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Is Terri Schiavo Dead? Eat, drink, and vegetate
Reason ^ | 10-23-03 | Ronald Bailey

Posted on 10/25/2003 11:35:53 AM PDT by ambrose

October 23, 2003

Is Terri Schiavo Dead?

Eat, drink, and vegetate

Ronald Bailey

-------------------------------------

-------------------------------------

Terri Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990. Her husband wants to withdraw the nutrition and hydration her body has been receiving and allow her body to die. Her mother, father, and sister—and now Florida Governor Jeb Bush—want to continue supplying her body with food and water until... what? She wakes up? Dies of pneumonia?

What is a persistent vegetative state? According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke people in PVS "have lost their thinking abilities and awareness of their surroundings, but retain non-cognitive function and normal sleep patterns. Even though those in a persistent vegetative state lose their higher brain functions, other key functions such as breathing and circulation remain relatively intact. Spontaneous movements may occur, and the eyes may open in response to external stimuli. They may even occasionally grimace, cry, or laugh. Although individuals in a persistent vegetative state may appear somewhat normal, they do not speak and they are unable to respond to commands." People suffering from PVS can generally be distinguished from afflicted but cognitively intact patients who suffer from "locked-in syndrome" by the fact that "locked in" patients can track visual stimuli and use eye blinks for communication.

According to most neurological experts, Terri Schiavo is definitely PVS—her eyes do not really track visual stimuli and she cannot communicate using eye blinks. However, Terri Schiavo's parents have posted several short ambiguous video clips online which are meant to show that Ms. Schiavo responds to stimuli. But what they show seems to fit an AMA's report of how PVS patients can respond to environmental cues without being aware. Specifically, the report notes, "Despite an 'alert demeanor', observation and examination repeatedly fail to demonstrate coherent speech, comprehension of the words of examiners or attendants, or any capacity to initiate or make consistently purposeful movements. Movements are largely confined to reflex withdrawals or posturing in response to noxious or other external stimuli. Since neither visual nor auditory signals require cortical integrity to stimulate brief orienting reflexes, some vegetative patients may turn the head or dart the eyes toward a noise or moving objects. However, PVS patients neither fixate upon nor consistently follow moving objects with the eyes, nor do they show other than startle responses to loud stimuli. They blink when air movements stimulate the cornea but not in the presence of visual threats per se."

Ms. Schiavo has been in this state for 13 years. What are her chances of recovering at least some awareness? Minnesota neurologist Ronald Cranford told the Washington Post, "There has never been a documented case of someone recovering after having been in a persistent vegetative state for more than 3 months. However, the journal Brain Injury reported the case, of a 26-year-old woman who, after being diagnosed as suffering from a persistent vegetative state for six months, recovered consciousness and, though severely disabled, is largely cognitively intact. However, it is generally agreed that if a patient doesn't become responsive before six months, his or her prognosis is extremely poor. A report on PVS by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council finds that "patients in a state of post-coma unresponsiveness may emerge from it to become responsive," that "the probability of emergence becomes progressively less over time," and that "there is general agreement that emergence is less likely in older people, and in the victims of hypoxic brain damage." Terri Schiavo is the way she is because oxygen was cut off to her brain for 14 minutes; in other words, she suffered severe hypoxic brain damage.

So is Terri Schiavo still alive? The odds are way against it. It's time that her long-suffering parents and the grandstanding politicians let her go in peace.



TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: schiavo; terri; terrischiavo
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1 posted on 10/25/2003 11:35:53 AM PDT by ambrose
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To: TheAngryClam; Long Cut; onyx; Chancellor Palpatine; Poohbah; daviddennis
Terri Ping

(don't be offended if I left you out, I don't keep ping lists)
2 posted on 10/25/2003 11:37:43 AM PDT by ambrose
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To: ambrose
What a creep.

These bloodthirsty freaks are nasty.

They want to torture people to death because they are seriously injured.

If they want to kill her just do it. Why the torture of long drawn out starvation? It is a fig leaf to hide their nakedness.

