.- David Gibbs, lead counsel for the parents of the late Terri Schiavo, has called on a Georgia Probate Court Judge to protect the innocent life of Mae Magouirk, an 81-year-old widow whose feeding tube was removed with court permission.
Mae Magouirk was placed in a LaGrange, Georgia, medical facility March 13 with a dissected aorta, a congenital medical condition shared by other members of her family. But her granddaughter, Elizabeth Gaddy, had her placed in a hospice March 22, despite objections by Magouirk's sister and brother, who are her closest next of kin.
Magouirk's siblings discovered March 31 that Gaddy had decided her grandmother would be denied life-sustaining nourishment and fluids, even though she was not terminal, comatose, or in a vegetative state, and even though the provisions of her living will request feeding and hydration.
Magouirk’s siblings brought this matter before the courts and the media in an attempt to save her life.
After court proceedings, the intervention of a panel of three doctors, the support of the friends of Terri Schiavo, and the outreach by her siblings in neighboring Alabama, Magouirk was rescued from Hospice LaGrange April 9 and flown by lifesaver helicopter to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, where she is now receiving nourishment, fluids and proper medical attention.
Although a Troup County Probate Court compromise was reached April 4, Magouirk’s nephew, Kenneth Mullinax, reports that Gaddy was appointed as temporary guardian by Judge Donald W. Boyd and has issued an order to the UAB Medical Center denying other family members full visitation rights and access to medical information.
Magouirk's brother filed a motion April 13, asking for restoration of visitation rights and medical record access for family members.
"I am shocked and dismayed that within mere hours of Terri's death, another court in Georgia was subjecting an 81-year-old widow to the very same inhumane treatment as Terri Schiavo," said David Gibbs, who was contacted by Mullinax regarding the case.
Gibbs said he urged Judge Boyd to grant the family’s request and to “go one step farther and recognize Beth Gaddy's financial interest in this case.
“Not unlike Michael Schiavo's conflict of interest with his wife, Beth Gaddy and her brother and sister are the sole beneficiaries of Mrs. Magouirk's estate,” Gibbs said. “As such, Ms. Gaddy should not be given court authority to make medical care decisions intended to result in Mrs. Magouirk's death in violation of her written living will."
Gibbs added that Magouirk has a living will, an element that the Schiavo case did not have.
"It would seem obvious that Judge Boyd should honor Mrs. Magouirk's living will and award her guardianship to family members who would honor her wishes,” said Gibbs.
“This case again points up the need for our nation to seriously consider the need for federal legislation permitting federal habeas-type review for court decisions that are intended to result in the death of the elderly and disabled."