Skip to comments.Futile Care: The Terri Schiavo Case
Posted on 10/16/2003 10:38:41 PM PDT by nickcarraway
This is not the column I was going to write. However, it the column I must write.
A young woman named Terri Schiavo [www.terrisfight.org] is on a deathwatch through court-ordered starvation and dehydration. Her death comes courtesy of the efforts of her husband, Michael Schiavo; right-to-die activists like lawyer George Felos and Dr. Ronald Cranford; judges George Greer and Richard Lazzara; and the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, which have refused to hear the case.
Terri's parents want her to live, and after viewing the videos and talking to people, so do I. Up-to-date information is at www.terrisfight.org.
On the other hand, you can look up the Hemlock Society Web site [www.hemlock.org] to find fun ways to die or have someone else help you die. You can go to most university bioethics department Web sites or read learned papers written by bioethicists with Ph.D. or M.D. degrees. You will find how our society has progressed from finding humane ways for the "right to die" to good intellectual excuses for terminating others.
The various "right to die" organizations apparently are setting us up to accept the notion that it is our responsibility to end our agony at some point particularly if we become a burden to the system, depressed, old or inconvenient. This particular right will be given to us by a doctor, nurse, medical institution, judge or relative who makes it their mission in life to dispose of us for a host of "humane" reasons.
The list of "quality of life" standards is growing. It is a list consisting of elements on the slippery slope from being humane to being rid of the unwanted. It has evolved from simply withholding heroic efforts to save a brain-dead or terminal human to a laundry list of whether or not we are costly to maintain, unproductive, dependent, burdensome, poor or depressed. To find out more: www.hospicepatients.org/euth-center.html
Death in Legal Doses
Termination by starvation and dehydration has been used many times before. Reports on elder abuse and news accounts from around the U.S. reveal that it is one of the most notorious ways to kill feeble elderly. It has also been used on disabled and brain-damaged younger people and babies.
It was also used in Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka and the Soviet gulags. Stalin used starvation as a means of control. Nazi doctors experimenting on unwilling "patients" adopted all kinds of cruel techniques. One of those techniques was starvation and dehydration. It is recorded in the records of the Nuremberg Trials.
More recently, there were the deaths of other millions in the laogai, the Chinese gulag system. In North Korea reports of mass starvation have been rampant and it is used as a tool, a utilitarian political and demographic tool. The operative word here is utilitarian.
In one of the most notorious cases in the U.S. during the '90s, the death by starvation and dehydration was even recorded by "Frontline," a PBS effort to show how peaceful such a death could be. Of course it helped that the woman to be terminated had been shot full of opiates.
Nancy Cruzan's parents challenged the hospital to allow their daughter to be terminated through starvation and dehydration. Nancy, brain injured in a car accident, was breathing on her own and taking food by mouth. According to court records, she could hear, see, smiled at amusing stories, cried at times when visitors left, sometimes seemed to try to form words, and experienced pain from menstrual cramps.
Also, according to court records, Nancy required no type of skilled nursing, no care except food and fluids, personal hygiene and repositioning to avoid bedsores. The records also state that she could have been cared for in a home setting.
What is worse, it was the latest "cause" for the other Dr. Death, Dr. Ronald Cranford, University of Minnesota Bioethics Department. Cranford has been the principal voice calling for the starvation/dehydration deaths of Paul Brophy, Nancy Ellen Jobes, Nancy Cruzan and Christine Busalacchi, and now Terri Schiavo. All of the euthanized/terminated were brain-damaged but not dying.
He testified that he would even consider spoon-feeding for Nancy Cruzan to be "medical treatment" because that "would be totally inconsistent with what was wanted" (her death). (Cruzan v. Harmon [Missouri], Trial Testimony, 3/3/88, Transcript Vol. 1, pp. 228-229)
Cranford wrote in a CFD newsletter (Summer 1988), "I also believe that there may be extreme situations, and in the future increasingly common situations, where physician-assisted suicide may not only be permissible, but encouraged."