3 posted on 10/25/2003 11:38:04 AM PDT by tallhappy
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To: ambrose
A BUMP for clarity. Thank you, ambrose.
4 posted on 10/25/2003 11:41:42 AM PDT by EllaMinnow
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To: tallhappy
These bloodthirsty freaks are nasty.


Your christ-like attributes are in the hall closet, go get them back.

5 posted on 10/25/2003 11:42:17 AM PDT by Gringo1 (Some days you are the pidgeon....and other days the statue.)
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To: ambrose
Better a damaged brain than this writer's dead soul.
6 posted on 10/25/2003 11:42:52 AM PDT by T'wit
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To: ambrose
BTTT
7 posted on 10/25/2003 11:43:57 AM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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To: ambrose
Double bump.

You cannot face the "lets make her suffer for another 13 years" crowd with firm medical FACT, they prefer to operate only on emotion(they become liberals when it comes to interfering with the lives of others it seems).


8 posted on 10/25/2003 11:44:21 AM PDT by Gringo1 (Some days you are the pidgeon....and other days the statue.)
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To: ambrose
posturing in response to noxious or other external stimuli.

In watching the short video clips and the much longer one that was circulating here for a time, I have yet to see even the slightest glimpse of posturing in Terri.

9 posted on 10/25/2003 11:46:17 AM PDT by MarMema (KILLING ISN'T MEDICINE)
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To: ambrose
Thos looks to be the moost comprehensive compilation of facts posted thus far.

BTTT for reading after my nap.
10 posted on 10/25/2003 11:47:16 AM PDT by onyx
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To: tallhappy
My thoughts exactly. Starvation is a hell of a way to kill somebody.

We treat death row prisoners more humanely then they want to treat Terri.
11 posted on 10/25/2003 11:47:51 AM PDT by Lokibob
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To: T'wit
"Better a damaged brain than this writer's dead soul."

Hear hear!

12 posted on 10/25/2003 11:48:00 AM PDT by incindiary
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To: ambrose
Thanks for the ping.

My mother and I are bitterly divided over this. :-( I know her heart is in the right place. She sees this as a "right to die" hill to die on.

I see it as right-to-kill. I cannot get her to see the evidence. For her it is a one-way issue and anything that contradicts her position must be false.

I can see both sides. If Terri had a living will that said what Michael claims she said, I would fight for her right to die just as hard as I've fought for her to receive food and drink. I just do not believe a Catholic girl would want it, and I think Michael shouldn't be her guardian because he's moved on to make another family, and has misused money he swore to a jury he'd spend on her rehab. There are assistive communicative technologies that have never been tried--because he has refused to allow her to even TRY them. And I think everybody has a human right to clean teeth!

My mom is afraid that my support for Terri's parents means that I will ignore her own living will, which explicitly says she doesn't want food or water if she's in a similar state.

Well, I wouldn't let my mom go without pain meds or cleaned teeth. No way, no how, and I'd do everything in my power to let her communicate any change of mind.

This is very painful, and we are just not discussing it anymore.
13 posted on 10/25/2003 11:48:05 AM PDT by ChemistCat (Hang in there, Terri. Absorb. Take in. Live. Heal.)
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To: ambrose
I have yet to read anywhere what the prognosis might be of anyone who has already lived this long in a PVS.

The article defines in a cogent and clinical manner the exact definition of a PVS. But it still doesn't present a decent argument for ending or continuing a patient's existing state of living.
14 posted on 10/25/2003 11:48:19 AM PDT by TrebleRebel
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To: ambrose
Cranford only has one opinion in any case he sees. It is always 100% predictable. Therefore he is wrong on occasion, but it is rarely reported. This is from a link on my FR page.

"Dr. Ronald Cranford, the euthanasia advocate who hopes to help Pete Busalacchi take care of Christine when she is brought to Minnesota, had a similar case in 1979. Sgt. David Mack was shot in the line of duty as a policeman, and Cranford diagnosed him as "definitely...in a persistent vegetative state...never [to] regain cognitive, sapient functioning...never [to] be aware of his condition." Twenty months after the shooting Mack woke up, and eventually regained nearly all his mental ability. When asked by a reporter how he felt, he spelled out on his letterboard, "Speechless!"

