RWDB beatup or something more sinister?

I must confess I hadn’t taken much notice of the Terri Schiavo case until now. Schiavo is a severely brain-damaged (vegetative?) American woman currently being effectively starved to death through cutting off her intravenous feeding tubes. Perhaps partly because of instinctive prejudice against the Bush Republicans and their apparent fundamentalist Christian linkages, I automatically assumed that this was just another Right to Life stunt; that allowing Ms Schiavo to die was the most merciful course of action that only blind religious fanatics could oppose.

But I defy anyone with an ethical or compassionate bone in their body to read this guest post by Jerri Lynn Ward at The Currency Lad’s blog without being deeply affected and disturbed. Maybe there’s much more to it, and it’s entirely possible that Ward is spinning the facts outrageously. Maybe she’s leaving out aspects that would cast events in a quite different light. But if that’s so, what are they?

Update – (courtesy Factory) The other side of the story, also told patiently, persuasively and in detail. It’s a very difficult and emotive case, one where we can easily see why intelligent, compassionate people might well disagree in good faith.

Moreover, if the prognosis really is as utterly hopeless as this evaluation suggests, perhaps we should question why the US legislature isn’t considering a law allowing for quick painless active euthanasia instead of a slow (and conceivably painful) death by starvation. OTOH, and given that she is able to maintain heartbeat and respiration unaided, why shouldn’t she be kept on feeding tubes as long as her parents believe (with any respectable medical support at all) that there is even a tiny glimmer of hope? OTOH are we doing Terri or her parents any favours by encouraging a false hope (however understandable for grieving parents)?

Update 2 – The New York Times reports that the Senate and House of Representatives have now both passed a bill allowing a federal judge to intervent and order Terri Schiavo’s feeding tubes to be re-inserted, and President Bush has signed the bill into law. Whether a judge will actually make such an order remains to be seen, but I imagine a federal court probably would make such an order at least in the short term, to allow the case to be examined more closely (yet again). As ABC journo Leigh Sales comments in this story comments:

It’s just”¦ it’s a terrible story whichever way you look at it, because often with stories there’s a possibility of justice or redemption being done, but there’s absolutely nothing hopeful in this story. Every option and every aspect of it is really awful.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Factory
Factory
2022 years ago

JLW:
” There is a homicide presently occurring in Florida.”
Woah, reductionist and overly emotive in the one sentence.

JLW:
“There are suspicions concerning the role of the husband, Michael Schiavo, in her collapse.”
Ah yes, and a bit of smearing too.

KP:
“But I defy anyone with an ethical or compassionate bone in their body to read this guest post by Jerri Lynn Ward at The Currency Lad’s blog without being deeply affected and disturbed.”
Sure that’s easy, a load of bollocks has never swayed me to emotion.

This gives an alternate view, of which I’m inclind to agree with:
http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/03/terri_schiavo.html

KP:
“But if that’s so, what are they?”
It’s a tough call, knowing who to believe. I usually side with the ones that sound most reasonable. Lack of fallacius arguments are a no-brainer, but where arguments are solid then it becomes a difficult problem. No doubt I end up agreeing with whoever conforms to my political persuasion, sad but true.

Geoff  Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Ms Ward is an Austin-based attorney who appears to specialise in medical malpractice – amongst other things. She also appears to be a fervently religious Republican. Her spirited defence of Jeff Gannon/Guckert, “alleged to be a homosexual,” as she puts it (I kind of think that a guy who offers himself up for sex with other guys on the internet could be safely said to be a big homo – but that’s just me) on Sue Bob’s Diary would indicate this as might the list of her favorite movies: The Patriot by Mel Gibson, We were Soldiers, Conan the Barbarian, The Gospel According to John, and Braveheart. A pattern emerges…..

Ms Ward implies that Ms Schiavo’s ‘adulterous’ husband possibly deliberately induced her coma, has most definitely (mis)spent the medical malpractice settlement accruing from it, and is now embarked on a campaign to murder and cremate her in order (presumably) to conceal the evidence of his own misdeeds.

On balance Ken, I’m inclined to believe that Ms Ward might well be spinning the facts outrageously. In fact I’d wager Braveheart’s sporran on it.

Tim Lambert
2022 years ago

I vote for RWDB beatup. Changing the law after the court decision goes against you seems more than a little dodgy.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

Thanks to Geoff for that little reality check.

For anyone who wants some real background on this awful case, here are a few links.

First, note that ABC here in the US obtained the Republican party talking points on this issue which clearly note the political advantages in running with this case:

http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/surfdomarchives/003103.php

For a comprehensive overview of the case:

http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2005/03/debunking_lies_.html

For a more detailed account of the legal history:

http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html

For some examples of how inconsistent the GOP are in the application of their concern:

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/_/2005/03/schiavo_hudson_and_nikolouzos.php

For some idea of what this means in terms of pure democratic procedure and what a debasement it is:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/20/opinion/courtwatch/main681785.shtml

This is a horrible beat-up being run by Tom Delay to distract attention from his own huge problems with abuses of Congressional power, and a general play in the “culture wars”. It is an abuse of Congress and the legal system. Apart from the issue of the poor woman herself, the other truly disturbing aspect is the willingness of some on the right, including members of congress, to personally vilify judges involved in the case as well as Ms Schiavo’s husband.