He wasn't the only one in the "progressive" community to support such efforts. I am ashamed a "Catholic" priest got involved. It was through the efforts of Fr. Kevin O'Rourke, O.P., whose pro-euthanasia stand was reaffirmed in his Supreme Court brief supporting the starvation of Nancy Cruzan.
There are many "Catholic" bioethcists who have forgotten that Pope John Paul II wrote in 1998, "the omission of nutrition and hydration intended to cause a patient's death must be rejected."
Consider Sgt. Arnold Shumosic, a 23-year-old Catholic, whose parents sought to starve him to death at the Ellsmere, Del., Veterans Administration hospital in 1988. The V.A. was only too willing to sacrifice Arnold's life on the altar of "quality," but, as Sen. Jesse Helms wrote President Ronald Reagan: "For a soldier to die for his country on the field of battle is an honor. For his country to murder him in his hospital bed is a disgrace." [pw1.netcom.com/~cureltd/death.htm]
Behind this devaluation of human life is the philosophy of utilitarianism and materialism. That philosophy is the heart of both Nazism and Communism: The value of an individual is measured by his or her usefulness to the group.
In the Netherlands, where euthanasia has become routine, it accounts for almost 10 percent of all deaths there; more than half of those people did not ask to be killed. Not only do physicians perform assisted suicide on terminally ill patients, but they also kill newborn infants and hospitalized seniors whose quality of life is judged to be too poor.
There is increasing concern about involuntary euthanasia among Dutch citizens with disabilities. Many of them are joining the Dutch Patients Association, which issues a wallet-sized card stating that it is intended to prevent involuntary euthanasia in case of admission of the signer to the hospital. [www.pregnantpause.org/euth/compass.htm]
If the United States were to practice active euthanasia to the extent practiced in the Netherlands, taking into account the population differences, there would be approximately 200,000 euthanasia deaths annually in the United States, with approximately 100,000 deaths caused without the consent of the patient.
Some institutions have cautiously, quietly joined the call for euthanasia. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation paid for a survey promoting physician-assisted suicide by giving a grant to suicide rights activist Dr. Howard Brody. Respondents were appealed to by being presented with what might be described as idyllic circumstances: availability limited to the unquestionably terminally ill, a procedure managed in a comfortable therapeutic environment and the patient dispatched without any pain. [www.lifeadvocate.org/11_97/feature.htm]
In the current case of Terri Schiavo, Ron Panzer of Hospice Patients Alliance remarks: "Terri Schiavo's case is an in-your-face effort by the right-to-die (kill) activists to openly ram the duty to die down the throat of society. It is a precedent-setting case, make no mistake about that! There will be many articles about this case. Skim them, read them, but if you care about hospice and end-of-life care, you cannot think realistically that this case will not impact the future of hospice everywhere. It will. Some hospice administrators may be motivated to make a stand against such killings of the disabled. Others will hop right in and join the duty-to-die crowd, using hospice to eliminate the vulnerable, while enriching the hospices and other health care corporations, agencies and insurers. Watch and see! This issue is not going away, and we will remember who did NOT intervene to save Terri." [www.hospicepatients.org] or call  866-9127.
The Grisly Details
The Hemlock Society description of death by starvation and dehydration:
The length of time it took for patients to die in these studies varies considerably depending on the fragility and weight of the patient, the state of his/her heart, etc., from several days to several weeks. Most of the reports of dying patients are within one or two weeks from dehydration.
*After the first day a state called detonemia develops in which there are apparently severe hunger pangs (unless feeding is restored).
*Not taking fluids appears to actually reduce a person's discomfort, bloating, nausea, lung secretions, urinary frequency and pain, and is a good idea at the end of life in any case.
*This method may be difficult for family members and some medical personnel who may find it difficult not to provide food and fluids. A family may need help caring for the dying person.
