Skip to comments.Poll: No Role for Government in Schiavo Case
Posted on 03/21/2005 7:30:53 AM PST by Dog Gone
Mar. 21, 2005 - Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.
The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.
That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more -- 70 percent -- call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.
This ABC News poll also finds that the Schiavo case has prompted an enormous level of personal discussion: Half of Americans say that as a direct result of hearing about this case, they've spoken with friends or family members about what they'd want done if they were in a similar condition. Nearly eight in 10 would not want to be kept alive.
In addition to the majority, the intensity of public sentiment is also on the side of Schiavo's husband, who has fought successfully in the Florida courts to remove her feeding tube. And intensity runs especially strongly against congressional involvement.
Included among the 63 percent who support removing the feeding tube are 42 percent who "strongly" support it -- twice as many as strongly oppose it. And among the 70 percent who call congressional intervention inappropriate are 58 percent who hold that view strongly -- an especially high level of strong opinion.
Views on this issue are informed more by ideological and religious views than by political partisanship. Republicans overall look much like Democrats and independents in their opinions.
But two core Republican groups -- conservatives and evangelical Protestants -- are more divided: Fifty-four percent of conservatives support removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, compared with seven in 10 moderates and liberals. And evangelical Protestants divide about evenly -- 46 percent are in favor of removing the tube, 44 percent opposed. Among non-evangelical Protestants, 77 percent are in favor -- a huge division between evangelical and mainline Protestants.
Conservatives and evangelicals also are more likely to support federal intervention in the case, although it doesn't reach a majority in either group. Indeed, conservative Republicans oppose involving the federal courts, by 57 percent-41 percent.
Conservatives and evangelicals hold these views even though most people in both groups -- 73 percent and 68 percent, respectively -- say that if they personally were in this condition, they would not want to be kept alive.
Should Feeding Tube Be Removed?
Regardless of their preference on the Schiavo case, about two-thirds of conservatives and evangelicals alike call congressional intervention inappropriate. And majorities in both groups, as in others, are skeptical of the motivations of the political leaders seeking to extend Schiavo's life.
Should Federal Government Intervene?
Preference and Experience
Public views on this issue are informed in part by Americans' preferences for their own care if they were in a similar situation: Sixteen percent would want life support; as noted, 78 percent would not. While still a very large majority, that's down from 87 percent in an ABC News/Washington Poll last week.
Among people who favor removing Schiavo's life support, 94 percent say that's also what they would want for themselves. By contrast, people who oppose removing the feeding tube in Schiavo's case divide about evenly on what they'd want for themselves: Forty-five percent would want life support, 41 percent would not.
Some speak from experience: A third of Americans say they've had friends or family members who passed away in a hospital or other care facility after life support was removed; nearly two in 10 say they were personally involved in that decision. People who've been personally involved in such a decision are more apt than others to support removing Schiavo's feeding tube and to say they personally would not want life support.
Age and Attention
There are differences among age groups. Senior citizens are more apt than others to strongly support removing Schiavo's feeding tube, and also more apt to oppose federal intervention. And young adults are less likely to say that, as a result of the Schiavo case, they've discussed their own wishes with family or friends.
Just under six in 10 Americans are closely following the Schiavo case, including 16 percent who've been following it very closely -- a respectable albeit not overwhelming level of public attention. Young adults, age 18 to 29, are less than half as likely as their elders to be following the case closely -- just 27 percent are doing so. There's an irony in that result: Schiavo herself was stricken at age 26.
This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone March 20, 2005, among a random national sample of 501 adults. The results have a 4.5-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.
There is too much of an echo chamber here on FR and we tended to only hear one side. Long time conservative FReepers were shouted down if they dared to suggest anything other than Federal involvement. The American public does not support this midnight coup détat on the constitution.
The Congress has seriously overreached itself. Once more facts become known, and the wild hyperbole, conspiracy theories, and propaganda die down, there will be a LOT of embarassed lawmakers scrambling to recover.
The GOP is facing a huge fight within itself because of this.
In one breath the Dems say that the Republicans are only puching this for political gain...in the next breath they are saying that 2/3 of the American people are opposed to govt intervention - so which is it, Dems?
I think that many people who are religious and believe in the afterlife feel that it is better for the person to die and go on to a better place than suffer. If it were me I would rather be left to die, I wouldn't want to be alive just for the sake of being alive. If I couldn't have a productive, active life, what is the point? I wouldn't want to be a burden to my family. I'm sure I'll get blasted by several Freepers out there, that's OK. This is just my own personal opinion.
