Skip to comments.Too Vigorously Assisted Suicide [Congress and Terri Schiavo]
Posted on 03/21/2005 7:30:38 AM PST by conservativecorner
Congress and Terri Schiavo.
Opponents of assisted suicide have good reasons for persisting in efforts to save Terri Schiavo's life. But supporters of assisted suicide may have even better ones.
The opponents have always asserted that allowing assisted suicide at all, while bad in itself, would lead to further evils: that we would start by allowing people who want to die to kill themselves, but end up allowing the killing of people who do not want to die. If we were supporters of assisted suicide, we would want to disprove these predictions. We would want to make sure that safeguards are in place to prevent such abuse.
The facts of this case suggest that existing safeguards are dangerously inadequate. The evidence that Mrs. Schiavo would have wanted the removal of the tube that brings her food and water appears sketchy at best. Even if we granted that she said both that she did not want to be on life support and that she would not want to be in a coma, it would not establish that she would not even want food and water when she is not in a coma.
Terri Schiavo has had no MRI or PET scan. Only a CT scan has led some neurologists to conclude that her cerebral cortex has liquefied; other neurologists dispute the possibility of reliably making that inference from CT scans. Many of the initial determinations of fact under Judge Greer relied on the testimony of Dr. Ronald Cranford. He is certainly a medical expert; but he is also a right-to-die zealot who advocates the removal of feeding tubes for patients with Alzheimer's dementia.
The facts of this case suggest that existing safeguards are dangerously inadequate.
While several courts have been involved in litigation surrounding that case, the other courts have deferred to Judge Greer's questionable factual findings. The legal findings built on those factual findings do not inspire great confidence, either. It is hard to see how Mrs. Schiavo could be found to be in a "persistent vegetative state" when Florida law defines that term as including "the absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind." (Some of the doctors the judge consulted did not believe that she was in a persistent vegetative state.)
The dispute between Schiavo's husband, who wants her to die, and her parents and siblings, who want to keep her alive, has perhaps inevitably led to ugly allegations all around. Some of those who have fought to keep Schiavo alive, including some congressmen, have speculated rather too freely about Mr. Schiavo's perfidy. But it is not necessary to believe the worst about him to think that it is madness to accept his word about his wife's wishes. He has fathered two children with another woman, to whom he has gotten engaged. It is not necessary to judge that behavior harshly to think that his desire to move on, however understandable, compromises his ability to represent his wife fairly.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress concluded that the situation required their intervention. After some embarrassingly un-coordinated attempts to pass a bill, a House committee issued a subpoena that would have had the effect of keeping Schiavo's tube from being disconnected (and could, in theory, have led to a clarification of some of the factual disputes in the case). Whatever one thinks of the merits of that use of the subpoena power, it seems remarkably high-handed of Judge Greer to flout it. Congressional subpoenas have not heretofore been considered to be subject to the review of state courts a point which was lost on all the commentators who confidently opined that it was the congressmen who were threatening the separation of powers.
Next Congress, having come back into session on an emergency basis, passed a law authorizing a federal court to review whether Mrs. Schiavo's constitutional rights were being violated. Opponents of the bill were put in an impossible argumentative position. On the one hand, they had to believe that courts never simply make up the law as they go along: Judge Greer was, for their purposes, infallible. But then what was the harm of a review by a federal court? If a constitutional claim existed, they could hardly oppose its enforcement; and if one did not, the federal court would have to be trusted not to recognize one.
So opponents of the bill were left with various complaints of hypocrisy. The conservatives who wanted to save Mrs. Schiavo were said to be trampling on their traditional beliefs in federalism and the sanctity of marriage. The complaint about federalism would have more force if we had reason to think that the people of Florida, acting through their legislature, had prospectively blessed the decisions of Judge Greer. But Judge Greer has twisted the state's law; and the legislature has enacted a law designed to save Schiavo's life, which the states' courts set aside. The sanctity of marriage, meanwhile, has never been held to be so absolute that authorities could not take action to prevent someone from killing a spouse.
It is hard, again, to believe that most citizens who approve of assisted suicide meant to create laws that would allow it in a case of this type. We applaud Congress for having taken corrective action last night, and we hope this case brings attention to the cavalier manner in which the law too often allows the killing of the sick.
The Left's Agenda is hidden by lies. The whole "assisted suicide" thing is nothing less than a march toward euthanasia of the weak. As this article points out, proponents of assisted suicide should work to save Terri Schiavo. But they aren't. Because they support putting her down like a dog. She is a "useless eater".