*Excellent oral hygiene must be maintained with ice chips to moisten the mouth, careful cleaning of the mouth, and lubricants. Skin becomes dry and inelastic so a soft mattress is helpful. Dizziness and weakness also occur.
Another description of this particular American way of dying is described by Justice Lynch of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in the case of firefighter Paul Brophy, who lapsed into coma after surgery. Removal of his G-tube led to his death eight days later, thanks in no small part to the efforts of (bioethicist) death squad professional Dr. Ronald Cranford.
In his dissent from the court majority approval of Brophy's death in this manner, Justice Lynch states: "the [likely] various effects from the lack of hydration and nutrition" as follows:
"Brophy's mouth would dry out and become caked or coated with thick material. His lips would become parched and cracked. His tongue would swell, and might crack. His eyes would recede back into their orbits and his cheeks would become hollow. The lining of his nose might crack and cause his nose to bleed. His skin would hang loose on his body and become dry and scaly. His urine would become highly concentrated, leading to burning of the bladder. The lining of his stomach would dry out and he would experience dry heaves and vomiting. His body temperature would become very high. His brain cells would dry out, and the thick secretions that would result could plug his lungs and cause death. At some point within five days to three weeks his major organs, including his lungs, heart, and brain, would give out and he would die." (Brophy v. New England Sinai Hospital, No. 85E0009-G1,10/21/85:28-2]
When he began having seizures, anticonvulsant medication was administered via the tube, as were antacids to prevent hemorrhaging and laxatives to make him more "comfortable" as he died.
The inconvenient facts are that food and water are NOT medical treatment. They are not therapeutic nor do they treat diseases. They are a necessity for life. In Terri Schiavo's case, as in all others with the exception of those who can't hold food down, it is nothing less than legalized murder. It is a cruel and inhumane way to die enshrined by our legal, medical and "ethical" community.
Who Will Speak for the Voiceless?
As I am mired in documents and testimony related to my book, it is ironic that research has me burrowing through collections on the Nuremberg Trials recently made public. Located at Yale, Harvard and the Truman Library, for the most part these records may be accessed online.
So much information to plow through however, the theme remains the same: A civilized society or country can catapult down that slippery slope toward inhumane decadence faster than a drunken teenager in a Ferrari on Saturday night.
Don't anyone write to me and say it can't happen here. Don't tell me about having to remove Uncle Sid from life support and what a difficult decision it was. I have been in that position, at the end of my mother's life. That is not what Terri Schiavo's case is about.
Death for those who are not terminal happens every day.
It is simply called something else: futile care, death with dignity, partial-birth abortion, rule of law, "choice," or elder abuse. It happens as the legal, intellectual and financial system finds reasons to continue to expand the death culture. Meanwhile, the establishment elite and dumbed-down, secularized, decadent culture looks the other way.
I am here to tell you we are in a very similar position to that of Germany during the Weimar Republic prior to the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. Problem is that left, right and libertarian, government, business, education, churches and associations, foundations and universities are greasing the slope toward that statist tyranny.
Contemplating those Nuremberg documents has convinced me that the bioethics departments in most universities are akin to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. The doctors and "scientists" at the Institute gave scientific legitimacy to one of the most grisly, evil barbaric rampages in the history of mankind.
That rampage is happening in America without the Gestapo and SS. We have the courts and our institutions willing to couch the horror in legalism and euphemisms.
Addressing issues of life and death in America, Supreme Court Justice Scalia said, "A Christian should not support a government that suppresses the faith or one that sanctions the taking of an innocent human life."
The archbishop of Denver in a pastoral letter remarked: "The direction of the modern state is against the dignity of human life. These decisions harbinger a dramatic intensifying of the conflict between the Catholic Church and governing civil authorities."
PETA Would Be Proud
During the Nuremberg Trials, Gen. Telford Taylor took over the prosecution when Chief Justice Robert Jackson returned to the U.S. to resume his duties on the Supreme Court. Taylor's statement haunted me because in the U.S., as in Nazi Germany, animal rights have become more important than human rights to many.
