CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin compares ‘abortion politics’ in Jahi McMath case to Terri Schiavo

By Arturo Garcia
Monday, January 6, 2014 18:33 EDT
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13-year-old Jahi McMath [CNN]
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CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin ripped what he described as political exploitation of the family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath on Monday, suggesting anti-abortion forces were pushing her family’s campaign to keep seeking medical care for the girl despite being declared brain-dead last month.

“I don’t want to minimize, to say the least, the heartbreak that’s gone on here,” Toobin told host Brooke Baldwin. “But let’s be clear about one thing: what’s going on here is abortion politics. This is all about opponents of abortion trying to define life in an ever-broader way: A fetus is alive; Terri Schiavo is alive; people whose hearts [are] beating and their brain is dead, they’re alive.”

The Oakland Tribune reported on Monday that McMath’s family received custody of her Sunday night, and subsequently moved her to an undisclosed medical facility.

And according to the Contra Costa Times, the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network helped the family find a new care facility for McMath. Schiavo, whose case became a political lightning rod, was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state after collapsing in 1990.

The legal battle over whether to keep her alive came to a head on March 18, 2005, when her brother and guardian, Michael Schiavo, won a court order to remove her feeding tube. She eventually died on March 31, 2005.

McMath was declared brain-dead on Dec. 12, three days after suffering cardiac arrest stemming from complications connected to surgery that was supposed to relieve her sleep apnea. Her release came a day before Oakland Children’s Hospital would have been allowed to remove her from life support.

Attorney Christopher Dolan, who represents McMath’s family, said at a press conference on Monday that five different facilities volunteered to take over caring for her. Dolan also said Children’s Hospital failed to provide her with feeding and tracheotomy tubes on account of her condition.

“She’s in very bad shape,” Dolan was quoted as saying. “What I can tell you is that those examinations show that her medical condition, separate from the brain issue, is not good.”

Toobin told Baldwin that Monday’s transfer will likely rule out any further legal battle over McMath.

“I don’t think they’re gonna get the cops to pull a body out of a hospital,” Toobin told Baldwin. Fellow panelist Arthur Caplan concurred, saying the only legal recourse left would be for the staff at the new facility to be charged with desecrating a corpse.

“In all honesty, I think keeping the facility secret is partly to prevent that,” Caplan said. “I think the politics, as Jeff said, [are] mounting up here, but there isn’t any likelyhood that she’s gonna survive very long.”

Watch the discussion of the McMath case, as aired Monday on CNN, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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