Makes me gag.
I'm willing to go on record "judging that behavior harshly."
There are much deeper implications to a finding that Terri Shivo has standing on Civil Rights grounds.
The Left dare not say it, once the genie is out of the bottle they are done.
What do they fear, they fear that this ruling will possably stop abortion, because if Terri Shivo has standing all the unborn also have standing.
I can hear the wailing and nashing of teeth on the Left, sounds good too.
I wouldn't want to live like alot of people live every day but that's a far cry from saying that I want anyone to kill me if it happens!
Why ? I realize I'm opening myself to flames here but think about this: Michael Schiavo has no remedy under the law to get a divorce from hise wife since she is not capable of being responsible for herself under the law, or to turn her care over to anyone else. Parents can "abandon" their children to the state so the state is responsible for their care, but husbands/wives cannot do the same if the other is incapacitated, as in this case.
Wouldn't it be a better remedy if the state allowed him to divorce her, thus turning her care over to her parents or to the state iof the parents didn't step forward (which in this case we know they are eager to do) ?
I'm a proponent of assisted suicide, and I have always supported the effort to keep Terri's feeding tube from being removed, for exactly the reasons outlined in this article. A free citizen's right to die when s/he wants to, and right not to be killed against his/her will, are equally important.
If there was any convincing evidence that Terri would want to have her feeding tube removed, then it should be done forthwith. However, the much-delayed assertion (conveniently delayed until after a huge cash award had been won and paid) by a husband who would obviously benefit from having her dead, doesn't constitute convincing evidence in the mind of any rational person.
Furthermore, in this particular case, the only doctors who are asserting that the feeding tube removal is medically appropriate, are also asserting that Terri has no awareness whatsoever, and is incapable of feeling pain. I.e. she is not suffering. It would be downright evil to force someone to suffer for years, if they had indicated they would prefer to be euthanized in such a situation. But in this case, in addition to the lack of any such indication from Terri, not a single doctor has been willing to assert both that Terri has no hope of significant recovery, and that she is suffering.
If anti-euthanasia people weren't so hostile to people who disagree with them on that basic issue, there would be a much larger movement to protect Terri. As it is, the anti-euthanasia crowd has succeeded in alienating many thousands of potential supporters, by promoting the wrong impression that fighting the removal of Terri's feeding tube is equivalent to fighting against the right to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
If this were something that the legislature had authorized, then at least you could say that it was the result of the democratic process. Instead, a judge has ordered it by judicial fiat.
There's a moral issue, and there's a legal issue. From a moral standpoint, when he married her (in the Catholic faith) he made a vow to be faithful to her as long as she lived. He has not done so. That is what I judge harshly, based on my religious beliefs (which he claims to share.)
From a legal standpoint, I think there should be some kind of mechanism to deal with situations of this kind. "Common-law divorce" perhaps. "Termination of spousal responsibility." Something, so that a person's legal guardian wouldn't be someone who wants to kill them.
OK, if you bring in the Catholic issue I totally agree with you - I'm not saying they should have their marriage annulled by the Church, just the legal side dissolved. Net effect - Michael cannot remarry in the Catholic Church. We sure agree there.
From a moral standpoint, adultery is wrong, even if one's spouse is incapacitated.
From the legal perspective, it's more complicated, certainly. His legal marriage to Terri is not stopping Michael Schiavo from living with another woman and having children. And there have been plenty of "kill the wife to marry the mistress" (and "kill the husband to marry the boyfriend") situations, even without the disability issue. No matter how easy divorce is, some people are still going to kill the would-be ex-spouse, I guess.
The big difference in this case, is that the courts are facilitating, instead of prosecuting, the murder.
There is no such thing as assisted suicide. It is an oxymoron and a fig-leaf phrase designed to assuage the guilt of the killer, like "pro-choice".
If you want to call it consensual homicide, fine, but don't pretend that the real killer in the situation is in any way committing a "suicide". They are killing someone else, plain and simple.
Not necessarily. Many assisted suicides are conducted with a doctor setting up a lethal drug delivery system, that the patient has requested but is unable to arrange without the doctor's help, and then leaving the patient to actually self-administer the drug. However, in cases where the patient is so far gone as to be unable to operate a drug self-administration system, then if the patient has clearly requested it, there should be no obstacle to the doctor carrying out the patient's request.
Nope. Not if 1) the person asked you to do it, and 2) you told the person where it was, so they could avoid it if they chose to.