Skip to comments.No winners in Schiavo case
Posted on 03/21/2005 8:16:09 AM PST by Destro
Doug Bandow: No winners in Schiavo case
March 22, 2005
THE US Congress held a very unusual weekend vote to save, at least temporarily, the life of Terri Schiavo, who otherwise would slowly starve to death at the Florida hospice in which she is confined.
Terri collapsed in 1990, leaving her profoundly cognitively disabled. Michael Schiavo, her husband, won a $US1.3million malpractice judgment that included money for her medical care, which he subsequently refused to fund. Along the way he moved in with a woman and had two children. Seven years ago he petitioned the court to remove Terri's feeding tube. He was finally freed to do so on Friday.
Now Congress has passed, and President George W. Bush has signed, legislation allowing the federal courts to review her case. Nothing about it is simple.
The right to die. Virtually no one disputes Terri's right to decide whether to live or die. The problem is, we don't know what she would decide. According to Michael, Terri said she wanted "no tubes". His brother and sister-in-law back his claim, but no one else in her family heard her talk that way. Michael conveniently didn't note her alleged sentiments when requesting money for her rehabilitative care. Further, a former girlfriend says that he admitted that he and Terri never talked about the issue.
Permanent vegetative state. Although Terri is disabled, she may not fit the classic definition of someone typically left to die. Florida law defines a vegetative state as "the absence of voluntary action or cognitive behaviour" and "an inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment". Yet video clips filmed by her family suggest that Terri responds to visitors and events.
Some experts have dismissed the significance of her actions, but neuropsychologist Alexander Gimon concluded that they "are completely inconsistent with a diagnosis of [a] vegetative state". Jay Wolfson, appointed by the court as a guardian at law, argued that she had a "distinct presence" and was responsive to her family. Neurologist William Hammesfahr is equally emphatic: Terri is "alert and responsive to her environment". Hammesfahr, who has aided people with chronic brain injuries, argues: "There are many approaches that would help Terri Schiavo."
Looking after the interests of Terri or Michael? "Michael Schiavo has not been a model husband," observes New York commentator Deroy Murdock. There are claims by Terri's family about his violent nature and questions about the circumstances of her collapse. There are his girlfriends and children with his present live-in. There is his failure to fund rehabilitative care that some doctors say could be effective and his reported comments on how he planned to spend the almost $US1.6 million legal judgment theoretically won for Terri. And there is his extraordinary question to nurse Carla Iyer: "Can't you do anything to accelerate her death?" Iyer, with no apparent stake in the case, says Michael also asked: "When is that bitch going to die?"
Federal-state conflicts. Traditionally, the Republican Party has advocated giving states maximum autonomy to decide issues within their borders. Towards that end, the Republican Congress restricted federal death penalty appeals from state courts. Yet the emergency legislation grants a federal district court in Florida jurisdiction over withholding food from Terri. The provision is limited, but it allows national jurists to trump the Florida courts.
Republican grandstanding. Without doubt, many Republican politicians believe that an injustice has been done to Terri and her family. Yet they are not above using the issue for political advantage. A memo distributed to Republican senators characterised the case as "a great political issue", especially useful in winning support from conservative Christians. It "is a tough issue for Democrats", exulted the memo writer. Ironically, while governor of Texas, Bush signed into law a bill allowing hospitals to end life support if the patient had no means to pay for further care, and further care was thought to be futile.
What will federal judges do? Lawsuits have ranged up and down Florida courts for years. The federal fight could be equally bitter. Terri's parents will seek to reinsert the feeding tube until the case is decided. Michael will push to void the law as unconstitutional. If the court sustains the law, it is likely to hold a hearing on her parents' claim that removing the feeding tube violates her rights. The losing party then will inevitably appeal, as in Florida.
The Schiavo case won't be decided any time soon. There seems to have been a serious miscarriage of justice at the state level. But that bad decision has resulted from the normal operation of the rule of law. Thus, as a matter of principle -- principle normally embraced by Republican legislators and presidents -- the national government should stay out of the case. Setting the precedent of intervening in the very personal legal case of one family is likely to end up doing more harm than good. But there is a simple way to end the legal wrangling. Transfer Terri to the care of her parents and let Michael get on with his life.
