By Kathleen Gilbert

DOVER, Delaware, November 20, 2008 ( – A disabled woman’s mother has reconciled with her ex-husband after having fought to remove her daughter’s feeding tube, and after state legislation rescued the woman from death by dehydration. The woman’s mother now confesses that her daughter should be able to live.

Lauren Richardson suffered severe brain damage following a 2006 heroin overdose.  Richardson, who was pregnant at the time, was able to deliver a healthy baby girl in February 2007 while on life support.

Since then, Richardson has continued to require nourishment through a feeding tube.  While doctors claim Lauren is in a Permanent Vegetative State (PVS), her father contests that she is responsive to stimuli such as voice and touch, and not terminally ill.

Richardson’s mother, Edith Towers, had argued that her daughter would have wanted her feeding tube removed in such a state.  In a seeming re-enactment of Terry Schiavo’s fate, a court had awarded Towers custody of her daughter, following the advice of doctors who claimed Richardson would not recover. 

But Lauren’s father, Randy Richardson, appealed the decision, and pursued legal intervention on Lauren’s behalf while attracting media attention to her case.  In July, he won the battle for Lauren’s life when the Delaware House of Representatives passed a resolution making it illegal to remove the feeding tube of a non-terminally ill person such as Richardson. 

“It is against the public policy of this State and this State’s interest in life, health and safety, for hydration and nutrition that is not harming a patient to be involuntarily removed from a non-terminal, apparently brain-incapacitated patient if doing so will cause the individual’s death,” said the resolution, which also explicitly named Lauren’s case as the impetus for the legislation.

Towers, however, continued to fight for permission to remove the feeding tube until September when, because of religious conviction and heartfelt interaction with her ex-husband’s family, she decided to join cooperatively with Richardson’s father to care for their daughter and to drop the court request.

“Everyone deserves a chance to recover. Life should be protected – not destroyed,” said Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Legal Counsel Matt Bowman about the case. “This change of heart and settlement has profoundly affected everyone involved. The miracle of life is not something that should be taken lightly.” 

Richardson’s father teamed up with the ADF in January to convince judges to investigate Richardson’s condition, which had been improperly placed in the PVS category – a diagnosis that has become increasingly undermined by the progress of medical science. 

Lauren Richardson wept emotionally when her mother informed her of the settlement and the reconciliation of her parents, confirming to the mother that her daughter is indeed aware and responsive. Both parents and their families continue to interact with her daily.

See previous coverage:

Delaware House Approves Resolution Protecting Woman from Dehydration/Starvation

Terri the Rerun?: Father Fights for Life of Cognitively Disabled Daughter