Skip to comments.Saving Terri Schiavo (A MUST READ!!)
Posted on 10/21/2003 1:36:07 PM PDT by NYer
WHEN TERRI SCHIAVO collapsed in 1990, causes unknown, she could have had no idea that 13 years later people the world over would know her name and care very much about whether she lived or died. Yet what began as a private tragedy--a vivacious young woman stricken in the very prime of her life with a brain injury that left her profoundly disabled--has become a story heard round the world. (see No Mercy in Florida)
In case you are one of the few people who still do not know about the controversy, Terri's husband Michael requested--and received from Judge George Greer of the 6th Circuit Court in Clearwater, Florida--the right to dehydrate Terri to death by removing her feeding tube. This despite open and notorious financial and personal conflicts of interest and acts taken in disregard of Terri's welfare that should have caused Michael to be removed as her guardian. These conflicts include his engagement to a woman with whom he has one baby with another on the way and his refusal to allow efforts at rehabilitation that might allow her to eat without the feeding tube--all despite promises to a medical malpractice jury that he would attempt to rehabilitate her. Instead, once the jury award was received, Michael refused all rehabilitation, forcing Terri to simply lie in a bed for 10 years.
Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought for their daughter's life tenaciously, spending virtually every dime they have. But over five years, the courts, one-by-one-by-one, turned their backs. And despite testimony by credible medical experts that Terri might still relearn to eat by mouth, Judge Greer refused to even allow her that opportunity. Terri's feeding tube was pulled, per Judge Greer's order, on October 15, 2003.
In most cases, that would have been that. But the Schiavo case is no normal case. While the story was virtually ignored by the mainstream media--perhaps because the case illustrates vividly the dangers of the so-called "right to die"--talk radio once again rose to the fore and generated a firestorm of opposition to the dehydration. Led by nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck, and including other conservative and Christian talk radio hosts such as Janet Parshall, Sean Hannity, Jane Chastain, and Janet Folger, and promoted vigorously by the nation's politically liberal disability rights community as well as by numerous Catholic bloggers, a grass-roots movement in the last few months has produced tens of thousands of emails, phone calls, and letters to Governor Jeb Bush's office begging him to intervene to save Terri's life.
BUSH WAS CLEARLY MOVED BY TERRI'S PLIGHT. He wanted to do the right thing but hesitated, doubting he had the legal authority to order Terri's food and water restored. First, he wrote a letter to Judge Greer asking him to reconsider and appoint a guardian ad litem for Terri. But there had already been a guardian ad litem appointed in this case who had recommended that Terri not be dehydrated. Judge Greer ignored the recommendation, and now Terri no longer has a guardian ad litem. True to form, Greer also ignored the governor.
Then, when Schindler attorney Patricia Anderson filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking an injunction against the court order, Governor Bush filed an amicus brief in support of the Schindlers' request. There is "a critical distinction between removing life support and the deliberate killing of a human being by starvation and dehydration," Bush asserted. The first is protected by Florida's right to privacy, he advised the court. But, he stated, "the removal of the feeding tube without first determining by medically accepted means whether the plaintiff can ingest food and water on her own, with or without rehabilitative therapy, constitutes the deprivation of her life without due process of law." This was a remarkable event: a governor asking a federal court to overturn a state judge's ruling, for which Bush deserves great appreciation.
WHEN THAT SUIT FAILED, thousands continued to pressure Governor Bush, demanding that he intervene. Bush demurred, claiming he had no legal authority. But now, six days into the dehydration, a breakthrough has arrived for those desperately striving to save Terri's life. The Florida Legislature is in special session, and at the urging of Governor Bush and the speaker of the Florida House Johnnie Byrd, "Terri's Bill" has been added to the agenda to give Bush the power to issue an executive order suspending dehydrations that are contested by families for fifteen days. The idea is to permit the legislature to take the time to sort this whole dehydration business out.
