April 3, 2005
A Growing Collection of PossibilitiesTopics: General
Cross-posted on Powers That Blog.
A little over a week ago, we posted an essay asking the question: what is the next step? to get us thinking about where we go from here. At the time we posted it, we were still hoping for a miracle to save Terri's life. That miracle never came, which makes our mission all the more urgent. There are others out there who are facing the same horrible possibility of being parched and starved to death if people don't stand up for them.
Terri's tragedy did much to illustrate a whole host of things that have gone wrong with our society and which have conspired against her. All of these issues need to be addressed at some point, and the question is where do we begin and what do we focus on? This essay is intended to be a summary of the issues that have been brought to light in the last few weeks along with some ideas for how to begin resolving them. I thought it would be beneficial to have them all in one place. I draw from my own thoughts, as well as the feedback we received to our post a week ago. I present these thoughts in no particular order.
Identify everyone involved in killing Terri either by their actions or failure to act (from judges to politicians to police officers to hospice nurses, it can also include those medical experts who lied about Terri's mental state and told us starvation wasn't all that bad). I know Tim is already working on this "Wall of Shame" and it will be posted on BFT. Once these people have been all identified, we can systematically target them for a "career change," be it losing the next election, impeachment, loss of license, whatever is necessary to remove them from their current position of influence. This has to be very carefully distinguished from a harassment campaign. We go to the voters rather than protesting outside the homes of politicians or policemen. We go to professional medical societies rather than organizing a boycott of a particular team of doctors to pressure them to fire the perjurors.
Target the mainstream media for their continued lies and bias which no doubt contributed to Terri's demise. I've actually wanted to do this before I became aware of the urgency of Terri Schindler's plight. My understanding is that the media rely on income from their advertising sponsors, so urging the sponsors to stop buying advertising, possibly reinforced with boycotting of the products, could be an effective way to let the news networks know we do not appreciate their misleading coverage of events relating to Terri. We also have the option of boycotting those news networks directly.
Encourage Congress to hold Greer accountable for ignoring the Congressional subpoenas and to hold the Federal judges accountable for refusing to hold a de novo trial for Terri, as asked by the American people via our elected senators and representatives.
This is more along the lines of protecting yourself as an individual, but realize that each one of us needs to take charge of our own healthcare by educating ourselves and playing an active part in medical decisions. It is important to realize that medical facilities do not do everything with the patients' best interest in mind. The people at these facilities have desires and needs as well. While this isn't in and of itself evil, it is important to remember that when you are a patient, you need to be aware of what your needs are and advocate those needs. Some medical interventions are vital to saving your life; others are unnecessary and may lead to further problems later. An example of this is a feeding tube. It is more convenient and less time-consuming for staff to feed disabled patients with a feeding tube even if they can eat normally, and I have heard several anecdotes to back this up. In fact, according to one of the nurses caring for Terri, this happened to her, and we all know what happened next. So, if you are in a situation where a medical practitioner is recommending a certain medical intervention for you or a loved one, recognize that there may be other options which should be explored.
Carefully examine the living will concept. As has been pointed out earlier, if you wish to be killed, a living will assures you will and no one can intervene. If you do not want to be killed, you need to consider other legal documentation. Various pro-life groups promote a Will to Live, and the Catholic Church provides a form that is in keeping with Catholic teaching (more information can be requested here).
A commenter to our previous post suggested boycotting Florida tourism and products.
This is a long term strategy. Some of us may need to rethink our childrearing practices. I have been dismayed by how easily it seems the police officers followed orders to guard the hospice from any water-bearing trespassers, how easily it seems the employees at the hospice went along with parching and starving one of their patients to death. They were following orders. That was also the excuse used by many Nazi soldiers during the Haulocost. According to author Gregory Popcak, Israel sponsored a study to learn the differences between the people who stood by while Jews were being hauled off to concentration camps and those people who defended them. The prominent difference between the two groups was how they were raised. Those who were raised in an authoritarian and punitive fashion were more likely to go along with the Nazi regime. Those who were raised by parents who reasoned with them, explained themselves, and welcomed questioning were more likely to defend the Jews. So, in relating to our children, are we raising them to conform absolutely to our authority as parents, or are we raising them to feel comfortable questioning and when called for, going against authority?
There were some prominent media figures who stood up for Terri and her rights, people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt and others. Unfortunately, it seemed to me they got on board too late. My heart just sank when Sean Hannity told of how he had just the night before read the sworn affidavits by Carla Iyer and Heidi Law, who had previously taken care of Terri. He said this on his radio show after Terri had already been without food and water for five days. He had just found out about those affidavits and was giving them as much coverage as he could. But they had been published on BFT for months already. I can't help but wonder how we might have been able to get this information to him sooner. These prominent talk show hosts can help us a lot, but they need to be brought on board much sooner if possible.
