How would you feel if your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife keeled over from a life-threatening aneurysm and, after a sixteen-hour struggle, died? All the while, you’re fighting for your right to visit your loved one, and because you are one-half of a same-sex couple, you aren’t considered to be “immediate family.”
Such is the case for social worker Janice Langbehn. Langbehn’s partner of eighteen years, along with children, were denied entrance to visit Lisa Pond during her final hours back in 2007, when this incident initially occurred. As Florida state doesn’t “recognize” (how I hate that term) same-sex couples, Langbehn was not allowed to visit Lisa Pond, despite the fact that they were each other’s strength and happiness for almost two decades.
Langbehn and Pond were traveling through Florida on vacation with their children. During the course of their trip, Pond collapsed and was rushed to the ER for a major aneurysm. After Pond was admitted to the hospital at approximately 3:30 PM, Janice was relayed information that was probably more than a slap in the face than anything else. She was told that the couple was now in an “anti-gay city and state” and would need further documentation in the form of advanced directives and HIPAA release forms to allow Langbehn visitation. Always prepared, Langbehn immediately got on the phone with her attorneys and had the proper paperwork faxed to the hospital. After three hours of waiting to no avail, doctors in charge of Lisa’s case notified Janice that there was no hope. After several more hours, Janice was finally allowed a bedside visit — while a priest gave Lisa Pond her last rites. The children were not able to see their mother until almost midnight.
Lisa Pond was declared brain dead at 10:45 the following morning and was taken off life support. Pond was an organ donor.