Saturday, February 26, 2005
The Role of the Professor
Source: Rabbi Hillel Goldberg via Rocky Mountain News
The role of the professor is to teach - to enable students through careful tutelage in critical reading and careful research to reach their own conclusions. The role of the professor is not to spout off, and the definition of a good university is not a place where the spouting is equally balanced between left and right.
Wherein, then, lies quality and diversity in the social sciences and humanities? Not in the university as a whole. Not in a faculty equally liberal and conservative. But in the integrity of every single classroom. Professors in a genuine bastion of the social sciences and humanities expose their students to a variety of interpretations of history, politics and literature, without favoring any particular position.
The professor with integrity in, for example, political science can teach an entire course without his students being able to guess at his political predilections (at least based on his classroom performance).
The professor with integrity can debate, at least to a draw, any religious, political, or cultural position diametrically opposed to his own.
Such a professor will grade his students not on any position they take, but on thoroughness of research and felicity of expression. This professor will, with no twinge of conscience, award an A to a student he disagrees with, provided only that the student's knowledge rises to excellence. Real professors rejoice in their students' advancement, regardless of the direction of their reasoning.
....It is not a professor's free speech, but the student's rigorous, unbiased training, that is the university's purpose. If a professor must fall back on free speech or academic freedom to defend himself, it's usually because he violated his mission: focus on the student.
Abstracting out the human factor
The judge has ruled that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed in three weeks, stating "The court is no longer comfortable granting stays simply upon the filings of new motions..."
How could a court make such a callous statement, as if it wasn't a human life at stake, but rather a house deal gone bad, or a contested will? The problem isn't the judge, though his statements seemed to be grotesquely insensitive. The problem is the fact that courts determine legal issues and nothing more. The same courts, the same judges and the same legal procedures that were developed to determine the validity of a will, or a house sale, are now determining the existence of someone's life.
The process has abstracted Terri out of the equation. It doesn't matter if she feels pain, it doesn't matter if she has people who love her. It doesn't matter if she's been left badly cared for by her husband's orders as he can legally get away with.
Blogs for Terri wants to get this information out:
- Terri Schiavo is not a “vegetable” and is not “brain dead”. She recognizes and responds to others and makes attempts to verbally communicate.
- Terri is not on life support but does receive food and water through a removable tube, which experts testify would not even be necessary if she were given therapy. This assisted feeding is a natural means of preserving life and not a medical act of life support or heroic measures.
- Twelve medical experts and nurses who cared for her confirmed these facts*. Video available through BlogsforTerri.com shows Terri responding and interacting with others. Health care workers have testified under oath that she expresses herself using words, such as “mommy” and “help me”.
- Terri is a person with disabilities who thinks and expresses her moods and desires. She is loved by her family and responds to their visits with smiles and laughter.
- Terri Schiavo may be the victim of ongoing negligence and injustice. She has been denied therapy and rehabilitation by her guardian since 1991*. Florida’s guardianship laws REQUIRE that these necessary services be given to her.
- In 1992, Terri’s husband Michael won $1.7 million in negligence lawsuit under the pretext of funding her rehabilitation and care. He testified, “I believe in the vows that I took with my wife. Through sickness, in health, for richer or poorer. I married my wife because I love her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I'm going to do that.” *Since that time, Terri has received no rehabilitation, all beneficial forms of stimulation (e.g. music) have been prohibited and basic health care, such as treatment for a life threatening urinary tract infection, has been purposefully withheld at Michael’s direction*.
- Even though Terri’s husband has started a family of his own with another woman and their two children, he refuses to end his marriage to Terri or relinquish her care to her immediate family.
- Terri’s “collapse” has become controversial after a previously hidden bone scan surfaced in 2002 which revealed multiple fractures consistent with a traumatic event. *To date, no investigation has been conducted to determine the source of Terri’s injuries*, but a radiologist gave a sworn statement that the date of those injuries would fall sometime near the time of her mysterious collapse.
- Remarkably, The Florida Courts have sided with Michael, accepting the testimony of two “expert witnesses”, one of whom is a known advocate of “mercy killing”, over that of twelve independent medical professionals (6 of them neurologists). *Judge Greer admitted to not even reviewing their sworn statements*.
- Without intervention by the Florida Governor and Legislature, Judge George Greer is set to give Michael the legal empowerment to withhold food and water from his wife *for the purpose of starving her to death*.