15 posted on 10/25/2003 11:49:03 AM PDT by MarMema (KILLING ISN'T MEDICINE)
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To: TrebleRebel
However, most of the shrill "Save Terri" types here refuse to understand what her condition means, and think there's still a "there" there.
16 posted on 10/25/2003 11:50:26 AM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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To: Gringo1
But if she has no cognition as alleged, how can she suffer?
17 posted on 10/25/2003 11:50:42 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: onyx
Thos looks to be the moost comprehensive compilation of facts posted thus far.

Are we still allowed to post facts?

18 posted on 10/25/2003 11:50:53 AM PDT by ambrose
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To: ambrose
I don't think this story is going to have a happy ending for the hundreds of Freepers who been actively supporting Terri and her parents.

I suspect that the recent law sparing her will be ruled unconstitutional, but even if it isn't, she's not going to ever get better. Perhaps I'm wrong on both counts, but I think there is a lot of hoping going on that has led to some false expectations.

19 posted on 10/25/2003 11:51:35 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: TheAngryClam
Well maybe angry clams aren't there either.
20 posted on 10/25/2003 11:51:49 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: ambrose
So is Terri Schiavo still alive? The odds are way against it. It's time that her long-suffering parents and the grandstanding politicians let her go in peace.

OK, well, let's assume this writer is correct, and Terri really isn't "there."

In which case, "letting her go in peace" doesn't have a lot of meaning either.

In other words, no harm is done by continuing to feed her, except the continued expense of her upkeep. Schiavo was given the money for that. Granted, he's probably blown it all by now, but I'd be willing to bet the funds for Terri's upkeep could be found somewhere.

If she isn't there, then she doesn't give a damn whether her body is maintained or not, so there's no harm in maintaining it, whereas there could be great harm in failing to maintain it: the murder of a human being. In this case, it's... money on one side... versus... the (arguable) life of a human being on the other side.

Undoubtedly I don't know all about the case, but from what I at least think I know, it seems clear to me where Mr. Schiavo's priorities lie.

21 posted on 10/25/2003 11:52:05 AM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: TheAngryClam
I beg your pardon. I am quite sure that I am far more knowledgeable about these things than you.

Therefore, most of the "Kill Terri" types here refuse to understand what her condition means. That seems to include you.

22 posted on 10/25/2003 11:52:37 AM PDT by MarMema (KILLING ISN'T MEDICINE)
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To: ambrose
Writers who are so uninformed that they miss the other side of the story -- that Michael Schiavo may well be a money-hungry nut who may have had quite a lot to do with causing Terri's condition, and is desperately trying to "dispose of the evidence" -- are most definitely irrelevant.
23 posted on 10/25/2003 11:52:55 AM PDT by JennysCool
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To: ambrose
Good link!! But you left some parts out. I'm sure you didn't mean to:

Is there any treatment?

Once an individual is out of immediate danger, the medical care team focuses on preventing infections and maintaining a healthy physical state. This will often include preventing pneumonia and bedsores and providing balanced nutrition. Physical therapy may also be used to prevent contractures (permanent muscular contractions) and deformities of the bones, joints, and muscles that would limit recovery for those who emerge from coma.

24 posted on 10/25/2003 11:53:04 AM PDT by FITZ
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To: ambrose
Want to bet that when the Terri Troopers show up, someone notices that this is from Reason Magazine and turns this into a WOD thread?
25 posted on 10/25/2003 11:53:30 AM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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To: Gringo1
The medical fact is not confirmed in Terri's case. They wouldn't allow her to be diagnosed and treated. Terri’s family wanted other doctors to examine her but weren’t allowed. Terri’s condition was neglected for most of the thirteen years. Her medical files are closed to her parents. So the article's point is moot. See the earlier post on FR that states Doctor's agree that Terri may not in vegetive state.
26 posted on 10/25/2003 11:55:48 AM PDT by GodBlessUSA
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To: onyx
>> Thos looks to be the moost comprehensive compilation of facts posted thus far

Why moost thou thos? Are you a cow?