CL is right about one thing: this isn’t a mere left/right issue. What he fails to note is that the main rw players in Congress and the media have tried very hard to turn it into just that. It’s a fucking disgrace.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Geoff distrusts a woman because of the movies she likes. Not enough sub-titled epics in that list obviously. And tolerance? Only for those just like him apparently.

No Tim L & D, the case has essentially been federalised – see also ‘ending segregation.’

Tim D: that view of Delay is a pretty massive exaggeration. You’re honestly saying there’s no home-grown, grassroots passion or legitimate legal doubts vis-a-vis this case? All just a plot? Come off it.

And it’s full-on Orwellian that the phrase RWDB is being used to describe people who want to save a woman’s life. I honestly don’t get the left today: generally in favour of late-term abortion, euthanasia of the aged, mercy-killing of the disabled.

It’s Mengele-like but those who see these disturbing trends for what they are are accused of organising “beat ups.” Maybe you’re the death beasts.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

the left today: generally in favour of late-term abortion, euthanasia of the aged, mercy-killing of the disabled.

Pretty hard to have a rational discussion with people willing to lie on this scale. Don’t you ever feel a little shame?

saint
2022 years ago

I’ve been following the Schiavo case for over a year now – not that I understand all its twists and complexities – after learning about it from a fave U.S. Catholic blog. Not pretty. And a bit painful given the reminders of one’s own experience with similar situations in the family.

One thing that has struck me: both Terri’s husband and her parents have conflicted interests – perhaps not initially but certainly now. I can’t see how that will not continue. And never mind everyone else who has had two cents worth from near and afar and has turned Terri’s plight into a football of some description. I sometimes wondered whether she is better placed under the care of a third party, perhaps a panel who would include suitable medicos/therapists, a bioethicist, a Catholic priest (given she is Catholic), lawyer etc. who would just consider her own well being. But that could be even more naive than my usual naive self. And probably not possible under U.S. law.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

Good point, Saint, so FYI (from http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html which I provided above.):

“Michael Schiavo did not make the decision to discontinue life-prolonging measures for Terri.

As Terri’s husband, Michael has been her guardian and her surrogate decision-maker. By 1998, though — eight years after the trauma that produced Terri’s situation — Michael and Terri’s parents disagreed over the proper course for her.

Rather than make the decision himself, Michael followed a procedure permitted by Florida courts by which a surrogate such as Michael can petition a court, asking the court to act as the ward’s surrogate and determine what the ward would decide to do. Michael did this, and based on statements Terri made to him and others, he took the position that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures. The Schindlers took the position that Terri would continue life-prolonging measures. Under this procedure, the trial court becomes the surrogate decision-maker, and that is what happened in this case.

The trial court in this case held a trial on the dispute. Both sides were given opportunities to present their views and the evidence supporting those views. Afterwards, the trial court determined that, even applying the “clear and convincing evidence” standard — the highest burden of proof used in civil cases — the evidence showed that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures.”

It really is worth reading the background and not the propoganda.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

The Ward piece is indeed outrageous spin. See http://respectfulofotters.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_respectfulofotters_archive.html#111120735448873570 This is not about euthanasia or a culture of life. It’s about the pseudo-religious right whipping up its base. Even the official Catholic position is in favour of withdrawing heroic measures. See http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html

What it’s really about is the right’s attitude that any fact can be dismissed as subject to substantial doubt and any event can be spun into a political opportunity.

The victim in this case has no cerebral cortex. There is no way to restore a cerebral cortex that no longer exists.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

Reasonable point, Saint. So FYI from the link I mention above:

http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html#qanda

“Michael Schiavo did not make the decision to discontinue life-prolonging measures for Terri.

As Terri’s husband, Michael has been her guardian and her surrogate decision-maker. By 1998, though — eight years after the trauma that produced Terri’s situation — Michael and Terri’s parents disagreed over the proper course for her.

Rather than make the decision himself, Michael followed a procedure permitted by Florida courts by which a surrogate such as Michael can petition a court, asking the court to act as the ward’s surrogate and determine what the ward would decide to do. Michael did this, and based on statements Terri made to him and others, he took the position that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures. The Schindlers took the position that Terri would continue life-prolonging measures. Under this procedure, the trial court becomes the surrogate decision-maker, and that is what happened in this case.

The trial court in this case held a trial on the dispute. Both sides were given opportunities to present their views and the evidence supporting those views. Afterwards, the trial court determined that, even applying the “clear and convincing evidence” standard — the highest burden of proof used in civil cases — the evidence showed that Terri would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures.”

