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Dave_Schuldt

Terri Schiavo Thread

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A couple of thoughts:

 

This is a political question. There is nothing wrong with seeing it debated in a very public manner. The very concept of a private life and a public life is of a political nature and our concept of what is public and what is private is constantly changing. Isn't this exactly how we should behave in a DEMOCRACY? Better the debate is open, inclusive and pasionate than decided in the dark chambers of some court.

 

It strikes me odd that most of the people I have discussed this issue with are much more emotionally attached one way or the other to the whole Schiavo debate than any of them were to the debate before the Iraq War.

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When a person is deprived of food AND LIQUIDS, they don't starve to death but die of dehydration. Although this sounds awful, believe it or not it is considered one of the most peaceful ways to go. An alert person gradually gets sleepy, then comatose. The sensation of thirst is less troublesome than you would guess-- I don't know why, it just is. We know this from experience, caring for people too sick to eat and drink who have foregone artificial hydration and nourishment. The public has a dire need to be educated in this area.

 

Norman -

 

Are the people you are referring to given any medications at all? Will Schiavo be given any meds to offset any possible discomfort?

 

My Uncle Charlie died of bone cancer and he stopped eating and drinking shortly before he died. Would you expect dehydration impacted him differently than it would me (in terms of physical discomfort) if I stopped drinking tomorrow?

 

 

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Based on your post you want to kill an innocent woman and have the money used to feed the starving in other countries. But when it comes to capital punishment you would rather let murderers live a full life in prison at taxpayers expense, without thinking about feeding those same people with those dollars, because killing is wrong. This is the same as abortion, kill the innocent but give life to those who take the lives of others. Seems hypocritical. Hope I did not piss you off too bad.

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[quote

Are the people you are referring to given any medications at all? Will Schiavo be given any meds to offset any possible discomfort?

In caring humanely for any dying person, it is appropriate to give medication to reduce pain. Since Terri Schiavo has severe brain damage, but (presumably) no underlying painful condition, she is not likely to experience pain associated with dehydration. People who are dehydrated feel very dry in the mouth, but can receive mouth care and other comfort measures to relieve this sort of localized discomfort. On the other hand, people dying of cancer often hurt all over, and may be short of breath as well. Most of the dying people I have cared for had cancer. Most of them had adequate pain relief, though not all, in spite of best efforts. Morphine goes a long way to relieve both pain and shortness of breath, though in late stages a person may only appear comfortable when medicated into unconsciousness.

 

Although you might think that a non-ill person who is dehydrated might feel worse than a terminal cancer patient who is dehydrated, usually the cancer patient has a lot of pain unrelated to dehydration, which makes it harder to keep them comfortable at the end.

 

I agree that life and death issues are within the public realm. However, these issues are usually decided in the courts. As Michael Schiavo has pointed out, this conflict has made its way very slowly and painstakingly to a final resolution over seven years. Now at the last moment Congress, which I believe has no constitutional authority over state courts, steps in merely because some members don't agree with the court's ruling. I dislike this precedent. Congress has no business intervening in state court decisions, regardless of the issue at hand. Advocacy groups, Christian or not, should be careful what they ask for. They are not keen on government interference in other "private" realms like religion. If congress were to routinely intervene to reverse state court decisions, society would reasonably object that congress was exceeding its authority, that this was a matter for state court and that congress does not have the right, privilege or authority to invalidate whatever state court decisions it pleases.

 

I believe the law is also generally on the side of the spouse. You can bet that if the tables were turned, if the parents wanted the tube pulled and the right to lifers were backing the husband, they'd be screaming that the courts have spoken, the spouse overrules the parents, how dare congress overrule the courts, etc. etc.

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Norman- Thanks for providing a very realistic, experience based perspective. It has been frustrating that few professionals with expereience are willing to weigh in on end-of-life care and what the dying person is likely to go through at the end.

 

JayB- you question the motives of the person who is chosing to end sustaining care for a loved one. Personally I wonder if Terri's parents (and other family members who chose to sustain life without much thought to quality of that life) are keeping her alive because they think it is what SHE wants or if they are so uncomfortable with her dying that they are keeping her alive because it is the only way THEY can deal with the tragedy of her circumstance. If it is the later, they are very selfish. I suppose that if she had a living will that stated she wanted all life sustaining measures continued regardless of her life quality, the parents are advocating the right thing. Unfortunately that document does not exist and her husband has every legal right to make a decision about what she would want. She has not recovered nor made progress since the heart attack and all the life sustaining measures to date. Just who is she being kept alive for?

