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April 12, 2005

How "Terri's case" was Handled in Argentina

Topics: International

-contributed by: Anna Nordin (received via email)
From "La Nation" (Buenos Aires newspaper) Sunday March 27, 2005 translated to english by P.M.

The Supreme court of the province of Buenos Aires recently resolved a case of a 38 year old woman hydrated and fed by feeding tube in stomach who is otherwise healthy and breathing on her own, coughing and blinking. The husband asked for the disconnection of the feeding tube and the parents and brother were opposed. The court ruled in favor of keeping the woman alive and denied the husband's request to have the feeding tube removed.

The judge ruled that the feeding tube was NOT an extra-ordinary means of keeping a patient alive and said they (the court) had an obligation to ensure a person was kept alive wherever possible when only ordinary means of support are required. Our judicial system has no rules or laws other than those that defend life.

Only in cases where a person is kept alive by EXTRA-ordinary means do the the judges analyze the wishes of the disabled person that authorize the disconnection of life support and that decision is most personal and cannot be determined by someone else.

In cases such as that of Terri Schiavo in the United States, where the life of the disabled person depends on feeding, one cannot do anything but remember the ancestral norms that order that we feed the hunger and give drink to the thirsty and even more than this, there has to be a fundamental crtieria for humanity that should prevail. Our laws don't even open the possiblity of doing otherwise.

cross posted at Hyscience

Posted by richard at April 12, 2005 8:26 AM

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While I agree wholeheartedly with the decision of the Argentinian court and the sentiments posted, please remember that Argentina's case law and/or constitution has no authority in the United States and should not be construed as such.

We have had courts here in the US that might take this post the wrong way.


Posted by: RightWingRocker at April 12, 2005 9:51 AM

That's it Im moving to Argentina. J/K. I am wondering how many other countries besides the u.s. and possibly the netherlands would have pulled the g-tube?

Posted by: KC at April 12, 2005 10:11 AM

I was watching the senate hearings pertaining to end of life decisions. Then I watched about the judges. If the judicial system is indeed invoking international ruilings into its own decision making, the justices are doing a poor job.

Posted by: Julie at April 12, 2005 12:02 PM

> We have had courts here in the US that might take
> this post the wrong way.

Hey, this isn't about Argentina courts having any sway over American courts. This is about exposing which countries have good human rights records, and which countries have poor human rights records. I live in the U.S., where obviously we have begun publicly starving our disabled citizens to death. I will never again feel the same about my country, where individual's human rights are so easily set asside. I've written to European friends how ashamed I am of my country now.

Something has disasterously broken down here, and we have to fix it. If Argentina's presumption that everyone wants to be and should be fed can be a shining light for us, then so be it.

Posted by: Suzanne. at April 12, 2005 12:08 PM

Good decision based on good principles. The problem I have with somebody else deciding to kill a defenseless disabled person is that it conflates somebody killing somebody else with "suicide" and killing a person, regardless of the means, with a medical intervention. The other thing that makes doing harm to an incapacitated person said to have a death wish morally problematic is that the incapacitated person cannot ask for medical treatment to reverse the harm somebody else is doing. Of course, Terri Schiavo could not say on her seventh day, or any day, without food, that she would like to back on "her" death wish. People who do self harm to themselves with the intention of causing death can and often do seek emergency medical treatment to stop going through with such an irrevocable decision as suicide. This is a conundrum the pro-euthanasia crowd refuses to face up to. The reality is the only way to face up to it is to do no harm to an incapacitated person. This is exactly why suicide must always be a private act of a conscious individual that is neither encouraged nor discouraged by the family or government. There is no other way to ensure that a murder is not taking place when a family member is being killed off, or that somebody is being forced to stay alive against his will. No, what was done to Terri Schiavo was not a suicide and it was not a medical procedure. Doing no harm is one of the bedrock principles of medical ethics and this new euthanasia movement is gradually doing away with it in the U.S. and other countries.

Posted by: Rick J. G. at April 12, 2005 2:23 PM

Suzanne, I'm with you.

I do want our legislators to look at this Argentinian case in helping decide what the law should be.

I DON'T want our courts looking at it in making decisions in American cases.

Have I clarified myslf?


Posted by: RightWingRocker at April 12, 2005 5:29 PM

Personally, I don't think the U.S. federal or state governments, regardless of branch, will care much one way or another what Argentina thinks and that certainly wasn't my intention in posting the article. Further, the article was written by Argentines for Argentines and wasn't necessary intended for an international audience. I just thought it was comforting to know that other countries support our view.

Posted by: Anna_Nordin at April 12, 2005 7:10 PM