Where do you draw the line?

The Good Professor weighs in on the Schiavo case:

Well pardon a Bunyip being frank, but this business isn’t about compassion. It’s about control — control of both the individual and society’s direction. As so many advocates of slow starvation are now demonstrating, they believe the common good means bowing to their definition of it — and dying for it, too, when the more enlightened ordain it timely and appropriate.

They can’t win elections and the bombast of their sermons is largely ignored outside the universities and broadsheets, but the mob that knows what’s best for the rest of us, every one of us, has finally found someone on whom, at long last, it can impose its will. That Schiavo’s parents will be harrowed, well their pain is inconsequential. As the Irving admirer might have noted, control is about being heeded and obeyed. It’s hard to imagine stooping much lower than the depths so many determined tube-pullers are now plumbing, but if the advocates of death-when-convenient get their way in Florida, you can bet they soon will scramble for an even lower rung. Fact is, they can hardly wait to stretch their compassion one again.

What has staggered me about this case is that no one seems to mind that Schiavo’s parents wishes about the welfare of their child are being overruled. Granted, this is an adult child, but even still, this seems to be… I mean, please. Where, indeed is the compassion?

I find it bizzare and grotesque that in a situation where the family is deciding whether or not Terri lives or dies that the parents wishes to keep their daughter alive can be over-ruled. And I also find it abhorrent that the method used to end Terri’s life. Starvation? Is this humane? They say she can feel no pain. I hope they are right!

Fifteen years ago this would have been unthinkable. Where are we going to be fiteen years hence? And who decides? The Bunyip asks some good questions.

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Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Scott, two quick points:

(a) Her husband believes her own wish would have been not to exist in such a state, and it’s his wish.

(b) The reason why she will die in that way (which I agree is highly distressing) is that the US has no provision for euthanasia.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

As to a) I don’t see that as being cause enough to over-rule the parents. I think that if there is a disagreement like this, then when in doubt, the choice should be made in favour of keeping Terri alive.

As to b) I’d have to think about it, but my initial reaction would be to argue that its another reason to keep Terri alive.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Yes, I also thought Bunyip’s piece had a moral clarity that many other contributions to the current debate (including my own) conspicuously lacked. I think the same is true of Brian Bahnisch’s comment (in a more nuanced way) on my post on this topic.

I thought I had my attitude to this stuff all worked out after going through the whole euthanasia saga in the NT from fairly close quarters. But this Schiavo case has thrown all my beliefs up in the air. I think Geoff Honnor makes some very strong points too from the opposite camp. Buggered if I know. I haven’t had time to read the original substantive court judgment on Schiavo yet. I intend doing so, because it might tell me a lot about just how conclusively irreversibly vegetative Terri really is. At the moment I have no way of distinguishing reliably between the competing advocates. I wonder how many commenters have actually read that judgment.

But maybe it still comes down to whether you reckon a person should be killed when she can exist unaided except for food, when her wishes in this situation are unknown and probably unknowable, when her parents don’t want her killed but her husband does, and when the only legal option for death involves slow starvation where we simply can’t know conclusively whether Terri will feel pain or not. All the political posturing on both sides, and even all the courtroom arguments in the world, doesn’t change the fact that the basic situation is an extraordinarily tragic and complex one. But setting out the basic facts as I’ve just done DOES rather suggest that killing her (even “passively” by deliberate starvation) is morally ambiguous at the very least.

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

This is not an issue on which anybody can afford to pretend they sit on the high moral ground.

When a husband and a parent are in disagreement over the euthanasia of a wife and daughter, third parties cannot hope to help other than to respectfully & compassionately maintain some sort of decorum while the relevant legal bodies try to divine what Solomon’s judgement might have been.

The level of hysteria and name-calling (not in this post I hasten to add) in blogs recently has been highly self-indulgent. If people were really concerned about the issue they’d feel some sort of sympathy for the people involved and be thanking their stars that they haven’t had to face this question personally.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Scott, one thing that disturbs me about this whole issue is that it’s being decided in the Courts and in the halls of Congress. But if it’s a legal issue, it’s very clear that when you get married, if you subsequently become unable to choose for yourself, then it’s for your spouse to interpret your will, not your parents.

