Hearing set for man targeted for death by dehydration

Terri Schiavo prior to her brain injury.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation is rallying public support ahead of a May 17 hearing scheduled for a brain-injured man who could be dehydrated to death.

The case recalls the headlines from 15 years ago or so when Terri Schiavo, also brain-injured, died after food and water were withheld from her.

WND began reporting on her story in 2002.

Read WND’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of her life-and-death fight, including more than 150 original stories and columns.

The new case involves Joshua Barras, who sustained a brain injury more than two years ago “after a tragic, drug-inducted, suicide attempt,” said the foundation, which has arranged for a lawyer to represent his mother, who wants to continue providing food and water, in the dispute.

“The wife of a brain-injured man in Louisiana is determined to dehydrate him to death by removing his nutrition and hydration,” the foundation wrote online. “The euphemism for this barbaric treatment is ‘comfort care.’ It used to be reserved for true end-of-life situations where a person with a terminal illness had only hours to live and could no longer assimilate food and water.”

But, the foundation said, “Today, however, ‘comfort care’ is routinely imposed on disabled, but otherwise healthy, people — without their consent.”

The foundation reported Barras is “responsive and can be seen smiling and even singing in videos. He can breathe on his own and is not on a ventilator, but he does require a feeding tube for nutrition and hydration. He is in excellent health and is being cared for in a long-term home for people with brain injuries.”

Life Legal explained his wife recently was on the Dr. Phil television show to explain her husband’s condition, according to the show promotion, “is deteriorating, and it’s time to let him pass away peacefully.”

Josh’s mother, Kelly Barras, disputes that, and the court hearing scheduled May 17 in a court in Louisiana could address who can make decisions for him.

On the television interview, Kelly Barras explained, “My daughter-in-law, Maegan, is trying to end my son’s life. It does seem like she has some urgency for him to die.”

Life Legal Defense Foundation said Josh Barras’ “wife insists that he be made dead. Last month we were successful in obtaining a court order mandating that Joshua continue to receive the care he needs, including food and water. ”

The couple was in divorce proceedings when Josh Barras was injured, the foundation explained.

The foundation said, “Pope John Paul II addressed the provision of nutrition and hydration to people with brain injuries individuals in response to efforts by Terri Schiavo’s husband to dehydrate and starve her to death. Pope John Paul II made it clear that ‘the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act,‘ and emphasized that food and water is ordinary care, ‘and as such morally obligatory…'”

Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schindler Schiavo, just a few years ago joined in the support for the child Charlie Gard in his struggle to live.

Gard was an 11-month-old British infant who suffered from a rare genetic mutation of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. The infant had brain damage, was blind and deaf, and needed a ventilator to breathe.

Britain’s High Court ruled that Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie was being treated, could take him off life support and let him die, against the wishes of his parents.

They had raised more than $1.8 million to bring Charlie either to the U.S. or to Rome for treatment, but the British government denied them permission even to travel with Charlie.

Schindler, president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, had argued for Gard’s life.

His sister died in 2005 after a court ordered removal of her feeding tube and water at the request of her husband. Since that time, Schindler has devoted himself to defending medically vulnerable people.

Schindler said at that time of Charlie Gard’s case he saw a disturbing rise in cases like Charlie’s, which he attributes to cost-cutting initiatives.

“We currently live in a health-care system that is hyper-focused on controlling costs in terms of providing treatment,” he said. “The problem, it seems to me, is that decisions are now made on the premise that instead of providing long-term ‘costly’ care, it is much cheaper to deny care, especially if the hospital decides that the treatment is not going to have much success.

“Sadly, since we established the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network after Terri died, we are seeing an increase in situations like Charlie’s, which are often described as medical futility-denial of care cases,” Schindler continued. “Undoubtedly, with rising concerns in the costs, and bioethicists and ethics committees making quality of life judgments, persons need to understand the potential risks they may face and the real possibilities of being denied wanted, needed and helpful treatment.”

Schindler warns that people should learn more about their own medical rights, in case a situation like Charlie’s or Terri’s should ever happen to them.

In 1990, Terri, at age 26, collapsed in her St. Petersburg, Florida, home for a reason that still hasn’t been explained and was taken to a hospital by first responders who feared she was dead. She was comatose for a time, then started responding and was moved to a care center. Her family members say she was getting better before her court-ordered starvation.

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