Pubdate: Fri, 04 Apr 2008
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2008 The Topeka Capital-Journal
Author: Siobhan Reynolds


On March 28th, this paper published an article in which the writer
convicted Dr. Schneider and his wife prior to trial, condemned the
Kansas Board of Healing Arts as negligent for failing to stop the
Schneiders, and characterized myself and my organization, Pain Relief
Network, as advocating public suicide by patients who have been
victimized by the US Government's heavy-handed attack on the Schneider

This government action has deprived of medical care hundreds of
Kansans, many of whom are critically ill, have complex medical
problems, and are now left desperate and terrified.

The paper's failure to provide balanced reporting, or to check out the
reliability of its sources, is stunning.

Never, in Pain Relief Network's six years working with the media
around similar cases has our issue been treated so unfairly, nor have
we ever seen a reporter allow himself to be so thoroughly exploited to
its own ends by the US Attorneys office.

By declaring Dr. Schneider and his wife guilty, and then denigrating
their perfectly constitutionally protected invocation of their 5th
Amendment rights, this paper added another nail in the coffin for what
used to be America's proud system of rule of law.

The article is the result of a rush to judgment and the publication of
statements by Lilly Shipman, whose comments supposedly quoted me. The
paper then "confirmed" her account with a "quote" from me that was
taken entirely out of context.

The reporter asked me whether my organization supported or encouraged
the public suicides of patients.

I made it perfectly clear that neither I, nor my organization,
supported any such thing. In opposing the government's brutal attacks
on medical practice of pain management, we are in fact the only
organization taking direct action against the primary cause of the
documented epidemic of untreated and under-treated pain in this country.

When people in unbearable pain are refused sufficient dosage of
medication, they will quite understandably struggle with ending their
torment. In our movement to reestablish rule of law and to normalize
the doctor-patient relationship, we are constantly faced with
desperate patients who ask us what do after they have been turned away
from care dozens of times.

I explained to the reporter that these people were once prosperous,
had full lives, and dreams and hope. But merely by suffering a
crushing accident or a cancer diagnosis, they find themselves in
chronic severe pain and in need of ongoing opioid therapy.

They then find themselves abused and reviled by the medical
profession, which has adopted a culture of non-treatment. This is born
of fear of being targeted by a drug war gone so very wrong.

So in addition to having to bear the burden of illness and pain,
patients are forced to endure the insult and cruelty of being
dismissed as "addicts," smugly kicked out of emergency rooms, and
turned away from medical clinics and offices.

Chronic pain patients are sick and tired of suffering and dying in
silence because our gvernment would rather catch "addicts" than allow
physicians to relieve suffering and practice ethical medicine without
police interference. It is hard to understand what it feels like to
find oneself crushed by actions taken by one's own government against
one's doctors.

I have seen this all first-hand. My husband suffered from an inherited
condition, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. He died a year and a half ago
because his medications were terminated by a doctor afraid to continue
his care.

As a result, in front of our 14-year-old son, my husband died of a
cerebral hemorrhage in a hotel room in Arkansas. We had been forced to
drive there from our home in New Mexico, desperately seeking care,
because there were no doctors closer by who dared to help my husband.
Sean Greenwood did not choose suicide, but he considered it many
times. Because I lived with him and fought for his life and for
justice and dignity, I understand what Dr. Schneider's patients are
now enduring.

That the United States government knows that their policies affect
people in this way yet continues nevertheless to destroy clinics
through public smear campaigns is appalling.

Those desperate patients who ask me about suicide are crying out for
the salvaging of some modicum of dignity, for some comfort in knowing
that their lives weren't utterly without value after all, and that we
will as a society wake up from this gruesome nightmare that has ruined
them and their families, and debased us all. I have listened to their
stories, lived their stories, and told their stories, and I ask God to
bless us all.

 From the press I ask for simple fairness, and, with the exception of
the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Kansas and national press have been
mostly fair. Had this paper refrained from declaring the Schneiders
guilty and mischaracterizing my statements and purposes, perhaps it
could have found its way to reporting on what is actually a
fascinating story right in front of it, but which it obviously cannot
see, or want for some reason to obscure: the United States Department
of Justice runs amok in Kansas, while the state medical board fumbles
about in denial of a public health disaster-in-progress, and local
politicians with nothing to offer but misinformed drug-war pandering,
excitedly exclaim moral outrage, while good, innocent, people are
quietly being destroyed.



Pain Relief Network
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