Well, Well, Well!!
Another left wing looney has all the answers. When will people like these see a little light and admit defeat. They lost the 2000 electon, the 2004 election and now the Terri Schiavo death wish on their part. Don't people like ths make you sick???
I am still waiting for some of these looneys to deprive themselves of food and water to demonstrate that they are "Right" and that Terri will not suffer.
And, where were these people when Clinton LIED to a federal Grand Jury
Forget it. It's NOT about Terry, never was. It IS about keeping someone alive no matter what. Period. God's Will. Of course, I am SURE that 90% of the people HERE would NOT want to be in Terry's shoes and if they were, would not like it one bit.
Nothing like dignity and quality of life, right?
Unless you are an INDEPENDENT doctor...not hired by either side of her family... and have PERSONALLY examined her, you don't KNOW THE FACTS either!
4.5 point error margins are slightly worse than coin tosses.
The poll also does not ask the right questions in regards to the situation. And, if the poll is so accurate, why are the democrats basically not putting up a fight? Why are the democrats in the senate just allowing this vote? The answer is because they know its a losing issue.
I feel the same way as you.
It's a flash-in-the-pan, early in the administration.
Yeah, they will. It was coming sooner or late over some sort of cultural issue.
The culture war has been a loser for the GOP.
Exactly. 501 people polled?? Doesn't mean shiite to me.
If they had listened to the polls back in 1776, Queen Elizabeth would be our head of state today.
1. How closely have you been following the case of Terri Schiavo, the woman at the center of a life-support controversy in Florida? Have you been following this issue very closely, somewhat closely, not so closely or not closely at all?
2. Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her husband and her parents disagree about whether she would have wanted to be kept alive. Florida courts have sided with the husband and her feeding tube was removed on Friday. What's your opinion on this case - do you support or oppose the decision to remove Schiavo's feeding tube? Do you support/oppose it strongly or somewhat?
3. If you were in this condition, would you want to be kept alive, or not?
4. Florida state courts have heard the Schiavo case. Federal courts have said they don't have jurisdiction because it involves Florida law only. Would you support or oppose a new federal law requiring the federal courts to review the Schiavo case? This probably would mean reinserting the feeding tube until the case goes through the federal courts. 5. Regardless of your preferences in the Schiavo case, do you think it is appropriate or inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
6. Do you think the political leaders who are trying to keep Schiavo alive are more concerned about (her and the principles involved), or more concerned about (using her case for political advantage)?
7. As a direct result of your hearing about the Schiavo case, have you yourself had any discussions with friends or family members about what you would want done if you were in this condition, or not?
8. Have you had any friends or family members who passed away in a hospital or other care facility after life support was discontinued, or not? IF YES: Were you personally involved in that decision, or not?
Actually, knowing the facts doesn't automatically mean one will support keeping Terri's body alive. Ask yourself, why is it every single independent medical or court-appointed observer of Terri concluded she can NEVER revive? Why is it every single court case has been won by her husband instead of her parents?
Here's something I wrote (and please to all who disagree - please act like decent Christians and abstain from mindless hostility. If you disagree, just say so and if possible, explain why. Resorting to ad hominem attacks is disgraceful):
LET TERRI DIE AND RETURN TO GOD
A huge outcry has been raised concerning the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. Why the emotion over a common medical practice of stopping artificial treatment when there is no hope of recovery?
Terri has been kept artificially alive for more than fifteen years despite being in a persistent vegetative state. What exactly does this mean?
"People in [this] state cannot think, speak or respond to commands and are not aware of their surroundings. They may have noncognitive functions and breathing and circulation may remain relatively intact." (National Institute of Health)
Terri is kept alive by having a feeding tube inserted into her stomach. She has no chance of recovery. If it wasnt for modern medicine, she would've died within several days of her heart failure.
What exactly is the difference of her and those who are kept alive by ventilators but are also impossible to restore?
When my wife was dying from cervical cancer several years ago, I signed a "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" form. I didn't want to see the woman I loved, the mother of my three young sons, my mate of ten years and eternal companion, suffer more than she had. Seeing her go through three years of pain was more than I could bear.
When she slipped into a coma, we knew the end was near. When she stopped breathing, I was holding her hand, whispering "Go towards the light." And "I will love you forever."
Her sisters were frantic and wanted her to be resuscitated and kept alive for as long as possible on the machines. I put my foot down and said no and informed them I signed a "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" form. As a result, my wife was finally at rest and no longer suffering.