27 posted on 10/25/2003 11:56:05 AM PDT by T'wit
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To: Dog Gone
I suspect that the recent law sparing her will be ruled unconstitutional

Given the SCOFLAw's bravura performances, that's not a bad way to bet, but whether the SCOTUS backs that up is another story. The ghouls who want her death are predicting a quick injunction on Monday, which sounds farfetched since the results would be irreparable harm to Terri.

28 posted on 10/25/2003 11:56:07 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: ambrose
You missed this too. I'm just helping you:

"Some patients may regain a degree of awareness after persistent vegetative state."

29 posted on 10/25/2003 11:56:49 AM PDT by FITZ
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To: TheAngryClam
Quite possibly. As you know, anyone taking illegal drugs should be locked up for life - unless it was prescription drugs taken by a conservative talk show host. I am so proud of my fellow 'conservatives', aren't you?
30 posted on 10/25/2003 11:57:20 AM PDT by ambrose
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To: ambrose
her eyes do not really track visual stimuli

That's not what I saw on Fox News.

31 posted on 10/25/2003 11:57:53 AM PDT by The Old Hoosier (Right makes might.)
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To: Lokibob
Death by dehydration seems peaceful, nurses say
Last Updated: 2003-07-24 9:15:26 (Reuters Health)
By Gene Emery

BOSTON (Reuters) - Terminally ill people who opt to end their lives by forgoing food and drink appear to die at least as peacefully as those who end their lives with doctors' help, according to a survey of Oregon hospice nurses released on Wednesday.

The survey -- the first systematic look at what seems to happen when dying patients intentionally refuse food and fluids -- suggests that people facing death have a simple, serene and legal way to end their suffering.

Proposals to legalize physician-assisted suicide have sparked intense controversy in the United States. The practice is only legal statewide in Oregon, where patients wishing to die must get their doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates.

The Oregon nurses' survey, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, looked at an alternative to physician-assisted drug overdoses.

The Oregon Department of Human Services says such overdoses can cause complications like gagging, vomiting or bowel obstruction. Supporters of physician-assisted suicide disagree that the ingestion of drugs causes a painful death.

Study author Linda Ganzini said that until now, some doctors considered voluntary death by dehydration to be a gruesome way to die. But Ganzini, director of the Palliative Care training program at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said the study should change some minds.

"We are not at the point of saying this is a reasonable alternative for everyone," Ganzini told Reuters in an interview. "But it is a possibility for many more patients."

'LITTLE SUFFERING'

Ganzini noted that in hospice patients, the normal thirst and hunger mechanisms may not be intact. If a healthy person were to stop eating and drinking, he would likely suffer more than the terminally ill, she said.

The nurses in the study rated 102 deaths among patients who refused food and fluids, and 55 deaths where the doctor prescribed pills that killed the patient.

On a 10-point scale where zero reflected the most comfort, the nurses typically rated the peacefulness of the dehydration deaths as a two, compared with a five for physician-assisted suicides.

On suffering and pain scales, the nurses said patients who voluntarily stopped food and fluids seemed slightly more comfortable.

"According to the nurses' reports, most deaths from voluntary refusal of food and fluids were peaceful, with little suffering, although 8 percent of patients were thought to have had a relatively poor quality of death," the researchers said.

Study authors conceded that there were several limitations to their research, however. For one, the death reports from hospice nurses were based on memories and perceptions that may have happened up to four years previously.

Most of the patients -- 85 percent -- died within 15 days of giving up food and water.

32 posted on 10/25/2003 11:58:15 AM PDT by US admirer
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To: US admirer
If a healthy person were to stop eating and drinking, he would likely suffer more than the terminally ill, she said.
33 posted on 10/25/2003 12:00:06 PM PDT by MarMema (KILLING ISN'T MEDICINE)
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To: FITZ; ambrose
These "you missed this" posts make it appear as if ambrose unfairly edited the article, which he did not.

Knock them off.
34 posted on 10/25/2003 12:00:08 PM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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To: ambrose
Those really were pretty good links you posted:

Individuals with locked-in syndrome are conscious and can think and reason, but are unable to speak or move. The disorder leaves individuals completely mute and paralyzed. Communication may be possible with blinking eye movements

35 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:07 PM PDT by FITZ
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To: US admirer
Study authors conceded that there were several limitations to their research, however. For one, the death reports from hospice nurses were based on memories and perceptions that may have happened up to four years previously.
36 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:07 PM PDT by MarMema (KILLING ISN'T MEDICINE)
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To: Gringo1
You cannot face the "lets make her suffer for another 13 years" crowd with firm medical FACT,...

