Terri Schiavo Activists Move On to Mae Magouirk

Several bloggers have jumped on the story of Mae Magouirk, a Georgia woman who they charge is being starved to death despite her wishes. Oddly, the only reports I can find on this case [See Google and GoogleNews] are on personal websites or other sites (FreePress, WorldNetDaily) with an agenda. The lone exception is this News 11 story:

Last month’s fight over Terri Schiavo energized an Internet army and it has now jumped into a Georgia family tragedy.

Last month’s fight over Terri Schiavo energized an Internet army and it has now jumped into a Georgia family tragedy. Unlike Terri Schiavo, this patient had a living will, but her case is still tangled.

Ken Mullinax’s aunt, Mae Magouirk, suffered aorta damage in late March. She entered the Hospice LaGrange and in a living will, Magouirk said she wanted nourishment and fluids unless she went into a coma or a persistent vegetative state. Mullinax and Magouirk’s granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, fought in court over who should be her guardian. Probate Judge Donald Boyd appointed Gaddy.

Mullinax says Gaddy has withheld nourishment and fought further treatment saying Magouirk needed to be with Jesus. He also charged that the judge went along though Magouirk was hardly comatose. “This woman has a lot more years to live,†Mullinax, the woman’s nephew, said. “She recognized us and she looked at us, and said, please, please help me go home.†Asked what he thought that to mean, Mullinax said, “It sure didn’t mean home to Jesus, and it sure didn’t mean starve me to death.â€

Judge Boyd called Mullinax’s charges completely false and said all relatives agreed to let three doctors decide what was next for Magouirk. He said that everyone was happy with the compromise. “They were hugging necks, and, as far as I knew, the family was fine,†the judge said. “I’m just asking anyone who believes in life to help us, and to get involved in this,†Mullinax said.

And folks have gotten involved. Just a few years ago, the most that would normally happen would be a few letters to the local paper and that would be as far as it went. But now, bloggers can get hold of a story, and instantly galvanize opinion worldwide. Bloggers from the Schiavo case heated up the Internet and swamped the judge’s phones and computer with what he said are wildly false charges. “I’ve even been accused several times of murder and I’ve had, I would say, close to a hundred e-mails,†Boyd said.

The CEO of the West Georgia Health System told 11Alive News, “No patient at our hospice is denied food or water.” Beth Gaddy could not be reached for comment.

Paul at Wizbang has an extensive post on this and a follow-up interview with the nephew.

We clearly don’t have all the facts here. What we do know:

    1. This is not simply a case of some crazy granddaughter trying to kill a conscious woman because she’s old and has glaucoma. The woman has a serious heart condition.
    2. Powers of attorney are revokable, so it’s absurd to suggest that someone with a piece of paper could subvert the expressed, known wishes of a conscious person.
    3. A judge and the hospital officials deny the nephew’s story.

For the record, I oppose the killing of grandmothers with glaucoma or, indeed, pretty much anyone who hasn’t been convicted of a crime and has a functioning brain and consciousness. My gut tells me that isn’t what’s happening here. It’s unfathomable that a judge would simply allow someone with power of attorney to order that an otherwise healthy person be denied food and water contrary to their written wishes as expressed in a living will. Perhaps I’m wrong, though.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark J says:

    Yeah… if your main source for this is a WND story that misuses “neither” in the teaser (‘neither’ is for use with two things, not three), I’d be a little bit apprehensive about putting your weight behind it.

  2. Meezer says:

    Sadly, it is quite possible. I don’t think there is any type of legal proceding which generates so many obvious “wrong” decisions as those involving family issues. Almost everyone knows of a child who is given into the custody of the worst possible person to have that custody (of those available). My sister is a LCSW and the stories she tells me are incredible. She is to the point where she feels that a monkey with a dart board could not do worse than some family law judges.
    Whether this applies in this particular case is another question, it’s just that many seem to be saying that because a judge decided the case, we should all relax, that no judge would decide against the best interest of a person.

  3. Tom says:

    Please note her sister had the same condition 10 years ago, was in a coma briefly, and was treated at UAB medical center, she recovered quite nicely it seems. The issue here is whether to send Mrs. Magouirk to UAB or leave her in hospice to die.

    It is important to remember that hospices can not provide medical treatment and are in fact legally barred from providng anything except end-of-life palliative care. The hospice wants her to die; that’s their function.

