Thursday, March 24, 2005


Injust Justice and Our Response

We have a right to refuse medical treatment.

Greer's court certified that Terri, based on evidence only from her husband and his relatives, would have chosen to refuse medical treatment if she knew she would be severely brain damaged.

The stink comes because:

1)There are feelings that Michael and his family created this evidence, by swearing false affidavits and are in effect, perjurers.
2) That Michael, because of his actions,(especially with living with another woman, and fathering children by her) had conflicts of interest and should not have been guardian.
3) That shortly after winning the settlement, he stopped rehab treatment.
4) There is some feeling (and possibly evidence) that they chose doctors who would almost certainly guarantee a diagnosis of PVS.

The legal reality is, (as far as I can tell):

The judge followed the letter, if not the spirit of the law.

The state allows a judge to determine, based on testimony, a person's intentions for refusing medical treatment in cases like this.

Terri's wishes to refuse medical treatment trump all other charges: abuse, etc. which perhaps could be brought up separate and apart from her wish to die, but wouldn't have any impact on it, because she is severely brain damaged and the court has ruled that it was her wish to die in the case she was severely brain damaged.

Moral issues:

Many people, including me, believe that, without hard evidence, like written documentation, there should be a presumption for life.

Many, including me, believe that it is immoral to actively cause death in a right to die case. For us, withholding food and water is not equivalent to turning off a ventilator on a dying person, because everybody has a right to be fed and given drink.

There is also a feeling that MS was allowed to railroad this through because the judge was biased in his favor (selection of evidence acceptable, choice of doctors, etc.)

My personal conclusions, as a right to life advocate:

It is important to work for safeguards so that the handicapped are not considered "useless eaters" and ways found to get rid of them by legal fictions.

That on the other hand, it is important to recognize the right of all persons to refuse medical treatment once they are of age.

The answer to this is no doubt lies in several fronts: education on what is involved (as in filling out end of life directives that accurately reflect their wishes), moral persuasion to convince people of like mind that certain things are proper, in legislation that protects the rights both of life and of a person to choose.

Since I feel strongly that starving a healthy body to death is immoral, and would urge legislation that in absense of written statements to the contrary, a presumption of life should be made. Laws that can protect a person from conflicts of interest in guardianship cases (such as not allowing spouses who are involved in secondary relationships to have sole guardianship over a handicapped spouse) are good ideas.

Like many believers, I feel that it is part of my obligation not just to allow the state to take care of the poor and needy, but to personally consider and work for social issues. In a way, I do think it is a type of test, how we react when we see injustice (whether it's within the letter of the law or not), and we should point our finger at abuse.

I do think we see abuse in this situation, and I am not above pointing it out. Christianity has traditionally believed that it is how we as individuals treat the poor, vunerable and needy that matters most, and that in turning our backs we commit sins of ommision.

I cannot personally condone what has been done to Terri Schiavo, but it has been done legally. If her last legal avenue closes, and she dies, that will not take away the scar it has made on the country, nor end the fight against misuse of legal means against the vunerable.

This is the American way, for people of good will to stand up and be counted when there are issues needing our attention. And although some people wish we wouldn't, we will always be the gadfly in the ointment when what we see as darkness threatens.

Almost every doctor whom I heard talking about Schiavo said she is in a nearly total vegetable state. They said there is no hope she will improve and no treatment has proven successful in reversing her condition. That means she will remain in an unwholesome and undesirable existence for as long as she is forced to remain on life support. I understand there are some questionable issues regarding her husband and his claim that she didn't want to be kept alive artificially. That is only a legal issue. Look at it from Terri's point of view.

Schiavo's life is a miserable one. She is not happy and it looks like she never will be. She lives a miserable half-life, always present but not really in a substantial way. There doesn't appear to be any up-and-coming technology that can reverse her condition and all past treatments have failed to make her life in any way decent or enjoyable. It is immoral to not allow her a peaceful demise, not by starvation, but through some drug injection or other quick and painless means. No one of sane mind would want to continue living such a terrible life day after day for years and years. Imagine living as she does and see if it sounds appealing.
As a registered nurse for over 20 years I am going to make sure my wishes are clearly and legally stated just in case such an unfortunate and tragic fate awaits me. I would choose to have no life support under these circumstances as I have seen first hand what kind of a life this type of existence entails. It is truly a shame for all parties concrned that Terri's true wishes are not known...
As a side note, just food for thought -
I often wonder how many people claiming to want to "err on the side of life in cases of doubt" (like Mr. G. Bush) actively support the death penalty? Or the "war on terror" - where it is known that innocent men, women and children will and have met their death as "collateral damage" - Is it just me, or is there some inherent conflict in that sort of stance?
There's no Terry in there any more. I perfectly understand her parent's wishes, but their legal options are now pretty much gone.

I'm going to post another post about this subject on my blog, The Crutnacker Suite, ( but the bottom line is that I have real trouble understanding how a living will would make her death okay to the people wanting her to live now.
There's no Terry in there any more. I perfectly understand her parent's wishes, but their legal options are now pretty much gone.

I'm going to post another post about this subject on my blog, The Crutnacker Suite, ( but the bottom line is that I have real trouble understanding how a living will would make her death okay to the people wanting her to live now.
Visions or Michael Burns dot Info
-I like your site
Don't you think keeping her alive is the real abuse here?

I know I wouldn't want to be kept alive in the state Terri is in right now!

Hasn't Michael been absolved of any wrong doing in this case and hasn't that happened more than once through the courts? I could be wrong, but I don't think Michael started living with the "other woman" right after Terri went in the hospital. I guess he should just remain a monk for 15 years?

Didn't MS use just about all the money from that settlement that you talk about on care for his wife?

My personal feelings on this case is that it's really nobody's business but the Schiavos and the Schindlers and the rest of us ought to stay the hell out of it! It's none of mine or your business, IMHO.

Good post though!
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