- Terri Schiavo deserves to have medical tests and therapy. She does not deserve to be starved and dehydrated to death.
- Advancements in the understanding of brain activity and misdiagnosis and the recent recovery of a patient after 20 years in a persistent vegetative state, further calls into question any decision that would end the life of Terri Schiavo.
- Contact Florida’s Governor, Jeb Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org, and demand that he invoke Florida Statute 415.1051 to provide protective custody until investigations into abuse and neglect can be carried out.
- Contact Florida Senate at www.myflorida.com and ask them to institute an immediate moratorium on withholding assisted nutrition and hydration until Florida can adopt a new standard of testing protocols for brain-injured patients.
- Contact Florida’s House of Representatives at www.myfloridahouse.com and ask them to pass legislation that would forbid the removal of food and water without the informed consent of the patient.
- Visit www.terrisfight.org and see for yourself the woman who has been called a house plant by her husband’s attorney and why
- Get a Protective Medical Decisions Directive from the International Anti-Euthanasia task force at www.internationaltaskforce.com and make your medical treatment desires known to your family and friends. You don’t have to be starved or dehydrated to death simply because your life is effected by disability.
Even if they succeed in killing Terri, remember that death by dehydration is one of the most painful ways to die. They could apply this to you sometime in your life. And as you lay there screaming, possibly only in your head because you are damaged and can't communicate well, remember the day you read the story in the paper about the woman in Florida.
It is time to take action to protect the vunerable.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Fourth Annual Tarnished Halo Awards
The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has announced the winners of its 4th annual “Tarnished Halo” Awards. CCF awards these prizes to America’s most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed “public interest” advocates, trial lawyers, and other food & beverage activists who claim to “know what’s best for you.”
Was Terri a Victim of Bulimia?
Clearwater, FL – On February 24, 2005, Associated Press released a report penned by Vickie Chachere which cited an eating disorder as the cause of Terri Schiavo’s mysterious collapse and ensuing brain injury on February 25, 1990.
Contrary to the account of writer Chachere, there was never a determination by any court nor the Florida Department of Health that Terri Schiavo ever suffered from any eating disorder, bulimia, anorexia or compulsive behavior that would lead to a heart failure at the age of 26.
Indeed, Florida’s Department of Health had completely and absolutely cleared Terri’s general practitioner of any negligence or wrong-doing in her case. This was after the physician had been accused by Terri’s husband of ignoring evidence of an eating disorder.
Additionally, at the time of her mysterious medical episode, Terri Schiavo stood 5’3” and weighed somewhere between 115 and 118 pounds – a slim, but normal stature and weight.
Associated Press writer, Vickie Chachere cites not ONE medical document that would affirm her careless contention that Terri Schiavo was an irresponsible dieter or a compulsive victim of an eating disorder. The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation asks Ms. Chachere to readily produce the facts upon which she penned such assertions.
The Schindler family feels she was abused, and Terri did have evidence of broken bones no one has successfully explained away. This is part of the situation the the Florida Department of Children and Families is asking for 60 days to investigate.
(source: Blogs for Terri)
It's something sad about a justice system when it takes this long to clear up something like this. Let us hope that true justice is served this time.
Some followup on the tsunami
The latest figures from BAKORNAS (24 Feb.), on the human toll of the earthquake and Tsunami for Aceh Province indicate 123,597 bodies have been buried, 113,937 are missing and 400,901 are displaced. For Northern Sumatra Province, BAKORNAS reported that 19,620 are displaced. Meanwhile, the numbers of people buried and missing remain at 130 and 24.
In Indonesia alone, that makes for about a quarter of a million dead or probably dead, and nearly half a million displaced.
We need to remember them. Their disaster is not yet over. The article from Relief Web has more information.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Sign the Petition
Terri Schiavo's plight sparks grassroots petitions
Interest high in saving severely disabled woman
February 24, 2005
As Terri Schindler Schiavo is pushed closer to death by starvation at the hands of her husband Michael Schiavo and Circuit Judge George Greer, thousands of incensed Americans are registering their support for Terri at several online petitions.
