "I actually witnessed her moving her hands and responding. Based on that, my view of the law is that she’s competent enough to make her own determinations, and she made it clear to me that she does not want to go to hospice."

Rodowicz said, "People wake up from comas. ... She’s certainly not in a vegetative state."

Colin Cameron said that Mr. Weber is willing to wait for the outcome of the assessment of Karen’s competency and did not challenge the court order. "There is no intent at this point to fight what’s going on," AP quotes Cameron saying.

Alex Schadenberg, the chairman of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, decried this most recent "Schiavo-like" case, which he says is merely the latest in a growing list of such cases.

"The case of Terri Schiavo was a turning point in the history of the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide," Schadenberg told "While people grieved and mourned the death of Terri, the euthanasia lobby accomplished its goal of making sure that Terri died by dehydration.

"With all these horrific cases, the first case is always the greatest shock to the public. Now that the option of dehydrating a person to death is not only publicly known, but also supported by much of the medical community and upheld by the courts we are facing many more similar cases."
  He concluded, "We can only hope that people everywhere will wake up to the horror of what euthanasia by dehydration entails and force lawmakers and ethicists to reverse the course of decisions and stop this horror from continuing."

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