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What If You Were Barred From a Loved One's Deathbed?

What If You Were Barred From a Loved One's Deathbed?

That's exactly what happened to Janice Langbehn and her children when her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, suddenly collapsed from an aneurysm during a family vacation and was rushed to a Miami hospital. Langbehn and her adopted children with Pond waited for hours before being informed of her condition, and when it became clear it was serious, they were barred from seeing her.

Langbehn claimed that a hospital social worker told her she was in an "anti-gay city and state" and would need health proxies — living wills, advanced directives and power-of-attorney documents — in order to see Pond. She had the papers faxed to the hospital, but when all was said and done, Langbehn and her kids saw Pond as she was unconscious and being administered her last rites by a priest.

This tragic case is now the subject of a federal lawsuit in Florida and in a sense affects all people whose primary loved ones are not their legal spouses — like close friends and unmarried straight couples. Why should an anonymous hospital administrator get to tell you who your "real" family is if you've made clear in writing who that is?

I don't know about you, but when I imagine someone barring me from seeing someone I love who is in their loneliest, scariest hour, I think they'd have to call in police reinforcements. In a more just world, that wouldn't have to happen.


Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
If someone tried to keep me from my partners bed all hell would break loose. I can't stay away when he has a cold.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Because of the laws, this is why people need to be prepared BEFORE something happens like this.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
This site only seems to report on one subject now. Such a pity. You know there is more news in the world than being gay?
janneth janneth 8 years
People, you think you can force your way in? No way. Hospitals have lots of security, and you would be in jail so fast. You might not even know what happened to your loved one til you posted bail the next day. This is pathetic. How can doctors and nurses be so heartless?
Marci Marci 8 years
It's simply unbelievable to me that this can still happen, in this day and age. And what about that poor patient? Doesn't anyone think it might be beneficial for them to have the people they've loved for 18 years be with them?? Stupidity at its lowest form.
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
It is a sad situation that I have seen happen to a lot of people. NO ONE should be barred from seeing a loved one before they die.
fcseamstress fcseamstress 8 years
This is exactly why we need to legalize gay marriage on a national level. Having it be legal in some states and not in others will only lead to more situations such as this. And I agree that the children who were legally adopted should have at least been allowed in. Just because you hate the parents (that's what this is HATE), you shouldn't take it out on the children. That was their mother, plain and simple. So unacceptable... So terrible... 18 years of devotion to each other and this is how they had to spend the end...
Gatito Gatito 8 years
The question is, what was this law hoping to prevent by barring non-legal spouses? Certainly it wasn't put into place to purposefully target gay couples. Right?
staple-salad staple-salad 8 years
Yet another reason why keeping gay marriage illegal in this country is a form of blatant discrimination with no real basis.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
this happened to my aunt when her MALE partner of 10 years got brain cancer -- she was not considered family and couldn't be present for certain things. its not just same-sex discrimination (although OBVIOUSLY it exists), it is just some major flaw with the legal system about what and whom it will recognize as certain things and not others. disgusting and baffling.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
This is disgusting and shameful and I honestly hope that no good comes to this administrator, like, ever. They'd honestly have had to shoot me to keep me from my partner's side.
Gabriela14815884 Gabriela14815884 8 years
Quote: "I don't know about you, but when I imagine someone barring me from seeing someone I love who is in their loneliest, scariest hour, I think they'd have to call in police reinforcements. In a more just world, that wouldn't have to happen." I could not have said it better myself! There is NO way I would not have been allowed to see them, there would have been some problems. Its is so sad that they would keep the family away like that because of their prejudices!
Chouette4u Chouette4u 8 years
If Pond had custody and parental rights with the children she adopted with Langbehn, shouldn't the children have at least been able to visit her?
oohsexypenguin oohsexypenguin 8 years
Such a tragedy. I have no idea what I would have done had it been me. My heart goes out to them.
queenegg queenegg 8 years
spacekatgal, well said.
kia kia 8 years
For South Beach being so liberal Miami as a whole is not. The Archdiocese has a great influence in the city and it is a shame this had to happen to this family. I am baffled by the political/religious lines that get thrown up even in the face of adopted children and a partner of 18 years. I can only hope that one day people will not be discriminated against for loving who they love.
appolgurl appolgurl 8 years
this is so sad. I would totally be arrested had i been her. One of the reason i support gay rights so heartily, is because had this been 60 years ago, i would be barred from seeing my white boyfriend (i'm black)...this makes me angry!
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 8 years
Just horrible!
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
This is such a sad story:(
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
This is disgusting. If someone was trying to keep me away from a dying loved one they would be in need of immediate hospital attention.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
Wow. Things would have gotten REALLY ugly had I been this woman.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
That's effing stupid. And it doesn't make any sense...I think the administrator was unnecessarily making their lives even more difficult, because I don't understand the law. As far as I understood, if someone was about to die, the legal side of it is separate from the social side - such as, friends and family could SEE the person, but to make any medical DECISIONS, papers like marriage licenses and PoAs would be needed. But the papers are NOT a requirement to SEE someone who is ill and dying. That's just silly. This happened with my mother was dying, but I don't remember whether she had made my dad her PoA or not. I think he had to fax some PoA form over to the hospital to be able to make medical decisions for her, but there wasn't ANYTHING that barred him [or our family] from seeing her.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
truthfully, i'd probably be so angry and overwhelmed that i would punch that bitch in the face. then i'd be in jail, which wouldn't help anything of course, but in reality i'm betting that is what i would do so there you go.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
This is BS! I think that administrator ought to lose their job. I agree with the police enforcements, they were on vacation, so what now you have to carry around your damn will and all these documents, (THAT THEY TELL YOU NOT TO TAKE! Just medical stuff)
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