It is worth reading the background to the case.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

CL, Terri Schiavo is not ‘disabled.’ She is in a persistent, vegetative state and has been for 15 years. She has no cognition. A disabled person is a person who experiences significant challenge in living life on a day to day basis. Terri can’t experience ‘day to day life’ – a fact attested to by innumerable physicians and legal fora.

And for the record, I’m not generally in favour of late-term abortion, euthanasia of the aged, or mercy-killing of the disabled. An understanding of the breadth of issues in this case doesn’t equate to the Mengelean life stance you pathetically assert.

MrLefty
2022 years ago

RWDB spin. You’ve got to be skeptical when the pro-article starts off by rabbiting on about the husband’s “adultery” (starting a new relationship and having children years after his wife went into a coma), and utterly refuses to describe the court cases which have got to this point. You know, the times when actual evidence was heard.

It’s a cruel, cruel political football for the right, even crueller for their pretending that it’s NOT a political football.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Geoff

I’m inclined to agree with you having read some of the links Tim provided. We probably should be asking proponents of maintaining nutritional life support whether there are any circumstances at all (including an unquestionably irreversible persistent vegetative state) in which they’d agree to its withdrawal? If the answer is no (as it certainly would be with CL), then their evaluation of the situation is necessarily suspect.

That said, we still need to have rigorous safeguards against premature or malevolently motivated decisions to end life. These sorts of issues are going to become more and more common as the population ages and pressure on hospital resources increases, which is all the more reason for caution. The Ward post on CL’s blog attempts to create a picture of suspect or malevolent motives, but perusal of other sources negates it.

I still have serious concerns about the humaneness of passive euthanasia by withdrawing feeding (i.e. slow starvation). Surely a speedy form of active euthanasia would be vastly preferable. But of course CL would oppose that as well.

saint
2022 years ago

Tim –

I was thinking slightly differently. Basically removing the two warring parties and their views from the equation altogether, harsh as it may be. i.e. they don’t get to bring the evidence at all.
Assuming that there are no expressed wishes. Even Terri’s expressed statements are under dispute (see todays Oz) so just assume there was no expressed will. Yes that may sound harsh too but Terri cannot speak for herself and the two parties were at the point of having conflicted interests when her wishes were made known and its become too much of a right to life/right to die issue – it is in one way, but the person, not the issue should come first. And a bioethicist and Catholic priest on the panel would be privy to all of the information and also represent her as a Catholic.

Removing it from the courts if possible, even removing her to a different facility, and basically going back to square one.

Allowing freedom to a group to order whatever tests they think necessary to assess her condition and cognition etc whether heroic measures are being used to prolong life and then going on from there. (I am uncomfortable with the notion that a feeding tube is a heroic measure – a couple of my friends kids with CF use feeding tubes each night and it’s no big deal ..but then it may be…)

Like I said, naive. And maybe harsh for the families involved who will get no say whatsoever although all should be free to visit. But even that should release them to get on with their lives to some degree and stop the finger pointing. Might not guarantee a resolution and definitely won’t be to everyone’s liking. But the whole saga is now such a tangled mess, that I only fear it will become more tangled while the same parties are involved at the centre.

Her rehab money can fund test etc and if spent, Medicaid can fund it as it would for anyone else in her position. I’d say funds could also be raised publicly.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

If only she were a murderer, the lefties would be clamouring to keep her alive.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

Saint, all I can say, is read the history of the case. This has been handled scrupulously by the courts, as well as anybody could resonably expect. The safeguards Ken rightly mentions have been honoured at every turn. There is no need for the alternative mechanism you suggest. That doesn’t alter the fact that it is heartbreaking, but this stuff happens all the time and I really can’t see an alternative that is likely to provide any consistency. I also agree with Ken that there should be an alternative to removing the feeding tube. BUt as he says, the same people complaining now would freak at any attempt to ease her death.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2005/s1328140.htm

Dr Roseanna Capolingua, Chair of the Australian Medical Association’s Ethics and Medico Legal committee.

“This woman is actually not in a coma, she is alive. You could draw parallels to many people who are in prolonged care in Australia. You could look at children who are fed, who have disability.

You could look at people who’ve had strokes, who are being cared for and fed, whether they’re fed by a carer or whether they have a line in feeding them, it’s the same thing. It is providing essential care for the maintenance and respect of that life.

In this situation the court has ruled that that should be taken away, and the woman will die. So, it is not something that is legal or accepted in Australia.”

” … in this case is quite obvious when you see photographs or film footage of this particular person, and she has only been requiring the feeding to sustain her, and proper nursing care. So, the decision to remove that from her is really a decision to kill her.”

C.L.
2022 years ago

Tim says the whole thing is a conspiracy run out of Tom Delay’s office (Rove is busy with Area 51) and then denounces people for lying and propaganda. Hilarious.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Ken, I really don’t get you sometimes. You start off with a relatively positive link to my blog’s guest post on this, then some leftie big guns weigh in against it and you do a bolter. And I love the way you say that anyone who disagrees with the Mengele view should be sidelined: “their evaluation of the situation is necessarily suspect.”