I will bet there are more legal, legislative and NGOs working to expand territory for grizzly bears or enforcing the Endangered Species Act, than there are attempting to prevent our descent into hell on matters of life and death for human beings.
"The Nazis themselves passed [a law] on the 24th of November 1933 for the protection of animals. This law states explicitly "that it is designed to prevent cruelty and indifference of man towards animals and to awaken and develop sympathy and understanding for animals as one of the highest moral values of a people. The soul of the German people should abhor the principle of mere utility without consideration of the moral aspects.
The law states further "that all operations or treatments which are associated with pain or injury, especially experiments involving the use of cold, heat, or infection, are prohibited, and can be permitted only under special exceptional circumstances."
If the principles announced in this law had been followed for human beings as well, this indictment would never have been filed. It is perhaps the deepest shame of the defendants that it probably never even occurred to them that human beings should be treated with at least equal humanity.
Their failure was the inevitable outcome of that sinister undercurrent of German philosophy which preaches the supreme importance of the state and the complete subordination of the individual. A nation in which the individual means nothing will find few leaders courageous and able enough to serve its best interests."
[Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10. Nuremberg, October 1946April 1949. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O, 19491953.]
That road to hell is being prepared by the U.S. film, literati and TV culture as well, using the same kinds of propaganda on life-and-death issues that were being foisted on the German public by the cultural elites of the Third Reich. In the Nazi film "Ich Klage an" ("I Accuse"), produced in 1941, the message of the two-hour-long film is that doctors who submit to an incurable patients death wish act legally and morally.
Hanna, a beautiful ,dying woman approaches her husband, Thomas, and says: "You must help me. I want to remain your Hanna till the very end; I dont want to become somebody else who is deaf, blind and idiotic. I wouldnt endure that. Thomas, if you really love me, promise that you will deliver me from this beforehand."
Thomas "helps" Hanna with a drug overdose: "Yes, I confess: I did kill my incurably ill wife, but it was at her request." In the Nazi film, it was not worthless life being exterminated but a plea for death in a humane way.
The logic of that Nazi propaganda film is exactly what we hear today in movies and TV. They are the harbingers of those who are anxious and willing to make life cheap. This appetite to snuff the unproductive, the disabled, the less than perfect, the inconvenient, the clinically depressed will gather steam as it has in the Netherlands and in the United States in states like Oregon, as the society ages.
Thus, in a few short years, we have gone from a nation believing it is a kindness to dispense with heroic efforts to keep someone alive, to a country that intervenes directly when someone's "quality of life" doesn't live up to certain standards. The various instruments and agents of death surround it in euphemisms like "futile care" theory.
Futile care theory controls many major health-care institutions, insurance companies, nursing homes, and even that paragon called hospice care.
Futile care theory will take on the same import as other perversions of the law in the United States and Europe. As the Boomers age, the fervor to send us to our Maker will grow. It will be gauged by how much we are costing the system, or whether or not our relatives want us out of the way, or if some committee of the anointed, doctors or HMOs, concludes we are a burden and don't fit the standard they set for "quality of life."
I guarantee the day is coming when Boomers will be coerced to end their lives or someone else will make the decision for them. Some tribes of American Indians used to send the old and feeble into 40-below weather. It was a kinder death than what the cultural, legal and medical elites have devised for us.
Evolution of Death
J.A. Emerson Vermaat studied law at Leyden University. He is a senior television reporter in Hilversum, the Netherlands, and specializes in international affairs and European history. He is the author of a book about international crime networks, "Het criminele web: De globalisering van de misdaad" (De Banier Publishers, Utrecht, 2000), and is currently preparing a book about euthanasia in the Third Reich.
In an article that appeared in Ethics and Medicine, Vermaat gives us a glance at the way euthanasia evolved into mass killings in the Third Reich.
Vermaat states: "Karl Brandt, the head of Hitlers euthanasia program, claimed at his trial after the war: The underlying motive was the desire to help individuals who could not help themselves and were thus prolonging their lives of torment."