Late last night, the House passed Terri's Bill. The Senate will take it up this morning. If it passes, Jeb Bush is expected to quickly issue an executive order restoring Terri's food and water.
Will Terri live or die? That can't be known. But this much is clear: The Schiavo case has changed everything. Our government leaders have been put on notice that tremendous numbers of people in this country are determined to halt the erosion of the sanctity/equality of life ethic in the practice of medicine. The routine practice of dehydrating the cognitively disabled who need a feeding tube--which occurs to the conscious and unconscious alike in all 50 states--is going to receive a badly needed review. The bioethics movement, which has been leading us down this treacherous slope, can no longer expect to pontificate from on high in medical matters of life and death and expect the people to just meekly go along.
In a sense, the Schiavo case is a miracle. Because so many people around the country and the world have come to love her, root for her, and yes, pray for her, our country has been given a rare opportunity to look at where we are heading as a culture and reinvigorate a simple moral maxim: When in doubt, choose life.
Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. He is the author of "Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder."
then for her sake, put it in writing.
I first heard about this woman on the Glenn Beck radio show and from people here on FreeRepublic. I've called and written to Gov. Bush because of the posts here.
I've seen a wonderful person fight and fight and fight for every breath. To the last breath. To live! Someone that was so brave. Someone that taught me how valuable life is.
So when I see people cheapen life it makes me think of my little friend and how she taught so many of us how precious life is. So I can't understand why anyone would think that this womans life has no value. It makes me ill. Everyone from the husband to all those in the legal system that have helped try to kill this women make me sick. They are devoid of humanity. They have the blackest of hearts and souls! Nazis!
Make sure this is in writing! Then, assuming you are conscious and have your faculties about you (as is the case with Terri Schiavo), once your tube is removed, this is what you can expect will happen.
Hastening Death by Starvation and Dehydration
by Faye Girsh, Executive Director
The option of dying by starvation or Patient Refusal of Nutrition and Hydration (PRNH), as it is referred to, appears to be a compromise which allows terminally ill people to end their lives and still have ministrations from hospice and from a doctor. A hospice nurse was kind enough to send me eight articles from nursing and medical journals reviewing this process in an attempt to convince me that this was a painless and gentle death which would obviate the necessity of a more drastic end.
Hemlock Society is in the business of maximizing the options for a good death; for many people this means of ending their lives is acceptable while getting direct help from a doctor, using a plastic bag, or ending their lives by other more direct means is not. Having read this material I would endorse this as a legitimate alternative to which our members should give careful consideration, particularly when other means are not acceptable or available. I do have these caveats:
PRNH is a choice; it is relatively gentle and painless in most reported cases. It is certain, and loved ones can be there. Hospice workers and doctors will regard this as acceptable and treat the patient with compassion. It is not offensive to most religious groups. But it is not swift; the patient must be close to death, and medical and nursing help should be available. It may not be an option for everyone.
Since the manner of dying must be the patient's choice, this method does not obviate the search for ways which are acceptable to every person -- including direct help from a doctor -- certainly a shorter, more direct, and less torturous route.
She would never sign the permit for PEG placement anyway, but you are right.
Thank you for sharing Abi's story. As a parent, you understand then the beauty of life. As catholics, Terri and her family believe in the sanctity of life from conception until death from natural causes. Death by starvation is a slow and painful process.
Though you note that they said medical care is essential, Terri was deprived of morphine throughout her ordeal. I hope God can help me to overcome my anger about this.
Apparently just after they pulled the tube, her parents complained that she had been so heavily sedated. So they said they would now forego pain meds as she was slowly killed.
That, in the long run, is exactly what it means. Vegetation over volition, if the mob is loud enough.
On the same day, the Florida Legislature smashes away at the notion of an impartial judiciary -- and the U.S. Congress delivers a new blow to the 10th Amendment by making another tortured stretching of the Commerce Clause. (The "partial-birth abortion" ban.) Not a good day for the rule of law.
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