That I ran a guest post from someone who’s been writing on this for weeks – not, like me, days – doesn’t mean I subscribe to her worldview in its entirety. I oppose the death penalty, for example. For everyone, however heinous their crime may have been.

“Necessarily suspect” is the decision – issued by one judge – to kill someone suffering from a condition from which people have recovered because her flake husband wants to ‘get on with his life.’

Geoff has described the state of many children and stroke victims in Australia. Should we kill’ em all Geoff? No, says the AMA – the lynching of Terri wouldn’t be alowed here. Once again, the left goes selectively America-sycophantic when it suits. Why not eradicate AIDS sufferers – that would save the nation billions and have some epidemiological benefits too probably. Appalling to quantify others’ worth according to a rationalist calculus isn’t it?

Ken, please don’t presume to know what I do and don’t think about these issues. (No doubt CL this, no doubt CL that…). I subscribe to the Catholic viewpoint. Heroic measures are not enforced, nor permitted in many cases.

Worth repeating: Terri has a condition from which people have recovered. What’s being organised would not be permissable or ethical in Australia. Why are people so desperate to kill this woman?

Tim Lambert
2022 years ago

Terri does not have a condition from which people have recovered. The medical evidence is utterly conclusive has been gone over in the court case and in a bazillion appeals. Why did you write something so plainly untrue, CL?

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

You’re not in any position to throw stones, Tim, since you keep on promoting the plainly untrue Lancet “study” of Iraqi war deaths.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

CL

I changed my mind not because “some leftie big guns” weighed in, but because I belatedly looked reasonably carefully at the evidence and course of events, rather than just reacting instinctively or ideologically. You could do worse than to try it too. This is an issue with strong moral and spiritual overtones, however, so I wouldn’t want to belittle your reactions or those of anyone else. But at the end of the day this dispute has, as Tim Lambert observes, been through umpteen court cases and appeals, and it appears beyond doubt that Terri Schiavo is vegetative beyond any hope of recovery.

That said, I don’t think it would hurt to wait a little longer and to perform MRI scans as well as the existing CAT scans to put the issue even further beyond doubt. Terri isn’t in pain, and presumably the proceeds of her husband’s personal injury claim are paying for the life support and hospital care. So if it’s possible to achieve a situation where the parents can be satisfied that nothing more can be done and that all respectable medical opinion is that their daughter is beyond any hope of recovery, then I would agree that is the best course of action.

I’m pleased you accept the Catholic “no heroic measures” stance, but disappointed that you studiously ignored my other point i.e. that this ultimately means Terri WILL be allowed to starve to death slowly rather than given a quick, humane, painless lethal injection. We treat dogs that mercifully; why not humans?

C.L.
2022 years ago

Then have the moral courage of your convictions Tim: advocate the killing of stroke victims, dubiously viable humidicrib-trapped babies and all others without congnition or sensory functionality. As genetics becomes more predictively precise, advocate the abortion of foetuses with inherent tendencies to incurable and costly diseases or pathologies. Be truthful: exterminate.

C.L.
2022 years ago

It wasn’t my intention to ignore that point Ken. For the life of me I don’t know why this method has been chosen. But I suspect it appears less ‘active’ and more ‘passive.’ Speaks – nay wreaks – of guilty conscience.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

CL

To pick up your point to Tim L, I WOULD advocate that brain dead stroke victims be given lethal injections (as opposed to the Catholic stance which would permit withdrawal of “heroic measures”, resulting in a long slow death from starvation). My stance is that there need to be extraordinarily rigorous safeguards against premature, malevolent or expedient decisions to euthanase a brain dead patient, but that once those are complied with the most humane response is letahl injection rather than slow starvation.

Finally, your throwaway line about “dubiously viable humidicrib babies” is cheap, dishonest and unworthy of you. No-one (here at least) would suggest any such thing, nor could any comment here be so interpreted in good faith. As I said in the primary post, this is a difficult, complex issue where intelligent, compassionate people of good faith can disagree about the appropriate course of action. The fact that some people disagree with you dosn’t make them baby murderers.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Ken: Cheap, unrealistic?

“In Britain, two doctors escape prosecution for aborting an otherwise healthy baby with a treatable cleft palate because the authorities are satisfied they acted ‘in good faith.’ You can read similar stories in almost any corner of the developed world, except perhaps the Netherlands, where discretionary euthanasia is so advanced it’s news if the kid makes it out of the maternity ward. As the New York Times reported the other day: ‘Babies born into what is certain to be a brief life of grievous suffering should have their lives ended by physicians under strict guidelines, according to two doctors in the Netherlands.

