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March 20, 2005

If Terri Schiavo Dies...

Topics: News

Before Terri Schiavo dies of starvation and thirst, there are two questions that must be answered.

1. Even if we were to concede, for the sake of argument, that this woman is irreversibly and totally vegetative, what possible objection can there be to her parents assuming custody of her and, at their own expense, taking care of her?

2. Are the members of the United States Congress so faint-hearted, feeble, and foolish that the best they can do is to get another judge involved in this case?

There must be thousands of Americans today in medically hopeless condition. Are they all to be killed? If not, are we to spare some and kill the others?

No one has made a compelling argument as to why Mrs. Schiavo must be killed. Instead, all we have is an unproven, unproveable assertion by her husband that she told him, years ago, that she would want it so. No one else heard her say this. Because the assertion cannot be proved, it has no business being in the argument.

Why should her parents not take care of her? There is simply no reasonable answer to that question.

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Hat tip - Alicia

Posted by richard at March 20, 2005 12:04 AM

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» If Terri Schiavo Dies... from Hyscience
Before Terri Schiavo dies of starvation and thirst, there are two questions that must be answered. [Read More]

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I don't have a whole lot to contribute to the ongoing saga on the Terri Schaivo case down in Florida. As a Registered Nurse who has spent 13 years practicing in the area of palliative care and end-of-life - I can understand, sympathize and appreciate ... [Read More]

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Cross-posted from my blog: I don't have a whole lot to contribute to the ongoing saga on the Terri Schaivo case down in Florida. As a Registered Nurse who has spent 13 years practicing in the area of palliative care and end-of-life - I can underst... [Read More]

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First, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation to why Mr. Schiavo will not relinquish Terri's care to her parents. If she recovers, she can testify to the horrible abuses he has inflicted upon her over the years, beginning with the night of her collapse. He can't afford to let that happen. "Judge" Greer also can't afford to let that happen. The corruption runs deeper that any of us can possibly imagine.

Second, the action taken today by Congress is a good thing. Set aside your distaste for judges (justifiable, given our experience with Greer). What Congress did today was to provide the disabled with the same legal options available to convicted criminals. Specifically, the right to petition the federal court when the state courts have spit and stomped upon your civil rights. I know it is tempting to expect some legislator to ride in on a white horse and save Terri personally, but we are a nation of laws, and we take the good with the frustrating. Terri's caregivers have VIOLATED THE LAW, and it will be the LAW that condemns them.

Posted by: Teri J at March 20, 2005 12:37 AM

> No one else heard her say this.

Incorrect. Two of her in-laws heard her say it too. Take that as you will, of course.

Posted by: OvertOther at March 20, 2005 12:38 AM

> Two of her in-laws heard her say it too

Yes, relatives of Mr. Schiavo. Credibility gone, in my opinion. A good friend of Terri's testified just the opposite and Greer refused to admit her testimony.

Posted by: Teri J at March 20, 2005 12:57 AM

IIRC, Terri's friend's testimony was discarded because it changed between the deposition and trial. According to the 2nd District Court of Appeals document I read.

Posted by: OvertOther at March 20, 2005 1:06 AM

The problem is that a spouse has sole guardianship rights. That pretty much seals it in the eyes of the law.

Now, 99 times out of 100, a spouse is going to be a reliable guardian and look after the best interests of the affected husband or wife. They'll honor the wishes of their loved one by following their written instructions, or err on the side of life to the fullest extent if they really don't know.

There's no provision in the law, however, for a hostile spouse. There has to be some legal mechanism to assure that someone can't be arbitrarily murdered because a hostile guardian wants to be rid of them. So, an independent mechanism is needed.

Paradoxically, this mechanism has to prevent interested third parties -- like the government or the insurance companies -- from prevailing over the wishes of the patient. This is what happens in the UK and is a mistake we must learn from. It's a thorny problem, but it ain't goin' away, so lawmakers might just as well tackle it. With the advent of the living will, we need to iron out some of the gray areas so we're all on the same page.

Posted by: moge at March 20, 2005 1:16 AM

For you info:

"Ever since the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed a respirator to be removed from Karen Ann Quinlan and the U.S. Supreme Court [1993]declared that feeding tubes are medical treatments just like respirators, heart-lung machines, dialysis and antibiotics, it has been crystal clear in U.S. law and medical ethics that those who cannot speak can have their feeding tubes stopped. The authority to make that decision has fallen to those closest to the person who cannot make their own views known. First come husbands or wives, then adult children, then parents and other relatives." - Art Caplan, PhD, Bioethics

Posted by: kpwoodlock at March 20, 2005 1:16 AM

The spouse is currently the legal person to make determinations of what one would want in the absence of a living will. A spouse is probably the person that knows the other party the best.

Furthermore, all this talk about "neutral third parties" is horse puckey. Courts can and do review these decisions. As has happened here.
Hundreds of these kinds of cases are wrestled with everyday, yet someone the legal system and the healthcare system are able to deal with them.

This is not a Federal issue. The states have laws and procedures to deal with all this.

We as third parties cannot possibly know for sure what Teri's wishes were in this regard. We all are merely monday morning quarterbacks.

Posted by: Scott Phillips at March 20, 2005 1:29 AM

Teri J: Now witnesses are being discounted because of thier relation to the husband? Even though the "in-laws" testified under penalty of perjury that they heard her wishes?

It would appear that no amount of evidence will convince you otherwise.

Posted by: Scott Phillips at March 20, 2005 1:32 AM

Dr Cranford is another Dr Kavorkian and has a history of ordering the death of many other disabled people. they are people right?