There's nothing simple about the case of Terri Schiavo. Whatever happens next, the interruption of her young, vibrant life will remain a tragedy.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington.
I would say that Terri's won, for now.
"Michael Schiavo, her husband, won a $US1.3million malpractice judgment that included money for her medical care, which he subsequently refused to fund."
"Michael conveniently didn't note her alleged sentiments when requesting money for her rehabilitative care."
Says it all.
We just had a great discussion on this in sociology class. My professor, who's got a strange mix of liberal and conservative opinions, presented basically all the facts of the case one could know in a neutral manner, even including the part where Terri tried to vocalize with her attorney just before they removed the feeding tube. She didn't say her own opinion, just stimulated debate and argued the facts with everyone, and cleared up misconceptions like when people thought she was brain dead or on life support (the feeding tube is for her damaged throat, doesn't count as life support). Overall, by the end of class, the majority opinion was what most of us at FR think about it. I noticed most people, even my own conservative parents, who only hear what the tv says about it side with Terri's sh*t bag husband. I wish the American media and other college professors would be as honest about this case as my professor was today.
The feeding tube is there because Michael made it so. It costs more to feed by mouth and it would weaken Michael's desire to starve Terri if she could swallow food without the tube. Consider that Michael said no to Terri receiving communion, something she could do, because why??
Her life is over and she wouldnt be living today if it wasnt for the wonders of modern medicine. 15 years in a nursing home. What has she cost the taxpayers.
If her husband had something to do with her situation, he will have to answer for it one day.
You are in error. Terri received communion/last rites through her tube.
That is because you know who made it so, and when they were saying she can swallow her own saliva and she can swallow communion Michael had everything halted, just in case some Priest got any ideas!
Doesn't really say it all - the author gave a range of pro and con - our individual biases then make us choose what we wantto believe is the truth.
"Consider that Michael said no to Terri receiving communion, something she could do, because why??"
Cause he's an evil little prick. Seriously, if this was my daughter, I don't think he would still be alive.
You mentioned something without proof - and just yesterday I read she was given last rites. So please back up your claims with links to your source.
What a great story. It only confirms what I believe and is true in general about Americans - they'll get it right when presented the facts. But if they're just relying on the biased headlines of the main stream media, they'll fall for their agenda.
Her life is over and she wouldnt be living today if it wasnt for the wonders of modern medicine. 15 years in a nursing home. What has she cost the taxpayers.
Words to explain the absolute blackness of your heart fail me...
Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' 40 And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
And if you're wrong? Who will you answer to?
Have you read the backround on this bill and why it was passed? Or do you just repeat the left's talking points...
The truth is the legislation he signed provided these patients MORE protection than they originally had in a Texas hospital. I doubt very much that President Bush agrees one IOTA with oilfieldtrash.
Full explanation conveniently left out by the culture of death crowd...
It has nothing to do with what one wants to believe is true.
After his wife was incapacitated, Mr. Schiavo sued for millions. This is not what I want to believe, or what you want to believe. It is a matter of the record.
After suing successfully, but not quite all that successfully, AFTER that, he "remembered" his wife's wishes not to be fed. This is also a matter of record, and indeed, is the crux of all his other assertions. It is not something I want to believe or anyone else wants to believe. It's just the facts.
Same here. This would have ended the first time MS stopped rehab and visitation.
The author of tha line is as right wing as you can get. Did it bother you to read Bush signed such a bill? Ironic.
That's what they said in Germany, too.
No winners? How very Hitlerjugend of you? I think Terri won yesterday. She gets to live for one more day.
It has been stated on these threads so many times now that Terri is not on life support, that posting stuff like this should result in an automatic zot for being a troll.
Again - the author gave a range of pro and con - our individual biases then make us choose what we wantto believe is the truth.
But the feds will put more effort than that into demanding reserved parking places for 'vegetables' whether they will ever use them or not. The ADA demands that we educate children that are PVS. I've seen this in a special ed school --- but now they want to mainstream these kids!!!!
When I said "you", I was referring to the author of the article, this clown from Australia.
The Left believes in the right to die, and the Right believes the the right to life.