 

I wonder if the people advocating that preservation of life is paramount think they may be interveining in "god's" territory. She should be left to peacefully depart this world, let all involved grieve and then move on. The fact that our culture is so fearful of death is why this woman is still alive.

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I actually support the husband on this one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I think that a husband or wife generally knows the person who's life is in question better than anyone else, and secondly, because in legal matters concerning an incapacitated persons life or property, the spouse should have the right to make the decisions.

 

So I wasn't so much questioning the motives in this case, but stating that in general I support the decision to end a life when the party making the decision has nothing to gain from doing so and appears to be acting out of mercy rather than interest. However, when someone does have an interest, financial or otherwise in pulling the plug on them I think their motives need to be examined much more carefully in order to insure that the decision is based on the incapacitated person's best interests.

 

FWIW - there are also cases where parties benefit from keeping someone alive when allowing them to die would clearly be the thing to do, such as in cases where the party responsible for making the decision is receiving the incapacitated person's pension benefits.

 

I guess the bottom line for me is that whatever decision is made should be done in a manner that insures that the choice to preserve or end a life is made in the best interests of the person who is going to be kept alive or allowed to die. It's rarely an easy call.

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Terri's parents (and other family members who chose to sustain life without much thought to quality of that life) are keeping her alive because they are so uncomfortable with her dying that they are keeping her alive because it is the only way THEY can deal with the tragedy of her circumstance. The fact that our culture is so fearful of death is why this woman is still alive.

In my experience this is exactly what goes on. It is one more of the many areas where modern American culture falls down on the job and fails to equip people for the basic necessities of life. I could blame Christianity for this problem, but I'd say this denial is more a product of mainstream America than Christianity per se. Smaller, more self-sufficient Christian communities like the Amish lack this deep denial, maybe because 1)they still live a rural life which includes slaughtering the animals they eat, and 2)in most of these communities people still die at home, have their bodies prepared for burial by members of the family or community, so it's harder to have any illusions about death, and lastly 3)because they do not believe in health insurance, so the community has to immediately recognize the human and financial burden of keeping someone artificially alive. These communities don't have a big tax base to subsidize such care. They have to deal with more harsh realities than the rest of us. IMO this gives them a more realistic attitude about when a life is still worth living.

 

One more thing I learned on the job that I didn't expect: when a family gets together to discuss whether or not to pull the plug, usually on a parent, the one who objects is most often the adult child who is the most alienated from the parents, lives the furthest away, and has been the least involved in caring for them at the end of their lives. Since they already have an ambivalent relationship with the parent in question, they tend to feel more guilty about voting to pull the plug. Unfinished business is often a big part of the agenda that promotes denial and artificial life-sustaining measures.

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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments. My mon used to be a hospice nurse and saw much of what Norman has. I have an apoitment this week to make a will and a living will. Been thinking about the will for a few years and am finaly going to do it.

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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments. My mon used to be a hospice nurse and saw much of what Norman has. I have an apoitment this week to make a will and a living will. Been thinking about the will for a few years and am finaly going to do it.

 

For some reason the episode from Seinfeld just popped in my head, where Kramer draws up his instructions for when to pull the plug...

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More from Slate - the assessment being that the federal govt. has no position in what is a state decision (regarding a family/domestic matter).

 

15 years. Let her die and have some peace. Where is the dignity of a human life (and a human death) when her case is being dragged out in the media, courts, and legislative halls? We don't know what is going on in Terri's mind, but after this time, what humanity does she have - what does she have to give?

 

Whatever purpose her parents have for keeping her alive after the likelihood of her regaining some semblance of a consciousness has faded to beyond a mere glimmer seems to be for themselves, no longer for Terri, and that purpose would be better taken up quietly, and privately, with a counselor or a cleric, not a judge.

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I fail to see what is the point in prolonging the misery for these people for an additiona couple years to wind through the appeals process. Isn't 15 years long enough? I had a similar thing happen with my mom and Alezheimer's, although she had a living will. She made me promise to shoot her if he ever became "like that" I had to break that promise for my family's sake. I cannot imagine what it would be like to havethe Federal Government interveene in such a private matter especially when they profess to getm the gov off yer back and uphold state rights. Interestingly, I say Bush signed a bill allowing hospitals to turn of resperators and feeding when the parient runs out of $$$. go figure

 

For what is worth here is a link to the Washington Medical Associations Forms for a Durable Power of Attorney for Medical Care and a Directive to Physicians (Living Will).

Edited by Mal_Con

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Aside from all the ethical and religious view points. Who here would want to be kept alive? I think that this is the most important question. Simply, "What would she want?" Obviously there is a difference in opinion between the parants and husband. The courts have debated and decided (as far as I know). My pickle with this whole scenario is the government imposing on what is a court matter. From what I can tell, kurt is the lawyer of the bunch (just guessing here). Is this common and in your opinion appropriate.