Other than that, I’m unwilling to express any opinion on this – not having studied the facts or thought through the issues – except to say that I agree with wbb.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Must say I agree with the good Prof. This is truly a dreadful case and one where no-one should grandstand, but one thing I’m sure of–regardless of whether she really said anything about ending her life if she was in this state (and how many people ever think of it, at that age, before it suddenly strikes?)Terri Schiavo would never have chosen to end her life by slow starvation. That is barbaric and revolting.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Of course the husband (or wife, as the case may be) overrules the parents.

Suppose, Scott, that a 75 year old woman has a severe stroke, is brain dead but breathing, and her husband of 50 years decides on doctors’ advice to turn off her life support. But her 95 year old parents think she should be kept alive.

On your logic, the parents’ wishes would overule the husband. It’s just ridiculous.

Once people get married, they decide things for each other and the parents take a back seat. That’s the way life is.

Ian
Ian
2022 years ago

I agree with Sophie. I realize that many a fine and/or expensive legal mind has been applied to this case, and I rely on Ken P to enlighten me here, I would have thought that, barring any compelling evidence to the contrary, the status quo should prevail. I certainly don’t see the husbands will as being compelling evidence. I doubt even Solomon could pull this one off.

NB I respect Mark B’s opinion on most occassions but I’m curious as to the stated legality of

“if you subsequently become unable to choose for yourself, then it’s for your spouse to interpret your will, not your parents.”

Mary
2022 years ago

One thing that’s come up in a few places that I haven’t seen discussed here is that ending someone’s life by starvation (or dehydration) is actually common. I’m aware of several cases through family and friends, normally where an elderly patient is slowly dying of disease (say, a life expectancy of weeks or months) and loses the ability to swallow at some point. It seems usual for doctors to advise the family to refuse rehydration and nutrition for the patient in this case when there is no hope of recovery from the worsening illness.

I appreciate that that’s not an exact parallel because the patient’s life expentancy with nutrition/hydration is shorter than Terry Schiavo’s life expectancy with the same, but nevertheless, these patients do die of dehydration/starvation (or the high morphine doses they’re given for the pain cause their breathing to stop). Not all of these patients are comatose at the time that the family makes the decision either (although there’s obviously some reason why the family has the power to refuse medical intervention for the patient — often the patient’s dementia).

It’s discussed towards the end of this post wrt the commonness: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/03/hubris.html

I’m not offering the fact that it’s common as some kind of justification for the practice, but as a request to broaden the discussion, if anything. If you object to the practice itself (rather than on performing it given Schiavo’s particular condition) it’s worth considering not as an uncommon cruelty but as a common one.

(Wrt to slowly dying patients I’m not sure what my own position is. Clearly it’s the case, for example, that a competant patient may prefer to die at home surrounded by their family without hydration/nutrition than in a hospital with it. I don’t really feel then, that it’s possible to argue that “the patient would always prefer to die in another way than dehydration, so we’ll never allow withdrawal of hydration from incompetant patients”. Most ways of dying are horrible: how do we choose which one to give an incompetant person?)

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

People, get a grip. The poor lady has no cerebral cortex left – the things that make her human have gone forever. There is zero prospect of her knowing what’s going on, zero prospect of recovery, and zero prospect of her feeling pain in any meaningful sense of the term, despite what some people with an agenda claim.

Just these points were established by not one but two US Federal courts. Ken, by all means cast a lawyerly eye over the transcripts but it’s pretty unlikely that both got the facts on the ground wrong. And if they got these facts right I can’t see the problem.

It would, of course, be kinder *on the living* if we had the courage to euthanase her properly – but it makes no difference to her. Bunyip’s Bushian “moral clarity” is ignorant nonsense – as “moral clarity” so often is.

Its also just not true that “Fifteen years ago this would have been unthinkable”. Thirty years ago the feeding tube may never have gone in in the first place, and would certainly have been removed some time ago without court action.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

My wife said very clearly that if I was in Terri Schiavo’s situation she wouldn’t, couldn’t pull the plug. Principally because she couldn’t, wouldn’t want to live with the decision. Also, given that I have three kids, two brothers and two sisters, I am sure she wouldn’t ever turn out my lights if any or all of them wanted me kept alive.

