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April 17, 2005

Feeding Resumed for Mexican Woman in Vegetative State

Topics: News

Reprinted with Permission from La Raza - thanks to Jorge Mederos who first reported the news about Clara Martinez while other media outlets ignored her.

Chicago - By the intervention of the State of Illinois government, feeding was resumed for Clara Martinez, a Mexican woman in a vegetative state. She had been 30 days without food per her husband's decision.

Some forty people were brought together by the Hispanic Evangelical Church for a vigil of prayers and hymns. They were greeted with the news that she was once again receiving nutrition.

"Thanks be to God, our sister is being cared for," said Bolivian Pastor Guillermo Espinoza.

Sources at the state's Department of Human Services told the EFE wire service that the woman's gastric feeding tube was ordered reconnected after the visit by an inspector to the house where she is being attended.

Authorities would otherwise have ordered her moved to a hospital.

According to Espinoza, the state's intervention resulted from pressure by the press and right-to-life organizations in the US.

"Her husband could think it over, and now there will be more appeals at the legal level," he affirmed.

Peter Farrel, Clara's brother, followed the vigil from a distance and said he was grateful for the prayers.

Asked about his sister's condition, he responded with "She's fine" and no more.

Before the start of the vigil, Peter and other relatives approached Pastor Espinoza trying to dissuade him. The family has tried to keep the matter out of public scrutiny, although in private they have declared their opposition to the husband's decision.

Clara Martínez, 39 years old and mother of children aged 5 and 7 years, has been brain-dead [see note below] for a year and a half. For the previous 30 days she was taking only water.

After suffering a stroke, she was attended in a hospital, then in an intermediate care clinic, after which she returned to the hospital. A year ago she was taken to her home in Chicago's southeast side.

Salvador Martínez, her 35-year-old husband and legal guardian, also Mexican, decided that his wife should not live artificially. He signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" order so she wouldn't be revived by artificial measures and disconnected the feeding apparatus.

The case, made public by "La Raza" newspaper, had immediate repercussions in the community of almost a million Mexicans who live in Illinois.

Furthermore, several right-to-life organizations, especially the movement that emerged with the Terri Schiavo case, pressured authorities with threats of recourse to a restraining order for legal protection for the Mexican woman.

These organizations also offered legal assistance to the family of Clara Martínez to fight in court against her husband's decision.

Schiavo, an American, was disconnected from her feeding tube on March 18 by judicial order. She died of starvation fourteen days later, after a drawn-out judicial and legislative battle between her relatives and her husband.

BlogsforTerri Note - we appreciate the article but wonder if the choice of "brain-dead" to describe Clara's condition was a translation error considering she consumes fluids orally and reportedly responds to others.

Lydia adds the following in our comments section:

She absolutely cannot be brain dead if she breathes on her own, etc. There certainly are problems with "brain death" (I know CURE talks about these), but at a minimum it is not supposed to apply to people with functioning brain stems who breathe on their own. The extension of the term to apply to people in a PVS (which Clara probably isn't, anyway) IS A MERE ERROR. I'm sorry to see LaRaza perpetuating it, but it's happening a lot in the media these days.

Related Posts:

Posted by tim at April 17, 2005 6:34 PM

Articles Related to News:


Pastor Espinoza says that she blinks her eyes in response to questions when asked to, and moves her arms. She doesn't sound as though she's in a PVS. Has this been medically verified?

Posted by: Cao at April 17, 2005 7:37 PM

She absolutely cannot be brain dead if she breathes on her own, etc. There certainly are problems with "brain death" (I know CURE talks about these), but at a minimum it is not supposed to apply to people with functioning brain stems who breathe on their own. The extension of the term to apply to people in a PVS (which Clara probably isn't, anyway) IS A MERE ERROR. I'm sorry to see LaRaza perpetuating it, but it's happening a lot in the media these days.

Posted by: Lydia at April 17, 2005 8:13 PM

Wellll that (PVS) is subject to a wide variation in interpretation...as we have learned from Terri's ordeal. We really do have to stop using PVS as a descriptor in our posts. It is such a debated term and it presents the patient in the worst possible manner. The term "PVS" automatically conveys "hopeless". I might add that the medical use of "irreversable" is not the same as "PVS"....Irreversable means her brain is not going to get better..PVS means she is unreachable.(where have we heard that before?)or so some doctors think.... One legal difference between Fla and Ill is that Ill does not call food and water by tube "artificial life support"..
But the functional definition of PVS is a medical debate that (I bet) will cause us to possibly see Dr Cranford again.....The family had better get some great legal representation and move quickly to become Clara's legal guardian. They could possibly do this on the grounds that the husband has attempted to cause grave harm to Clara and has endangered her welfare; thus he is not suitable to be her Guardian (at this time) As time goes on it gets increasingly more difficult to change the Guardian. But the mother needs to get a hold of the guardianship NOW>

I am hoping that as the husband is provided with more financial options and care options for his wife that he will relent . It could be that this man is overwhelmed and terribly burdened by his wife's condition and needs. I am hoping that is what it is ...being provided with medical, financial and care help could encourage him to change his mind. He's huirting emotionlly and so burdened right now....( what about all those neurologists who thought Terri could benefit from rehab...? those type of programs could be available for Clara too)
I am so anxious for more information....
I just pray that the Right to die vultures do not come swooping into Chicago....PRAY

Posted by: JoJoFox at April 17, 2005 8:20 PM

Hey Eyes Wide Open and Tom Spence,

For want of a blogger to blog with I scrolled down and discovered comments you made under the Tom Delay article. I've let the Delay side of things slide while I busied myself elsewhere, but that was wrong, wrong, wrong.

