Thursday, March 31, 2005

Some Thoughts on Terri

I have not written about the Terri Schiavo ordeal before this. With so much being written about it, there was little I could add. I found it almost impossible to take sides. Although the law was clearly with the husband, justice appeared to be both with the husband and with the parents.

Now that all can agree that she is heart dead as well as brain dead, I have a few observations that do not fall on either side. The first is that there was a serious question of fact, and the judge was wrong to act before it was resolved. Modern technology could have answered definitively whether Terri was brain dead. A PET scan could have detected and measured brain activity outside of the medulla, which had kept her heart and lungs working. If it determined that she was brain dead, it would have avoided the passionate activism of the last 13 days. If it was determined that she was not brain dead, her parents should have received custody. They were willing to care for her at their own expense.

The second problem with this ordeal will probably require new legislation by the states to fix. I have read many times during the last 13 days that the hospice could not do anything to speed up the death, but could only act passively by removing the feeding tube. If it had been determined scientifically that Terri was brain dead, the judge should have had the power to declare her legally dead, so that it would not be murder or assisted suicide to administer something to stop the heart quickly. The MSM stressed that Terri was felling nothing during the last 13 days, but that misses the point. The process of having her slowly wasting away for 13 days was cruel and unusual punishment of the parents, and, for that matter, of the rest of the world that was watching.

The circumstances of the Terri Schiavo case cannot be unique. There will be other instances when a person with no living will lies in a lifeless state, while relatives argue over treatment or lack thereof. We need new laws, passed away from the heat of passion, when nobody is slowly dying as the lead story in every newspaper and TV news show, to define how this can be handled humanely.


Post a Comment

<< Home