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March 21, 2005

Choose (Media-Friendly) Life!

Why is Terri Schiavo still alive?

Short answer: Because a health-care institution doesn't want her dead, and it's politically expedient for big name politicians to portray themselves as her supporters.

Sun Hudson wasn't that lucky.

Posted by Bigwig at March 21, 2005 02:00 PM | TrackBack
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Sun Hudson couldn't breathe. The inability to do this is usually fatal. His case is tragic, but not the horror it is made out to be. The child was only 'alive' via mechanical means, and his mother was in no condition to make any decisions for him--there have been several points made about her mental state.

The worst part of his case is that there are people trying to make political hay over it. In one report, he was referred to as suffering from nothing more than a cleft palate, when in fact he had a rare, fatal form of dawrfism that affected his torso.

Instead of seeing this as the doctors deciding to kill ther child because of the chance that his care might be unpaid for, consider instead that sometimes, no matter how many tubes the doctors puit in, the patient is not going to get better. Sometimes nothing more can be done.

Posted by: jack at March 21, 2005 02:34 PM

Normally, I'm a fan of nuance. In this case, they killed that kid over the parent's objections.

Fuck them.

Posted by: Bigwig at March 21, 2005 03:19 PM

I'm coming around to the Pope's viewpoint that a lot of modernists, or postmodernists if you wish, are merely the latest incarnation of pagan death cults. John Paul has spoken frequently about "rejecting the culture of death," and I'm starting to see things his way.

If you try to take yourself out of the moment, and look at the slippery slope over a couple years, you see it's peopled with familiar faces. At the top, there is the Hemlock Society and Kervorkian ("death with dignity and with informed consent") Their rhetoric sounds pretty reasonable. Then you look halfway down the slope to today's events, and you can see the point to where Sun Hudson and Terry Schiavo have slid. ("Just pull the plug... they probably won't recover and have no quality of life.") Quality of life, eh? We're getting pretty deep into "ick" territory here.

Eventually, you look at the bottom of the slope and you can see thousands of Dutch babies, not fetuses, but children killed on a doctor's (not even the mother's) say so, and that skinny dancing figure is the advocate of chicken secks Peter Singer. Next door to the bottom of the ramp is Adolf Hitler, culling the daffodils in his garden and muttering about ridding the world of useless eaters. Abortionist Margaret Sanger is on his porch having drinks with Justice Holmes, agreeing that three generations of cretins is plenty.

I've really had it with the apologists for death. It seems to me that if man is about more than mere flesh, then to fight to live is the most fundamentally human thing we can do, and to give up on our own life or another's is fundamentally inhuman. At least with suicide, it's a matter of one's own conscience. In the case of Terry Schiavo, or thousands of Dutch babies, it is indistinguishable to me from murder.

It has taken me a full 15 years to grasp why the Americans with Disabilities Act is such a profoundly conservative piece of legislation, and why both Bushes and a host of conservative luminaries (including the Meeses, the Caseys, and Mr. Ridge) support it so adamantly. It is because it recognizes in the law the value of an individual human life, and forces employers, governments, schools and places of recreation to disregard physical inability. If Man is more than the physical, if there is a divine spark or even a shred of some other unknown transcendance, than the death cultists are monstrously wrong.

Phew, long comment. Well, here's the money shot. If we start sanctioning the killing of people like Terry Schiavo, pretty soon it wont take a 10 or 15 year vegetative state to do it, and pretty soon doctors will quite paying heed to the wishes of the family or any laws protecting people from being killed off on Singerian grounds. I've been to war, as a lawyer I've been around a few grievous criminals, and if there's one horrid truth, it's that the conscience can be destroyed by killing and violence. Start killing the Schiavos of the world, and our reluctance to kill others less grievously situated will be eroded, just as the right to first trimester abortion has now morphed, in Barbara Boxer's mind, into a right to infanticide. The only way to prevent this erosion, this corruption of conscience, is to fight it root and branch. I am not optimistic about the outcome, however, since our political leadership is inarticulate on this issue at the best, and our highest Court is in the hands of doddering old lawyers who would rather cite the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe than acknowledge the traditional moral strictures on which the laws are based.

Posted by: Blackavar at March 21, 2005 08:15 PM

Thanks, Bigwig, for having the nuts to say money is a big consideration here. I hope my relatives know enough about me that if I were in some apparently irreversible vegetative state, they would pull the plug on me in good conscience, rather than pour countless treasure into some medical institution in the hopes of keeping me "alive". I also hope THAT right won't be taken away. Often there's a slippery slope in more than one direction.

Posted by: clnsmi at March 21, 2005 10:59 PM

Sun was born without the ability to breathe on his own. Most parents, faced with this, allow their child to die peacefully, without prolonging the impossible half-life that current technology allows. Sun's mother was determined that he would live and would not listen to what the doctors were telling her. Even with the breathing apparatus, Sun's deformed lungs and chest would eventually not be able to nourish his body.

Again, it's a horrible thing, but it is not the evil it is being portrayed as.

Terry Shiavo, if the CT scan is accurate, lacks a cerebral cortex and most contiginous grey matter. No amount of money will ever make her better. No amount of money will ever make her Terry Shiavo--or Schindler ever again. It is a horrible, horrible thing that has happened. But all the horror and all the hand wringing cannot change the fact that Terry is only going to deteriorate further and further. Even her parents have admitted this, and, while they stand ready to pay for treatment as Terry's condition worsens one needs to understand exactly where they're coming from.

Denial. It's hard to face the fact that a loved one is dead. How much harder to face that fact must it be when their body is still breathing and moving infront of you?

I don't know if I could say pull the plug either. I REALLY don't think I could say 'starve her', but even that, the fact that Terry's only option is starvation, is the result of someone outside a situation legislating that situation.

A gradual morphine overdose would let Terry fall asleep and never wake up. It would be quick and peaceful. But some of the same people shouting indignantly that it would be illegal to starve a pet to death are the same people who saw to it that the quick, peaceful option was not available-at least not to humans.

I don't know what the answer is here. I pointed out that my opinion hinges a lot on the veracity of Terry's CT scan. I can't see how it would hurt Michael Shiavo to relinquish custody to Terry's parents, and I don't really believe that money is at issue-wasn't there someone willing to buy Michael off? There is the thought that he's afraid that they'll discover his 'foul play', but I don't think the theory holds much water-the Schindlers and Shiavos weren't always at odds in this.

Personally, based on that scan, I think that there's no one there at all. But another blogger, Michele at ASV, put forth a notion that has haunted me...what if she is 'in' there? What if she's utterly insensate, but being at the bottom of a well able to see the top as only a point of light....and she's been there for 15 years. And, given the apparent fact that there is no cortex inside her head that can heal and make her better she will never get out. Ever.

That would be worse than horrible. That would be hell.

And still I don't know what's the right answer. Maybe all the answers are wrong. But I do know that one answer, however wrong, will release Terry from this awful situation. And in the end, this is not about courts or parents or husbands. It's about Terry.

Posted by: jack at March 22, 2005 08:31 AM
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