Go here to the page where you can get to the petitions
The Importance of Free Speech
The whole point of free speech is to get at the truth, a process that often requires airing all kinds of troubling, unpopular, or even offensive ideas. Limiting this process by putting some topics out of bounds means that the truth will be harder to find. Nor should the possibility of hurt feelings prohibit the expression of ideas or subvert the search for truth. We all learn as children that the truth hurts; that's why we all tell so many lies and entertain so many gratifying delusions. But in a democracy, where the citizens are called upon to make decisions on a great variety of issues, an open discussion of ideas directed towards finding the truth is essential. Once you limit that search by letting some people's feelings or sensibilities or ideologies trump the truth, you've made it much more difficult for truth to emerge, and much more likely for dangerous lies, myths, and half-truths to dominate the public discourse.
Silencing students who don't like the left wing is to close off fresh insights. Silencing professors, like Larry Summers is to deny the potential truth of science for political reasons (and we complain about Galileo and his run-in with some church authorities - there isn't much difference here). Knowing that its not PC to criticise the drug and promiscuious sex lifestyle that leads to STD in the gay community when the latest outbreak of drug resistant HIV hit might mean the difference between life and death for some young men. (I had a family member and people I knew who died in the 80s from the first wave of AIDS...I hope we don't PC ourselves into a new one!)
There are those who are screaming for Ward Churchill's job because of what he said. Now if they fire him, it ought to be not because he is a jerk who said some bad things, but because as an academician he did things like falsify his research or other academic wrongs.
There used to be a saying like "I hate what you say, but I'll die for your right to say it." We seem to no longer believe that in this world where political correctness says "I hate what you say, and I will do EVERYTHING I can think of to take away your freedom to say it."
And with that viewpoint, we all lose.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Terri is not alone...
Life Matters notes some of the following cases:
But those of us for whom the fight for Terri Schindler-Schiavo is not our first, our tenth, or even our 100th battle—not our first fight for life nor our last—know only too well that that surrender to the law of the jungle was made long ago and that rather than high noon, it is, if seen from an optimistic viewpoint that rivals Pollyanna, minutes to midnight in America.
* Where was the national outrage, a quarter century ago when Clarence Herbert, a 55-year-old security guard, was starved to death on doctors' orders in the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Harbor City, CA, in 1981?
* And where was the public outcry in 1983 when the nephew of Claire Conroy, an 84 year-old resident of a New Jersey nursing home, described as "conscious but confused," sought to have her starved to death?
* And how many protested when the Florida Second District Court of Appeal—yes, that District Court—ruled that 75-year-old Helen Corbett, deemed "incompetent," could be starved to death in 1986?
* Or when 45-year-old Massachusetts fire fighter, Paul Brophy, became the first person to be starved to death on court order that same year?
Wesley Smith describes this horror story:
The worst of these cases of which I am aware is the tragic dehydration of Marjorie Nighbert. Marjorie was a successful businesswoman until a stroke left her disabled. She was unable to swallow safely, but not terminally ill. She was moved from Alabama to a nursing home in Florida where she would receive rehabilitation to help her relearn how to chew and swallow without danger of aspiration. A feeding tube was inserted to ensure that she was properly nourished during her recovery.
Marjorie had once told her brother Maynard that she didn’t want a feeding tube if she were terminally ill. Despite the fact that she was not dying, Maynard believed that she had meant that she would rather die by dehydration than live the rest of her life using a feeding tube. Accordingly, he ordered all of Marjorie’s nourishment stopped.
As she was slowly dehydrating to death, Marjorie began to beg the staff for food and water. Distraught nurses and staff members, not knowing what else to do, surreptitiously snuck her small amounts. One staffer—who was later fired for the deed—blew the whistle, leading to a hurried court investigation and a temporary restraining order requiring that Marjorie receive nourishment.
Circuit Court Judge Jere Tolton appointed attorney William F. Stone to represent Marjorie and gave him twenty-four hours to determine whether she was competent to rescind the general power of attorney she had given to Maynard before her stroke. After the rushed investigation, Stone was forced to report that Marjorie was not competent at that time. (She had, after all, been intentionally malnourished for several weeks.) Stone particularly noted that he had been unable to determine whether she had been competent at the time the dehydration commenced.
With Stone’s report in hand, Judge Tolton ruled that the dehydration should be completed! Before an appalled Stone could appeal, Marjorie died on April 6, 1995.
The implication begins to move that once you reach a certain condition, you ought to be put down.
Prolife Blogs shares this story:
A somewhat different experience is recounted by Christianity and Middle-Earth who had to make difficult decisions regarding her brother’s life after he suffered acute respiratory failure.