Irrespective of the legal situation, the moral pressure (if that’s the right word, we are all strong-willed but ultimately considerate and cooperative people) is considerable. Like Mark, I’m uncomfortable with the spouse alone having complete say.

For the record, I’d prefer not to have a conclusive opinion about the Schiavo case, rather to use it to try to gain insights into this kind of situation. Bernadette Tobin, director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics in Health Care at Sydney’s St. on Radio National yesterday seemed to know a lot more about the case than I do, but refused to come down on one side or another. She said she doesn’t feel she is close enough to the case. Even so, in her work with people in similar situations, she says she typically does not have an final opinion herself. Her MO is to clarify the issues for those who do have to make up their minds.

Two other comments.

Firstly, I’m astonished that the court, while it is making up it’s mind whether the tube should be in or out, does not make an order that the tube be put back in.

Secondly, while I understand that people have questioned the notion of the legislature interfering with the judiciary, the state interfering in people’s lives etc, I don’t ultimately have a problem with it. The state should protect the interest of individuals or the minority, especially when it seems no-one else can. I have no stomach for the religious schmalz, but occasionally I find myself agreeing with GWB.

Mary, on the broader issue of killing by withdrawing sustenance, I suspect it comes about because of the doctors’ ethic of supporting life in all situations. so they are uncomfortable with actively assisting people to die.

On this one I am in sympathy with Phillip Nitscke’s(?) approach that death is the culmination of life and doctors should assist us in this final step. OTOH I’m not unhappy with the present culture amongst doctors on focussing strongly on the preservation of life. In other words, I’m in sympathy with the notion of vuluntary euthanasia and would want to have the option myself. But I’m uneasy about the ‘slippery slope’ argument if assisting death becomes common within the practices doctors.

The answer probably lies in formalising the safety net precautions in a manner similar to what is proposed by the proponents of voluntary euthanasia.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

I’ve never understood guys who get overly hung up on who should pay what for their kids – I think their priorities are completely screwed.

If you’ve accepted a kid as yours, invested your love and care in them, rejoiced in their achievements, then it ought not to matter for your relationship with the kid whose sperm caused the conception (though of course it may matter to your relationship with the mother). The kid’s needs have first call on your money – that’s the decision you made when you accepted him or her.

Having said that, there are sometimes morally legitimate reasons for wanting to establish paternity beyond doubt. The law should make it easy – but its often neither moral nor wise.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“People, get a grip. The poor lady has no cerebral cortex left – the things that make her human have gone forever.”

dd, I’m no doctor, and I think the whole case does turn to a large extent on the true nature of the lady’s cerebral cortex. I heard some-one on the radio this am saying that her CAT scan was similar to what you’d find in a 70 year old. All the more reason to use an MRI and/or PET scan. Unless her brain is conclusively shown to be gone and irrecoverable we should err on the side of safety IMHO in a first world context.

Again on the radio last night (via BBC) an Indian doctor told of how on his first shift as a young doctor he had to choose whether to treat a 22 year old or a 60 year old because he needed the same bit of equipment for both.

MarkWW
MarkWW
2022 years ago

Moral clarity hey?

Spot the difference:

“…the mob that knows what’s best for the rest of us, every one of us, has finally found someone on whom, at long last, it can impose its will. That Schiavo’s husband will be harrowed, well his pain is inconsequential. As the Irving admirer might have noted, control is about being heeded and obeyed. It’s hard to imagine stooping much lower than the depths so many determined tube-stuffers are now plumbing, but if the advocates of forestalling death (when it’s politically expededient) get their way in Florida, you can bet they soon will scramble for an even lower rung. Fact is, they can hardly wait to stretch their self-righteousness once again”.

It’s as clear as mud KP, and I feel dirty for having had this close encounter with Bunyip’s blinkered logic.

Bill
Bill
2022 years ago

Well you can see her CAT scan along with some commentary here:
http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2005/03/18/terri-schiavo-news/

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Um, Sophie?
“but one thing I’m sure of–regardless of whether she really said anything about ending her life if she was in this state (and how many people ever think of it, at that age, before it suddenly strikes?)Terri Schiavo would never have chosen to end her life by slow starvation. That is barbaric and revolting.”

