Christine O’Donnell’s Schiavo Case: ‘Life For Lauren’

September 24, 2010 4:44 a.m.

You know that Christine O’Donnell is pro-life. But one episode that hasn’t gotten much attention is her work on an end-of-life case, reminiscent of Terry Schiavo’s, in 2008.

O’Donnell, the new Republican Senate candidate from Delaware, cites her pro bono public relations work on the case as the reason she was in dire financial straits during her Senate campaign against Joe Biden that year. Her straits were so dire, in fact, she sold her home to her boyfriend and campaign lawyer a month before it was to be auctioned off to pay her mortgage.“I fell behind on my mortgage. I had a pro bono client that to me was very important. I worked 18 hours a day,” O’Donnell told Sean Hannity this week. “It was a disabled woman who the courts ruled to remove her feeding tube, so it was truly a life or death case. So when her father came to me he said ‘I can’t pay you but will you help me save her life?’ And you can’t say no to that.”

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O’Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

What happened was this, according to local news reports: In 2006, a young woman from Delaware named Lauren Richardson overdosed on heroin and fell into a coma known as a “persistent vegetative state.” She was pregnant, and doctors kept her alive, on a respirator and feeding tube. She gave birth in February 2007.

In early 2008, a judge granted Richardson’s mother, Edith Towers, guardianship. Towers moved to have her daughter’s feeding tube removed, arguing in court that her daughter had told her, “Don’t ever leave me hooked up to life support.” Their conversation had happened, she said, during the Schiavo controversy.

But the girl’s father, Randy Richardson, objected and appealed the judge’s ruling. He said his daughter had never discussed life support with him, and argued that she was responsive. She did not have a living will.

Randy Richardson began a campaign to keep his daughter alive. The Delaware Pro-Life Coalition and the conservative Alliance Defense Fund joined his efforts.

And as O’Donnell said it in a 2008 Delaware radio interview with WDEL alongside Richardson, she was called and asked to help.

“I was in D.C. when I got a call from people in Delaware saying, ‘Can you help this man get his story out,'” she said, adding that she was working to form an organization called Life for Lauren. “So that’s how I got involved.”

The ADF remembers her efforts.

“Christine was an effective and active advocate involved in communication outreach on behalf of life for Lauren,” the ADF told us in a statement. “The successful fight for Lauren’s life was a combined effort of Lauren’s family, the ADF legal team and many other pro-life Americans who believe life should be protected, not destroyed.”

Richardson set up a web site, held vigils and did press interviews, including one with Hannity and Colmes on Fox News, where O’Donnell had been a pundit.

Eventually, in November 2008, Lauren Richardson’s parents agreed to keep their daughter alive, move her to Randy Richardson’s home in Maryland and take care of her together, according to the Delaware News Journal.

Towers said it was a question posed on Richardson’s web site that helped her change her mind.

“They wrote on one update, ‘What are we going to tell Lauren’s daughter if she asks, “Did you try everything before you gave up?”‘” Towers said.

“What am I going to say?” she said. “No, I honored your mom’s wishes? Or am I going to do the opposite, and try everything in the world?”

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