Wednesday, December 17, 2008
December 16, 2008. By Heidi Turner
Lakeport, CA: In a move that shows how horrified the public is about financial elder abuse, a jury convicted a woman of one count of felony financial abuse and one count of felony elder abuse and neglect. The victim's story shows how far some people are willing to go to make money off those who cannot care for themselves. The senior was the victim of financial abuse, but was also not given the medical and physical care he required. Thankfully, the courts do not look kindly on people who violate financial elder abuse laws.
The story itself is appalling. A 53-year-old woman, Shauna Michelle Brewster, took advantage of a 75-year-old man for a year-and-a-half, according to the Lake County News. Brewster was named private conservator for the man, Lawrence Russell, in 2003. Russell was completely unable to care for himself physically and financially, and therefore required someone to help take care of him. Unfortunately, the person who came forward to help Russell was really only interested in helping herself.
Brewster helped herself so much that Russell's medical bills and mortgage were not paid, nor were his other bills. In fact, his debt was left for so long that Russell's home went into foreclosure. By that time, of course, there was next to nothing left in Russell's bank account. Brewster's job, as Russell's conservator, was to ensure that his bills were paid and his finances were looked after, but Brewster instead wrote checks from Russell's account to her boyfriend, her manicurist or her grocery story.
How much money was taken? In just 3 months while Russell was at a nursing facility, Brewster received $4,000 in cash back from Russell's account. According to prosecutors, there is no reason to believe that the $4,000 was used to help Russell. Russell wound up in the nursing home because of the serious neglect he was subjected to. It was so bad that Russell's health was endangered, including second and third degree burns on parts of his upper body that were not treated and became infected. Luckily, protective services and concerned neighbors got involved in the situation and Russell received important medical intervention.
Brewster now faces up to 5 years in prison for her actions, but whether or not Russell will get any of his money back remains to be seen.
Unfortunately, there are many people like Brewster out there: people who are more interested in making a quick, illegal buck than in actually helping a senior out. Russell trusted the woman who was named his conservator, but she victimized him and subjected him to serious medical problems.
What sets Russell's case apart from others is that action was taken on his behalf and justice was served. In many cases, the senior does not realize what is happening or is too afraid or ashamed to take any action. All too often, the victimizer gets away with the abuse and the victim is left to pick up the pieces alone, if he or she survives the abuse at all.
Sometimes, the abuse even comes at the hands of a family member or trusted relative. A woman was recently arrested for using her 90-year-old stepfather's money for unauthorized purchases. In all, the woman used almost $5,000, according to the Victorville Daily Press. The woman was arrested after the victim noticed 30 unauthorized transactions on his account. He then called the police, suspecting that his stepdaughter was the guilty party. Evidence, including surveillance footage, allegedly shows that the woman used her stepfather's ATM card illegally. She was arrested for theft by access card and elder abuse.
As awareness about financial elder abuse grows, so will the number of people willing to take action against those who abuse them. There are laws to protect seniors from financial elder abuse and the courts, and the general public, do not look kindly on those who would abuse members of such a vulnerable population.
Financial Elder Abuse Legal Help
If you have suffered losses in this case, please send your complaint to a lawyer who will review your possible [Financial Elder Abuse Lawsuit] at no cost or obligation
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Hot News frum Big-Mouth Broad Casting;
Dec. 9, 2008
A killer argument against assisted suicide
In exposing the euthanasia lobby’s disregard for equality before the law, and for free will itself, Neil M Gorsuch has written the most important book yet on the ‘right to die’.
by Kevin Yuill
Given the currency of the issue of assisted suicide, it is surprising how few well-written books arguing against changing the law to allow euthanasia have been published.
There are a few lucid arguments in favour of changing the law. The best texts to appear so far address the issue from a philosophical perspective. The books produced by Margaret Battin, Ronald Dworkin and Peter Singer present direct philosophical arguments in favour of changing the law to allow assisted suicide, though they do not deal with specifics. In Europe, Raymond Tallis, John Harris, John Griffiths and others have argued in favour of legalisation from a medical-legal perspective.
However, there have been far fewer book-length treatises from the ‘against assisted suicide’ camp. Ian Dowbiggin, though opposed to legalisation, has produced the best history of euthanasia and assisted suicide to date, but, as good histories should be, it is objective. Physician Ezekiel Emmanuel has produced several excellent articles containing secular arguments against assisted suicide.
Now, with his book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Neil M Gorsuch is clearly filling a gap in the debate about assisted suicide.
Gorsuch comes at the question from a legal perspective and is well qualified in legal philosophy. A former clerk to US Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, he was nominated by President George W Bush and confirmed by Congress last year as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The remit of this book is, as Gorsuch tells us, ‘to introduce and critically examine the primary legal and ethical arguments deployed by those who favour legalisation, and to set forth an argument for retaining existing law that few have stopped to consider’. Readers (like myself) who might not warm to the task of following the circuitous logic of American law courts would do well to persevere, for Gorsuch lucidly lays out key ethical and philosophical arguments on both sides.