‘The doctors, Eduard Verhagen and Pieter J. J. Sauer of the University Medical Center in Groningen, in an essay in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, said they had developed guidelines, known as the Groningen protocol.'”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/03/22/do2202.xml

If offing a bub with a cleft palate is OK (in Britain), are you honestly suggesting we won’t soon see seriously ill babies being liquidated? And how long before a Roe v. Wade-like bowdlerisation of law – you know: mother’s health-cum-psychology-cum-do’h, I wanted to go backpacking this spring – how long before that emerges with respect to newborns? Not long doctor.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

“But I suspect it appears less ‘active’ and more ‘passive.’
Yes it is more passive than active, but since the point is to end suffering then it is more humane to do it quickly ie an active injection.

C.L. you’re going over the top saying that the left want extermination. I certainly don’t. I want a case-by-case arguement for each one – as has been done here. The only wishes that need to be respected are those of the sufferer.

“Speaks – nay wreaks – of guilty conscience.”
I don’t think it speaks of a guilty conscience at all – it speaks of their inability to use an injection and nothing else. If someone actively helps they are, under the law, murdering.

It is not about extermination but dignity. There is no Mengele here.

If you oppose euthenasia then you must be prepared to defend your position of enforcing suffering.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Much of the commentary/editorialism I have seen say that the right to lifers and their idealogical comrades are coming down so hard on this Schiavo case because they see it as a backdoor to abortion. That is if Schiavo is legally allowed to die then legal abortion is just around the corner.

As you can see C.L. subscribes to the above.

The link is erroneous. One deals with an adult being allowed a dignified death and an end of suffering (euthenasia in general relieves sufferering and yes, I know Schiavo isn’t technically suffering).
Abortion is not about this.

They are two entirely separate things.
You can be pro-euthenasia and anti-abortion.
So, let’s keep abortion out of it.

Tim Lambert
2022 years ago

CL, I’ll ask you again. Why did you say that Terri has a chance of recovery?

EP, I’m afraid that putting the word ‘study’ in scare quotes does not prove that the Lancet study is untrue. If you have something intelligent to say about the study, feel free to join the discussion on my blog. We are almost up to one thousand comments on the Lancet study.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Geoff has described the state of many children and stroke victims in Australia. Should we kill’ em all Geoff? ”

Grow up. Running around ranting like a headless chook shrieking ” Nazi!” at people who happen to have arrived at a different conclusion to you, in respect of what is an inherently difficult – and very specific – set of circumstances, is about as pointless a reaction as I could imagine. It’s an emotive issue but that shouldn’t preclude at least an attempt at a reasoned enagement.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

“You start off with a relatively positive link to my blog’s guest post on this, then some leftie big guns weigh in against it and you do a bolter.”

Yes, Ken is like putty in our hands, constantly bowing to our every whim. Oh, the power…..Curses that the balanced and unbiased CL has seen through our dastardly machinations.

roop
roop
2022 years ago

CL says: “No Tim L & D, the case has essentially been federalised – see also ‘ending segregation.'”

CL, this case has already been in federal court, where the parents raised the question of the consistency of the florida law with the US constitution, and where they lost. if you think what is happening here is merely that the case has “essentially been federalised”, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

you may go on and on about what your phantom “the left” believes. but perhaps you would more profitably ponder what are usually considered to be conservative principles, i.e., the rule of law, federalism, respect for means over ends, respect for the wishes of the individual as against the nanny state, and so forth. these are indeed principles to be proud of.

the trouble for tories is that this case has been extensively litigated in a state court of competant jurisdiction, and the parents have lost motion after motion after motion. the court has consistently held as a matter of fact that terri schiavo would not have wanted her life continued in such circumstances.

unhappy with the result of this state litigation, the parents have filed motions in federal court, where they have again lost.

unhappy with the result of these efforts, the parents persuaded the florida legislature to allow the state governor to issue a stay. the husband challenged this, and the law allowing the stay was ruled to be an unlawful bill of attainder [ie the parents lost (again)]. the florida supmreme court rejected an appeal from this decision, and the U.S supreme court declined review.

unhappy with this result, the parents have now managed to persuade congress to pass a new law allowing them [and only them] to relitigate in a federal court.

you are perfectly free to say “but none of the above matters, culture of life trumps everything”, but i do not believe you are free to call yourself “conservative” after having done so.

i have no idea why this case makes me so angry. i am not actually a tory. it is tories who should be jumping up and down in disgust. it is a complete and utter travesty and rejection of the very principles tories should be proud of themselves for having.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

It’s been an interesting few weeks for you Ken hasn’t it? Accused of both bowing to right wingers on gay teachers and left wingers on euthenasia. Sometimes you must wonder if this whole blogging racket is worth it.

I reckon you should spend this long weekend as far away from a computer as possible and as close to large amounts of plonk and sun as possible.

That’s certainly the gameplan for this proto-Mengele who needs a well-earned break from exterminating the untermensch.

C.L.
2022 years ago

The late Nabakov.

Nice to see you and Ken getting on again Tim D. Really.

Ooh my…Tim L’s doing his “once again I ask you” loony routine. What next Tim? A mirror site? I ask you: when are you going to stop lying about the Lancet study? When? WHEN!!!! Does it have to come to the straitjacket stage?

http://www.terrisfight.net/myths.html

“MYTH: Terri is PVS (Persistent vegetative state)
FACT: The definition of PVS in Florida Statue 765.101:

Persistent vegetative state means a permanent and irreversible condition of unconsciousness in which there is:

(a) The absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of ANY kind.

