Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Culture Of Life You Wouldn't Wish On A Dog

Originally posted at American Street yesterday, I wanted to have this in my own archives, too:

_41126605_dogafp203 In Kenya, a baby is thrown away in a plastic bag, but rescued by a stray bitch and adopted into her litter.

In Florida under the watchful eye of the famous Dept. of Children and Families (who fought so hard for Terri Schiavo), a baby is battered and abused, sent to the hospital for 2 months, then despite the enormous amount of evidence of her torment, released back into the custody of a mother who didn't want her, whereupon she is again beaten so badly that DCF sends a lawyer out to the hospital to request a Do Not Resuscitate order:
"DCF's missteps were so obvious and horrific that a grand jury recommended the firing of nine DCF workers, and the cases of Moesha and two boys who died in 2000 became teaching tools for new DCF hires. Investigators wrote that Moesha's mother, Guerland Pierre-Louis, "appears as if she did not care about the child," rarely visiting the hospital or calling to check on her."
During the baby's previous hospital stay, her mother would actually spank her; the child would cry on the few occasions her mother came around. When she was scheduled for release, hospital staff "pleaded with DCF" not to send her back to her mother. But they did. A few weeks later she was back in the hospital, barely alive, and DCF was asking for a DNR.

Cut to the present. Now 6, little Marissa (formerly "Moesha") has to be fed through a tube in her stomach. She cannot walk, wears a diaper and is confined to a wheelchair, will have the mind of a toddler the rest of her life, and DCF wants to wash their bloodstained hands of her:
"The girl DCF gave up on four years ago has been spending recent days in her wheelchair in Palm Beach County Courtroom 11B, as lawyers for DCF try to convince a jury that the agency should not have to pay for her continued medical care. "
Before Marissa, DCF was requesting DNRs every 3 or 4 months, according to John Walsh, a Legal Aid attorney who did the requesting for them. DCF's concern has never seemed to be very great for the children in its care, but that hasn't stopped them from attempting to compound their fuck-ups.
"Gov. Bush has appointed two more secretaries to lead DCF since the agency initially mishandled Moesha's case under Ms. Kearney, but an unfair practice of valuing some lives more than others continues to hurt some of the neediest and most fragile Floridians. In 2003, after failing to protect a severely mentally retarded woman from being raped while in state custody, DCF fought to save the woman's fetus. Similarly, late last month, after failing to protect a 13-year-old in state custody from becoming pregnant, DCF fought to save the girl's fetus. While the state was fighting fiercely to save the unborn, it continued quietly fighting — using private lawyers — to avoid financial responsibility for a living child, one irreversibly harmed while dependent on the state for protection."
In a poignant counterpoint, author Elisa Cramer's Palm Beach Post article ends with this:
"When the agency sought to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, a DCF spokeswoman told one newspaper: "We have a duty to protect the vulnerable and investigate allegations of abuse." President Bush urged "all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life where all Americans are welcomed and valued and protected, especially those who live at the mercy of others." In January, Gov. Bush vowed his all to help keep Terri Schiavo breathing: "I will do whatever I can do within the powers that have been granted to me by law and by statute. I'll do whatever I can."
"Whatever he can" doesn't appear to encompass protecting the children already in his care, as they continue to be maimed, raped and killed.

Maybe we could learn something about being human from a dog.

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