... by the end of that first week in the new hospital a doctor ambushed me and informed me my brother was going to die anyway, so I should let him 'die with dignity'...so they needed my permission to bring him off the paralytic long enough for him to be able to breathe on his own, then they’d pull the life-support. Otherwise, it would be legally murder.
After some contemplation, the writer stood firm stating to the doctors, “If you can make him comfortable enough to die, why can't you make him comfortable enough to live?" We can always kill him later; we can't resurrect him." Although the experience was difficult, the story has a good ending,
Two months later he was buying books and shopping at Walmart. He’ll be on a lot of medicine for the rest of his life, but that’s a minor detail. And the reference to the news*? If I hadn't been seething for weeks over the attempted murder of Terry Schiavo, my brother would now be ashes.
Tom McMahon asks the question that anyone who has a disabled loved one should be thinking in this day and age:
In February 1991 our son Ryan suffered a severe brain injury. He was in the hospital for 6 months, and has never regained the ability to walk or talk. He cannot answer Yes or No by any means. He is totally dependent on our care. When he came home from the hospital, he had a feeding tube to his stomach just like Terri Schiavo does now. Through a lot of repetition he learned how to eat and drink again at home, and since we didn't need the feeding tube we removed it and the hole in his stomach healed quite well, quite naturally. He likes to be around people, and he watches a lot of TV.
In short, Ryan's pretty close to the level of functioning of Terri Schiavo, as far as I can tell from the news reports about her. And now her husband, Michael Schiavo, is very close to having her feeding tube removed and having her starved to death. It's at this point I hear the words of actress Frances McDormand as Fargo's Police Chief Marge Gunderson in my head: "And for what? A little bit of money." A little bit of money. The hundreds of thousands Michael Schiavo got to help her, he now stands to receive when she is starved to death. So he can continue on with the other woman he now lives with, and their children. The honorable thing would be for him to simply walk away and let Terri live, but I guess precedent-setting case law is not often set by honorable men doing the honorable thing.
So Terri Schiavo is about to die of a court-ordered thirst, to be starved to death. Ironic, isn't it? In this country a condemned man gets a Last Meal of whatever he wants -- steak, lobster, you name it. So the only thing you can conclude is that mass murderers have more rights than Terri Schiavo. But that's not the worst of it. If a demented disk jockey were to attempt to stage a wacky radio stunt that involved starving a bunch of small rodents, he would be run out of town on a rail. In this country, even gerbils have more rights than Terri Schiavo.
Right now the chess game in the courts continues. And when Terri Schiavo is put to death, you all will feel bad about it for a while, but it will slowly fade from memory as you move on to other things. But for us, a haunting question will remain: When Will They Be Coming For Ryan?
Who decides on what makes "quality of life?" When will your imperfection be the next up on the list of "ought to be put down?"
Pain Filled Judicial Murder -The Loss of Personhood and The Lie of Death with Dignity for Those Unable to Protect Themselves
Under the 14th Amendment, the Constitution requires the census to count "the whole number of persons in each State." Accordingly, the 2000 Census counted 88,828 "persons" living in nursing homes in Florida, 3,538 living in "hospitals/wards and hospices for the chronically ill" and 4,233 living in psychiatric hospitals or wards. Nationwide, it counted 1,720,500 persons living in nursing homes.
There was no degree of disability, incapacitation or illness that disqualified someone from being counted as a "person" under the Census Bureau's 14th Amendment mandate to count "the whole number of persons."
Under the 14th Amendment, Terri Schiavo and other disabled people are indisputably "persons."
Even judges who wrongly deny that unborn babies are persons cannot deny that the 41-year-old Shiavo is a person. Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives is elected from a district drawn a certain way because all disabled persons such as Schiavo were counted just like any other person under the plain meaning of 14th Amendment.
Yet as Wesley Smith notes:
Unfortunately, the academic philosophers who now dominate bioethics shifted the predominant ideology of the field sharply away from the Ramsey approach and toward the “quality of life” ethic. This measures the moral value of human lives subjectively based on levels of cognitive capacity. Thus, most bioethicists today distinguish between “persons” and so-called human “non-persons,” people denigrated on the basis of their low level of cognitive functioning.
These invidious distinctions matter very much in the medical setting. Being categorized as a non-person is dangerous to life and limb, since most bioethicists assert that only persons are entitled to human rights. In the full expression of personhood theory, non-persons are killable, subject to the harvesting of their body parts, and candidates for non-therapeutic medical experiments.