To this day my in-laws still harbor anger towards me and still haven't stopped grieving for my late wife.
Terri's family wants to believe she will recover. They are portraying her husband as being evil for wanting to put an end to the horrible spectacle of artificially keeping this poor woman alive in a permanent vegetative state.
When people are in a situation where it is impossible for them to recover, it is an obscenity to perpetuate life when the only decent thing is to let our loved one go. It is unfortunate cryonics is still considered an outlandish procedure. Those cases that hold hope of a future medical cure should just be cryogenically preserved. I know I would prefer to be cryogenically frozen if I was placed in a similar situation. Nanomedicine a century or two from now shouldnt have any problem repairing cellular damage from the freezing process and revive those frozen, regardless of their illness.
We humans are designed to eventually DIE. Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. How long must this poor woman be kept artificially alive before she is allowed to move on to the next life? Isnt fifteen years enough?
Her doctors arent evil. Neither is her husband. He loves her and wants her to finally be at peace. Living as a vegetable is no way for humans to live.
It is helpful to examine the different situations where artificial treatment is given in cases of medical incapacity:
Cessation of brain and heart and/or other organ activity
Cessation of brain activity
Cessation of cognitive brain activity
Cessation of heart or other organ activity
Cessation of brain and heart
Must one continually perform CPR upon a person who has drowned? How long must it be performed before one discontinues artificial treatment and face facts the patient will never recover? What if the victim's parents insist CPR be continued non-stop for days on end? One has to face facts artificial treatment may only work within a very small window of opportunity in cases of brain-death and heart stoppage.
Cessation of brain activity
What about in cases of brain-death and the person is only kept alive by machines? If the patients brain has ceased to function and the patient is incapable of breathing on his own; the persons chances of recovery are nonexistent.
Cessation of cognitive brain activity
People in permanent comas lose their cognitive ability. They are incapable of thinking, waking up or communicating. Most doctors agree if these patients havent recovered after a year; they will never recover. However, everyone has heard stories about people waking up from comas after 10 years, giving the faint hope that our loved one will also recover some day. However for every one that does recover, thousands dont and most die a slow death.
Cessation of heart or other organ activity
Modern medicine has machines that can keep a person alive for quite some time if they lose the use of a certain organ, such as kidneys or heart. It isnt a permanent solution though and the person will need their defective organ repaired or replaced.
Terri Schiavo suffered permanent brain damage from heart failure. This damage was so severe that she is incapable of cognitive thought. Her brain still works to a limited extent - the involuntary systems such as her respiratory and circulatory systems are still functioning. But Terri, the person, the personality, is not longer there. Its as if the portions of her brain that stored her person, her memories, her thoughts and her personality were removed. Its as if her spirit is no longer in her body. The only thing her brain does is keep her physical body alive it has become nothing more than a hospital respirator or heart-lung machine.
I know its heartbreaking for most to see her. She sleeps and awakes, her eyes open and she moves from side to side. But according to all the independent and court-appointed observers, some of whom spent several months by her side, her eyes dont focus. Theres never been any hint she recognizes anyone or anything. She doesnt respond to speech or touch. All the remains is involuntary and noncognitive. Those most familiar with her specific case such as medical doctors and courts have all agreed with this assessment. This is why her husband has won every single case against her parents. It isnt a conspiracy; the facts are obvious when examined honestly.
Fifteen years is long enough. I know what her husband is going through. He wants his wife to rest and stop being the vegetable laying in bed. He was a faithful husband for many years and placed great demands on his time and those caring for Terri for at least eight years before recognizing the hopelessness and decided to end the horror. I dont think I couldve lasted that long with the constant pain of seeing my wife in such a condition. At least he had the sense to move on, find another and raise a family while her parents still cling to a miracle of recovery.
We need to face facts. Sometimes Gods answer is no regardless of how fervently we want otherwise. Let us all let her go so she may enjoy her rest with the Lord.
Is it amazing how little understanding Americans have about the Constitution? I mean, Congress doesn't overstep its bounds when they authorize a prescription medicaid benefit?
I wanted Terri Schiavo to live but I didn't want to trample all over the Constitution either. We clearly avoided several Constitutional hurdles in this case as Congress is vested with unlimited authority to determine the jurisdiction of the federal court system.
Shame on the Florida legislature. They should have implemented legislation requiring a complete physical examination, including MRI, before any life or death decisions by the family could be made.