If we don't help the ones who stand up for life, if we let them fall then we are one down for each one that goes down and much worse,we have sent a message of non support to any one that might consider sticking their neck out in the future.

Tim, Richard, Earl, Beth, etc....Can we stand 5,000 strong behind Delay? If you can find us a method I will round up everyone I can to weigh in.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 17, 2005 8:21 PM

Cao, thank you *sooo much* for actually going to the prayer gathering today in Chicago for Clara, and reporting back to us (great report).

Lydia, thank you for your clarification on brain death.

Yes, we must continue to clarify what is *not* brain death, and also how subject to interpretation the "PVS" diagnosis is.

Jo, I am praying. I hope like you that Clara's husband will receive financial support to the point that if that has been the burden on him, that his heart will soften now. I am praying for that.

Yes, this is still not over...nor is Mae's quite. Mae still faces the issue of the ending of the temporary guardianship bringing into question a permanent guardian, if she has any reversal at all, or remains in need of care when the temp. guardianship expires.

But we have definitely made a difference as a group of bloggers and commenters and in the calls we have made and letters we have written. We definitely made a difference so far, for Clara.

And Mary, I agree that we must thank those and stand by those in the public arena who have stood for life! When they act, we should encourage them!

Posted by: juleni at April 17, 2005 9:00 PM

Mary et al
I'm with you about Delay;one hundred percent! There are not many in Congress who have stuck their neck out for life like he has ....even Fist as backstepped on the issues. I say yes, he deserves our united support. Even an ad or two during his bid for re-election

Posted by: JoJoFox at April 17, 2005 9:04 PM

Hi, Juleni,

Did you catch my comment "take notes, Juleni". It's down below here somewhere. ON this other thing about Delay, it will take someone else to get something up so we can all drop our tithe in, so to speak. 5,000 seems a little puny; we need to do this as a network of pro life groups.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 17, 2005 9:08 PM

Hey, JoJo, good idea. Goes along with Lydia's idea of supporting and sanctioning pro life medical facilities. Good going.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 17, 2005 9:10 PM

Mary et. al.

To set the record straight. I'm not sure what you mean about my dissing DeLay -- I didn't. I fully support him. He had the spine to stick by his guns in regard to judges. It is Jelly Frist that I have a problem with. DeLay is getting railroaded.

Count me in if you want support for DeLay.

Posted by: Tom Spence at April 17, 2005 9:39 PM

Mary, I did see where you asked me to take notes.

Here is my daily update, with the noted suggestions I have recorded from the Blog here:

1. Campaign to END ANY AND ALL NOTIONS that a. human lives should ever be litigated or b. that food and water are ever “optional” for human beings (nutrition and hydration). Promote everywhere legally, culturally, constitutionally, that everyone deserves to eat and drink.

2. Prayer. “Prayer warriors” with 24/7 ongoing prayer, with people signing up to pray on a continual hour by hour basis. (Especially during times of getting another specific person through a situation of getting nutrition and/or hydration restored to them – and during times of persuading specific legislators or sponsoring/voting on a specific bill?)

2.Develop Shelters.
a. Guardians (medical powers of attorney) in the form of those who stand for life, and are willing to take on guardianship for those without such a trusted guardian available among their loved ones. These would be a group of pro-life professionals – doctors, clergy, lawyers who have taken an open stand for life and are willing to be named a guardian for someone who is in need of a trusted pro-life guardian. As people committed to life they
would be loving; as people who have no agenda they would be impartial; as people with no financial interest in you they would have no temptation; and as people who are trained in life issues and not under emotional stress they could make the best human decisions possible.

b. Develop a "pro life seal of approval (award)" for specific nursing homes and long-term care facilities that do not starve or dehydrate people to death, willing to act as transfer facilities, voluntarily. Useful for when the person concerned is mentally competent enough to check themselves into one, or when a guardian (medical POA) would want the person concerned to go there (speaking for the person concerned).

c. Tax shelters of some sort (were mentioned)?

d. We, the bloggers are a current 'shelter' of sorts - at least a life raft of a kind - for those brought to our attention, such as Terri, Mae and Clara, right now!

3. The states have been allowed to decide for themselves what is “clear and convincing evidence” in a ‘right to die’ or ‘right to life’ case. Put forward legislation in states where allowing "clear and convincing" evidence has not become a watered-down thing (as it has in Florida where just one person’s hearsay testimony is now accepted as evidence of desiring removal of a feeding tube), for mandating that *strong* evidence, absolute (written) evidence to be required before such a thing as removal of nutrition and hydration be allowed – in the form of a written statement by the person concerned while they were in a lucid and conscious state, if possible *with* knowledge of the possible pain involved in starvation and dehydration (informed consent).