Jefferies makes an important point:
This presents what ought be an insurmountable constitutional obstacle for those who want state governments -- either through their courts or legislatures -- to legalize the killing of innocent persons like Schiavo, no matter by what means the intended killing is affected. The same 14th Amendment that considers Terri a "person" when it comes to taking a census and apportioning Congress also says, "No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
But when we allow someone who says they remember five years after the fact that the person mentioned once in passing they didn't want to be put on a ventillator and how that is grounds enought to kill them in a most painful manner, where is due process? Where is protection of their right to life and liberty?
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
So You Think You Own Your Property?
On one side, you have the government of New London, Connecticut. They argue that confiscating land and selling it to a private developer under eminent domain serves the public good because it provides much-needed government revenue. Don't you think that you should read that again? This city is saying that a person's right to their property ends when the government figures out that that property in the hands of another private owner would generate more tax revenue. When does this concept arrive at the doorstep of your local city council or county commission? How do you like the idea that your home is yours only so long as some developer doesn't convince a politician that if he could get his hands on that property he would build something that would be so much more valuable and pay many more dollars in taxes? What country do we live in again?
Here are some other writers talking about this story:
Mark Noonan says:
Anyone can make a reasonable argument that any particular property can be "better" used by some other person or group - my home is just my house, but gather my property and that of my neighbors together and you can build a new Las Vegas megaresort which would generate far more tax revenue than the individual property owners will ever pay. My home "ownership" under such a rule would merely be my right to use the property until someone comes up with what goverment officials consider a better use.
Timothy Sandfer, at Pittsburglive.com, tells us:
Consider the infamous Poletown case. In the early 1980s, the General Motors Corp. persuaded Detroit -- which was reeling from recession -- to condemn a neighborhood called Poletown (due to the large number of Polish immigrants living there) and sell it cheap to GM to build an auto factory. The Michigan Supreme Court held that the condemnation was legal: If the government declared that a condemnation would benefit the public, the courts would not stand in the way.
In a whirlwind of litigation that lasted only a few weeks, neighbors watched as their community was pulverized.
The Poletown decision led to an epidemic of eminent domain abuse. In 1999, the city of Merriam, Kan., condemned a Toyota dealership to sell the land to a BMW dealer instead. That same year, Bremerton, Wash., condemned 22 homes to resell the land to private developers. In one notorious case, billionaire Donald Trump persuaded the government of Atlantic City, N.J., to condemn the home of an elderly widow so he could build a limousine parking lot.
Unfortunately, the victims of eminent domain are most often the elderly, the poor and minorities. They lack the money and political power to persuade the government to respect their rights. But corporate lobbyists are very effective at persuading cities to give them someone else's land on the pretense that it will create jobs and improve the neighborhood -- especially when it will increase the city's tax base.
Fortunately, things may be changing. Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned its Poletown decision. "If one's ownership of private property is forever subject to the government's determination that another private party would put one's land to better use," the court said, "the ownership of real property is perpetually threatened by the expansion plans of any large discount retailer, 'megastore,' or the like."
Now it's up to the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to eminent domain abuse nationwide. When Kelo is argued before the court, the justices will be asked a simple question: Does "public use" mean the government can take people's homes and small businesses and resell the land to Pfizer, Donald Trump or other private parties?
The court needs to make a definitive ruling on this. The areas condemned frequently house the poor and the elderly, but are also neighborhoods that are run down and unsafe. The temptation to use eminent domain on these areas will remain high until this issue is settled.
Monday, February 21, 2005
On Death by Dehydration
A Potentially Painful Death
Advocates for dehydrating the neurologically disabled assert that it is a painless end. But there are substantial reasons for doubt. St. Louis neurologist Dr. William Burke told me:
A conscious person would feel it [dehydration] just as you or I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucus membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining. They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water! Death by dehydration takes ten to fourteen days. It is an extremely agonizing death.