“For Plato, suicide was an ‘unjust judgement of death’ that sprung from ‘a spirit of slothful and abject cowardice’”
Gorsuch begins by showing how the debate remains unfinished within the context of American law. He then provides an excellent chapter on the history of assisted suicide and suicide. Punching holes in the classical pretensions of some advocates, he notes Plato’s condemnation of suicide as akin to a soldier leaving his post. In Laws, Plato condemned suicide on the grounds that it ‘imposes [an] unjust judgment [of death] on [oneself] in a spirit of slothful and abject cowardice’.
An outstanding historical point – again, a useful counterpoint to the claim by supporters of assisted suicide that they are carrying on an Enlightenment tradition – is that the more lenient attitude towards suicide, away from the medieval tradition of burying the suicide at a crossroads with a stake through them, reflected the view that suicides were often the result of madness, rather than malfeasance. As Gorsuch rightly declares, ‘it is a large leap from that merciful fact to the conclusion that suicide had become normalised in law, let alone a matter of legal right’ (2).
Most of the other chapters deal with the ethical and logical problems with arguments in favour of assisted suicide. Gorsuch reconstructs the arguments of advocates before effectively knocking them down. Willing participation of the victim does not render the act harmless or victimless. As Gorsuch shows, repeating arguments by John Stuart Mill, it takes nothing away from our ‘freedom’ to be prevented from duelling, selling one’s organs, or selling oneself into slavery. There are some activities prevented by a liberal or even libertarian society for the good of all. It would be perverse to say that the prevention of any of theses activities – or suicide – destroys the basis to our freedom.
Gorsuch spends altogether too much time on the canard of autonomy. It needs to be said that all are free to commit suicide, a reflection upon the impracticality of making suicide illegal. What is being requested today, however, is the right to kill those we judge (and who agree with our judgement) to be living worthless lives.
As Gorsuch notes, few argue that all must have the right to be killed if they cannot kill themselves. This leads pro-assisted suicide commentators to draw lines between those with terminal illnesses and others. One of Gorsuch’s stronger and more original arguments shows that delineation between the terminally-ill and everyone else (the basis for Oregon’s definition between those who qualify for assisted suicide and those who do not) erodes equality. To be treated as equals before the law can bear no demarcations between subjects; we cannot set down simple criteria for which lives are worth living and which are not. The arbitrariness of a line based on physical health matches the arbitrariness of lines between, say, Jews and Gentiles. How can one judge the worth of an individual’s life in such random and simple terms?
There is, as Gorsuch makes clear in a laugh-out-loud section (how many books on law or, indeed, assisted suicide can boast of this?) on Peter Singer, a real question of what constitutes a ‘person’ or ‘personhood’ running throughout the debate. Gorsuch demonstrates how Singer’s grotesque argument that a newborn infant can be killed because it is not an autonomous, self-aware being ‘is but a modest extension of the argument advanced by Ronald Dworkin or Margaret Battin’ that we should ignore the demented pleas of an Alzheimer’s patient because they had given a prior request to be killed when dementia sets in (please don’t laugh yet!). Using Singer’s somewhat simple-minded thesis based on a being’s autonomic qualities, Gorsuch concludes that a diet of spring lamb rather than mutton, veal rather than steak and poussin rather than chicken would be appropriate. We cannot establish who deserves to live and who does not on the basis of whether they are self-aware.
“Gorsuch’s concept of the inviolability and the inherent value of human life is somewhat mystical”
Yet Gorsuch also stumbles on the question of personhood. His concept of the inviolability and the inherent value of human life as it is now constituted is somewhat mystical. Humanity is defined socially and historically rather than suspended through time and space, like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We define humanity through our relations with others and recognise even the profoundly disabled as human, no matter what Peter Singer argues. Gorsuch would doubtlessly agree that if the profoundly and hopelessly disabled were killed, the importance would be the diminished humanity of those who did the act. Though Gorsuch is correct to note the erosion of the concept of human equality, and thus of humanity itself, the idealist hinge to his arguments must be questioned. It is possible to make a secular case against assisted suicide without the shadow of God looming behind.
Apropos of this, abortion is barely mentioned by Gorsuch but is germane, especially because proponents use the association with anti-abortion to gain support amongst liberals. It would be difficult to justify abortion using Gorsuch’s inherent value of human life without justifying why this should exist from birth and not before. However, it is perfectly possible to argue that placing real value on human life as it is lived between us allows us to prioritise the existing humanity of a woman over the potential humanity of a fetus.