(b) An inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment.

Terri’s behavior does not meet the medical or statutory definition of persistent vegetative state. Terri responds to stimuli, tries to communicate verbally, follows limited commands, laughs or cries in interaction with loved ones, physically distances herself from irritating or painful stimulation and watches loved ones as they move around her. None of these behaviors are simple reflexes and are, instead, voluntary and cognitive. Though Terri has limitations, she does interact purposefully with her environment.”

Even non Terri supporters have conceded the diagnoses of her condition haven’t been done thoroughly at all. I believe no MRI, for example, has been performed. Blocked – for what reason?

Here’s the story of a woman who was supposed to be in a PVS – according to all the experts – but who turned out not to be:

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/mar/05031408.html

I would also point out that Florida state law PRESUMES all people want to be kept alive, unless evidence exists showing a contrary preference. The onus is therefore on Michael Schiavo to prove his wife wants to die – contrary to her faith, about which she was serious. The ‘evidence’ he brought forward was an uncorroborated comment she supposedly made one lazy night in front of the tele.

Yup – that’s good enough for a killing. Not good enough for a conviction or even a believable yarn at the pub mind you, but good enough for a killing.

Roop: I’m not a conservative and have never claimed to be. I don’t give a rat’s arse whether state laws in Australia or the US are over-ridden by the Feds when and if needed – any more than John Kennedy did when he federalised the Mississippi National Guard.

It doesn’t mean doodly that it’s been to Federal court before. The contestation of laws flies around from jurisdiction to jurisdiction all the time in many countries. In federated polities, the national legislature almost always ends up exerting greater power. That this is happening now is a great thing and I welcome it.

Just as much as I’d welcome Canberra federalising the Murray River so it isn’t completely killed off by hicks and State governments.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“I’m not a conservative and have never claimed to be.”

Yes, it’s bloody annoying when someone slaps a blanket generalisation on you, based on your views about one particular issue, isn’t it?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Terri responds to stimuli, tries to communicate verbally, follows limited commands, laughs or cries in interaction with loved ones, physically distances herself from irritating or painful stimulation and watches loved ones as they move around her. None of these behaviors are simple reflexes and are, instead, voluntary and cognitive. Though Terri has limitations, she does interact purposefully with her environment.”

CL, this is what her parents claim she does because they want this to be the case. Exhaustive medical and legal opinion doesn’t support their assessment. My cousin spent 10 years in a similar state following a car accident. She was taken off life support some weeks after the accident and remained in a PVS (with feeding tube) until she eventually died from pneumonia ( a not uncommon occurrence in this circumstance). What docs claimed to be involuntary nervous responses were constantly ‘read’ as ‘communication’ by those who loved her. They wanted it to be so, even if it wasn’t.

Ken Miles
2022 years ago

CL, with all of these “facts” the court case should have been a slam-dunk for Schiavo’s parents.

That is was the opposite suggests that the case is far weaker than what you are putting forth.

roop
roop
2022 years ago

“I’m not a conservative and have never claimed to be.”

perhaps you can explain, then, what i’m supposed to take from these words, which appear on every page of your blog: “For Independence and Liberty Since 1832”.

C.L.
2022 years ago

It refers to ‘The Currency Lad’ – the first newspaper in Australia to advocate republicanism. Founded in 1832.

But that’s kinda funny. Independence and liberty, for you, mean conservatism. Whatever.

Bargarz
2022 years ago

Not a left right thing for me either. I, like Ken was initially very sus it was stunt from the a Right to Life zealots plus I also thought it was a “standard” case of someone on full life support. But some things in this are pretty disturbing…

She’s not on life support. She needs a feeder tube for nourishment and water.

Regardless of lawyering and politics, the husband does have a conflict of interest if he stands to gain financially after her death. Plus he has ordered an immediate cremation.

Plus the woman hasn’t been fully diagnosed as suffering from PVS. The standard tests have been refused her so the jury is still out on this one… oh wait, there was no jury. Just a judge.

I’d have thought that the judge deciding this case would demand that all tests be made before a decision was made. He’d want to be 110% sure that he had all the relevant facts at his disposal. They’re the same standards we’d expect to see in a death penalty criminal case.

Maybe I have some facts wrong here (corrections welcome) but no comment I’ve seen seems to have them all either. Contradiction abounds.

So why doesn’t the benefit of doubt lie in keeping her alive until all the medical/financial loose ends can be investigated?