On the other hand, "Lothar Kreyssig, a judge from Brandenburg/Havel informed Nazi Justice Minister Gurtner about his revulsion toward this practice. He did so in a letter dated 8 July 1940:
"About two weeks ago an acquaintance told me about rumors of numerous mental patients having recently been transferred by the SS from their clinics and nursing homes to institutions in southern Germany where they were killed. ... The issue of the meaning of these lives actually touches on the very issues of existence. It leads directly to the question of God. Destroying worthless life is a serious matter of conscience. Life is a mystery of God. ... It is mans incredible rebellion and arrogance to think he can terminate life because his limited judgment tells him that such life does not or does no longer have any meaning."
Dr. Kreyssig was also a member of the Confessing Church, a vocal anti-Nazi movement within the mainstream German Evangelical Church. Like Lutheran pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Kreyssig believed silence was the same as being complicit.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who was martyred for resisting Hitler, gave what may be the clearest expression of the principle: "If government persistently and arbitrarily violates its assigned task, then the divine mandate lapses."
Then again, during World War II there were also more than a few brave Catholic leaders in the hierarchy. Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen preached a fire-and-brimstone sermon in the church of St. Lamberti in Muenster. In 1941, he stormed heaven and raised hell shouting to the gathering:
"It is a terrible theory [euthanasia] which wants to justify murdering the innocent, which practically legalizes the violent killing of disabled people who are no longer able to work, the crippled, the incurably sick and the decrepit ones. ... When one upholds and practices the principle that unproductive fellow human beings may be killed, woe then unto us all when we ourselves will be old and weak! When unproductive human beings may be killed, woe then unto the disabled who gave, sacrificed and lost their strength and healthy bones in the production process!"
Wesley J. Smith is a lawyer and expert on the American way of death and dying. "Forced Exit" is a must read for all of us growing older in an increasingly death-obsessed and declining culture.
Smith tells us: "It wasn't much more than 20 years ago that withdrawing tube-supplied food and water from a patient due to cognitive disability was virtually unthinkable in clinical medicine. Indeed, it would have been a crime in many jurisdictions. However, by the early 1990s, in the wake of the Nancy Cruzan case, virtually all states permitted families to decide to withdraw tube-supplied nutrition and hydration as a matter of the 'right to die.' Today, throughout the country, conscious and unconscious cognitively disabled people are intentionally dehydrated to death almost as a matter of medical routine when families consent."
End of Days
The Aug. 11, 2003, video taken of Terri Schiavo by her father, Bob Schindler, shows a woman who is alive and aware. She knows her mother and she tracks a balloon from one point to another. Terri's father defied Judge George Greer's court order to take that video of Terri. Because of it he may face jail time.
Nonetheless, Terri's dad did what I would do in similar circumstances. There are instances when the only thing to be done is to defy authority, including the courts. There is, after all, a higher law.
Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, and lawyer George Felos have forbidden the Schindlers from any contact with Terri without one of their representatives present.
Gov. Jeb Bush attempted to intervene but has been castigated by Judge Greer to stay out of it. Clinton appointee Federal District Judge Lazzara stated that there is nothing anyone can do, including himself and the governor. Gov. Bush's office told the Schindlers and the press that he didn't feel he could intervene any more because of the "separation of powers."
Gov. Bush may not be aware of this, but activist courts and a complicit, lazy Congress breached separation of powers decades ago.
There is one member of one court who gets it right: "What secret knowledge, one must wonder, is breathed into lawyers when they become Justices of this Court?" Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has asked. "Day by day, case by case, [the Court] is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize."
It will take a miracle or the bravery of a saint to confront our increasingly corrupt system. It will take a saint or brave person to intervene for Terri Schiavo and others like her.
Pope John Paul II beatifies Mother Teresa this week. Perhaps her prayerful intervention can help Terri and the REST of us. What we need is a divine rage to make the changes necessary to save us from the continued descent into hell.
