As they did with Terri Schiavo, the "pro-life" movement is making the case of Jahi McMath, a teenager who is now brain dead after a tonsillectomy, a cause célèbre. As they did with Terri Schiavo, in disputing the diagnoses of and actions take by medical experts, they are suggesting that those entrusted with the patient's medical care are murderers. On his Saturday night show, Fox's Mike Huckabee not only advanced this narrative but doubled down by comparing the removal of McMath's life support system to abortions - and, the Holocaust. Yeah, he went there.
He reported that a judge has extended the period of time for Jahi McMath to remain connected to life support - or as Huckabee emotionally phrased it, giving time for the family to prove that Jahi is "worth attempting to save." While there is NO evidence that there was any problem with the tonsil surgery, Huckabee, in providing the backstory, referred to the procedure as "botched." In further appeal to the emotions, he noted that the hospital wanted to take Jahi off life support "just a couple of days before Christmas."
He asked the audience to "listen closely" to the "how the hospital spokesperson refers to Jahi." He played video of Sam Singer (who is probably getting death threats as we speak) discussing how, at that time, the family hadn't been able to find another long term care facility to "accept the deceased body on the ventilator" which is the correct medical and legal terminology. Singer, who referred to the case as a "sad tragedy," said that if a facility is found, the hospital would do all it could, medically and legally, to help the family."
After asserting that he wasn't a medical expert, he launched into his homily about the value of life:
"Every life has value and worth. There is no such person who is disposable, one whose life has been deemed by others to be less than others and therefore expendable, I can't share that. The road that starts that way in deciding that some lives have less value and are unworthy of protection, that leads to a culture that tolerates the undeserved killing of over 55 million unborn children in this country. It leads to China's birth policy that limits the number of children for a family and enforces forced abortion if they deviate from the state-determined ideal."
And then the Nazis:
"The road that starts that way in deciding that some lives have less value and are unworthy of protection, that leads to a culture that tolerates the undeserved killing of over 55 million unborn children in this country. It leads to China's birth policy that limits the number of children for a family and enforces forced abortion if they deviate from the state-determined ideal. It's also that culture that allowed the Nazis to to hideously justify the savage slaughter of millions of Jews, disabled people, old people and those with mental illness. Let's hope and pray that the courts continue to do what every court should do, respect parents over government, family over hospitals and, above all, protect Jahi from them all."
There is a lot to unpack here. As I noted, there is no evidence to support imcompetence or malfeasance on the part of the hospital. If Huckabee is supporting the parent's view that the operation was not done correctly, he should have used the adjective "alleged" before "botched." Huckabee's comment, that the family should be given preference over medical experts, is problematic in that this position would allow for parents, who say that their religion does not allow certain types of medical care, to withhold that care which is, as many courts have agreed, a form of child abuse. Huckabee tried to say that the hospital was both uncaring and wrong when, in reality, they did their best to provide Jahi with care until she met the legal requirement for declaration of death - something he neglected to say.
And then there's the Nazi metaphor which he combined with a woman's legal right to abortion - an analogy popular in the anti-choice movement. But that doesn't seem to be a problem for Huckabee who has been criticized by the ADL for using the Holocaust as a "political talking point" which "trivializes and diminishes the horror" of the Shoah. His suggestion, that the medical experts who were caring for Jahi are comparable to Nazis, is not only defamatory but beneath contempt.
In summarizing Huckabee's Saturday commentary, Wonkette says it best: "It’s sort of reassuring to know that, no matter how tragic a situation might be, there’s always the chance that a rightwing politician will find a way to jump in and make it even worse."
3/30/19 update: Video no longer available.
I’m certain he and his fellow wingnuts are willing to help defray the costs of keeping Jahi on life support at the same hospital that “botched” a tonsillectomy (or the costs in transferring her to another facility) — especially since they don’t believe in nationalized health care to help defray those costs.