Also, the Attorney, George Beelzubub Felos, wrote a book right?
the Judge is legally blind and has never seen Terri.
There are -50- neurologists ready to testify Terri can be helped.

pretty devastating information. A few weeks ago I knew nothing about Terri. In one day I have uncovered a large amount of info about her. Enough to cast a shadow of a doubt.

And where does it end, with whom does it end? Alzheimer patients are next? Because Dr ranford believes that they also should die.

please read the national Review article by Robert Johansen

Posted by: chardonnay at March 20, 2005 1:49 AM

Even if Terri told Michael and some of his relatives (??? Funny how she supposely only said this to Michael's relatives; not her own) that she didn't want to be kept alive on machines...

Does anyone honestly think that this woman, or anyone else for that matter, would want to be STARVED to death? There's a world of difference between "termination of treatment" and "euthanasia". Too bad Terri might die because nobody seems to get that.

I also hope that all of the people who are arguing that this should be a state's issue say the same thing about abortion, but I doubt it. The bill which Congress will attempt to pass tomorrow applies the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution to disabled people. Since the Fourteenth Amendment is being applied here, that means that we're talking about a Constitutional power... and that means that the Tenth Amendment doesn't apply.

Posted by: JWL at March 20, 2005 1:52 AM

I am a doctor, and although I don't claim to know Terri the single question I have has yet to be answered. All the arguments seem to center around what Terri may or may not have wanted. But hypothetically speaking, what if Terri did in fact have written and verified advanced directives regarding her end-of-life care. Given the current political movement by congress, we as a society are now allowing the legislature to interfere with our rights as humans to choose how we die when we have terminal illness, or are stricken with illnesses from which we would rather not suffer. Should we euthanize Alzheimers patients? Of course not. But when the senility and demensia is so great that we can no longer function in a meaningful way, are we not allowed to choose death for ourselves over heroic measures that merely prolong the dying process? We are angry when the government mandates through managed care which doctors we see, or what medications we are allowed to have, but now we are INVITING the government to supercede the decisions made between physician and patient. This seems to me to be a catastrophic invasion of privacy and a horrible precident!

Posted by: John at March 20, 2005 4:24 AM

John, the key question here is has Terri chosen death? Do we have evidence? If we have no evidence, not only the govt. but should stand up for Terri's right to live.

Posted by: sujata at March 20, 2005 7:04 AM

John, the key question here is, has Terri chosen death? Do we have evidence? If we have no evidence, not only the govt. but every human being on this planet should stand up for Terri's right to live.

Posted by: sujata at March 20, 2005 7:05 AM

Why do you think they are taking her husband word she does not want to live? If it is not in writing .aren't they supose to treat this as if she wants to live.

Posted by: Bonnie at March 20, 2005 7:37 AM

What congress has done is given a voice to the voiceless. Rights to those who aren't able to speak for themselves.

The key thing here is that a Nobel Prize Nominee Neurologist examined Terri personally in 2002. He said her condition is very similar to those who have been axphixiated (strangled). The Judge refused to allow the Florida Department of Children and Families to have 60 days to investigate abuse. Why did he refuse? Why was the result of the bone scan she had done in 1991 kept secret until it finally surfaced in 2001? Why did Michael not remember what Terri supposedly said until 1998, the same year he petitioned the court to have her feeding tube removed?

Terri is undoubtedly the victim of domestic abuse. And she should be under the care of a new guardian.

Posted by: ElizabethV at March 20, 2005 8:19 AM

If Terri dies, then it will leave a black mark on the American polity that will be the spark that occasions its final doom. Any system that so utterly betrays someone to a grisly death becomes worse than worthless.

Posted by: Charles M. de Nunzio at March 20, 2005 8:43 AM

Had Judge Greer ruled according to Florida statues, Michael Schiavo would not be Terri's guardian long time ago and accordingly would not have any authority over Terri's fate. ( http://www.petitiononline.com/ijg520/petition.html ). In other words, under the Florida statues, Michael Schiavo should have no legal ground at all for removing Terri's feeding tube. Attorneys for the Schindlers filed with Judge Greer a petition to remove Michael Schiavo as guardian on Nov 15, 2002 and Jan 10, 2005. So far, Judge Greer has dodged and failed to rule on those motions.

Under Florida law, Michael Schiavo's open adulterous relationship is a misdemeanor, which is a ground for divorce. In other words, Michael Schiavo should have lost the status as a "husband". On March 1, 2005, attorneys for the Schindlers filed with Judge Greer a petition to let Terri divorce Michael Schiavo. Judge Greer denied that motion.

Some people frames this struggle as "Who should make the decision, the husband or the parents?". As far as I can understand, it is definitely not Michael Schiavo since he actually does not have any legal ground to have a say in this matter.

Posted by: Miranda at March 20, 2005 9:22 AM

To me, this struggle is about "justice". Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that Terri had indeed told Michael Schiavo that she would not want to live under this circumstance. But, given the sufferings and torture that Michael Schiavo has inflicted upon her throughout these years (http://www.zimp.org/stuff/ , see No. 22 Affidavit of Carla Iyer, R.N. and No. 23 Affidavit of Heidi Law, Certified Nursing Assistant), any reasonable person would come to a conclusion that Terri would want to see "justice" before closing her eyes peacefully. (I am saying "justice" here, not "revenge". They are totally different.)

This struggle is to seek justice for Terri Schiavo. The involvement of Congress in this case is not to intrude our privacy or to violate our rights. Instead, it is to bring justice to this case, since it is very obvious that there is absolutely no prospect for Terri to see justice under the judiciary tyranny in Florida. The Congress has an obligation under the U.S. Constitution to assure Terri's right to due process.

Posted by: Miranda at March 20, 2005 10:05 AM