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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Terminating disabled people

Adolf found a great article at the Harvard Crimson: Bigotry and the Murder of Terri Schiavo.

As I've mentioned privately via email, I've noticed a distinct rise in the number of people openly saying its okay to terminate a foetus or older person for various rather shallow reasons. Of course they don't use the word 'terminate' as they wish to fool themselves (or everyone else?) that they're doing the person a favour.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 3/29/2005 08:10:00 PM

14 Comments:

Blogger Lucyna said...

I am totally horrified at what's happened to Terri. I have said starving her to death is inhumane, and alluded to faster ways, BUT I don't agree with putting people down at all.

3/29/2005 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

I hate the way this poor womans death has become politicized.

Idiots on both sides taking shots at each other, while she undergoes her passion.

See the potshots USA Today took at the Bush brothers - disgraceful.

What is happening is wrong!

3/29/2005 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous tinker, tailor, soldier .. .. .. said...

Again...........

You seem to forget that people have their life support systms switched off every minute of every day all over the world. EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY. How can you call it inhumane. People die. Face it. Only f***wits want to live forever.

3/29/2005 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I doubt very much if there are many cases similar to this one. And please refrain from swearing.

3/29/2005 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous tinker, tailor, soldier .. .. .. said...

I don't happen to agree that it is a unique case.

But I am willing to learn. What makes it unique today? And what made it unique fifteen years ago? (Remembering of course, that the media hype is a result of what has happened, it is not a part of it)

3/30/2005 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger spooks said...

Seriously at a loss to know what you regard as different about this case, as distinct from other turning off life support systems situation

3/31/2005 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

ttss:

I don't disagree with the legal process - I'm not really in an informed position to comment on that anyway.

The points which concern me are 1. The circumstances of the husband, who already has two children with another partner, and who will receive the remainder of Schiavo's medical misadventure payment if she dies; and 2. The nature of Schiavo's death. She is being slowly starved, whereas most of us would envision if she was seriously sick she would have had multiple organ failures and died relatively soon after life-support equipment was removed - but this is not the case; and 3. Schiavos parents do not agree, and are willing to continue supporting her. I would think such a 'termination' would at least require general family agreement. This disagreement is why the court became involved in the first place.

Also see these posts:

http://www.nzpundit.com/archives/009772.html
http://www.nzpundit.com/archives/009759.html
http://www.nzpundit.com/archives/009749.html

but mostly here:
http://www.nzpundit.com/archives/009729.html

you can also go here for legal info:
http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html

3/31/2005 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger spooks said...

Fair enough.

Once again, the neither of us is going to change the mind of the other. So here it probably endeth.

To you it's terminating.

To me it's not intervening.

To me the only thing that distinguishes this case from any other turning-off-life-support situation, is that the family have been in deep, deep denial, for far too long.

Thanks be to God, this will likely never happen in New Zealand.

Apart from anything else, our scarcer resources force us to spend more wisely.

3/31/2005 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

You could be right about the 'in denial' thing. But theres obviously substantial fog in the matter as its been bouncing around many courts now.

The big problem is the disagreement between the parents and the husband.

You might be interested in this thread, near the end:
http://www.nzpundit.com/archives/009834.html

It seems the Schiavo case rouses great passion in quite a few people.

But then I've never had a problem in my family like this, most of us die suddenly from heart disease (oh oh).

4/01/2005 01:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert Watkins said...

There are lots of cases like Schiavo's - people who can not survive without assistance are removed from life support all the time.

Cases like this get disputed all the time. The law sets strict guidelines; there needs to be proof, third-party opinions, and so forth. There's nothing that uncommon about it.

The law is clear: if a person can not survive without medical assistance, is non-responsive, and has no prognosis for improvement, said assitance can be removed with the consent of the person's guardian. In the Schiavo case, that was her husband. That's all the story is at the end of the day: the law needs to grant this authority to someone, it did so, and that someone exercised it. Oh, and someone else disagreed.

Not one of the various judges who were involved in this disputed this key fact. Several asked for more proof that there was no prognosis for improvement, a few agreed to consider wether Mr Schiavo had the right to be Mrs Schiavo's guardian, but no judge denied that the authority existed. Even if the Schindler's had won, all that would have happened is that they would have been given the authority - if they'd then turned around and asked for the feeding tube to be removed, it would have again been removed.

What is uncommmon is the amount of publicity brought to this one, due to the political connections of the Schindlers, and the desire for religous extremists to push a political and religious platform. That is really sad.

You can disagree with the idea that Mrs Schiavo had no prognosis for improvement - of course, every court appointed doctor concurred that she would not improve.

You can disagree with the idea that Mr Schiavo had the authority instead of her parents - the courts disagree, but it's a point subject to debate.

To disagree that the authority exists, however, is lunacy. Without modern medical care, Mrs Schiavo would have died years ago. The decision to continue or deny that care is a decision for man to make, not God.

(Oh, and for the heart disease thing... Mrs Schiavo got into her condition from a heart attack)

4/01/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I don't disagree that the law is supreme. But I find it disturbing the husband can remain as the legal guardian when he has clearly moved on from the marriage, and the only reason he is the legal guardian is because of his marriage.

I don't have a rabid 'right to live' opinion, though if i was in Terri's recent position I would prefer to be kept alive just in case unforeseen medical developments occur.

4/01/2005 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert Watkins said...

Mr Schiavo first applied to have the life support terminated before he met his current girlfriend; that's how. Furthermore, he only did so after trying out a lot of therapy options. Remember - the accident was 15 years ago, the first court cases were 7 years, and the husband met his new girlfriend about 6 years ago. Yes he'd moved on: his wife had died to all intents and purposes. Had her parents not intervened, Terri Schiavo would have died 7 years ago. This is why every Florida judge who looked into the case (and there were lots) decided that Mr Schiavo was the legal guardian.

Terri Schiavo was in a vegatative state. In other words, approximately 80% of her high brain functions were gone because that area of the brain had died off. All she really had left was her cortex - the part that controls the autonomic functions. No medical development is going to solve that in any reasonable time frame. She had no cognitive abilities - according to brain scans, she wasn't even able to dream, which is one of the most primitive cognitive abilities. She was dead already, it's just that her body hadn't caught up.

However, the way that various groups latched on to this to promote their own cause is disgusting. The very idea that the US Congress would pass a law to allow _one_ person to appeal to a federal court (when there are apparently a few hundred similar cases in various legal systems around the US at this very moment) is obscene. That the US President would fly to Washington to sign it, when he'd signed other bills that morning at his ranch, and signed more at the ranch the next day, is even worse. That Gov. Jeb Bush sent state troopers to the hospital under orders to take Schiavo by force is hideous (the state troopers decided not to when the city cops said they would enforce, with force, the judge's order that she stay off the tube). These are the bigger issues than one woman's death.

4/02/2005 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert. said...

Oops... I stand corrected on how long Mr Schiavo had been with his current girlfriend; I'd mentally swapped in the age of one of their kids for some reason. However, the reason for my personal disgust with the situation (the obscene political intervention) remains.

4/02/2005 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

But AFTER his first two love affairs. As to the therapy options, from what I've read the rehabilitation stopped in 1993.

The Florida judges were following the law. Not many people are disputing that.

I agree with much of your last paragraph. Still, remember over 80% of Representatives and a similar high proportion of Senators voted for the law.

4/02/2005 12:34:00 AM  

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