Peter J. Smith

Immigrant left to die by starvation after Jesuit hospital decides care is too expensive

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith
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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Rwandan immigrant who survived the genocide of 1994 has now had her life cut off by starvation and dehydration, reportedly because a U.S. hospital affiliated with Georgetown University decided that caring for the woman who lost her health insurance was too expensive.

The New York Times reports that Rachel Nyirahabiyambere, a 58-year-old grandmother and refugee from war-torn Rwanda, has been denied food and water since Feb. 19 after her feeding tube was removed.

“It’s all about money,” son Jerome Ndayishimiye, 33, told the Times.

“Now we are powerless spectators, just watching our mother die,” he said. “In our culture, we would never sentence a person to die from hunger.”

Unlike the Terri Schiavo case, every one of Nyirahabiyambere’s family members has been pleading for her right to live. Since last April, Nyirahabiyambere had been severely disabled after suffering a stroke. For eight months, she had been under the care of Georgetown University Hospital, a non-profit entity run by the MedStar Health Corporation and affiliated with the eponymous Catholic university. 

But the Times reports that the hospital, frustrated by the woman’s lack of insurance and inability to pay her medical bills, sought a court in Alexandria, Virginia to appoint a guardian for Nyirahabiyambere who would take the grandmother off their hands, on the basis that the family would not make a decision.

The Times reports that Nyirahabiyambere’s sons – immigrants who fled the violence in Rwanda and earned their way from menial jobs to master’s degrees – lost control of their mother’s situation when Judge Nolan B. Dawkins of Alexandria Circuit Court appointed attorney Andrea Sloan as her guardian, despite an apparent conflict of interest: Sloan was the guardian recommended by the attorney for Georgetown University Hospital, even though the family had asked for an independent attorney to represent their mother’s interests.

The Times reports that Sloan then transferred the mother to a nursing home in Millersville, Maryland. The hospital then agreed to pay the costs of nursing home care – but the financial burden assumed by Georgetown University Hospital in that situation was also shortlived. Sloan made arrangements to put Nyirahabiyambere in hospice care and have her feeding tube withdrawn, leaving her to starve to death.

Sloan explained to the Times that the family did not have a right to consume hospital resources that might be allocated to others with better chances of recovery.

“Hospitals cannot afford to allow families the time to work through their grieving process by allowing the relatives to remain hospitalized until the family reaches the acceptance stage, if that ever happens,” Andrea Sloan told the Times in an e-mail. “Generically speaking, what gives any one family or person the right to control so many scarce health care resources in a situation where the prognosis is poor, and to the detriment of others who may actually benefit from them?”

The Times reports that one of Nyirahabiyambere sons protested in a letter to Sloan that “Ending someone’s life by hunger is morally wrong and unrecognized in the culture of the people of Rwanda.”

Sloan, however, responded that she was trying to understand “your culture” and asked flippantly, “Feeding tubes are not part of your culture, are they?”

She said that unless they could prove their mother would like to live “with a feeding tube, in diapers, with no communication with anyone and in a nursing home” that she would not reinstate the feeding tube.

The Times notes that Nyirahabiyambere, the wife of a Baptist minister, came to the United States after surviving the horrors of the Rwandan genocide and violence in refugee camps that divided her family, made her a widow, and forced her to survive in the jungle for a time. Her sons, who became U.S. citizens, brought her to America, where she found work that gave her health care benefits.

Nyirahabiyambere, however, lost her health insurance because she left her job to follow her oldest son to Virginia and help take care of his grandchildren. Generally, U.S. health insurance is employer-based, and not portable for an individual that switches jobs.

Georgetown University Hospital, which says on its website that they provide “physicial and spiritual comfort to patients and families in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis – care of the person,” declined to tell the Times why they had washed their hands of Nyirahabiyambere’s case and omitted to intervene in Sloan’s course of action.

LifeSiteNews.com contacted the Maryland nursing home Wednesday where Nyirahabiyambere resided, but a spokeswoman said no one would be able to talk about her case, or even confirm if she were alive or dead.

Bobby Schinder of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network told LSN that he was trying to establish contact with the family, but admitted that at this late stage there might be little that could be done.

Contact information:

Georgetown University Hospital
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20007
202-444-2000
202-342-2400
Email: http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org/body.cfm?id=573
(scroll to bottom of page for email form)

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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