Skip to comments.Schiavo case deserves less-reckless handling
Posted on 11/01/2003 11:04:56 AM PST by Future Useless Eater
Saturday, Nov 01, 2003
In this week's latest development in the Terri Schiavo case, attorneys for husband Michael Schiavo filed a brief challenging the constitutionality of "Terri's Law," the hurriedly enacted state measure empowering Gov. Jeb Bush to keep the severely brain-damaged woman alive. Now the case is perhaps the most visible, bitterly contentious and exhaustively protracted right-to-die drama since Karen Ann Quinlan's in 1978. It exemplifies the personal, medical, legal, political, ethical and religious components that make end-of-life decisions so complicated.
The problem is in the first instance a family disagreement, more emotional in nature than medical or legal. The issue is, in part, the claims of blood relatives in conflict with those of the spouse. The distrust between Michael and the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, is profound and produces different interpretations of Terri's condition. While the Schindlers believe it is realistic to continue rehab procedures, Michael thinks such efforts are futile and that it is against Terri's wishes to remain on life support in what appears to be a persistent vegetative state.
The Schindlers and Terri's brother and sister have made videos in which Terri appears to be smiling, moaning, responding to her mother's speech and even following a balloon with her eyes. They are "cautiously optimistic" concerning her recovery. Most neurologists, however, judge such facial expressions to be involuntary and not real evidence of thinking or experiencing on the part of the patient. Apparently most physicians think successful rehabilitation is unlikely.
State laws and courts tend to grant the spouse the authority to make life-and-death decisions. Michael Schiavo had such authority from Florida courts, authority now effectively removed by the Florida Legislature.
The bill is constitutionally questionable, but that has not been a problem for the majority of our legislators of late. Legislative restraint is not a predominant attribute of either the House or the Senate, although the Senate often comes closer to being a truly deliberative body. Terri's feeding tube was removed by court order. So the Legislature actually is trying to undo judicial action. Some Florida legislators believe the bill blatantly violates the separation of the executive and legal branches. So do a number of legal scholars.
Politically the bill apparently was initiated by the joint efforts of Bush and House Speaker Johnnie Byrd. Bush is on record as siding with the Schindlers. One spin is that Bush asked Byrd to take up the bill during the special session on economic development, another that the idea was really Byrd's from the beginning. Byrd certainly is willing to take credit for the action.
Please note, finally, that conservative Christians were influential in getting the bill passed. Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue and veteran antiabortion demonstrator, played a prominent role in behalf of the Schindlers. He officiated at prayer vigils outside Terri Schiavo's hospice and publicly demonized Michael Schiavo. He warned that if Bush did not halt the death, he could be compared to Pontius Pilate. One hopes that the politicians did not cynically vote for the bill, counting on the courts to reject it as unconstitutional, all as a way of currying favor with the religious right.
So here we are. Senate President Jim King, while passing out application forms for living wills, said, "I really do hope that we've done the right thing." Two observations:
* If the Legislature did the right thing, it was in spite of not having time to engage in thoughtful analysis and careful deliberation.
* Those who are absolutely certain they know all the answers in this case simply are not acquainted with the complexity of the issues.
Playing God ain't no bed of roses.
Leo Sandon is Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of religion and American studies at Florida State.
E-mail him at email@example.com
There is a great deal more info HERE: Professor Appointed to Probe Schiavo Case, regarding her 'Jeb Bush ordered' new Guardian Ad Litem appointment, and why Terri is not comatose, and not in 'permanant vegetative state', but is actually being murdered by her husband. - a MUST read!
Her doctor wrote:
Vocalizing when prone in P.T.[physical therapy, she] Occasionally will say "STOP" to nursing during procedures.
I'm not sure that "right-to-die" is the best way to charachterize this case.
Well, DUH!!!!! When the judiciary is completely out of control, somebody's got to do it!
Ain't it the truth? So maybe you be acquainting yourself with more of the facts instead spewing your ignorant opinion about the authority of the legislature or lack thereof?
"Playing God ain't no bed of roses."
Yeah, well, I guess you should know.
This contradicts the notion that Terri should be killed only in honor of her supposed wish.
The "right to die" is all about what the spouse wants now?
I hope you know that when you respond to quotes in an article posted by a Freeper, you are responding to the AUTHOR of the article, and not to the actual freeper (me).
I'm not offended. I knew what you meant, but others would not have understood.
(p.s. the author's email was in the article... you can tell him directly, but I think if you read the whole thing carefully, he's on 'our side'. He sounds like a recent convert, who just came around grudgingly to realize Terri is not a tomato)
Well, of COURSE I know that. I assumed that you knew I knew that. I know you're one of the good guys!
Sorry if you misunderstood.
The problem is this, IMHO....to stop "extraordinary" measures requires written instructions from the patient.
Absent this, there needs to be a consensus opinion that faciliating death is what the patient would want.
Both the written instructions and consensus are missing in Terri's case.
How would anyone want the State to choose death over life under these legal conditions?
For Christians, even supposed wishes, written or otherwise, might be considered a form of suicide. Playing with our own fate seems to me to be possilbly taking things from God's hands. Just a thought.
Exactly the point.
Even if Terri had a written "living will" stating she would rather die than live in a handicapped state, such wishes could not be respected by law.
The right to life is an unalienable right. Since unalienable means "incapable of being surrendered or transferred," a person cannot terminate his own right to live. So long as America stands on its foundation of unalienable, God-given rights, there can be no right to suicide. Sadly, abortion has numbed the American conscience against the absolute protection of rights and life.
One disturbing thing about the Terri Schiavo case is that it goes beyond even the "right to die," and uses the same language to order a handicapped woman to death. This shows the inevitable consequence of the right to die, when that "right" becomes a order.
No person can have that kind of power, not even over himself.
Florida Law does not require written instructions if there is "clear and compelling evidence". This allowance is not an unreasonable one for legislators to have made--after all, a videotape of someone expressing a desire to have someone discontinue feeding would not be "written" but could still be considered "clear and compelling". The problem is that Judge George Greer is willing to consider vague and contested hearsay as "clear and compelling" evidence.
Perhaps legislators need to add a few explicit provisions:
In the latter case, it seems unconstitutional to me. Thanks for pointing that out.
Florida law...and the rest of the 49 states... should.
How can anything less in questions of life or death be acceptable?
No it is not!
Sure they can, because it is their choice regarding medical treatment. It's a choice just the same as any decision made regarding other goods and services offered in the marketplace. It involves Free will and is a gift from God, just as life is. There is no one that has the right to interfere with those decisions.
"For Christians, even supposed wishes, written or otherwise, might be considered a form of suicide. Playing with our own fate seems to me to be possilbly taking things from God's hands."
It is not suicide, it is the refusal to partake of the goods and services someone else is pushing. It's an exercise in Free will. Free will is a gift from God, just as life is. He does not interfere with it either before , or after death in these matters. Just as God honors a persons decisions, based on the reasons given, so should everyone else.
Suicide is killing yourself on purpose, when you would not otherwise die, or have to rely on the constant care of technologically competent others and their machines to live.
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