Nice try.
In this instance slow starvation is the ONLY option. So it is immaterial whether it is barbaric or revolting.
What if her (unknown of course) wish is for it all simply to be over?

I am reminded of my grandfather’s angry words to my granmother as he lost even more control of his body “Oh, why can’t I just die?!”
He was dying by a slow process of one organ/function after another shutting down – yes, barbaric and revolting.
And I know he felt helplessly guilty about dying before his wife of 60+ years.

This is the essential ‘dignified death’ scenario.

Find me a loving spouse, in a situation of having no cortex, who would force their partner to be in limbo for more than 15 years until they died of old age (or horrible lung infection, which is more likely).
We are talking about people who would (lyrically), in life, crawl over broken glass for each other.

Ron
Ron
2022 years ago

“a young doctor he had to choose whether to treat a 22 year old or a 60 year old”

In all seriousness, it would probably be better to flip a coin. Age shouldn’t be the only issue: the young man could be an Adolf Hitler and the woman a Mother Teresa.

mike
mike
2022 years ago

“on the broader issue of killing by withdrawing sustenance, I suspect it comes about because of the doctors’ ethic of supporting life in all situations. so they are uncomfortable with actively assisting people to die.”

I think doctors are more uncomfortable about the possibility of being charged with murder as they would be (and, indeed, have been in the past) if they deliberately ended a patient’s life. That’s what the euthanasia argument is all about and it’s why the withdrawal of nourishment and hydration is used to end lives rather than a shot of morphine (even though many terminally ill patients die effectively from a the effects of pain relief drugs).
It may seem distressing to us but Theresa Schiavo will feel nothing, no thirst, hunger, pain or distress and it is exactly this point – her absence of awareness, her -literally – ‘vegetative’ state that led to this situation in the first place. The truth is that this poor woman died 15 years ago, maybe she will finally be allowed to rest in peace soon.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Mary’s obsidianwings link is very pertinent here and concurs with the typical family situation I outlined over at CLs, with respect to the death of my mother. As I said there, I couldn’t hope to fathom how such a mini-drama would leave the players over a 15 yr period instead of 3 months.

I should emphasise that prolongation treatments are not without their own considerable pain and discomfort. Initially the feeding tube is placed through the nose with much discomfort and on occasions its uncomfortable removal by the patient herself is problematic. Also oxygen drys the mouth and throat and leads to mouth and throat ulcers. Ugly bed sores and infection of eventual stomach tube operation are also on the cards. In fact such infection saw the final removal of the stomach tube a day or so before my mother’s death. Nevertheless such pain and discomfort can be addressed with drugs, as indeed it was. In extremely painful cases like cancer, it is often the increasing level of drug administering that proves fatal and in reality often becomes a merciful form of euthanasia.

In my mother’s case I outlined at CLs, you will notice all the same tensions between players who ‘owned’ the problem. However intensive prolongation treatment had an administrative time frame attached and some of the players could acquiesce to those who wanted to use it all up, even though there was little doubt about the medical prognosis IMO.(Note the speed with which a nephew changed his prognosis) Ultimately, not too much abuse of the public purse there, although the private health bills would scare the daylights out of many. Welcome to rising private health insurance premia.

In the Schiavo case, I would generally agree with spouse rights taking over where parents leave off, but that goes out the door for me when say divorce occurs and grandparents need reasonable access rights to grandchildren. Welcome back to the Schiavo guardianship dilemma problem again Observa. Given the disagreement over care and accepting some equivalent moral guardianship rights, the mother, father, brother and sister should prevail here against the medicos and husband. They should have the legally enforced right to take Terri home to care for her themselves and work their miracle. After 15 years, to ask others to continue to indulge their personal belief in a miracle, is IMO a moral copout. Let the direct family put their efforts and hard-earned where their mouths are.

Ron
Ron
2022 years ago

Can you imagine the horror of having a functioning brain and a completely paralysed body; not even being able to blink.

I wonder how long you would actually remain sane.

