March 26, 2005
Succuming to the masses: Terri Schiavo
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The Terri Schiavo debacle is yet another mind boggelingly silly media feeding frenzy that I feel compelled to comment on solely because everyone else is doing it, and everyone else is wrong. Honestly though, I don’t think this matters all that much, because to me, the alternatives are pretty similar. On one hand, Terri Schiavo dies, on the other, she remains in an irrecoverable state that’s as close to death as you can get. In neither case is she ever going to dance the tango again, let alone speak a single word in the english language. I’m not without my leanings, however. Terri Schiavo has been a vegetable for 15 years. The first few years of this, her husband tried several methods to recover her, including a particularly aggressive and experimental treatment that involved electrodes being implanted in her brain. The result? I quote: “According to physicians who have actually diagnosed her in person, she displays no awareness of her surroundings, is unable to swallow, and any consciousness or personality died in 1990.” (Ars Technica) So in 1998 he gave up, and decided, based on comments to this affect that she had made, to pull the proverbial plug. 7 years later this may finally be happening. I say about time.
Now to answer the dissention. A contributing factor to Terri’s current state was medical malpractice, the result of which was a $1.3 million settlement. $300,000 of this went to her husband, the rest to her medical bills. Her husband has subsequently turned down offers for book deals, as well as multi-million dollar offers to turn over guardianship to her parents. He’s not in it for the money. He claims that his position is based upon her wishes that she related to him while she lived, and I see no reason to doubt that. I can honestly say that were I in Terri’s position, I would not want to continue to live how she lives. Does she have a chance of recovery? Modern medical technology says no, and as far as I know, there’s no magic bullet on the horizon, but I could be wrong. This point seems to be the only arguable one in my eyes, but it begs the question of how far we are willing to go to preserve people who could be saved by advances in technology at a later date. If we’re willing to keep people like Terri alive indefinitely in hopes of a cure, should we also be listening to the proponents of cryonics and flash freezing and storing the heads of the recently deceased? It’s the same rationale after all.
Anyhow, there is a real tragedy here. I think Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die, and so far every court that has ruled to this affect has agreed with me. Yet they accomplish this by removing her feeding tube and letting her starve? I’m pretty sure we didn’t even starve the prisoners at Guantanamo, and we were blatently violating the Geneva Convention there. We certainly can’t get away with that sort of thing anywhere else. So why does she starve? Because euthenasia is still illegal in this country, and for no good reason that I can see. How could this not be a shining example of where a simple lethal injection would make a world of sense?
I’m not the firm believer in democracy that our government would like me to be, because I don’t think most people are well informed enough to be making decisions that affect people they’re not in direct contact with farther than 5 minutes into the future. Instead, it seems that the parts of our “democratic” system that the people have the most control of seem to gravitate to the lowest common denominator: i.e. Mr. Bush. Whoops! Did I just mention the president? That pretty much means I have to weigh in with his opinion on the subject, and subsequently show how he’s a blithering idiot. Let’s see… because federal judges refused to hear the Schiavo case citing lack of jurisdiction, Bush rushed back from *gasp* another vacation in Texas to sign some legislation into law because it’s important to have, and I love this phrase, a “culture of life.” And now for the hypocracy! In ‘99 Bush signed legislation in Texas that allows Hospitals to, for fiscal reasons, withdraw treatment of terminal patients regardless of the wishes of the family. This guy makes it way too easy sometimes. What I’m really getting at here, though, is that this is yet another area where the government really doesn’t belong. If I don’t want to be a vegetable, who are they to tell me otherwise? Dubya can have his culture of life, but if it interferes with how I live mine, I don’t dig it, plain and simple.
That was way too serious, so I’m going to end on the Uniblow auto-inflating suit!