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ps there is 20 more posts since I wrote the above post (it sat for a few hours). Do you guys work?

Edited by AllYouCanEat

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My pickle with this whole scenario is the government imposing on what is a court matter.

 

I don't think this is phrased very well. It is perfectly fine for the legislative and judicial branches to contest eachother's work/decisions. Checks and balances, you know.

 

But in this case, it is a state's rights issue, not a checks-and-balances issue. Some political consistency would be nice here from our congress. I don't like the outcome of the court's decision in this case, but the federal government should butt out.

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I can't work - the grammar/spelling alarms going off in my head due to reading this thread are distracting me.

 

tongue.gif

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I can't work - the grammar/spelling alarms going off in my head due to reading this thread are distracting me.

 

tongue.gif

 

My english teacher was quite sane. shocked.gif Get a red pen and I think you'll be just fine. Better yet, buy a whole package...splurge a little. wink.gif

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How long was Uma in the coma in Kill Bill 1?

 

4 years

 

So is Terri gonna come out of it and bite the throat out of a rapist/nurse then steal a Pussy Machine truck and go on a ninja killing spree after 15 years? Somehow I don't think so. wazzup.gif

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I'm troubled to see that the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government are meddling in the processes of the courts. This does not bode well for the future of our system.

 

I'm vexed as to why almost everyone involved is not honoring the wishes of this poor woman.

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I can't work - the grammar/spelling alarms going off in my head due to reading this thread are distracting me.

 

tongue.gif

 

My english teacher was quite sane. shocked.gif Get a red pen and I think you'll be just fine. Better yet, buy a whole package...splurge a little. wink.gif

 

Any tips for getting red sharpie marks off of a computer screen?

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I'm vexed as to why almost everyone involved is not honoring the wishes of this poor woman.
Exactly what are the wishes of this poor woman? It is presumed that her husband will act in her best interest. It is for him to decide.

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And now for some politics:

The memo floating around congress saying this was a great way to apeal to the Republican base. Siince no one wants to claim they wrote it, I think it was Karl Rove.

This couldn't have come at a better time for Tom Delay who has ethiics trouble. Great distraction.

I hope the judge in Florida has the balls to rule the bill unconstutional.

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Editorial from the NYTimes sums it up nicely:

 

 

A Blow to the Rule of Law

 

 

 

 

 

If you are in a "persistent vegetative state" and there is a dispute about whether to keep you alive, your case will probably go no further than state court - unless you are Terri Schiavo. President Bush signed legislation yesterday giving Ms. Schiavo's parents a personal right to sue in federal court. The new law tramples on the principle that this is "a nation of laws, not of men," and it guts the power of the states. When the commotion over this one tragic woman is over, Congress and the president will have done real damage to the founders' careful plan for American democracy.

 

 

Ms. Schiavo's case presents heart-wrenching human issues, and difficult legal ones. But the Florida courts, after careful deliberation, ruled that she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means in her current state, and ordered her feeding tube removed. Ms. Schiavo's parents, who wanted the tube to remain, hoped to get the Florida Legislature to intervene, but it did not do so.

 

 

That should have settled the matter. But supporters of Ms. Schiavo's parents, particularly members of the religious right, leaned heavily on Congress and the White House to step in. They did so yesterday with the new law, which gives "any parent of Theresa Marie Schiavo" standing to sue in federal court to keep her alive.

 

 

This narrow focus is offensive. The founders believed in a nation in which, as Justice Robert Jackson once wrote, we would "submit ourselves to rulers only if under rules." There is no place in such a system for a special law creating rights for only one family. The White House insists that the law will not be a precedent. But that means that the right to bring such claims in federal court is reserved for people with enough political pull to get a law passed that names them in the text.

 

 

The Bush administration and the current Congressional leadership like to wax eloquent about states' rights. But they dropped those principles in their rush to stampede over the Florida courts and Legislature. The new law doesn't miss a chance to trample on the state's autonomy and dignity. There are a variety of technical legal doctrines the federal courts use to show deference to state courts, like "abstention" and "exhaustion of remedies." The new law decrees that in Ms. Schiavo's case, these well-established doctrines simply will not apply.

 

 

Republicans have traditionally championed respect for the delicate balance the founders created. But in the Schiavo case, and in the battle to stop the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations, President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.

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My opinion is the judge is no dummy. He will hold out on making an opinion until nature has run its course. The case will be moot and all these people can begin living again, or so I hope. To decide immediatly would only invite a series of appeals which would only increase pain for all.

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