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QotD: Schiavo

Question: What's your position on the Schiavo situation?

My Answer: I've not been following the situation at all. Normally I'm ok with assisted suicides, but those are in instances in which the person is mentally sound and capable of making the decision themselves. That ain't the case here. But that's about all I do know.

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

11 Responses to "QotD: Schiavo"

  1. The husband says that she told him that she had said hat she would not want to be kept alive in this sort of situation. Without any evidence to the contrary, I don't see why he should be doubted.

    Assuming that this was her position, then I think he made the right choice.

    As for her parents .. well, don't you think being rejected 5 times by the Supreme Court is enough?

  2. I find it hard to find a 'bad guy' in this scenario because both sides have lost so much already. That being said, I do side with Mr. Schiavo that Terri be allowed to die. Why? Because personally, I wouldn't want to be kept alive in such a manner. I've written a living will that says so.

    Five years ago, my family was placed in such a position when my grandmother passed away. Inexplicably, her brain stopped working producing no brain waves and she lay in bed only with some movement from time to time. My family decided that my grandmother should go away peacefully rather than hooked up to equipment.

  3. A $1,000,000 insurance policy on Mrs. Schiavo would make Mr. Schiavo's decision a little easier, eh? If Mr. Schiavo truly was concerned about his wife's condition, why did he wait 15 years to decide it was time to pull the plug? I don't buy it.

    I personally am totally against this. We have opened the door to euthanization. It scares me to think of what will eventually come of this. Scott Peterson will sit in jail for years to come while Mrs. Schiavo slowly starves to death over the next two weeks. And they call that natural death and "humane?"

  4. While I feel sorry for what happened to Terry and what her family is going through right now, it might be best to let her go. Her Bulimic lifestyle most likely screwed up her heart and caused the mess she is in. I'm getting bored of seeing this on the TV and Internet and wish the Government would stay out of peoples personal lives.

  5. I forget to post the link about her eating disorder.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-02-25-schiavo-eating-disorder_x.htm

  6. "I… wish the Government would stay out of peoples personal lives."

    That doesn't apply in this case. This isn't a "personal" decision. It's a decision by her husband about her ability to continuing breathing*. If a husband were to decide to stop his non-brain dead wife from eating until she died, we'd call that "murder" not a "personal decision"-- and rightly so. However, this case is more complicated than that (see below).

    Another fallacy of this case is that she's being "kept alive by machines." No, she's not terminal. She's being kept alive by food (fed through a tube), not "machines." If we keep feeding her, she'll stay in her condition for years and years. It's not like a dying grandmother, who will either die in a short period of time without machines or a marginally longer and more expensive period of time with machines. It's just her high brain functions that have been (presumably) wiped. Nothing else.

    * I say "breathing" not "living," because that's the real heart of this question: is she still living or is she dead already? If she is alive, then it's terrible for us to say that we can decide to not allow her to be fed by her parents. On the other hand, if you consider her to be dead already, since her mind is probably gone (though this is also in debate), then there's nothing wrong with not feeding a dead person.

    So that's the real question, is she living-dead or is she living? Is brain death 100% equivalent to death?

  7. Aaron: I belive that Mr. has been trying to end this for SEVEN years. Her parents have her tied up in court for that long. If nothing else, her slow decline in these last few days should make people aware of the need for euthanasia. Why put her body though this?

    Note that the definition of euthanasia can vary from active and passive action to only active actions.

  8. Carl: this is a tricky ethical issue, and depending on you speak to, food can be considered treatment, as getting it through a tube (which is attached to a mechanical pump) is not exactly the usual way of eating. This is not the first time something like this has happened, and it happens daily in the hospital throughout the US (I know, because I am a neurologist and have had to be in these situations). The difference here is the lengths to which the cast are willing to go to get their way. Most times, families can come to a consensus on these issues. If the Schindlers had been with Mr. Schiavo, none of this would ever have come to the public's attention. Nevertheless, the courts have consistently decided for Mr. Schiavo

    Likewise, this case does not mean that it is open season on people with feeding tubes (I have patients with degenerative diseases who want them, and those that are opposed). What makes this case different is PVS. Some people can come out of PVS, but never this long duration (not a case yet; all those other people who awoke after years of unconsciousness were in comas, a completely different condition where the cortex maybe preserved). But you do ask a great question. Because of medical techonology, where we draw the line on death isn't as clear cut as we'd like.

  9. What bothers me about this whole deal is Congress was willing to pass a law for one person. ONE PERSON. What happened to the "conservatives" desiring a smaller, less intrusive government. I'd like to see Congress get to work on some legislation to overhaul the mess of a health care system we have instead. Something that would benefit a lot of people.

  10. My view, emotionally: If I were in that situation; trapped in my own body, unable to communicate or affect any change in the world around me, I'd want to die. To be forced to live like that is nothing short of torture.

    My view, rationally: The husband has power of attorney; he has the legal right to make the decision. Period.

    The biggest two problems that I have with this case:

    Why her? Why now? I can assure you that if she were a poor, black, inner-city girl, there'd be no "national outrage"; there'd be no TV coverage, there'd be no special appeals to the Supreme Courts; she'd have flat-lined a decade ago.Whatever happened to the Republicans being for smaller, less intrusive government?

  11. There are some things about this case that I cannot understand: the first thing I don't get is the fact that it seems to be enough for the court that her husband says that she said she wouldn't want to be kept alive artificially. In other countries, you have to state this on some piece of paper and sign it in order to allow them to pull the plug in such a case. I mean, you have to do this to donate your organs, why isn't this a prerequisite for such a serious decision?

    Another thing that I don't quite understand in this situation is: in a country where the death penalty is actively pursued, it is possible for murderers to die in a more humane fashion (lethal injection) than Terri Schiavo who has to starve to death. How is that possible? This would be totally different if she couldn't breathe on her own, because in this case, she would die within minutes. I cannot understand how there is anything humane about letting a person suffer for such a long time. This entire situation looks like a total nightmare to me.


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