Gorsuch might also be open to the criticism that he does not adequately track the changing justifications for and against assisted suicide. In response to the charge that doctors regularly despatch patients by giving them enough morphine both to kill the pain and the patient, assisted-suicide advocates call for the process to be regulated; though the argument will not appeal to libertarians, it may build on common fears and negate the occasionally hysterical ‘slippery slope’ argument. The issue of disabled rights has also been used to justify legalising assisted suicide; if the able-bodied can do it, why shouldn’t disabled people?
Gorsuch’s book has been criticised for being too abstract, for not dealing with practical issues (3). But if anything, it is not abstract enough. The problem exists almost wholly within the minds of those for whom death is still a distant prospect. It is worth remembering that in Oregon less than one per cent of those who qualify for assisted suicide actually take that option. Despite Gorsuch’s somewhat flimsy supply-and-demand argument (legalisation will create a market for assisted suicide), the evidence from Oregon shows there is no real increase in the numbers annually who opt for assisted suicides.
With these qualifications in mind, Gorsuch’s best contribution – one that is profoundly important – is his insistence that intention be the gauge of actions taken regarding assisted suicide. If a patient requests to be withdrawn from life-saving equipment with the intention of destroying herself, the doctor must refuse the request. If the doctor kills a patient with an overdose of morphine but with the intention of relieving pain, the doctor’s action is justified.
The intention argument directs the issue away from the purported needs of the ‘patient’ towards the rightness or wrongness of an action, towards the actor himself. Gorsuch elaborates on Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ discussion of intent: ‘[E]ven a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.’ As Gorsuch notes, ‘[t]o kick a dog intentionally – to choose to hurt an animal – says something about the kicker, his or her way of interacting with animals, and, perhaps, it tells us about the kicker’s character and beliefs, about who the kicker is.’(4)
“In Oregon, less than one per cent of those who qualify for assisted suicide actually take that option”
This intent idea is important, for it places actions in relation to assisted suicide back within a moral sphere. The emphasis on intention also militates against the corrosive idea that there is little to delineate between conscious human actions and unconscious human actions, something that those who would condemn ‘climate criminals’ or equate drunk-driving with murder seek to deny. As Gorsuch comments: ‘To disregard whether or not an act is intended would be…in a very real way to disregard the role of the free will in the world – leaving, for example, those who fail to assist charities that feed the hungry open to the same censure and penalties as those who would starve such persons.’ (5) To put it another way, the driver who speeds with reckless disregard for the lives of others but who has no intent to harm the child is different to the depraved killer who deliberately aims for the child.
Gorsuch’s emphasis on doing rather than on being done to, on intent rather than effect, begins to put the argument about assisted suicide back on track. If trust is to be rebuilt between doctor and patient we must believe that doctors really do have our best interests at heart rather than treating them as all potential Mengeles or Shipmans and demanding regulations.
To conclude, Gorsuch’s is the most important book published so far in consideration of ethical and legal issues. As any good book should, it raises as many questions as it provides answers, advancing a continuing dialogue.
Kevin Yuill is lecturer in American studies at the University of Sunderland. He is the author of Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action, published by Rowman & Littlefield. Buy this book from Amazon(UK) or Amazon(USA).
The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Neil M Gorsuch is published by Princeton University Press. (Buy this book from Amazon(UK).)
(1) See Physician-Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate, Margaret Battin (ed.), 1998; The Least Worst Death: Essays in the Bioethics at the End of Life, Margaret Battin, 1994; Life’s Dominion: An Argument about Abortion and Euthanasia, Ronald Dworkin, 1993; Rethinking Life & Death: The Collapse of Our Traditional Ethics, Peter Singer, 1994; Euthanasia and the Law in the Netherlands, John Griffiths, et al., 1998.
(2) The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Neil M Gorsuch, Princeton University Press, 2006, p31
(3) Legal scholar Stephen Arons complains: ‘But the primary weakness of the book is that its approach, while not insensitive at all, is nonetheless too detached from the realities to which its ideas are meant to apply.’ See Law and Politics Book Review Vol. 17 No. 1 (January, 2007) pp.5-10.
(4) The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Neil M Gorsuch, Princeton University Press, 2006, p55
(5) The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Neil M Gorsuch, Princeton University Press, 2006, p56
Hot News frum Big Mouth Broad Casting;
December 9, 2008
Mother arrested as 'yuppie-flu' daughter is found dead after 16 years in bed
By Vanessa Allen, Colin Fernandez and Tamara Cohen
Last updated at 7:25 AM on 09th December 2008
A mother who nursed her daughter for 17 years with the disease ME has been arrested on suspicion of her murder following what is believed to have been a 'mercy killing'.
Police sources revealed that Lynn Gilderdale, 31, died from a massive overdose of morphine after attempting suicide with the same drug at least twice during her battle with the debilitating condition.
Detectives arrested her mother Kay, 54, over suspicions that she helped administer the fatal dose after watching her daughter suffer since she was 14.