If she is suffering, doesn't that mean she is cognitive? If she isn't cognitive, how could she be sufferng?

37 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:07 PM PDT by Dan Cooper
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To: FITZ
Exactly.

I still don't know which way I would go.

Does her family keep her alive, only to lose her years later from multiple organ failure, amputation due to decubitus, difficulties in dehydration and nutrition, respiratory failure?...

The ONLY thing I am sure of is that I thank God I have not yet been faced with this decision for a loved one. God made that decision for us over the course of 9 months.
38 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:25 PM PDT by TrebleRebel
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To: US admirer
"We are not at the point of saying this is a reasonable alternative for everyone," Ganzini told Reuters in an interview.

Just give 'em a few more years and they will.

Sort of lends a new meaning to the expressions "take a powder" or "oh, dry up."

39 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:30 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: TheAngryClam
To pin a label on her condition, and say, "ha, it means this, that and that, so we should starve her to death," is to ignore the individual facts of the case. And the television footage on Fox News. This case really comes down to whether third parties can decide to terminate the lives of severely retarted people.

Moreover, is it ever right to starve someone to death under any circumstances? I can understand letting someone die when some truly extraordinary means could save them, but to make it a crime to feed or hydrate someone?
40 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:30 PM PDT by The Old Hoosier (Right makes might.)
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To: TheAngryClam
Then why didn't he post ALL the article or that parts that show Terri is not terminal?
41 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:32 PM PDT by FITZ
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To: HiTech RedNeck
The ghouls who want her death are predicting a quick injunction on Monday, which sounds farfetched since the results would be irreparable harm to Terri.

I don't see that happening at all. There is absolutely no reason to rush to an early decision in this matter, for exactly the reason you mention.

I read somewhere else this morning that the Florida AG will file his brief defending the law by next Friday, which sounds far more realistic.

42 posted on 10/25/2003 12:01:46 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: ChemistCat
It is wrong to have a right to die.

Any death that requires the assistancee of another person or the intentional neglect of that person is not a right but a sanctioned action that has but one purpose and that is to rid society of the burden of caring for the afflicted person either emotionally or physically.

There is no dignity involved, nor is there any compelling state interest.

The problem we face is that we have already bought a bill of goods.

Let's call it what it is: euthansia.

43 posted on 10/25/2003 12:04:02 PM PDT by Old Professer
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To: TheAngryClam
These "you missed this" posts make it appear as if ambrose unfairly edited the article, which he did not.

Anyhow you don't know what I was thinking. If I said Ambrose missed something from his link ---- that doesn't say I know he unfairly edited. I went to the links ---- to educate myself --- and found some other pertinent information.

44 posted on 10/25/2003 12:04:16 PM PDT by FITZ
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To: FITZ
He did post the whole article. Go to the source and you'll see. The source links to those other things- it doesn't contain it itself.
45 posted on 10/25/2003 12:04:24 PM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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To: Gringo1
Nothing un-Christian about calling a spade a spade.
46 posted on 10/25/2003 12:04:43 PM PDT by The Old Hoosier (Right makes might.)
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To: FITZ
The phrasing suggests it very much, and creates the unfair perception that that is what was going on.
47 posted on 10/25/2003 12:05:13 PM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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To: Dog Gone
Do you really think that the outrage of the majority of the posters to these threads is based on a false hope of recovery?

This is about defining humanity.

48 posted on 10/25/2003 12:06:54 PM PDT by Old Professer
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To: MarMema
Hey Marm, perhaps you could post some (any?) scientific/ medical evidence to support your position.
49 posted on 10/25/2003 12:07:12 PM PDT by US admirer
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To: The Old Hoosier
Right. At least we see nastiness is now a christian trait?

50 posted on 10/25/2003 12:07:32 PM PDT by Gringo1 (Some days you are the pidgeon....and other days the statue.)
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