Minnesota neurologist Dr. Ronald Cranford, an avid supporter of dehydration, who has often appeared as an "expert witness" in litigation over withholding food and water, testified in the Robert Wendland case about the effect of dehydration on cognitively disabled patients:
After seven to nine days [from commencing dehydration] they begin to lose all fluids in the body, a lot of fluids in the body. And their blood pressure starts to go down. When their blood pressure goes down, their heart rate goes up . . . . Their respiration may increase and then . . . the blood is shunted to the central part of the body from the periphery of the body. So, that usually two to three days prior to death, sometimes four days, the hands and the feet become extremely cold. They become mottled. That is you look at the hands and they have a bluish appearance. And the mouth dries a great deal, and the eyes dry a great deal and other parts of the body become mottled. And that is because the blood is now so low in the system it's shunted to the heart and other visceral organs and away from the periphery of the body. . . .
Since the people to whom this is done generally can't communicate, we mostly don't know what they actually experience. But in at least one case we do: that of a young woman who had her tube feeding stopped for eight days and lived to tell the tale.
At age 33, Kate Adamson collapsed from a devastating stroke. She was diagnosed as likely to develop a persistent vegetative state (PVS) but was actually "locked in"-that is, she was completely awake and aware but unable to communicate. Even after the doctors realized that Adamson was entirely conscious, they urged her husband to "let her go." He refused, and indeed, when she developed a bowel obstruction, he authorized surgery. However, to clean the bowel enough to permit surgery, her nourishment was stopped. When, eventually, she recovered her ability to communicate, she wrote Kate's Journey: Triumph over Adversity. Appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, Adamson described the experience of being denied nourishment.
When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, "Don't you know I need to eat?" And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.
In preparation for an article in the Daily Standard, I asked Adamson to provide more details about what she experienced while being deprived of tube-supplied nourishment. As an illustration, she told me that she was administered inadequate anesthesia during her bowel-obstruction surgery. Yet, as painful as that was, it was not as bad as the suffering caused by being denied nourishment:
The agony of going without food was a constant pain that lasted not several hours like my operation did, but several days. You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, "Feed me. I am alive and a person, don't let me die, for God's sake! Somebody feed me."
Moreover, although Adamson was not deliberately dehydrated-she was constantly on an IV saline solution-she still had horrible thirst:
I craved anything to drink. Anything. I obsessively visualized drinking from a huge bottle of orange Gatorade. And I hate orange Gatorade. I did receive lemon flavored mouth swabs to alleviate dryness but they did nothing to slake my desperate thirst.Doctors who withhold nourishment and hydration with the purpose of causing death may prescribe morphine or other narcotics to alleviate the pain. But who knows whether this is sufficient? For example, when Cranford was asked during his Wendland testimony what level of morphine would have to be given to prevent the patient from suffering, he testified that the dose would be "arbitrary" because "you don't know how much he's suffering, you don't know how much aware he is. . . . You're guessing at the dose." He added that he would probably put Robert Wendland back into a coma to ensure that he did not feel pain!
Who gets "processed"? Maybe the person is old, not necessarily sick, just old – too old. Perhaps young, too young to be worth spending time, effort and expense to bring to health. Perhaps sick, requiring "too much" money or time or bed space to heal. Perhaps handicapped, so the person can't live a "normal" life – whatever that means.
Michael Schiavo wants Terri's feeding tube removed. That will kill her. She will die a prolonged, painful death from starvation and dehydration. He says she'd want that, but he has no written proof. He just says it, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the legal system to get his wife dead.
Terri's family is Roman Catholic. Her parents say she wouldn't allow this. They've spent every dime they have in a legal battle with their son-in-law to keep their daughter alive and care for her for the rest of her life. (See their story at terrisfight.org.)
Michael Schiavo won't allow it. He won't divorce Terri even though he's had at least two liaisons with other women and has two children by the current one. He wants Terri dead. So does the justice system. It's the "letter of the law" with no compassion, no humanity and no skeptical look at the circumstances.
The legislative system is against Terri, although the Florida Legislature wrote a law to protect her and Gov. Jeb Bush signed it. That got Terri's feeding tube reinserted after her being starved for six days. But the state Supreme Court ruled against Terri, claiming the law was illegal. The governor says he can do nothing more.
The media conspire against Terri. Virtually every news report says she is "vegetative" and "brain dead." The media have so bought into the idea of the "right to die" that they are complicit in the false reporting of Terri's condition creating the impression she's on the verge of death
Uh – no.
She wakes and sleeps, responds to people, smiles, reacts to her family – especially her mother – and vocalizes, making sounds in response to statements and questions as though trying to speak.
But Terri can't, and it appears there's no one with power who speaks for her, who will help save her life – who will help prevent the law, medicine, the state of Florida, the system, from deliberately starving her to death.
