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.
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.