Friday, February 18, 2005

Running Out of Options

I have been fascinated by the Terry Schiavo case ever since it hit the national media. For those of you who don't know, 15 years ago (when she was 26) she had some kind of condition where her heart stopped beating for a time and her left brain was basically wiped out. There has been an ongoing court battle ever since as she has been in this half-vegetated state of being somewhat able to recognize things. She can breathe on her own, but not eat or hydrate. The parents say she recognizes them and laughs - they want her kept alive. The husband says no, Terry would not have wanted to be kept alive. Now, it seems as it will be all over soon as the Schiavo family is runnig out of time and options. They will remove her feeding tube on Tuesday and she will slowly starve to death in front of her parents and other loved ones.

There is no way I can properly express in words how sick this is. If we are going to get into the business of letting partially conscious people die, at least make it quick. Convicted criminals don't even get this kind of treatment - they simply get an injection and die!

By the way, where are all the people that constantly demonstrate against the death penalty and "cruel and unusual punishment" every time a criminal is executed by the state? There is no difference between that government sanctioned execution and this one.

As usual, there is a bigger story here. Everyone needs a living will. Terry Schiavo didn't have one and her life (or death) was left in the hands of lawyers, judges, insurance companies and others - everyone except herself. I cannot imagine less worthy parties to control my destiny than these.

Having a living will in place with specific instructions detailing how you want to be treated if you are incapacitated saves everyone the anguish of making these decisions and is another way to keep the state from intruding on your affairs. And it would have let Terry Schiavo rest in peace many years ago.

If you don't have a living will, watch Terry starve to death - the solution the government has found to be the best in this situation. Imagine it is you - get a living will today. Leave one copy with your doctor, keep one copy at home and one in a safe deposit box. Don't forget a power of attorney so your loved one can take care of your financial matters if you are incapacitated.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dan. I don't know anything at all about this case-- I just want to say that I share your disdain of the federal government (and more-or-less of all government). The "nanny state" to me has always seemed to be a bad idea. (Like most people, I just want government to leave me alone.)
-King Wenclas

Dan from Madison said...

Well, I think government is OK, as the founders laid it all out. Not this behemoth that has arrived on our shores over the last 40 or so years. We need to be protected, not nannied, as you stated. Thanks for the good comment.

graphix said...

Excellent reminder about living wills. I'm sure at Terri's young age, she never thought she would need one.

This case sickens me. As a parent of daughters myself, I can't believe the anguish her parents will go through watching their grown baby starve to death. I cannot understand why Terri's husband will not relinquish custody to her parents. I refuse to believe he has Terri's best interest at heart. If her parents are willing to assume care, give them legal custody and be done with it. He would be allowed to remarry and get on with his life without ending hers. If, as some suggest, he needs her insurance money, open a nationwide donation from private citizens. This story has touched so many people, we would gladly donate the money and buy Terri back.

Anonymous said...

If it were a puppy, the entire nation would be up in arms about starving it to death.
This infuriates me!!!

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