My wife and I are both making living wills as a result of this case: no resuscitation, no life support etc

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“NB I respect Mark B’s opinion on most occassions but I’m curious as to the stated legality of

“if you subsequently become unable to choose for yourself, then it’s for your spouse to interpret your will, not your parents.”

Ian, this paper sets out the legal position in Queensland:

http://www.law.qut.edu.au/about/ljj/editions/v4n1/white_willmott_full.jsp

TrueRWDB`
TrueRWDB`
2022 years ago

Thanks for your post, Scott, and for your comment, Ken. Yes, the Professor’s post was indeed one of his best. This man has a real gift for English expression, and expressed my own feelings on the matter in a way I could never replicate.

In response to those commenters who weighed in on the spouse v parents issue, the spouse effectively was no longer that as soon as he foresook his wife to effectively marry the mother of his two children that he fathered after the tragedy. I don’t make a moral judgement about him in that regard, but really he can’t have it both ways. Parents are always parents (and I am a parent and grandfather), no matter what misfortune overtakes their adult children, and certainly many I know resume their parenting role when dire misfortune hits their children later in life.

Your comments about people with an “agenda” are nothing short of ugly nastiness, Derrider. People on the Terri Schiavo side of this debate are experiencing a great deal of natural compassion and even pain. Shame on you.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

That isn’t moral clarity, that’s just the ProfYip using Terri as a soapbox to bash his usual suspects, like far too many others across the whole political spectrum.

I don’t think there’s any way for anyone here to claim the high moral ground, and particularly not by accusing others of trying to do so.

This comment will now self-destruct in five seconds.

Ron
Ron
2022 years ago

TrueRWDB write:

“People on the Terri Schiavo side of this debate are experiencing a great deal of natural compassion and even pain”

How can you possibly make the assumption that this is not the case on ALL sides of this ‘debate’?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“In response to those commenters who weighed in on the spouse v parents issue, the spouse effectively was no longer that as soon as he foresook his wife to effectively marry the mother of his two children that he fathered after the tragedy. I don’t make a moral judgement about him in that regard, but really he can’t have it both ways.”

TrueRWDB, I think since this matter is being resolved in the courts, what matters is his legal position vis-a-vis that of her parents. That’s what I understand the judgements to have turned on, in part. I can certainly see how her parents would feel, but conversely I can also see how he continues to believe that he understands what her wishes were and would be.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’d also draw the attention of readers to this research on ethical and legal issues relating to sustaining life where the person lacks capacity to make a decision being conducted in QUT’s Law Faculty:

http://www.law.qut.edu.au/research/lifesustain/

There’s an issues paper on the site which may be of interest.

TrueRWDB
TrueRWDB
2022 years ago

Mark, of course you’re right about the legal position. I was commenting from the view of real life. The law says she should be put to death. I can’t comment on the legality, but I strongly disagree that it is right and proper.

Ron, I didn’t make any assertion about the feelings of pro-death people. My comment related to the sheer nastiness of the Derrider comment which derided people on my side of the debate as agenda driven.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Well, TrueRWDB, don’t use terms like “The law says she should be put to death.” if you don’t want to be labelled an “agenda pusher.”

There is a vast gulf in meaning and insinuation between “being put to death” and “being allowed to die”.

The other side of the fence will of course use terms such as “forced to live in a mindless purgatory-like state” to push their agenda.

Irant
2022 years ago

Setting aside whether Schavio would want to continue in such a state it is not immaterial that starvation is the only option. It illustrates how ill equipped we are to deal with such cases. Even in a vegatative state, any family deserves better that seeing their loved ones die in such a way.

I agree with Sophie that it is barbaric. It seems that mercy is denied in such deaths. This whole case has convinced me that we need to start dealing with euthanasia issues properly.

I agree with Brian that actual laws (if properly implemented) for euthanasia won’t lead to a slipperly slope. I think we can do better than simplistic anti-right or anti-left sloganeering.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

TrueRWDB says: “the spouse effectively was no longer that as soon as he foresook his wife to effectively marry the mother of his two children …really he can’t have it both ways.”

This is not in the least bit convincing. The issue is not what the parents want or what the husband wants, but what Ms. Schiavo herself would have wanted. Since she didn’t write it down anywhere, the law assumes the husband has a better idea than the parents. Assuming he is the best placed to know what was in her mind, why would that change just because he effectively remarried?

