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March 19, 2005

Starvation - A Painless Death?

Topics: Medical Issues

ABC News is now reporting that Terri Schiavo's death "is likely to be very serene." Dr. Fred Mirarchi, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, is quoted in the statement, "The process of starving to death seems very barbaric but in actuality is very peaceful."

First, we're not giving up. Second, this report could not be further from the truth.

In his book, Wesley J. Smith describes the intense suffering imposed on those being starved to death. [source: Newsmax, Sept. 23, 2003]

"Proponents of dehydration contend that deaths by dehydration are peaceful," Smith wrote. Noting that "the patients we are discussing are not terminally ill" and that those who are conscious can feel hunger and thirst, Smith quotes Dr. William Burke, a neurologist in St. Louis, who described the agonizing process.

"A conscious person would feel it (dehydration) just as you and I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucous membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining. They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water. Death by dehydration takes ten to fourteen days. It is an extremely agonizing death."

The next step, Smith predicts, will be the abandonment of dehydration in favor a much simpler and faster way to kill – death by lethal injection, now popular in prison death chambers.

In his book Smith concludes by asking if we will "take the hard turn down the slippery slope towards a coarsening of our view of the afflicted, the dying, the chronically ill, the disabled, and those in pain or depression, to the point where we feel they have a duty to die and get out of the way?

"Will we choose to love each other, or abandon each other?"

In the case of Terri Schiavo, the authorities have chosen abandonment.

For more, see Killing Through Starvation is Painless?. A witness to numerous starvation/killings writes,

I won’t go into anymore details as it is kind of gross, but it isn’t a pretty thing. Usually the docs and nurses do a “terrific” job with pain killers. The dying, supposedly, feel no pain. I don’t think that is ever true. I see them moaning and I have seen little tears rolling out of their dry eyes. The last patient I witnessed being put to death like this took 3 weeks to go. How sweet.

Update: WorldMag published Kate Adamson's story here [HT: WorldMagBlog].

Posted by tim at March 19, 2005 12:32 AM

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ABC News is now reporting that Terri Schiavo's death "is likely to be very serene." Dr. Fred Mirarchi, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, is quoted in the statement, "The process... [Read More]

Tracked on March 19, 2005 1:06 AM


i'm SICK TO DEATH of these so-called 'doctors' who say that starving to death is a painless and 'peaceful' way to go!! Why the heck don't they ask Kate Adamson who had a stroke and was on the feeding tube when her doctors took her off of it and SHE FELT PAIN!! Thank God she lived to tell about it! At least she has a husband her cares about her...enough to put a sign over her bed something like this 'This is a HUMAN BEING in this bed...treat her as such' God bless that man!

Posted by: phyllis at March 19, 2005 1:47 AM

Sick of people like you who instantly discredit doctors who don't agree with your theory. Most doctors wouldn't give up there years and years of training and prestige chasing just to lie and have no patient want to deal with them.

Also, millions of people in Africa are starving. They might be in discomfort but it's not that painful. They can still fuction til one night they go to bed and don't wake up. No convulsions, no crazy antics, etc. In addition, after being stranded for a couple days while climbin Mt. Charles, I ran out of food and didn't eat for 3 days. What might be annoying is the lack of water (I had water so it was easier) and the cotton mouth. It would be quicker though to just do lethal injection.

Posted by: Phyllis at March 19, 2005 1:56 AM

Phyllis is exactly correct: This is just a means to legalize euthanasia. If we're going to euthanize people anyway, why not make it painless?

The "pro-choice" crowd (ie, pro-death) is basically saying to all disabled people, "We don't want you. Die." Hey, I guess it's a perfectly fine opinion to have that life is completely worthless and should be crushed. Fine if you're Satan...

Posted by: JWL at March 19, 2005 2:34 AM

Keep in mind that Wesley Smith wrote that book to make a profit. It is certainly counterbalanced by experts who aren't out to make a buck who express the opposite viewpoint.

Posted by: HouseFlair at March 19, 2005 3:43 AM

Starvation is painless, who has the right to make that statement, and who really knows. Michael should have gave her back to her parents where she came from, her mother gave her life, not Michael, shame on him!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: mihele prieto at March 19, 2005 4:04 AM

Terri is not only being starved to death, she is being thirsted to death also (my own term).

