Guest Column

Wife in process of divorcing disabled husband seeks to end his life by dehydration

Joshua Barras, brain injury, dehydration

(Life Legal) The wife of a brain-injured man in Louisiana is determined to dehydrate him to death by removing his nutrition and hydration. The euphemism for this barbaric treatment is “comfort care.” It used to be reserved for true end-of-life situations where a person with a terminal illness had only hours to live and could no longer assimilate food and water.

Today, however, “comfort care” is routinely imposed on disabled, but otherwise healthy, people — without their consent.

Joshua Barras suffered a brain injury over two years ago after a tragic, drug-induced suicide attempt. He is responsive and can be seen smiling and even singing in videos. He can breathe on his own and is not on a ventilator, but he does require a feeding tube for nutrition and hydration. He is in excellent health and is being cared for in a long-term home for people with brain injuries.

Still, his wife insists that he be made dead. Last month we were successful in obtaining a court order mandating that Joshua continue to receive the care he needs, including food and water.

READ: Non-terminally ill UK man kept in a coma and denied food and water has died

Joshua’s wife is on a mission to end his life. She even appeared on the Dr. Phil show to make the case for killing her husband. What she forgot to mention is that she and Joshua were going through a divorce at the time of his injury and that she is in another relationship.

Joshua’s mother, Kelly Barras, reached out to Bobby Schindler, sister of Terri Schiavo and President/Founder of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network. Bobby called Life Legal for help and we contacted a local attorney who is representing Kelly.

Pope John Paul II addressed the provision of nutrition and hydration to people with brain injuries individuals in response to efforts by Terri Schiavo’s husband to dehydrate and starve her to death. Pope John Paul II made it clear that “the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act,” and emphasized that food and water is ordinary care, “and as such morally obligatory…”

This teaching has been reaffirmed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It is unfathomable that 16 years after the horrific killing of Terri Schiavo a young man like Joshua Barras could be targeted for death solely because of his disability. In any other context, death by dehydration and starvation is a crime against humanity.

We strongly encourage people to execute an advance directive to express their wishes regarding medical care and treatment in the event they become incapacitated. Life Legal provides guidance on advance health care directives here.

The next hearing in this case is on May 17, 2021. Please pray that the judge extends the court order and allows Joshua’s mother to make health care decisions on behalf of her son.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at Life Legal Defense Foundation and is reprinted here with permission.

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