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

I think mike got to the heart of it when he wrote:

‘The truth is that this poor woman died 15 years ago, maybe she will finally be allowed to rest in peace soon.’

For many years now it had been possible through a radical intervention of medical process to halt the process of dying. If the patient has a strong enough heart, once they have been pulled through the trauma that would have killed them, they can linger on for decades without cognition of any kind, just waiting for their hearts to pack up. Nursing homes are full of such patients.

I recognise there are huge moral issues here, but to some extent we have created them for ourselves. There is such a thing as letting nature take its course. The problem is, we don’t have to let it anymore.

As I understand it, the brain begins to die three minutes after the heart stops beating. One reads of paramedics and ambulance officers working for hours to resuscitate victims of car accidents, etc. Unfortunately the longer the delay, the greater the brain deficit they will suffer if they are resuscitated.

On the one hand, you can’t say they shouldn’t do it; on the other, you do have to wonder. My wife, who is a nurse, knows a physician who has the words ‘not to be resuscitated’ actually tattooed on his chest, because he knows that all too often resuscitation comes too late.

I think the commenters above are right who said even Solomon could not solve this one.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Irant,
To clarify. The fact that starvation is a horrible way to go could very well be immaterial to Mrs Schaivo if all she wants to do is die. If starvation is the only way out, then who’s to say she wouldn’t take it.
Sophie was saying that Terri shouldn’t be allowed to die by starvation because it was a horrible way to go ie the feeding tube should be restored – along with Terri in limbo.

I agree that starving would be a horrible way to go but if you’re tied to the stake you are going to breath in as much smoke as possible rather than holding out for someone in the crowd to dispatch you with a crossbow bolt before the flames get too high, right?

Irant
2022 years ago

Harry,

I take your point. Indeed if you have a living will then you accept that starvation may be the way you go.

I was extending Sophie’s comment to ask why aren’t other options available? The main thing that this sad story has reinforced the current procedures are woefully inadequate.

Andrew Bartlett
2022 years ago

I think Mary’s comment is an important one. I don’t know enough about this specific case to know whether derrida’s dismissal of this example because ‘she has no cerebral cortex left’ at all is true – there seems to be dispute about that from what I have read, but it may well have been adequately proven to the relevant Judge.

Mary’s comment takes us outside the specifics of this case, which is helpful, and makes the point that cases like this are not that uncommon. I’ve been uncomfortable with causing death through starvation/dehydration for some time, partly after reading a few accounts of it, although I realise that alternatives are not always much more pleasant – which is an argument for laws that allow more active euthanasia. (of course there are other arguments against such laws)

However, my views on this are very complex (which is fair enough as its hard to think of a more complex issue) and would take far too long to outline here.

Suffice to say that I think the slowness and painfulness of death by withdrawl of nourishment is very different to just ‘pulling the plug’ and we could benefit from a wider awarenss of that – none of which really ‘solves’ this specific case, but without the impossible scenario of Terri Schiavo being able to decide for herself if she wanted to die (in which case she should be allowed to die quickly), then I don’t think there is any real solution which doesn’t have some problematic components to it. Such is life (and death) I guess.

TrueRWDB
TrueRWDB
2022 years ago

“There is a vast gulf in meaning and insinuation between “being put to death” and “being allowed to die”.”

Being denied drink and food is hardly “being allowed to die”. If I were locked up and denied water and drink, it wouldn’t be called “allowed to die”. I would be “put to death”. It wouldn’t matter if you rendered me unconscious first.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

“the law assumes the husband has a better idea than the parents”

If the law assumes that, James Farrell, then the law is an ass.

Quotes from http://www.anchorrising.com/barnacles/001672.html
(admittedly an ‘anti-Mr Schiavo’ site.

“[Later in 1993,] Terri had a serious urinary tract infection and that Michael had ordered the nursing home not to give her treatment, which would have consisted of a simple course of antibiotics…the nursing home eventually gave Terri the antibiotics anyway. ….

Michael admitted [in a court hearing] that he had ordered the nursing home to deny Terri treatment for the infection and that he knew the infection, left untreated, would have caused Terri’s death… “

TrueRWDB
TrueRWDB
2022 years ago

Let’s go back to basics, folks. Why is it so essential that Terri die now?