I find it pretty scary that a decision to end someone’s life can be made when no-one seems to have all the facts. And let’s face it, starving/dehydrating her to death is a bloody odious concept.

mark
2022 years ago

Terri Schiavo is missing a rather important part of her brain. *Missing*. As in, it’s *not there anymore*. I believe /Star Trek/ once made an in-depth study of what happens to a person *who literally cannot think because they don’t have the grey matter to do so*, but I’m afraid I never got that far into the series before giving up on Season 3 altogether, so I can’t tell you what the outcome there was. Here, however, it’s pretty simple: Schiavo no longer exists, in terms of the person. She’s now just a body, the last vestiges of her brain sufficient only to keep her alive with the help of modern medicine.

Now, this is quite clearly a complex issue. The phrase “this is quite clearly a complex issue” tends to ring the same alarm bells in a right-winger’s mind as phrases like “hideous welfare state” or “atheistic socialist nightmare” do in mine, and someday I might find out why. I fear, however, that for some people on either side — the ghost of EvilPundit springs unbidden into the dialogue’s consciousness at this point — might respond to the ringing of the bells in the standard, left-vs-right way. Right-wingers who would normally say “she’s already dead, let’s just obey her living will” are given pause to reflect and realise, to their horror, that there are lefties who might agree with them. Likewise, though I sure as hell hope not, lefties with the same “pro-life” views as CurrencyLad might see the onslaught of rabid right-wingers and scream “just kill her already”. Tribalism in action can be a sickening sight, and I move that, for the sake of all our lunches, certain parties stop pretending this is a “left-vs-right” issue.

Now: there is no doubt that Schiavo lacks cognitive function. Movies posted online that show her apparently reacting to her environment are skillfully edited reductions of videos shown to the court which, in their unedited form, prove that she was not in fact reacting at all. JLW’s guest post on CL’s ‘blog is so clearly biased that she can only be either incapable of objectivity or simply lying (I prefer the former explanation, though I’ve no doubt some of the lefties I’ve read on the topic recently would go for the latter). The “experts” on the Schindlers’ side are either hopelessly biased, making comments outside their area of expertise, or both. Any arguments that Schiavo is not in as bad a condition as she seems, or that she may get better, are at best wishful thinking — pure fantasy.

That doesn’t mean she should be allowed to die, or actively killed. Her living will is disputed, and although the Circuit Court questioned the credibility of the challenges, are we *that* certain that she would want to die? I don’t know. Is it right to let a living, breathing body to die, even if there’s no consciousness inside it? I don’t know. Is there a consciousness, even without cognitive functions — we don’t, after all, actually really know what it is? There’s all sorts of issues to explore here, and there’s nothing to say if CL or Geoff Honnor’s approach is ultimately the correct one. Hell, let’s even argue about whether the Republicans acted appropriately and what we think about the knee-jerk reaction of certain lefties. But let’s not pretend Schiavo will get better, or continue to entertain the scurrilous lies about her husband’s motives. And for God’s sake, forget the “religious nutjob righties fighting the good fight against lefty Grim Reapers”, it’s beneath the lot of yez.

(Sorry for the long comment, Ken; I guess that’s what happens when you give up ‘blogging…)

roop
roop
2022 years ago

no, it’s the words “since 1832” which mean, for me, conservatism. this seems to have apparently been a misapprehension on my part, given their source, but still.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“Plus the woman hasn’t been fully diagnosed as suffering from PVS.”

Yes she has Barg. Dozens of times. It’s been 15 years. It’s all too easy to confuse the exactitude of adversorial legal casebuild with informed medical opinion.

Terri Schiavo’s situation is replicated thousands of times. My own family has lived through a similar scenario. It’s gutwrenchingly awful for everyone concerned. The difference here is that Terri’s husband and Terri’s blood family have fallen out and political advantage has expanded to fill the ever-widening gap. Many agendas are at play that have nothing much to do with Terri.

Scot Mcphee
Scot Mcphee
2022 years ago

For whatever hypocritical cant Bushists come out with now, while Governator of TX, Bush himself signed into law a law which

“… allows for … the termination of life-sustaining treatment for patients with “irreversible” conditions (i.e., conditions from which they will not recover and which leave them unable to care for themselves) even if their higher brain functions are completely normal. Indeed, the law contemplates that a fully competent patient may be served by his health-care provider with a 10-day notice to find another provider or have his plug pulled; it even provides that the patient has the right to attend the committee meeting at which his fate is to be decided. (Sec. 166.046) And the law provides no substantive guidance other than the provider’s decision that the requested life-sustaining care would be “inappropriate.””

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/_/2005/03/hudsonnikolouzos_update_and_correction.php

Whatever you think about the Schiavo case, Bush himself is flaming burning scintillating on-fire hypocrite.

saint
2022 years ago

Tim – thanks. I have read numerous histories of the case from all sides. I’ve been reading about this case for over a year. And as I said, I don’t pretend to understand it all. But I think anyone would be foolish to think that both parties (never mind everyone else) haven’t now got their own interests and loathing towards each other influencing what they do, say, release to the media etc. never mind all those other many advisors around them. It’s worse than the last time her tube was removed.

