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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I think the removal of the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo is nothing less than court-sanctioned murder by torture. I find it particularly disturbing that this innocent woman is being subjected to a death that, were she a convicted murderer on death row, would be deemed unconstitutional by the very courts that condemned her to death by starvation. As I recall, there was another 20th Century leader who was all in favor of exterminating the mentally infirm, and he wasn't all that nice. To this day, people still curse his name, and rightfully so.

I saw on the news yesterday that her "husband", and I use that term very loosely, has been, for the last 5 years, been claiming that he's just doing what she would have wanted. She lapsed into her current condition 15 years ago, at which time, the doctors had to have asked him if he wanted the feeding tube inserted. So he's now claiming that he knows better what she would have wanted 10-15 years after she was last able to express those wishes, than he did shortly thereafter she was last able to do so. Ignore the fact that he's since knocked up another woman repeatedly, just for the sake of argument. I certainly don't remember what I said 10-15 years ago, or, with very few exceptions, what was said by someone I loved.

While her brain is severely damaged, that which is required to keep her alive is not very complicated or uncommon. She is in no need of a respirator or heart bypass machine. All she needs is a feeding tube, which is something that is used by numerous people with a variety of conditions; and someone to exercise and bathe her. Other forms of therapy would also be beneficial, though not strictly necessary to keep her alive. From the last few times she has had her feeding tube removed, it's clear that she still has a will to survive. Her parents and other family who actually care about her have offered to take over custody of Terri's care; yet Mr. Schiavo would rather get the life insurance money and starve to death the woman he promised to care for in sickness and in health.

The only good thing that's come out of this is the obviation of the necessity of "living wills". If it were me, I certainly would not want to be kept on a ventillator or heart bypass machine indefinitely. However, if all I needed were a feeding tube, even if I were in a persistive vegetative state, I would certainly want my family to keep me on that. The way I see it, this is a very plain, very simple moral issue that the courts in Florida have taken an extremely wrong-headed stance on, simply in the name of politics, and when an innocent person's life is on the line, that is far beyond being inexcusable. Therefore, I applaud what the U.S. Congress is doing in an attempt to ameliorate this situation. Congress doesn't always get things right, but they're certainly doing so in this case, even going so far as to skip their Easter recess. Their actions show an unusual amount of moral courage, and those responsible for the fast-tracking of this legislation certainly have my respect.


Stephanie said...

1. It's not torture. It's a legal way of death in Florida that many other people have died. She cannot feel anything because her brain is doing very little for her. She cannot feel hunger. People don't eat food to feel good, they eat food to stay alive.

2. Mr. Schiavo has been taking care of his sick wife for 15 years. Yes, he has dated other women, but what would you do in a situation like that? He obviously cared about her if he continued to pay for her medicare and such and waited 15 years before realizing that this case is hopeless. What would you do in his situation? I think that you would probably try as hard as you could for as long as possible before admitting to yourself that nothing is going to change and that she really wouldn't want to be left to suffer. 15 years and you think he doesn't care? Excuse me, but that is bullshit.

I really don't think her exact words matter. I think that he's her husband and know her better than you do and knows that she would want to die in this situation.

3. Okay, first of all, life is very complicated. Moving on to the rest of the paragraph: What the hell is your point? She is in a permanent vegative state. Yes, she is alive. If she weren't alive there wouldn't be such a big deal about all of this. She is in a coma and she's not coming out. If you think she is, tell me why she's been in this same exact state for 15 years and tell me when you got your medical degree.

4. Wait. Let me get this straight. You wouldn't want to be kept on any other equipment but you would want to be kept on a feeding tube even though you're not going to ever stop being comatose? So you would depend on other equipment indefinitely. What's wrong with keeping someone alive with a respirator? Once you're a vegetable, you're a vegetable. Perhaps there are different levels of unconsciousness, but you're not living your life either way, you're depending on outside equipment to keep you alive. If Terri Schiavo were just simply a sick woman, a feeding tube would not be too much to ask for. However Terri Schiavo is not just sick. She is in a permanent coma. She will never come out. It has been 15 years and she has not yet died or woken up.

So basically, you're saying that the government should be able to control who dies when of what over the family. That's some great compassion right there. A+++

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

1. Legal and ethical are two vastly different things. In past cultures, it was legal for a parent to murder his infant child up to 8 days after birth, since that child was considered property. Your point is irrelevant.

2. Actually, he took care of her for 10 years. He's been trying to get the tube pulled for the last 5. Her exact words matter, and, more importantly, so does the context in which they wer said, because that's Michael Schiavo's main offensive weapon in this case, claiming that this is what she expressed to him. You may call my argument bullshit. Believe me when I say that I feel the same about yours.

3. As for my point, apparently you're illiterate.

4. As for me, I would want to be given that which people are required to give to their dogs. Starve a pet, go to jail. Starve a severely brain-damaged woman, and become the darling of the courts. I find something more than a bit perverse about that.

As far as saying that the government should control who dies, isn't that what you're doing by supporting the courts' decision in this matter? Saying that they have the right to take the life of a human being who has not been convicted of any crime? Bullshit indeed...