Do you have a problem because you think she’s suffering, but on the other hand you think she’s vegetative and doesn’t feel a thing?

Do you have a problem because she’s taking up scarce medical resources and money. Why not allow the parents and the myriad of other supporters take her to a private place and pay for expert facilities and care. You have a problem with “private” care, perhaps?

You accept a number of medicos’ opinion that her condition is irreversible. How certain are these people of her actual condition? She’s relatively young and future discoveries may change her prognosis. My understanding is that she’s not brain-dead despite the Melbourne Age’s Gawenda’s repeated assertions.

In short, please tell me what harm to her or to society or to her husband you think would occur by continuing to feed and water her? Despite my attributed “agenda” I am interested in the answer to this question. Perhaps it’s that, as Mark seems to be asserting, the “law” has spoken and the law must be obeyed – end of story?

harry
harry
2022 years ago

TrueRWDB,
So you agree with me that there is a vast gulf between the two terms and that by using one you could be labelled as an agenda pusher?

In any event yours is a fallacious argument. If you are locked up the act of unlocking would “cure” you.
This woman will not be cured. All that anyone can do is wait for her to die.
In the context of this woman she can be “allowed to die” especially if that is what she wants!

If she was a terminal cancer patient and ethanased herself would you say she’d “condemned herself to death” or “heartlessly executed herself”?

Irant,
Agreed. In terms of pushing my barrow (legalised euthanasia), and from the position that she does want to die, it would useful (to put it extremely callously) for her to die from starvation. She cannot feel it, so she won’t suffer. But if they allow her to die this way then they will *have* to provide an alternative for people who can feel. They would have to allow the ‘green dream’ as vets call it.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

For me the whole thing revolves on whether she does indeed want to die.

The only “evidence” that she wants to die comes from her husband, who remembered this only after the courts awarded money for her care, and who has a great financial interest in her death.

I am perfectly happy for people who want to end their lives to do just that.

I’m not happy for financially interested relatives make the decision for them.

That a lucid person’s exit strategy would be thirst/starvation, I cannot believe.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

I’m perfectly happy for people who want to end their lives to do just that.

I’m not happy with financially interested parties making the decision for them.

The only ‘evidence’ that Ms Schiavo wants to die comes from her husband, who remembered this only after the courts had awarded a very tidy sum for her treatment.

Then there’s the question of whether exit by thirst is also what she wants.

TrueRWDB
TrueRWDB
2022 years ago

“So you agree with me that there is a vast gulf between the two terms and that by using one you could be labelled as an agenda pusher?”

– Of course there is a vast gulf between the two terms. One is murder the other is not. If stating my opinion is pushing an agenda, so be it. I can’t account for your definition of “agenda”. In your terms everyone with an opinion has an agenda? If that the case well I have an agenda. So what?

“This woman will not be cured. All that anyone can do is wait for her to die.”

– Are you certain? That’s a very dogmatic, brave assertion/prediction. See my comment prior to this one.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

I agree with everything by blank except for the financial interested part because spouses ALWAYS have a life-insurance payout or martgage or any number of instances where the assets of two pass to one.

The main issue I have with blank is:

“Then there’s the question of whether exit by thirst is also what she wants.”

Exit by thirst is the only option she has.

Exit by thirst is what happens when you are in a PVS and they turn the machine off.
If you are in a coma on life-support your heart stops. That is what it means.
So, if it is decided that she did agree that if she ended up in a PVS that treatment should be removed, then she agreed to death by dehyration.
There are no choices here.

I think the only bone of contention is that some reckon that a choice, ie ethanasia, should not be an option.

Fyodor
2022 years ago

I can’t take this any more. Would everyone please read the f@#%*^g judgement from February 2000 before commenting any further?

http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/trialctorder02-00.pdf

The findings of the court back then were that:

1) Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state after [by then] nearly 10 years and has no hope of ever regaining consciousness. Her brain has largely been replaced by spinal fluid. This finding was based on the evidence of two doctors, and has NEVER been rebutted by medical evidence in ANY court.