Like many I can point to similar experiences with dying members of my own family. But that’s the key point that makes this one difficult: I have not heard anyone say that Terri is dying. She would die as we all would from lack of food and water. And if the main ‘reason’ for withholding food and water, is just that she is in a persistent vegetative state, or that she has no hope of recovery, then apart from the arguments about why just her – let’s do a spring clean, I would say that it is even more encumbent on the community as a whole (not the courts who I imagine are only limited to examine points specified by law, the lawyers here can correct me) to ensure that Terri’s interests – rather than the husband’s or the parents are served first.

And given that both her husband and the parents now have conflicted interests – if you have watched their interviews over a long period of time you would be aware of that – perhaps taking them out of the equation altogether is a way to go. i.e. neither of them get to present evidence, neither of them get a say as to her future but each of them is free from any further responsibility for her. But by doing that, the entire U.S. community then becomes responsible for Terri and accepts responsibility and will be accountable for her.

If not that, something, maybe something left field, that may act as a circuit breaker.

Andrew Bartlett
2022 years ago

Something as individual and unique as a person’s life and death can never be fully covered by any law, and the competing and complex principles involved here can never be fully reconciled.

This is an awful case. Although sadly not totally uncommon, this one is made much worse by being played out very publicly as drama and entertainment fodder for the media and ideological and political fodder for some politicians, theocrats and ideologues.

I’d need a 10 000 word essay (minimum) to properly outline my thoughts and beliefs on this, but very broadly speaking my views are something of a mix of Ken P and saint’s.

For anyone who enjoys getting into laws on life and death, there’s a Bill before the Senate you might want to peruse – more details over at my site on http://andrewbartlettonline.blogspot.com/2005/03/live-and-let-die.html

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Yes, I’d agree this is an issue too loaded with personal tragedy and specific pain and judgement calls for everyone getting the story at second, third, forth or fifth hand to lay down the law about it. However I’m quite prepared to have a go at those who do so, especially when they’re accusing others of doing so in highly charged language.

Incidentally, while yer hanging around here Senator Andy, can I just piss in yer pocket for a minute? While I have some real issues with what the Democrats did and didn’t do when they could, and what they should do now, yer the only pollie at either Commonwealth or State level of substance and profile that I know of, who has a good hold of this whole blogging thing, and knows how to be a player in it. And it’s a medium that’s not gonna go away, and which is a great source of upper end A/B feedback and possible policy ideas. You’ve got what it can be about. Why don’t more pollies get it?

And anyone who can appear publicly pissed in Parliament (as opposed to everyone getting pissed privately, as I’ve seen at first hand), while still able to stay on top of their Senate Committee duties, whip along national agendas here and there, parse the lyrics and savour the choral arrangements for Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and run a thoughtful blog as well, strikes me as the kinda of 21st century electoral representative I reckon we’re gonna need a lot more of – regardless of party affiliation.

Tim
Tim
2022 years ago

Saint, I see I implied you weren’t following the case, which wasn’t my intention, so apologies for that. My point is really that in this particular case the courts have covered it in as much detail and with as much objectivity as humans can reasonably be expected to do and that therefore any alternative settlement process is unlikely to achieve a fairer outcome. In fact, choosing the members of such a panel and having them agree on the rules of engagement, let alone the outcome, seems nigh-on impossible.

So while I agree with the Andrew Bartlett that “Something as individual and unique as a person’s life and death can never be fully covered by any law”, I also feel that it is the best mechanism we have and that in this particular case it has responded to every challenge.

Janice
Janice
2022 years ago

Geoff Honnor asserts that Terri Schiavo has been fully diagnosed as suffering from PVS, “dozens of times”.

The following quotes are extracted from an article in the National Review Online. It was written by the Reverend Robert Johansen who interviewed several neurologists regarding the adequacy of the clinical workup that supposedly supports the diagnosis. Do read the whole thing.

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/johansen200503160848.asp

“Almost 50 neurologists all say the same thing: Terri should be reevaluated, Terri should be reexamined, and there are grave doubts as to the accuracy of Terri’s diagnosis of PVS. All of these neurologists are board-certified; a number of them are fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Neurology; several are professors of neurology at major medical schools.”

“In the course of my conversation with Dr. Morin, he made reference to the standard use of MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to diagnose the extent of brain injuries. He seemed to assume that these had been done for Terri. I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that Michael had refused them.

There was a moment of dead silence.

“That’s criminal,”

bargarz
2022 years ago

“Plus the woman hasn’t been fully diagnosed as suffering from PVS.”

“Yes she has Barg. Dozens of times. It’s been 15 years. It’s all too easy to confuse the exactitude of adversorial legal casebuild with informed medical opinion.”
—-

Geoff – point conceded (mostly).

Ken – I don’t think that the “right wing” (death beast faction or no) is unanimous on this issue; Bill Hobbs and his commentators for example [link: http://billhobbs.com/hobbsonline/005639.html%5D hate the situation but are pretty concerned over the Constitutional precedents being set.

It’s a damn shame that it even got to this stage.
I’m glad it wouldn’t even be an issue in Oz since it’s illegal.