Bedridden Victim Lynn Gilderdale, 31, had been confined to her home for 16 years
Mrs Gilderdale, a trained nurse, was the full-time carer for her frail daughter, who had been bedridden for more than 16 years and was taking a cocktail of drugs for her condition.
Police were called to their bungalow in Stonegate, near Heathfield, East Sussex, on Thursday after the alarm was raised by Lynn's father, Mrs Gilderdale's ex-husband Richard, a former police sergeant.
Mrs Gilderdale was arrested on suspicion of murder, interviewed and released on police bail on Friday. The suspected 'mercy killing' will reignite the right-to-die debate over assisted suicide.
Yesterday she and her ex-husband released a statement on behalf of their family.
Pointedly referring to Mrs Gilderdale's 'total dedication' to her daughter, they said: 'Lynn was young, beautiful, loving and caring. At the age of 14 years she was struck down by ME - an illness greatly misunderstood - and as a result, suffered the stigma attached to this dreadful illness.
'She fought long and hard for 17 years with immense bravery, enduring constant pain and sickness.
'Every system of her body was affected. She required 24-hour care that was provided by her totally- dedicated mother, with continuous support from Lynn's father.'
They said Lynn had been active and healthy until she was 14. She had a tuberculosis immunisation in November 1991 and immediately felt unwell.
She was diagnosed with ME in May 1992 and was left bedridden by her severe condition. She had been unable to speak since August that year.
Her family said: 'Prior to her illness, which left her paralysed, unable to speak, eat or drink and until recently, no memory, she was an active healthy teenager full of life's dreams.
'She enjoyed sailing, swimming, cycling and was an accomplished musician. Her family praise and admire Lynn for her courage, which she showed to the end.
'She was a much-loved daughter, sister and granddaughter who despite her illness always gave love and support to others.
GILL SWAIN: I've seen patients paralysed dying Aids victims, starving children... but I've never seen anyone as ill as Lynn
'Lynn's family say her death will leave a massive void in their lives - and the love she gave so unreservedly, will be missed every minute of the day.' Police were called to the £400,000 bungalow at 8.30am on Thursday. Mrs Gilderdale was arrested just after 10am.
A post-mortem examination has been carried out but police refused to reveal the cause of death pending further toxicology tests.
Chief Inspector Heather Keating said: 'This is a very tragic incident. We are not looking for anyone else in connection with it.'
A Sussex police spokesman said Mr Gilderdale, who still works for the force in a civilian role, was not suspected of any involvement in his daughter's death.
He split from his wife in 2002. The couple, who also have a son, Steven, said their divorce had not been caused by their daughter's illness.
Mr Gilderdale still lives nearby and is said to have visited his daughter daily and to have helped with her day-to-day care.
He was with his Irish-born ex-wife at the family home yesterday, where she was being comforted by her sister.
Mrs Gilderdale has been a prominent campaigner over the illness which struck down her daughter.
The family statement added: 'In life, Lynn strove to help the medical profession improve their insight into ME which affects thousands of people, in varying degrees of severity.
'Her dedicated mother, supported by Lynn's family, has pledged to achieve her ultimate goal - for better understanding and recognition of this life-destroying illness.'
THE AGONISING TRUTH ABOUT 'YUPPIE FLU'
ME affects up to 250,000 sufferers in Britain. Although it was first documented in the 1930s, it was not officially recognised by the Government's medical advisers until 2002.
Until then victims of myalgic encephalomyelitis were often dismissed as having 'yuppie flu', as its symptoms were considered particularly common among overworked middle-class professionals.
Common symptoms include severe fatigue, painful muscles and joints, insomnia, gastric disorders and poor memory and concentration. There is currently no test or cure and doctors are able to diagnose it only after ruling out other possible causes, including flu, diabetes and depression.
The condition usually develops during the early twenties to mid-forties although children can also be affected, most probably between the ages of 13 and 15. Women account for up to three-quarters of all cases.
Prior to her illness at the age of 12, Lynn enjoyed a normal childhood before being struck down.
Sufferers include the athlete Dame Kelly Holmes, who was struck down in 2001 but recovered and went on to win double gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Scientists believe it could be carried in the genes, or be set off by a 'trigger' including bacterial illness, a viral infection such as glandular fever, stress, depression or a reaction to a traumatic event, such as bereavement or redundancy.
Some sufferers recover fully within two years and the majority learn to manage their condition with anti-depressants and painkillers and through avoiding stress, monitoring their energy levels and taking gentle exercise.
But around a quarter go on to develop severe ME lasting for years or even decades, often leaving them completely housebound and totally reliant on carers.
In his 2002 report the Chief Medical Officer, Liam Donaldson, said ME 'should be classified as a chronic condition with long-term effects on health, alongside other illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease.'