2) Terri Schiavo is unable to eat or drink without a feeding tube, and she would die within 7-14 days without this feeding tube. She does not have the capacity to chew or swallow food placed in her mouth. [Quote] “The unrebutted medical testimony before this court is that such death would be painless.”

3) Terri Schiavo made “creditable” and “reliable” oral statements to several witnesses that represent “clear and convincing evidence” of her intentions, i.e. that she would not want to be kept alive on a machine. The only rebutting evidence of her intentions was her parents’ recall of something she said when she was 11 or 12.

This situation is not complex: just let the woman die. It’s what she wanted.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

Thanks Fyodor, you should get the shits more often. Does us all a world of good.

TrueRWDB,

You were the one complaining about being an ‘agenda pusher’ whilst using the term “condemned to death”. I thought this strange, but I suspect that in the wash this is irrelevant.

None of my reasoning holds water if Terri is (a) not in a PVS, and (b) is deemed not to wish to die if in said state.

I shall take your sensible lead from several posts up and ask to get the nuts and bolts laid out.
My question to you is this hypothetical: A woman is definately in a PVS.
She has expressed to her husband that if in a PVS she be allowed to die. She knows that this death will be by dehydration.
What should happen?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“Perhaps it’s that, as Mark seems to be asserting, the “law” has spoken and the law must be obeyed – end of story?”

That’s not what I was asserting at all, TrueRWDB – I said right at the start that it’s most unfortunate that this scenario is being played out in the Courts and Congress.

However, if there is doubt about her intention, it seems to be the only way to resolve it. I don’t know how else people would suggest resolving the issue – it would be even worse if the decision were to be made politically as perhaps is already evident.

I’d repeat what I said at the start that the absence of legal provision for euthanasia in America necessarily implies that if her death comes, it will come in the way that disturbs many, including me.

Ian
Ian
2022 years ago

^ Mark B.
Many thanks for those links, Mark; it will take me a while to work through them and I suspect, after a quick perusal, that I am on a hiding to nowhere – Solomon AND Pandora in the same box, sheeesh!

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

You’re not wrong, Ian. I became aware of some of these issues about a decade ago when I was doing a consultancy for a disability organisation and I’m glad to see there’s been some serious thinking done in the Queensland jurisdiction as to how to handle them.

Ian
Ian
2022 years ago

Mark; one can only hope that the resulting debate on this whole matter will allow some ongoing and rational progress on the so called “euthanasia issue”.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’d agree Ian but it seems unlikely that the debate will be all that rational.

mark
2022 years ago

“the Terri Schiavo side of the debate”. Your comment, TrueRWDB, contains several rather subtle snide phrasings, some of which the other commentors have already taken issue with. Here you’re implying, disgracefully, that the two sides of the issue are: a) those doing what Terri wants, and b) heartless murderers. Shame on *you*.

I don’t think Terri should die, or be killed, or be allowed to die, or whatever. It’s a very drastic measure, and besides, it doesn’t really matter either way. As you said above, why is it so necessary that she die *now*? She’s been in this state for so long, and shows no signs of physically dying soon (unless starved, o’ course). Her mind is already dead. She won’t feel a thing, whether she lives, dies painlessly, or starves. She won’t even notice. Effectively, she’s dead.

Her husband wants her to die to end her suffering. Fair enough, but if she’s in the condition that every credible doctor — and the courts — say she’s in, she can’t possibly be suffering. No worries there. Her parents, meanwhile, cling to the impossible hope that she’ll get better, and are willing to go to any lengths — falsifying evidence, lying about Michael Schiavo’s character (see blank’s credulous comments above), procuring fake experts — to see that nobody stands in the way of their fantasy. Obviously, they want it more.

Now, if I were in the sort of state Ron describes, I’d sure as hell want to die, and I’d be bloody cut if my dear old mother decided that she knew better, and there was nothing I could do to stop her needlessly prolonging my life. But in this case, it surely can’t make a difference to Terri Schiavo. Why not give the Schindlers what they want, if only to end the sanctimonious bleating of hypocritical Republicans? (It’s not okay to die if you want to, but if you’re too poor to keep paying the hospital then there’s no reason why they can’t pull the plug straight away).