I'm a desert rat and have spent countless hours roaming the desert. On one trip we made a near-fatal miscalculation that left us without water, no hopes of finding any, and 2 to 5 days (depending on how successful we were in navigating a novel route back) away from any help. We managed to navagate well and it only took us 2 days to get back to a water source, but we went 2 days without water. The first day in the hot desert was bad. The second day was truly torture. We hid from the sun during the hottest parts of the day and we travelled long into the night to make the best use of the coolness, but even so, we were so thirsty at the end of the second day! Our mouths were basically glued shut from lack of saliva, our skin was cracking, our lips bleeding, our eyes ached, every cell seemed to scream for water. I cry when I think about Terri being thirsted to death. When I go into the desert I always stash water, and we made it back to our water stash. I can't tell you how good that water tasted! Water!! -- what heaven!

But Terri has no water...

Just try to imagine being thirsted to death. Think about that when you think of what Terri is going through. What horrible torture we are putting her through. Try it yourself, go without water for 48 hours...

If you did this to a cat or dog you would be put in jail. Even a criminal on death row is given more rights to live than Terri is, even a cat has more rights to humane treatment than Terri.

--and to Phyllis - poor baby, so you were stranded on a mt. for 3 days without food and you are trying to understand starving? BFD, I've fasted for 10 days without food, but plenty of cool, clear water. No problem. but no water? I only experienced two days of that and that was torture.

Posted by: anasazi at March 19, 2005 5:55 AM

For those of you who think starvation and dehydration is painless and peaceful -- why not try it? Just for the weekend, even.

Uh huh. That's what I thought.


Posted by: Maureen at March 19, 2005 7:43 AM

You can protest this one-sided and grotesque interview by writing e-mail to ABC:


Posted by: SMoore at March 19, 2005 8:11 AM

It's better to protest ABC--owned by Disney, the "family-focused" entertainment giant--by stopping all support of their programming; especially their left-focused news media.

Posted by: Tress at March 19, 2005 9:11 AM

For Terri and all of the Terri's out there that can't speak for themselves, I have just fasted from food and water for 36 hours. I was just beginning to fell the torture she is enduring. She has endured this twice before. I can't even imagine what that six days was like for her. How sad, that of all countries, ours which reportedly is the most compassionate has become more like Nazi Germany treating the vulnarable with no rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness. Shame on ourselves for letting our country be run by those who seek power and not love of country. I miss our forefathers. They would never had allowed this to happen.
God Bless you Terri and your wonderful family.

Posted by: Maurica at March 19, 2005 9:26 AM

I have been in the hospital twice for dehydration (when I was younger, of course). I never was horribly severely dehydrated to the point of death, but even still I felt miserable and I kept vomiting. I also had a fever.

Posted by: Haley at March 19, 2005 10:03 AM

Where are Thomas Jefferson and Sam Adams when we need them ?The rhetoric of Thomas paine might also be helpful...he for sure would be one hell of a blogger!

Posted by: JoMarley at March 19, 2005 1:21 PM

OK let's get back to the REASON why she's being starved....because of HERESAY!! her 'husband' SAYS that she said a long time ago that she wouldn't want to be kept alive 'artificially' and do you consider FOOD and WATER 'artificial'?? i didn't think so.Let's see...what would be considered that...a respirator maybe?? well she's not on THAT machine...she's ONLY on a feeding tube
and that is considered to be substininence..
something that is NATURAL and EVERBODY NEEDS to live...SHE IS NOT being kept alive ARTIFICIALLY!!
OK let's go back to HOW she got into this condition in the first place...according to those
closest to her [on her website] she did NOT have a heart attack...she did NOT collapse from bulemia
and OH there's X-rays of her that prove she's had
TRAUMA to her body during her ADULT years. SO, their conclusion is that she was violently put in this condition...something that SHOULD PUT UP RED FLAGS EVERYWHERE!! and i think that Congress has finally heard about this and wants to investigate!
MORE POWER TO THEM!! FINALLY, someone is listening to the cries of her poor family who are only trying to save Terri from an ABUSIVE marriage
And, they're trying to make sure that Micheal does
NOT get away with letting the state of FLA finish off the job that he started!! {remember Scott Peterson?}