As one of my favorite poets wrote:
"Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light." (Dylan Thomas)
Write to Jeb Bush at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or at: Jeb Bush, Governor
Executive Office of the Governor
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001
Sign the petition to Jeb Bush at: http://www.terrisfight.org
Phone the Governor
In Tallahassee at 850-488-7146
Phone Attorney General Charlie Crist
In Tallahassee at 850-414-3990
Phone State Attorney Bernie McCabe
In Clearwater at 727-464-6221
Organizations speaking for or joining coalitions for legalization of assisted suicide include:
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Humanist Association
Americans for Democratic Action
National Association of Social Workers
Older Women's League (OWL)
some affiliates of National Organization for Women (NOW)
I think that someone needs to describe exactly what happens to a person who starves to death. When my father was dying, doctors told my family that it's one of the worse possible deaths and is extremely painful.
There are also many different levels of unconsciousness in those who experience brain damage. Doctors simply DO NOT KNOW the extent to which such patients actually experience pain. And anyone who says they do is LYING.
But I also suffer bouts of hypocrisy.
Because if Terri is not fed and given drink tomorrow-then I stand with any citizens in Florida willing to take this matter into the people's hands.
This case is so devoid of human compassion and common sense it makes even the hardest of hearts crack.
I hope the people in the Hospice Ctr., willing to do wrong under the guise of a court order, reconsider and do the right thing.
The doctor or nurse or perhaps Mike, Terri's monstrous hsb., removed the tube that gave Terri food and drink is monster. A coward. A death monger.
Food and drink was the ONLY CARE SHE RECEIVED other than perhaps clean bedding and clothes.
Her hsb does not love her. He lives with another and is building a family. Terri must be a terrible inconvenience.
Her father says that Mike even DISALLOWED ANYONE to brush Terri's teeth for a TEN YEAR PERIOD!
What a hateful, disgusting, vile human being mike is..
I would guess thought , that it is not painful....
but starvation is cruel in that it takes a long time....maybe up two weeks...
...That road to hell is being prepared by the U.S. film, literati and TV culture as well, using the same kinds of propaganda on life-and-death issues that were being foisted on the German public by the cultural elites of the Third Reich.
Thank God for an another excellent exposition for Terri and for Life. These lines reminded me of the 1981 film starring Richard Dreyfus, "Whose life is it anyway?" That was my first exposure to the pro-death propaganda. The pro-death crowd has gained much ground since then.
I often wonder - and literally ask the proponents of death on demand - why they don't start "decreasing the surplus population" and "easing society's burden" by taking their own lives instead of others'.
I kept repeating to their people we don't treat rapid mad dogs or convicted killers in so INHUMANE a way.
We are told to continue calls & emails, that they do make a difference -- please pass this on to mailing lists and friends.
phone -- 850 - 488 - 4441
FAX -- 850 - 922 - 4292
FL atty Gen. Charlie Crist email -- email@example.com
PHONE -- 850 - 487 - 1963
FAX -- 850 - 487 - 2564
I have to go -- pls someone post this info to every new thread, along w/abuse report info to follow. Thanks
At a certain point, you will hear this message: "The safety and well being of Florida's most vulnerable citizens is very important. Persons making reports in good faith are not subject to prosecution. Intentional false reporting is a violation of FL law."
This is when you need to carefully consider if you truly believe this is abuse or neglect.
You will be asked a number of questions on this long form -- all allegations are truly taken seriously! Most of us know those answers from our visits to the http://www.terrisfight.org website (address of victim, age, what your concerns are). Some I didn't know (phone number of facility).
The person taking the information was businesslike but sympathetic ("trained counselors" take the calls).
I am convinced that a precious citizen of the state of FL is being abused -- so I made the call. I'd expressed my concerns to the governor, and he said he's concerned, too, so I figure I'm in good company.
Have to go, Republic -- hug & prayers. Please post above and this info as you can. Thanks.
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