3.22.2005

Terry Schiavo. . . .

I have followed this story with some minor interest, and while I am not pleased that Congress saw a need to intervene, I can understand it. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

I find it disturibing that she will be starved to death. We don't do that to dogs, and someone who is terminally ill (in some areas) can get a lethal cocktail of painkillers. But, because some experts believe that she cannot feel pain, starvation is okay. If she is going to be killed (and let's face it, she's not on a ventilator or a heart/lung machine - she's on a permanent feeding tube. Big difference in degree), then oughtn't we, as a society, do so in a manner known to be quick and painless?

I severely distrust Michael Schiavo's "I'm Catholic, and don't believe in divorce" argument. If he didn't believe in divorce, he also shouldn't be sleeping with another woman (and having children with her). You cannot openly break faith with your church and then try to wrap yourself in its sacrements when people complain about you. Mr. Schiavo has a severe conflict of interest in this case - and the courts should have recognized that. I am fairly certain that it is only his testimony that she would wish to die, the courts should err on the side of caution, and release her into the care of her parents. In my opinion, Congress was hoping that a federal court would do this, since state courts had thus far failed in that duty.

Hard cases make for bad law, and this is a hard case. It does make clear the need to have this discussion with family members beforehand, and, more importantly, to write it down.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kyle said...

What I've read about this makes me pretty convinced that she should have the tube removed. Here is something with a collection of good links.

Long story short, there's no chance of recovery. Large portions of Terry Schiavo's brain are not merely dormant but missing, replaced with spinal fluid. Her husband didn't make the decision to let her die (though he was legally able to); he asked the court to make the decision for him. I haven't looked into the case (though the court documents are available), but I trust that the judge was as impartial as the title implies and that Terry Schiavo's mindless body's fate has been decided by someone fair and unbiased.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Garou said...

While there may well be no hope for recovery, that's not the only issue. If the cerebral cortex is damaged but not destroyed, she could still possess some reudimentary level of awareness. After all, people have survived with an entire hemisphere removed.

If the thalamus is still present, she almost certainly feels pain, since I believe the thalamus is the section of the brain responsible for receiving and processing pain impulses.

So, if she is going to be allowed to die, then she should be given a drug cocktail that will render her insensate or a lethal overdose. That way, there is no issue of pain and suffering.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Obviously, I have no problem with the idea of giving morphine to someone whose feeding tube has been removed. In my inexpert opinion, it's not necessary for Ms. Schiavo, but it'll comfort onlookers even if it doesn't comfort the patient.

So, shall we have a court determine whether she'd refuse treatment in the form of pain killers the way they've decided she'd refuse treatment in the form of a feeding tube? (I'm kidding.)

2:04 PM  

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