Posted by: phyllis at March 19, 2005 8:54 PM

This whole event seems so bizzare! We have a lady being executed by a strange court order.
I wonder, how do we get 'activist' judges to comply themselves, and NOT make new rules about what they will or won't allow. Maybe, a law should be passed so that 'these judges' will receive the same penalty they are want to impose on someone else. So G. Geer is indicted for homicide (or attempted homicide) - penalty is starvation/dehydration.
I'll bet such a law would close down 'activist' judges fast.
And justices who wish to put the nation through a ringer ... like same-sex marriage ... can be fined/jailed because they did not wait for legislators first. This IS legislators' job - not the judiciary.

Posted by: John McDonell at March 19, 2005 9:06 PM

that's a good idea u've got cookin there!! but i don't think the public would buy it..especially the judges..haha
Greer needs to be removed PERMANENTLY from the bench!! Yeh and we can thank Clinton for all these renegade judges!!

Posted by: phyllis b at March 19, 2005 10:05 PM

to the other Phyllis
Re: the starving Africans...so you've actually talked to them..and they told you 'nooo problem'
i can't remember one single picture that i've seen of those poor babies over there who AREN'T crying their eyes out!! so do you think they just want their pacifier? I guess you missed my comments before regarding Kate Adamson,who just recently spoke out about her stroke and how she was paralyzed and couldn't speak for about 70 days..the doctors had
put a feeding tube in,then something went wrong and had to remove it...she lived to tell of THE PAIN she felt when they removed it and also of the HUNGER PANGS she ENDURED! go and search her name on the web...you'll get educated!!
Re: Terri's case..the 'judge' is only going by what michael schiavo SAYS that Terri "wouldnt want to be kept on artificial life support"...but guess what? a FEEDING tube is NOT artificial life support! and there REALLY should be something in WRITING in this'life or death' matter...don't you think? put yourself in Terri's place..would you want an abusive husband to be YOUR guardian??
and your comment 'it would be quicker though to just do lethal injection'...IT'S STILL MURDER!

Posted by: phyllis b at March 20, 2005 12:04 AM

About 10 years ago, I developed pernicious anemia...I was so ill, I had no real will left anymore and lay in bed figuring I'd die. I had quit doctoring and gave up when they were too stupid to find out what ailed me. I puked blood and stomach acid for weeks, could no longer eat and most of my fluids came up too. I no longer had BM's, barely urinated...My stomach atrophied. I gasped constantly and lay in a semi conscious state, I couldn't really sleep or awaken.My skin was jaundiced... Finally, I was taken to the hospital and I was in severe starvation and dehydration. I almost didn't last through the night. Let me tell you, it is hellishly painful and I would not wish it on anyone. For me, the question of whether or not Terri is CVS is moot, although I do not believe she is...I think she's aware and responsive and could recover some speech and other functions....regardless, for me, the bottom line is: NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO KILL TERRI! Only GOD can decide!!! IT is a heinous atrocity what has been done to this innocent woman who cannot speak for herself. I certainly hope, if I were in such a terrifying situation, I would have loved ones with me who had my best interests at heart and who would not wish me dead or think they had the right to murder me. It horrifies me to think: If Terri is as aware as I think she is, and if indeed she tried to say she wanted to live to her attorney, think how much more horrifying for her to know and be aware of her impending death...to know she's being executed!It would be the worst kind of nightmare!!! I read some of her documents and once when her feeding tube was reinstated, they called it "A stay of EXECUTION" Can u believe the unfortunate wording? It somehow implies she's guilty of something and tried & convicted! I just could hardly believe it!!! Her poor family...this is cruel & unusual punishment for them as well, to live thru the hell of watching...standing by helplessly as their beloved daughter is herded off to her death. Her only crime? Marrying that sick bastard Michael Schiavo.

Posted by: Neb at March 23, 2005 4:42 AM

I would just like to ask, what makes these doctors experts on whether or not starvation/dehydration is painless? Have they ever gone through it personally?

And if it is NOT painful, then why do they pump them full of PAIN-KILLERS, like morphine?

Posted by: JIHC at March 23, 2005 11:29 AM