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In an attempt to call the attention of the United States Congress to the plight of poorer countries, a coalition of anti-poverty organizations has launched a new campaign called "Feeding Tubes for the Third World."
The member organizations of the FTTW, http://www.fttw.com, have each attempted for years to gain the attention of an uninterested US government. Staff members of more than one of them say they were struck by the great lengths the Republican leadership in Congress was willing to go to in order to keep a feeding tube in a permanently comatose Florida woman, Terri Schiavo, against her husband’s will.
"A light bulb went off," said Michael Freeman of Stop International Hunger. "We needed to get people into comas and insert feeding tubes."
"We’re entirely serious," said FTTW Executive Director Jacqueline Padrone. "Thousands of people, including thousands of children, die every day for lack of food or medicine. The United States government supports economic and debt repayment policies, and trade policies, not to mention wars and occupations, that promote these deaths. The level of aid provided by the United States continues to shrink in relation to past contributions, and in relation to the growing problem, as well as in relation to the impact of these destructive policies. We’ve run out of answers. We’ve arrived at the solution of providing feeding tubes."
The FTTW’s member organizations will be diverting their entire lobbying budgets to this project, the first phase of which they are calling "Unliving Wills."
In the past 48 hours, over 10,000 individuals (including parents and guardians on behalf of children) in 18 nations have signed notarized documents expressing their wish, should their death from starvation appear inevitable, to have a qualified physician attempt to induce a coma and maintain their life through a feeding tube. The Unliving Will states that these people "desire to remain comatose as long as medically possible."
The document goes on to say: "I, the undersigned, take this step in support of the value of life and my love and commitment to my personal savior Jesus Christ, whom I adore far more than sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, warmth, friendship, family, music, a cool breeze, a child’s embrace, a challenge, a kiss, an accomplishment, sunlight, or all the food in Hollywood. Through coma I embrace you, Lord."
Padrone said that within a week the FTTW’s website will include live video feeds of individuals on "at least three continents" in comas with feeding tubes. Graphics will display images of feeding tubes, with the amount of food in them slowly declining, as the supply of food available for each of these people runs out.
"We understand that budgets are tight," Padrone said. "But we don’t expect this crisis to be solved through a budget. We’re thinking bigger than that. We want funding for food supplies for these tubes to be secretly inserted by a conference committee into the next supplemental funding for the war on Iraq."
For more information on the FTTW, close your eyes and tap your ruby slippers together, singing "Food, Glorious Food."
DAVID SWANSON is a writer and activist. His website is http://www.davidswanson.org/.