Sunday, March 20, 2005

My two cents' worth

Congress Intervenes In Schiavo Case
The gist of the story is that Congress got together and reached an agreement on a bill that would allow the tube to be reinserted to allow Terri Schiavo to get nourishment.
I think that reinserting her tube is the right decision in this case.
I'm not opposed to euthenasia. I believe that every person has the right to dominion over their own body. It is the right of every American to turn down medical care, and DNR is legal in this country. I don't agree with any legislation that would take away that right over any individual. I would even support Oregon's assisted suicide program on its face, under the same premise.
However, in Terri's case, we have an issue not of desire, but of "what did she say?" She can't tell us what she'd want in this situation, and she hasn't documented anywhere her desire should this come to pass. In the absense of this, I think a doctor's Hippocratic Oath takes over, and he is required to try to keep her alive and try to get her healthy. Her husband says she wouldn't want to be in that state, but her family says she would want to live. On the most simple level, since allowing her to die is decidedly more drastic than keeping her alive, it's best to refrain from ending her life, I think.
Perhaps, if we had more info, like, if she had the opportunity to turn down the feeding tube, and she did, then we'd have evidence that she didn't want to live in her state, but they don't even have that.
I think allowing her to die is a bad decision.


Sam said...

Very well put; I couldn't have said it better myself.

Steve said...

Quick argument for the other side of the table...

I just read the Florida Supreme Court's decision on Lexis. It appears their decision was based not on any morality, but rather a separation of powers issue. Legislation in Florida passed a law allowing the Governor to enact legislation to force the reinsertion of the tube. This runs contrary to the Florida Constitution, Article 3, section 2.
So, on that point, the case was correctly decided, it appears.
On the bigger issue, the district court required compelling proof that with further treatment she would improve.
The court records state that she is in a constant vegetative state:
"The evidence is overwhelming that Theresa is in a permanent or persistent vegetative state. It is important to understand that a persistent vegetative state is not simply a coma. She is not asleep. She has cycles of apparent wakefulness and apparent sleep without any cognition or awareness. As she breathes, she often makes moaning sounds. Theresa has severe contractures of her hands, elbows, knees, and feet.

Over the span of this last decade, Theresa's brain has deteriorated because of the lack of oxygen it suffered at the time of the heart [**7] attack. By mid 1996, the CAT scans of her brain showed a severely abnormal structure. At this point, much of her cerebral cortex is simply gone and has been replaced by cerebral spinal fluid. Medicine cannot cure this condition. Unless an act of God, a true miracle, were to recreate her brain, Theresa will always remain in an unconscious, reflexive state, totally dependent upon others to feed her and care for her most private needs. She could remain in this state for many years."

Given the accepted testimony that her husband, as her guardian said she didn't want to live via tube, and the rules of procedure in Florida, it also appears as though the case was correctly decided on this issue.

What the people who believe Theresa Schiavo's life should be preserved need is a good "activist" judge - one who would value human life over the written word of the Florida Constitution.

Steve said...

One other real quick note:
the law that governor Bush passed was, in effect, an ex-post facto law, which also is unconstitutional.