March 28, 2005

More on Terri Schiavo

Harriet McBride Johnson types up a gem at Slate. Excerpt:

My emotional response is powerful, but at bottom it's not important. It's no more important than anyone else's, not what matters. The things that ought to matter have become obscured in our communal clash of gut reactions. Here are 10 of them:

1. Ms. Schiavo is not terminally ill. She has lived in her current condition for 15 years. This is not about end-of-life decision-making. The question is whether she should be killed by starvation and dehydration.

2. Ms. Schiavo is not dependent on life support. Her lungs, kidneys, heart, and digestive systems work fine. Just as she uses a wheelchair for mobility, she uses a tube for eating and drinking. Feeding Ms. Schiavo is not difficult, painful, or in any way heroic. Feeding tubes are a very simple piece of adaptive equipment, and the fact that Ms. Schiavo eats through a tube should have nothing to do with whether she should live or die.
6. Ms. Schiavo, like all people, incapacitated or not, has a federal constitutional right not to be deprived of her life without due process of law.

7. In addition to the rights all people enjoy, Ms. Schiavo has a statutory right under the Americans With Disabilities Act not to be treated differently because of her disability. Obviously, Florida law would not allow a husband to kill a nondisabled wife by starvation and dehydration; killing is not ordinarily considered a private family concern or a matter of choice. It is Ms. Schiavo's disability that makes her killing different in the eyes of the Florida courts. Because the state is overtly drawing lines based on disability, it has the burden under the ADA of justifying those lines.

And still, she's being killed. At this point, I can only hope for a quick death.

One more thing: saw a report that Terri is being given morphine "for the pain". What fucking pain? If she's an honest to God vegetable, then she can't feel anything. If she's physically suffering, then she's being tortured to death; making her comfortable doesn't absolve anyone from that fact.

Update: Mark Steyn is-as usual- far more eloquent. Excerpt:

We all have friends who are passionate about some activity -- They say, ''I live to ski,'' or dance, or play the cello. Then something happens and they can't. The ones I've known fall into two broad camps: There are those who give up and consider what's left of their lives a waste of time; and there are those who say they've learned to appreciate simple pleasures, like the morning sun through the spring blossom dappling their room each morning. Most of us roll our eyes and think, ''What a loser, mooning on about the blossom. He used to be a Hollywood vice president, for Pete's sake.''

But that's easy for us to say. We can't know which camp we'd fall into until it happens to us. And it behooves us to maintain a certain modesty about presuming to speak for others -- even those we know well. Example: ''Driving down there, I remember distinctly thinking that Chris would rather not live than be in this condition.'' That's Barbara Johnson recalling the 1995 accident of her son Christopher Reeve. Her instinct was to pull the plug; his was to live.

As to arguments about ''Congressional overreaching'' and ''states' rights,'' which is more likely? That Congress will use this precedent to pass bills keeping you -- yes, you, Joe Schmoe of 37 Elm Street -- alive till your 118th birthday. Or that the various third parties who intrude between patient and doctor in the American system -- next of kin, HMOs, insurers -- will see the Schiavo case as an important benchmark in what's already a drift toward a culture of convenience euthanasia. Here's a thought: Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?

What he said.

Update: Interesting discussion in the comments to this post by the Commissar about the legal/constitutional ramifications about the Schiavo statute passed by Congress.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 04:42 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 what really gets me is those who say Bush and co. shouldn't have gotten involved. Excuse me? This is murder. Slow and torturous murder. If they put her in a windowless box and let her die from lack of oxygen would anyone see this as moral? Or just bury her, still breathing and forget about it. We should feel better because they are giving her morphine and stopping the seizures. This is so horrible.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at March 29, 2005 10:08 PM (n7cpp)

2 Was just checking out this discussion and read the question about, "Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?" Here's the answer: I wouldn't buy a kit, but just go see a lawyer, and for about $100.00, or perhaps less, you can get a living will that instructs doctors and familiy members that you do NOT want them to pull the plug in the event of a catastrophic event. I personally have such a living will. And yes, such a living will is enforceable in court and it will be recognized if properly executed - just like a living will which says the opposite.

Posted by: LawyerDan at July 28, 2005 07:50 PM (0fHwx)

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