I haven't blogged much the last few days. Part of it has been that I have been busier than a one armed paper hanger with fleabites, but more of it is that I have been feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Terri's fight for life seems to have been lost. Pundits in law, medicine, and social policy have spoken, and it seems that they have all banded together against the will of the people.
The will of the people, as clearly expressed in our efforts to influence our elected representatives, was that the courts start again from the beginning and examine the evidence. I think the legal term for this is 'de novo'.
The legal status for imposing the death penalty on a criminal is that the crime be proved beyond a reasonable doubt - and that the crime be so horrendous that society as a whole believes that justice can only be served by meting out this ultimate penalty. But suicide has become so socially acceptable that we now justify suicide by proxy and even extend that 'right' to where there is not even a preponderance of evidence that the proxy has an accurate knowledge of the victim's wishes.
The New England Journal of Medicine (A rag I am coming to dislike more and more these days, I think that their editorial staff has incredible bias in more than one area) did an early release of two articles commenting on Terri Shiavo. NEJM doesn't usually make full-text available to non subscribers, but these articles are currently available (you will need Adobe Acrobat to read them). They will probably not be available after the print publication date, so I suggest that you print them and save them if you are likely to need them later.
Attorney George Annas writes an article "Culture of Life" Politics at the Bedside -- The Case of Terri Schiavo. He is oh so reasonable (to the point that I am reminded of the speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - "So are they all, all honourable men"
The other article, by Timothy Quill M.D. Some of my correspondents have pointed out to me that Dr. Quill is no stranger to these kinds of controversy. Here he writes about 'Terminal Sedation and the Voluntary refusal of foods and fluids'. I always thought that there was ahuge difference between voluntary and involuntary, but what do I know?
The best responses I have read to date on these kind of patronizing attitudes toward this profoundly disabled but (as of right now) still alive woman is found in this article from (of all places) Slate.com.
Not Dead at All
Why Congress was right to stick up for Terri Schiavo.
By Harriet McBryde Johnson
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2005, at 4:50 AM PT
The Terri Schiavo case is hard to write about, hard to think about.
She really does say it, and well.
There are several posts I would rather be writing now. I have a couple of recipes that I would like to share - but I feel enormously guilty that I am even able to eat right now. Survivor guilt I think it would be called. I am sitting at the keyboard with my cup of tea at hand, and I am so grateful that I am able to sip it when I feel dry. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be dehydrated to death. I've never been sick enough in my life to even need a couple of liters of IV fluids to get me back in balance. I know what my hyperemesis patients tell me about being so parched and yet being physically unable to take even a sip of fluids. But I can't comprehend it. And don't tell me that Terri can't feel this. How can you, how can anyone know this? We don't know what she does or doesn't feel.
I have one other nightmare thought. After they have succeeded in murdering Terri through deprivation of food and water, what next? I can see that the misguided compassion that allows this will go to the next step."See" they will say," You forced us to torture her to death because you would not allow us to make her passing quick and painless. We should have been able to just give her a quick injection of painkillers in a lethal dose. You pro-lifers have no compassion at all." Is this not where the Nazis started out?
May God have mercy on us all.
BTW - If I am ever in a bad state physically, I want my care managed according to the basic principles of Catholic care as outlined in the CCC. When in doubt, choose life.
"First you kill those who want to die," forewarns the American Catholic
ecumenist Dr. Bill Cork. "Then you kill those whose family wants them to
die, then those where one family member wants them to die, and then those
whose families want them to live. Finally, you kill those who want to live
but who get in the way of the state."
Schiavo Protesters Not All Christian Conservatives