3. Put forward legislation for *juries* to be involved in any and all such so-called "right to die" cases, so that the people may be involved in deciding the case.

4. Legislation at a national level for absolute protection of the disabled and incapacitated.

5. Discredit Felos. Have a presence in the media and also on the speaking circuit to try to minimize the damage that they (Felos, M. Schiavo, etc.) will do in the upcoming future.

Posted by: juleni at April 17, 2005 9:40 PM

Tom, hang in there. I didn't say you dissed TD. I think I failed to say what I meant to say to you. You're right--jelly bellies generally prevail. Your talk with Eyes made me realize that we had better get in there and prop TD's backbone up before they succeed in knocking it down. I thought about sending him a card, but that isn't going to make anyone but him think again. What about a full page or pages in a major newspaper. Short thank you note on top and row after row of our names underneath. THEN MAYBE the will of the people will be heard if only in our VOTE of confidence. Any way it will encourage TD and anyone else who might like to follow his suit and maybe discourage anyone who thinks he stands alone. Rule of thumb, bullies are always cowards.

Juleni I am deeply impressed. You are far and away more on top of it then I am. I wrote to the diocesan pro life activity office again in case my first letter went astray. Now I gnaw my knuckles await their response... and Rep. Ron Paul's, as well. I'm going to go check out Concerned Women of America. Be right back.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 17, 2005 10:15 PM

Correction, that is Concerned Women for America. I will contact Beverly LaHaye tomorrow. Where is everyone?

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 17, 2005 10:24 PM


Actually I was looking at the Terri's Fight site...gotta go to bed.....

But want to quickly put here what they are putting forward as items for action as of April 15th on their website. They kind of mesh with our ideas, too, as follows:

April 15, 2005

We are incredibly moved that so many of you have requested to be updated and desire to be involved in our continuing efforts at the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation. Given your continued support, we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you our current focus and activities.
There are necessary actions as an organization that we must take to ensure that we are able to serve others in a meaningful and effective way.

Organizing and putting into place the necessary people, resources, and proper not-for-profit IRS designation to enable the Foundation's good work is critical. The Foundation will continue to engage volunteers and operate with the focus of our existence to serve others. Creating a solid and accountable Foundation, guided by our future focus, is an important first step to enable successful contributions be made to those we serve.

Moving forward, our goals, strategies, and objectives will be further defined as we continue to fight for the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. We are clear that our focus now and during the very near future is to help others avoid future tragedies that reflect what Terri endured. Therefore, we have set a course to address:

Education on state laws that allow terminal dehydration and starvation deaths;
Education on how to protect ourselves and loved ones against medical neglect and medical futility policies;
Encouragement of lawmakers, in all states, to reexamine laws that allow terminal dehydration and starvation deaths;
Lobbying for changes in current "death with dignity" laws so that disabled and vulnerable individuals are not targeted for death based on disability;
Lobbying for changes in current guardianship laws so that incapacitated individuals are not deprived of due process or retained rights at the whim of a guardian or probate court;
Creation of a support network for families dealing with brain injury patients to provide education on providing care and protecting their loved ones.
With your help, all of these goals are within our collective reach. Our Foundation does not seek to limit an individual's ability to make their own medical decisions. Our goal is to enable the respectful treatment of incapacitated individuals through cultural awareness and laws that ensure the rights of vulnerable citizens across our nation are preserved.

Please be certain to check back soon for information and details of how you can help and how your can take steps to protect yourself and your family.

If you would like to be updated via email, please contact us at subscribe@terrisfight.org. Note: Your email address will not be shared with any third party.

Thank you for all your past, current and future support."

Posted by: juleni at April 17, 2005 11:01 PM

by the way...Earl has a photo of the prayer vigil and rally outside of the Martinez'home, for Clara at his site at: http://cureltd.blogspot.com/

Hope you don't mind, Earl. It was good to see the picture!

Posted by: juleni at April 17, 2005 11:11 PM

I hope it's ok if I just post links rather than writing all this out again.

I've spent the last few posts on my blog dealing rather extensively with the problems defining PVS, and specifically how drastically different the definition used by the three PVS-supporting doctors in Terri Schiavo's case differs from the standard accepted definitions in law and given by organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology: http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=purple_kangaroo_Angela&tab=weblogs&uid=242218131 and http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=purple_kangaroo_Angela&tab=weblogs&uid=244903047

I also have a post dealing with Tom DeLay and why his stance on Terri Schiavo does NOT make him a hypocrite in light of his father's situation and the family's decisions then: http://www.xanga.com/item.aspx?user=purple_kangaroo_Angela&tab=weblogs&uid=237315793

Posted by: purple_kangaroo_Angela at April 18, 2005 2:16 PM

Thanks Angela, for that insightful posting on Tom Delay. I agree that Tom's dealings with his father are quite different that Terri's situation, and I really wish people would try to know the facts before casting judgement on him. Good job.

Posted by: Sirena at April 18, 2005 2:24 PM