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Friday, March 18, 2005

More on Terri Schiavo

This article, MSNBC - The time has come to let Terri Schiavo die, pretty much sums up my judgement on the Schiavo case:

We have now reached the endgame in the case of Terri Schiavo. Her husband, Michael, remains unwavering in his view that she would not want to live in the state she is in. Despite the fact that he has been made the target of an incredible organized campaign of vilification, slander and just plain nastiness, he remains unmoved. Even a pathetic effort to bribe him into changing his mind with the offer of $1 million did not budge him. ... We have had a consensus in this country that you have a right to refuse any and all medical care that you might not want. Christian Scientists do not have to accept medical care nor do Jehovah’s Witnesses need to accept blood transfusions or fundamentalist Protestants who would rather pray than get chemotherapy. Those who are disabled and cannot communicate have the exact same rights. Their closest family members have the power to speak for them. The state courts of this country have the power to review termination of treatment cases and have done so with compassion, skill and wisdom for many years. Those who would change a system that has worked — and worked well for the millions of Americans who face the most difficult of medical decisions — should think very hard about whether Sen. Bill Frist, DeLay, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Bush, Sen. John Kerry or the governor of your state needs to be consulted before you and your doctor can decide that it is time to stop life-prolonging medical care.
We have to allow this decision to be made, and we have to have rules on who gets to make this sort of decision. Just because you don't like the outcome doesn't mean it is ok to toss out the rules. (via The Anchoress, who has a very different opinion on this article.) Part of the reason I made this post is to provide a place for any comments from anyone without the personal content of the previous post. I certainly am interested in debate on this issue and don't want anyone to fear offending me.


Blogger The probligo said...

They featured this on news last night.

From the little that was shown, my sympathy lies entirely with Terri.

Quite apart from anything else, it is only twenty years since the doctor would have said to the husband the day after the accident (I am still unsure how she came to be in her medical condition, I don't need to know), "Look, old chap, the best we can do is make her comfortable". That, sadly, would have been that.

If, as her husband said in the interview last night, she told several people that she would never want to be left in a vegetative state then there should be no further question.

Who has the final say? She should. She can not? THAT is where the problems start and finish.

The fact that we can now "play God" to the extent of keeping people alive against all other considerations - to the extent of allowing a pregnancy to come to term; to the extent of keeping people "alive" for years after they would otherwise have died - needs moderation.

That moderation comes not from Court action, not from religion.

It comes from common humanity...

What is the most humane thing that can be done?

3/18/2005 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Well, I think everyone's sympathies are with Terri.

I think that a designated representative, in this case her husband, should have the final say unless convincing evidence can be found that shows that person unfit.

While many claim that Michael Schiavo is unfit, the courts have not agreed.

3/18/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mystic Knight said...

I think as long as someone is willing to take on the role to care for Terri she should be allowed to live as long as she can.

More of my rant can be found here.

3/19/2005 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger The probligo said...

MK -
"I think as long as someone is willing to take on the role to care for Terri she should be allowed to live as long as she can."

Think on this -

Twenty years ago she might have survived the heart attack, but would probably have died within the following two weeks.

Forty years back, she probably would not have survived the heart attack.

Can I draw a parallel; one which is about as opposite to this as I can get...

Consider for a moment the use of the death penalty in your country. In some respects it is the easy way out for the killer. Why? I believe that, cruel and unusual punishment that it might be, a killer deserves to spend every waking moment with the sounds, sight and even smell of those he has killed. For as long as it takes for him (or her) to take their own life.

Turn that around now -

How much of a "cruel and unusual punishment" might it be to keep alive a person who is PVS?

We let people with Alzheimers die with dignity. We know that there is no recovery. In some instances their lives are prolonged well past where nature would have released them.

We allow people with Motor Neurone disease to die naturally; as naturally as modern science allows a person to die from natural causes.

Personally, I believe that a person in the kind of medical state that this lady is in can be in either of two alternatives.

First they are conscious and aware. Going back to my comment on the death penalty, imagine the torture of total sensory deprivation. Of being conscious and knowing that the world exists but that you can not reach it and nor can it reach you in any way whatsoever. What manner of torture might that be?

The second alternative is that the personality no longer exists, in whatever form you wish to believe; there is no consciousness, no awareness, no person, nothing. The body is nothing more than a complex chemical process.

Which alternative is right? Neither of us can say. We have no more way of knowing than we have of "knowing" death.

Which would I want were I in a similar state to this lady? That should be obvious.

3/19/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Cubicle said...

the rules are nice, but i do not think they fit all cases.

i think this is one case where the rules do not fit the situtation very well.

If the husban wants to get own with his life, then why can't he sign over the power of leagal attorny to her parents. If his goal was just getting with his life, then i think that could be accomplished so that Teri would be taken care of and the burden of her care would only fall on those that want it.

So i question his moitves (espically witht he 1 mill buy out that was offered.) Of couse if he just wanted the money, he could have taken that and the issue would have been settled.

As to what is best of teri, i would proably agree that death might be the way to go, but form reports that i have heard she is semi responisve so i do not know.

But if she is really brian dead then the pain will not matter, so if I kinda agree with Mr mystic.

3/19/2005 04:05:00 PM  
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3/19/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mystic Knight said...

I’m not sure what else I can add that is not in my article, but I can simply sum up my view this way.

If she is totally brain dead, and cannot know her life, then why not allow her parents the opportunity to care for her. If not for her benefit, then for her parents to come to grips with their daughter’s condition. It may be therapeutic for them to care for her. If she is brain dead, there would be no harm in allowing this.

If she is not brain dead, and can truly understand the world around her in a limited way, who the hell has the right to kill her? Look at Steven Hawking and tell me again how someone in a severely incapacitating condition can’t understand life or live a limited sensory world.

Either way, she should be allowed to live, awarded to the care of her family, and the husband and judge should be tried for attempted murder! How do any of the above to situations warrant killing this woman?

3/19/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...


I could certainly be persuaded that Terri's life as it is is better than death. There are many who think so. Her cas is right on the edge or what are definitions of life and death are and what is moral and immoral.

The choice should, in a perfect world, be hers. It is indeed unfortunate that she did not have a living will that clearly spelled out what steps she approved of to maintain her life. Since she didn't have a living will though, someone else has to make the choice for her.

Our laws make the primarly decision maker in a case like this the spouse, then any adult children, and then the parents. So it is Michale Shiavo's responsibility to make this choice for her, based upon what he believes she would want.

Some people think that a person shouldn't be allowed to make this choice for themselves, your arguments seem to follow that pattern although you havn't stated that. I believe strongly though that this is a choice that the individual should have.

Certainly in the case where a surrogate has to make this choice it is appropriate for there to be some extra hurdles, for a court to determine that the person making the choice has the right to do so and the best interest of the person in mind. Those extra steps though have now been completed.

My big beef though is against lawmakers abusing their authority to usurp power they do not have. Congress has no good reason to subpeona her, this is just an attempt to get around the legal system.

I also have little patience for those who demonize those who hold different opinions on this issue. (that doesn't apply to anyone who has commented here, but I have seen plenty of it, on both sides, of this controversy).

3/20/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mystic Knight said...

My reply spawned another one of my rants I called, Killing Her Softly

3/21/2005 12:21:00 AM  
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