Continue to remember Terri and tell her story. Don't let people forget what happened to her. Keep society aware. We are not shoving this under the rug and moving on.
Several people commented that we need to demand Governor and President Bush to explain their ineffectiveness in saving Terri's life, particularly why they chose to not use their executive authority to protect her. A question was raised as to how President Bush is able to liberate women under duress around the world and yet was unable to save a woman under severe duress within his borders. I realize both Governor and President Bush were placed in difficult situations and did put forth substantial effort on Terri's behalf. I can logically understand their reasons for limiting their involvement. However, I can't help but think that what is going to be remembered is that they did not act effectively to uphold Terri's constitutional rights.
Several people have suggested that we begin legislative efforts to protect life in non criminal cases. Right now, convicted criminals get lots of legal protection and will not be executed until they have been given every legal opportunity to have their death sentence repealed. This is a very good thing, and we have been warned against impuning our legal system for this. However, this thorough protection needs to be extended to those in hospitals and nursing homes who are unable to control their own fate.
Another commenter suggested there needs to be reform in the area of accepted diagnosis and how to determine the right to live or die when no documentation of the patient's wishes is present. For example, I believe it should be mandatory for a complete battery of tests to be performed to obtain an accurate diagnosis (as was not done for Terri). It should also be mandatory that during the time it takes to make these life and death determinations by whatever means, the patient in question receive adequate and complete rehabilitative therapy and that the results of that therapy be admitted as evidence in the final decision. My opinion is that had Terri been given adequate therapy during the past 10 years or so, there would not have been any controversy over her mental state, or her tenacious desire to live. It would have been obvious to everyone that she was present with us and wanted to live.
A simple matter that some have already started doing: refer to Terri by her maiden name of Schindler, rather than by her husband's name.
Terri's death is not the first of its type (HT: Marie) in our nation. The wheels of euthanasia have started to turn years ago and have no doubt gained some momentum with Terri's death. This may be an uphill battle for a while.
Of course, there is the overall problem of judicial tyranny, which needs to be addressed. After all, what use will all the legislative effort in the world be if judges choose to simply ignore that legislation as they did with Congress' emergency measure on Palm Sunday to grant Terri a new trial? As a society, we need to be more willing to question judges and hold them accountable for their decisions. Certainly, our legislative and executive branches need to be proactive about reigning in activist judges.
Finally, one thing that disheartened me during the intensity of trying to restore Terri's water and food was the realization that there didn't seem to be adequate communication or teamwork among all the various organizations fighting for Terri's life. During the time that we were still hoping for the Florida legislature to come through for Terri, there was a list of ten senators that we were targeting for phone and letter campaigns. After this list had been posted on BFT for over a day, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family was interviewed on Sean Hannity's radio show. Dr. Dobson mentioned that there were some senators who were more open to persuasion. A caller asked if there was a list anywhere and Dr. Dobson didn't even know who the key senators were. It wasn't long before Randall Terry weighed in with the same list posted on his website, but still, the fact that BFT had that list posted and other key players in this fight weren't aware of it bothered me. When I was emailing all my friends to invite them to help out in this struggle, I sent several emails to Dr. Dobson inviting him to coordinate his efforts with ours. I finally got a response the day before Terri died thanking me for standing up for Terri and informing me that they would pass along my letter. I share this not to disparage any of the great people fighting for Terri, but to point out that communication and teamwork among all of us was lacking. In future cases like this (make no mistake, there will be future cases), I would like to see some thought put into how we can truly coordinate our efforts and all work together. I will certainly be happy to pass along any suggestions you have.
This is the list I have come up with of ways to address the societal problems that have come to light through Terri's tragic ordeal. Please let me know if I have left anything out; my goal is to have as complete a list as possible compiled in one place. Also, this is meant to be a brainstorm, where all ideas are put on the table. Feel free to voice your disagreement to any one of these ideas, but let's not lose focus by getting sidetracked on a side issue. At some point in the very near future, we are going to need to decide where we want our organized efforts to focus. Some of us may individually take on other causes, and you choose the issue that you are most passionate about. I believe we will be most effective in uniting around one or two focal points. Once we are satisfied with the results, we can choose another area and focus on that.
Once we choose where and how we are going to organize our efforts, it is important that we take the time to learn who else is already working on this problem and work with them, rather than try to reinvent the wheel. For example, there already is a group of people working on reforming the Florida guardianship laws. I'm sure there must be hundreds of groups concerned about judicial tyranny. There probably is at least one organization already working on every single issue I brought up. I would appreciate you sending me any links to organizations you know of. Already, we have seen organizations and interest groups representing a wide variety of concerns uniting around the goal of saving Terri and others like her. We can definitely continue to build on and improve that momentum.
Thank you to everyone for all your hard work in trying to save Terri. Thank you for not giving up when she died. We are involved in a very important effort, and we want to do everything we can to help our effort succeed.
Posted by powersthatblog at April 3, 2005 8:56 PM
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