Monday, March 21, 2005
Anybody Ever Tell You You Look Dead?
First things first: If you don't have a Living Will, now would be the time to get one. Here's a good generic form from the Michigan Bar Association.
Second: How dare our esteemed lawmakers do this.
How dare Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill "HIV is transmitted through sweat" Frist, and the rest of Congress pull this shit. How dare George W. Bush sign this mockery of a "law".
On how many grounds is it completely wrong? Let's start the count, shall we?
- Medical. Terry Schiavo is in a "persistent vegetative state". She can breathe on her own, but she cannot swallow. She cannot live without medical intervention, i.e., a feeding tube. She reacts reflexively, but not consciously, to some outside stimuli. She's not in there. Terry's parents have seventeen medical affidavits saying she is in there, but none from neurologists, and most seem not even to address her symptoms. She is not going to get better. And medical matters are not the province of Congressional authority. What's that? Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist are medical doctors? Well, then, it'd be nice if they'd been called in on the case, and if they'd actually examined the patient, neither of which is the case. (Bill Frist has watched a video of Ms. Schiavo. On this basis, I proclaim myself master of bullet-time combat, iron-chef-style cookery, and a few other things I've watched.)
- Legal. Time and again, the courts have ordered Terry's feeding tube removed. Every time the case is moved to a higher court by her parents, that court has decided that the feeding tube should be removed. Our government does not work by retroactive legislative fiat. The courts have decided to let Terry Schiavo die, and that is where it should end.
- Ethical. I feel horrible for Terry's parents, and for her husband Michael. This is a heart-rending situation under any circumstances; drawn out for fifteen years, I literally cannot imagine the depths of their anguish. And I understand the dreadful conflict between his wanting to see the woman he loved at peace, and their wanting to keep their daughter alive. But this is their problem, and their business. The rest of the world should not be involved.
- Moral. The actions of right-to-life supporters are especially egregious. To them, Terry Schiavo is a symbol of the triumph of biological function uber alles. But are they going to pay for her continuing care? Is anti-abortion activist Randall Terry going to feed and bathe her? Is James Dobson going to softly sing her to sleep each night?
- State's rights. Florida's courts have ruled on this time and again. It is, literally, not something anyone should make a federal case out of. Where do lawmakers stop? Will they get involved with every case like this? Such happen all the time, and without Congressional intervention.
- Religious. Religious persons make much of "God's will". If this woman will not survive without extraordinary intervention, it is "God's will" that she die. Therefore, those who keep her alive are, in effect, playing God.
- Political. Congressional Republicans received a charming little memo last week, talking about the political benefits of supporting legislation keeping Terry Schiavo alive: "pro-life base will be excited"; "great political issue — this is a tough issue for Democrats". Yeah, that's concern for the family. The hypocrisy of such game-playing, in contrast with the public statements of cockroaches like Tom DeLay ("Every hour is incredibly important to Terri Schiavo") and Bill Frist ("These are extraordinary circumstances that center on the most fundamental of human values and virtues: the sanctity of human life") is nauseating.
Lady, I truly am sorry, and I feel terrible for you and your family. But if your daughter is suffering, do you really believe she would like to be kept suffering?
And Terry's parents are not ashamed to impugn their son-in-law, accusing him of only wanting her to die so that he can claim part of a malpractice-suit award and live happily ever after with his girlfriend and their two children. This, of course, leads to all manner of moral judgments against him by half-informed folks (like those who brought you the 'Spongebob is Gay' fiasco).
Never mind that he has refused not only divorces, but $10 million ($9.25 million more than the settlement amount) to walk away from his wife, because he firmly believes he is trying to do her will.
For anyone who hasn't followed this case, there is an excellent non-biased chronology of the judgments entered in the Florida courts at Abstract Appeal. I, personally, cannot believe that a woman who had been so vibrant and active in life would truly want to be trussed up like some modern statuary project in order to be kept 'alive'. And vindictive as it may be of me, I hope she is at the Pearly Gates to meet her parents and tell them as much.
The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 provides that: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed."
Just goes to help show the complete lack of respect held by these yahoos for any of the principles of our goverment.
Sure, nobody deserves to starve to death. But the poor girl has about as much mental capacity as a mollusk (maybe even less). I wonder if her parents are also vegetarians? Because, if not, they've killed animals with more on the ball than their daughter.
The one I relly feel bad for is the poor husband, who has already said his goodbyes, and yet has to keep on saying them, keep on living with a near-corpse. ANd hey, you never know; look at Karen Ann Quinlan, who survived quite a while after being "unplugged."
This whole case has me torn. I'm firmly with the camp that realizes that she's "not there" anymore, but the part of me that says "Yeah, but what if..." is firmly bothered by letting the woman starve to death. My mother-in-law died this way, and my wife is still upset over her dying this way.
The worst part is the "no evidence from Mrs. Schiavo" stating that she DIDN'T want to be kept alive by any means, and because of that, I have to say thank you regarding the living will information. I'm actually spending my lunch hour going over the information right after finishing this post.
We are society of such contradictions...we can euthanize pets to keep them from suffering, we can execute criminals as punishment, but we can't be saved from legal nightmares like this because we can't choose the right to die with dignity rather than our physical body suffering until it fails (wether we're aware of the suffering or not).
If I ever end up in a similar situation, I hope and pray that I can be euthanized. At least then I can "say" good-bye and move on with the next phase of life, and my family can get on with living in this one.
Wow! I didn't know that. If he can still do it, he should. Let the parents take over, especially, if the Supreme Court rules for putting the feeding tube back in.
Gee, Mr. Frist, I know you're a physician. Have you examined the patient, and her tests? Or have you seen the UNedited video that shows the actions you seem to think are conscious, repeated with no apparent purpose some number of times?
Mr. Bush, I have two words for you: Sun Hudson. Nuff said, Mr. Hypocrite-in-Chief
I recommend reading Rivka's posts on the medical and ethical aspects of the issue, and also the post at Obsidian Wings that includes side-by-side CAT scans of TS's brain (or, according to every qualified individual seeing these, lack thereof) and a normal brain.
The hardcore Religious Right is now upset with them for not going all the way and sending in the SWAT team, or the National Guard, or the Marines, or the Justice League, or somebody to simply exert their will by force, law be damned.
The economic conservative/libertarian wing of the GOP is offended for reasons both principled ("THIS is 'getting the government off the people's backs'?") and cynical ("Why the hell can't the party leadership exert this kind of effort to get me another tax cut?").
If I'm right, they're walking into a richly deserved fiasco.