Terri is not sick. Her brain is damaged. She doesn't look or act "normal." Apparently that makes her life dispensable. It's become OK to kill her.
Consider that if you starved your dog or cat to death, you'd be in jail. In San Francisco, a new law regulates how to feed, water and house your pet. Why is a human life worth less?
We need to answer this question. Why is a human life worth less kindness? Are we really looking at what we're doing?
Pro-life Thought for the Day
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Linguistic games we play...
The problem with political correctness is, has always been and will always be the results. Calling something ill conceived or evil by a friendlier more acceptable name has a tendency to make the act itself seem more friendly and acceptable. Do we have compassion for terrorists? No… But insurgents? Sure… it almost sounds patriotic to be an insurgent, doesn’t it?
Would we support a “pro-infant-murder” movement? No, so we call it “pro-choice” and by doing so, it makes a heinous act sound reasonable, worthy of defense.
Coalition forces went out of their way, taking additional casualties to avoid firing upon terrorists intentionally hiding in mosques. But these insurgents, alleged Muslim jihadists, they didn’t think twice about attacking innocent civilians in those mosques did they?
That’s because they are not insurgents rising up against some brutal tyrannical regime. They are just common terrorists attacking innocent Iraqi men, women and children. They have no respect for human life, their fellow countrymen or their religion.
So we need to stop kidding ourselves. We need to stop referring to common terrorists as insurgents. We need to stop calling their heinous acts by a nicer name, justifying their tactics and motives as if they demonstrate anything honorable.The use of the term insurgents in this case in not only inappropriate, it’s an outright lie and it’s dangerous…
The Struggle to Communicate
Terri Shiavo can be counted among the disabled who struggle to communicate; those with severe forms of autism, Down's syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy.
Helen Keller was disabled and at one time a blind, deaf and mute child considered by many in her family to be a monster who should have been institutionalized. With time Helen learned to communicate through sign language and went on to go to college. She became a champion of the disabled though her speech never really improved beyond the sounds those very close to her could understand.
Kate Admason suffered a double brain stem stroke, was completely unable to respond and in what doctors had diagnosed as a persistent vegetative state. Doctors pulled her feeding tubes and for eight days she lay in severe pain dying from starvation and dehydration. Her husband fought to have the tube reinserted and saved her life. Today she is a motivational speaker and author.
Rus Cooper-Dowda had developed a serious form of lupus and slipped into what doctors thought was a persistent vegetative state. She overheard as doctors described her prognosis as hopeless and discussed ending her life with her husband. Luckily for her the nursing staff began to believe her diagnosis was wrong. Rus went on to give birth to a son and become a teacher, minister and writer.
A new medical study released recently estimates that as many as 40 percent of those determined to be in a persistent vegetative state may be misdiagnosed. These people may hear and register what is going on around them and simply be unable to respond.
Contrary to what you may have heard or read in the media Terri Schiavo is not in a coma. She is not on a ventilator, she breathes on her own. She is not being kept alive by artificial means. She receives food and fluids through a tube in her stomach. Her husband wants this tube to be removed and when it is removed the medical staff and the courts will NOT allow her to be fed by mouth. They say that they are afraid that she would choke to death and they think that would be more cruel than starving and dehydrating her to death, a painful process that could take weeks.
Dr. Victor Gambone testified, after viewing the court videotapes that he was surprised to see Terri's level of awareness. This doctor is part of a team hand-picked by her husband, Michael Schiavo, shortly before he filed to have Terri's feeding removed. 14 independent medical professionals (6 of them neurologists) have given either statements or testimony that Terri is NOT in a Persistent Vegetative State.
Terri Schiavo's death is being promoted by Michael Schiavo, his attorney's and much of the media as being compassionate. The truth is, that for the disabled, it is the first step down a very dangerous road.
Richard at BlogsforTerri has more on the recent research indicating that a number of patients may have been misdiagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state.
Terri is about to be excuted in a cruel and painful manner, mostly because one man wants to get rid of her. If she were a criminal, this would most certainly be declared cruel and unusual punishment. If she were a prisoner of war, there would be massive protests all over the country about how evil the government was. But because she is vunerable, frail, and cannot communicate easily, and had the misfortune to marry the wrong man, and the misfortune to live in the wrong county, she is going to be put to a horrible death. God have mercy on all of us who don't try to do something to save her.
This is judicial murder at its worst.