    It seems the judge is relying on doctors to decide between 2 alternatives; she is stable enough to fly to UAB for treatment, or she is unstable and likely to die soon. What about a third option, move her to a local nursing home or skilled care facility so she can receive treatment and such rehabilitation is medically possible. Maybe if she got off the morphine drip (the main form of palliative care at hospices generally) she would become lucid enough to express her own preference (for or against aggressive treatment) in clear and uncertain terms.

  4. Dan Theman says:

    Funny how your post naively assumed the MSM would never have “an agenda.” They clearly may, and it’s no where near morally equivalent to online journalists trying to bypass the MSM by reporting the story and possibly saving a life trapped in red tape. It’s well documented how the MSM reported with extreme prejudice against Terri Schiavo. And, as in that case, the doctors and judges are now in CYA mode and running for cover.

    Also, wasn’t the Georgia woman actually *born* with the heart problem she has now? Might want to check on that one before using it as justification for the granddaughter’s actions.

  5. Just Me says:

    Dan my dad died from what this woman has.

    It is hereditary, but you aren’t born with it. It is something that you may develop later in age (usually somewhere past your mid 40’s).

    This condition isn’t really a terminal condition-it will eventually kill you, but it doesn’t cause you to be bed ridden or anything. It is basically going on with your life, and waiting for the big rupture to hit.

    Also, I think this isn’t an anomoly, I think the Schiavo case will actually bring cases similar or even more repulsive (as this one is, since there is something in writing) are going to start getting media attention where they wouldn’t before.

    The fact that so many seem to be on this “kill the severely disabled, because their quality of life sucks, and they are sucking money from the system” is scary. I don’t know that I want the country I live in and love to decide who gets to live and die based on the bottom line, or some subjective idea of whose life is worthy and whose isn’t.

  6. Amelia says:

    Guess by now you have heard the news that she is on her way to UAB medical center. I know someone in touch with Ken, the nephew who states that every allegation is true and correctly reported.

    This entire aspect of “health” care in America is going to have to be totally revamped. We have Hospices whose sole job is to help people die with dignity taking it just a step farther it would seem, Living Wills ignored if they do not comply with the wishes of the Hospice and a whole dark, sinister movement aimed at estabishing euthanasia as the norm for the elderly. No wonder they say no problem with social security for looks as thought they have found the perfect solution.

    In any event, the Living Will specified that food and water not be withheld as long as she was not in a coma and yet it was. Twice. On the order of a Probate Judge–the one for my county refinishes antique furniture and also has no law degree as he is supposed to issue marriage license, perform marriages and probate wills and attend very routine matters of that nature. Time for those of us in states where anybody can perform this service to re-think this. Also, my county coronor does not have a medical degree just as this judge has no legal degree.

    Lots of work needs to be done in this area especially with the Baby Boomers fast approaching the age where they can be expected to need these services. But then, maybe that is why they are all ramped up to streamline forced euthanasia. And it can happen to anybody at any age. We can all be victims of a car wreck or hit by a bus.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I read that Mullinax wrote in response to a blogger’s questions that he is an Aide to Paul “Bear” Bryant. Bear Bryant died in 1983. He was the Head Football Coach of the Crimson Tide at the University of Alabama from 1958-1982 (he died 28 days after retiring).

  8. Reader says:

    Well, here are some links to actual mainstream newspapers that are reporting it. It looks like they did a little investigating of their own. (Meaning they had additional information to provide)

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/0405/12illness.html

  9. Reader says:
  10. 4fx says:

    I’ve been looking for more information on this case, as many things seem left out.

    Aortic dissection varies – does she have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, and if so, what size and where? Is it a thoracic dissection, and if so, which type? Does she have any other medical problems that would affect her ability to survive a significant surgery?

    Does she want to have surgery? (This would be a big procedure, if she has one of they types where surgery is recommended.)

    All of these factors would influence medical decisions and family decisions.

  11. Misty says:

    I think this article is repulsive in that it seems to indicate that if you have a heart condition you don’t deserve to live. My uncle had a heart condition for many, many years, about twenty years, and led a full, active life before it finally took him. The fact also remains that her SISTER survived the very same thing just ten years prior, so why couldn’t she? Is having a heart condition, glaucoma, and being old simply all it takes to be considered not good enough to be allowed to live? God help us all, then, and God forbid any of us live to be old.