Her parents are willing to care for her at home, at their own expense. And she really hasn't required any hi-tech life support. Just a feeding tube. She is remarkably physically sturdy, as evidenced by her survival of 6 days without food or water the last time her tube was removed. If she's really as far gone as the doctors who've supported her husband claim -- i.e. she is totally unaware, and thus incapable of suffering -- then I see no harm in letting her parents take her home and do their best to help her, and plenty of potential benefit (even if perhaps only for the parents).
A patient's inability to pay for medical care combined with a prognosis that renders further care futile are two reasons a hospital might suggest cutting off life support, the chief medical officer at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital said Monday.
Dr. David Pate's comments came as the family of Spiro Nikolouzos fights to keep St. Luke's from turning off the ventilator and artificial feedings keeping the 68-year-old grandfather alive.
St. Luke's notified Jannette Nikolouzos in a March 1 letter that it would withdraw life-sustaining care of her husband of 34 years in 10 days, which would be Friday. Mario Caba-llero, the attorney representing the family, said he is seeking a two-week extension, at minimum, to give the man more time to improve and to give his family more time to find an alternative facility.
He is an AMERICAN - CATO INSTITUTE - ring any bells? no?
I havebeen a freeper longer than you - so maybe the troll is you - because you seek to shut down discussion when you have no counter argument (though I don't know if we were arguing).
Why wasn't Michael Schiavo punished by the courts for refusing to pay for her care after he received the malpractice lawsuit settlement? The article states that Florida law allows a patient to be allowed to die if there is no means of payment. But there was money for her care, so why didn't the hospital take him to court for nonpayment?
It seems that there are a lot of unanswered questions in this story. If the husband was suspected for physical abuse and caused her initial brain damage, why did the court give him guardianship over her? Now Congress is stepping in to check out if her 14th Amendment rights were violated, and if due process of the law was followed. It seems that they followed the Florida guidelines, but the judge in her county made a really bad decision putting her husband in charge.
And why was the husband making decisions that a doctor should have been making? (Whether or not she should have a feeding tube) It just seems that along the way, everyone (including her family) made some really bad judgements.
People are always raggin' on CA, but I think the state of Florida is whacked! They can't seem to get anything right until it's too late.
I honestly don't know if the coming utililtarian society can be held at bay. God help this country.
In a few weeks I am going to Tbilisi. I may look around quite seriously when I am there.
Sometimes it is not just biases, sometimes through life's experience, some have just had more contact with disabled persons. Have seen life and joy in their eyes, pain and annoyance, and sometimes depression. Have learned that they can communicate very well using subtle cues and body language. Nothing that Mr Bandow has probably ever experienced.
I have taken care of alot of supposed PVS patients and not once did I think their spirit had left them, as was so self assuredly expressed by so many posters on these boards.
Also if saving the life of a disabled person was used for a political advantage or grandstanding by the Pubs, I think that says more about the other side.
"Again - the author gave a range of pro and con - our individual biases then make us choose what we wantto believe is the truth."
Again, I cited two facts beyond dispute. These facts exist independently of what we want to believe is true.
Or are you disputing that Mr. Schiavo sued for millions related to his wife's incapacitation?
Or are you disputing that Mr. Schiavo "remembered" his wife's wishes sometime after the award was made?
While I strongly disagree, you have framed the argument in its simplest form.
Common sense in this article.
They are going to go through his finances with a fine tooth comb.
I hope you're right, but I'm not optimistic.
My (cynical) view is that the Republican Congress and President Bush are doing just enough to pacify their social conservative base. They will lay down and play dead when the courts rule against them, and say, "We did all we could do."
If it were otherwise, the murdering greer would be in shackles right now.
A lot of people are afraid of dying. I guess I'm just more of a wuss, cause I'd rather not suffer physically, I'd just rather go on to something better.
Speaking of Tiblisi and utilities --- keep a window open when heating your room.
Hmm. post #45 is weird.
That is what it boils down to.
George Bush agrees with you - Ironically, while governor of Texas, Bush signed into law a bill allowing hospitals to end life support if the patient had no means to pay for further care, and further care was thought to be futile
Please site the law in question. I suspect you are just making this up.
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