Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


To Live or Die

In America, to execute a criminal by lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, but to allow a brain damaged woman to starve to death is merciful.

Can somebody explain that so it makes any kind of sense?

Let's start simply, and then work our way to the more complex issues, shall we?

First, Terri Schiavo did not have a living will, or a health trust, or any form of legal documentation stating her wishes should she become incapacitated. Whatever caused her to collapse took her completely by surprise and totally unprepared. If nothing else, that should be a lesson to all of us to prepare a living will. I'll go public right here and now and state that, should I become incapacited, I name Cary Harwood Hailey as trustee for my healthcare. In the event she is unable to serve, I name Marian Hailey Phillips as first alternate, and George Edward Hailey Jr. as second alternate. If I am brain dead, or in a persistent vegetative state, I order all life supporting equipment to be removed, turned off, or disabled, and that I be allowed to die painlessly, with some small shred of dignity.

Terri's husband, Mike Schiavo has stated that Terri would not have wanted to be kept alive on life support, and that she told him so. Terri's parents say the opposite. With no documentation, we are left to balance the competing claims, an impossibly difficult task. That being the case, doesn't basic prudence and decency demand that we side with supporting a life rather than snuffing one out?

And let's be honest about this for a minute; removing Terri's feeding tube is not "allowing her to die." It's killing her. We are taking an action that we know with 100% certainty will result in her death. She dies through our action. That's killing, folks, plain and simple. If we are going to kill somebody, shouldn't we be certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that that's what they would have wanted? Can anybody in this case state with that degree of certainty that this is what Terri would want?

If not, we have to side with life.

So why is the other side pushing so hard to kill her?

For Judge George Greer and attorney George Felos, this isn't about Terri's wishes, or what's best for her; it's about creating euthanasia law. George Felos first came to prominance in the Browning case, where a Florida woman was being kept alive on life support despite having a living will. Before that case was settled, the woman died of natural causes, but shortly thereafter, the Florida Supeme Court ruled that witholding feeding from people with living wills was legal.

So Felos got what he wanted, right?

Nope, with the Schiavo case, he's moving another step forward. Now he's pressing for the right to withhold life giving care, even food and water, in the absence of a living will, based on the unsupported, unsubstantiated claim of a relative, even when that claim is disputed by other members of the immediate family.

Now if that thought doesn't scare the crap out of you, you haven't really thought about it. What if you believe that suicide is a mortal sin, and that requesting to be taken off life support is suicide? And suppose your closest family member does not believe as you do, and decides that your suffering should not be prolonged.

Should they have the power(note carefully I did not say the "right") to go against your wishes and have your life support turned off? Accoding to Felos, they should, and that's just wrong.

The next case, and this is a prediction, but I'll bet money on it, that Felos takes will be that of a person in a PVS without a close relative or advocate. Having won the power of life and death for a family member, he will next try to give that same power to a court appointed guardian who may not even be related to the patient. Is there anyone reading this who feels comfortable with the idea of a bureaucrat deciding whether you should live or die? Hell, I don't even trust them with my paycheck!

But you know, this picture gets even murkier when you get more details. Little things like the fact that Gearge Felos was a long time member of the board of directors at the very hospise the Terri's is housed in. That means that the doctors who have certified her medical condition for the courts work for, or used to work for, the man who is advocating her death. This also begs the question of why a Terri is being kept in a hospice, a facility designed to help terminal patients die with some peace and dignity? She's not terminal; she's severely disabled. The hospice clearly does not have the facilities to give her the treatment she needs. It's a place to die, not a place to recover.

Maybe I'm just overly suspicious; maybe she's still getting good care and treatment despite the limitations of the hospice envoronment.

Here are a few facts.

Terri has never has an MRI or PET scan, two standard diagnostic tools used to determine the amount and severity of brain damage. Why would such an obvious tool be withheld? Mike Schiavo has refused permission.

Terri's basic grooming and health needs are being neglected. Her body is being allowed to slowly decay away, almost as if somebody believes that the worse off she is, the easier it will be to convince a court to kill her.

Her husband has refused to allow any therapy, or any attempts to see if she can learn to eat without the feeding tubes. He has limited access to her parents, to outside doctors, basically to anyone who might possibly hinder his wish to end his wife's life.

Her husband has refused to spend funds awarded and earmarked for her treatment on treatment, instead paying Felos over $200,000 trying to withhold treatment.

Her husband has refused to divorce Terri, allowing her parents to assume the financial burdern for her care and treatment, as they have requested time and time again, even though he is now in a new relationship, with children.

And in all of this, he has the complete cooperation of Judge Greer who is on record as calling Terri's continued existence, "irritating."

God forbid I ever irritate a judge!

In short, the actions of Mike Schiavo, Judge Greer, and George Felos make it very clear that none of them care about what is best for Terri; only what is best for themsleves. George Felos wants to extend the right of the state to decide when people should die. Judge Greeer wants to make a name for himself by creating new law. And Mike Schiavo just wants Terri to die.

And caught in all of this is a woman who will now be allowed to die of hunger and thirst, painfully and slowly.

It's an abomination.
Posted by Rich
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