Schiavo: Who's "She"?

Matthew Yglesias lays out conveniently one of the interesting conflicts I've noted in partisans of the starve her to death side of the Schiavo brouhaha:

Many doctors and many lawyers have examined the sad case of Terri Schiavo. They've determined that she is in what's called a "persistent vegetative state" -- a state, in other words, in which all the functions of consciousness, decision-making, emotion, and thought have been destroyed and from which she has no hope of recovery. They have also determined, through arduous litigation, that, to the best of our ability to know, she would not wish to persist indefinitely in this state, and that it would be in keeping with her best interests and desires to have her feeding tube removed, and to die.

If both of the points Yglesias is making are true, who, exactly, is this "she" who is "persist[ing] indefinitely in this state?" Doesn't sound anything like the woman who allegedly doesn't want to live this way--that woman, after all, was conscious, had emotions and thoughts and the like--so why should "she" care?

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  • ||

    "She" is a brainless body.

  • ||

    Brian's question is a bit like asking why we should respect dead people's wills, or prosecute perverted embalmers who molest the deceased.

    Dead bodies care even less what happens to them than Terry Shiavo.

  • MP||

    It is foolish to expect people to use some type of grammer other than gender based pronouns to describe a person in a "persistent vegetative state". One of the sillier H&R posts I've seen in a while.

  • ||

    My grandmother's been dead for 25 years, but I still say "SHE" is buried in a local cemetary. What other pronouns would be appropriate?

  • ||

    The point is fair enough--Ross Douthat made the same argument a couple days back--but I think joe's argument is dead on. I wouldn't know or care THEN if, after my death, the state decided to give all my assets to, I don't know, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. But respect for the person I was entails not doing that. For any number of reasons having nothing to do with what it would subjectively feel like at the time, I wouldn't want my body kept alive as a shell after my mind and self had died; apparently a majority of opinions have similar concerns. You remember your Nozick, Brian--the point of the Experience Machine was precisely that our concerns and values don't stop at our subjective experience.

  • ||

    Joe--This was raised for angel's advocacy purposes, not because I'm sure I agree with its implications--or even what those implications might be. But to spell out the presumptions behind this little squib, there is a long, perhaps dominant, tradition in moral philosophy regarding personhood and identity that connects it with consciousness and rational thought--see the abortion debate--and I daresay there is a distinction to be made between honoring a now-dead persons's wish as per a will--"I want my property disposed of this way"--and honoring a wish (presuming she had such a wish) to not exist in a vegetative state when, I am suggesting, there are legitimate reasons to think that "you" are not the one existing in that state--that you are already long gone. It seems to me that Kill Schiavo types simultaneously believe both things, and I'm not entirely sure they go together.

  • ||

    Kill her? Not at all. Let her die with peace and dignity, yes.

  • fyodor||

    Brian,

    You'll have to rephrase that for me to follow. Until then, I'm with Joe. If she had made such a preference clear, then we follow that preference. In lieu of determining such a preference that she had when she was able to have one, the question then reverts to who has the right to decide for her. And I do hope you're being tongue-in-cheek with this "Kill Schiavo" doo-doo. Maybe there are folks out there who just want to off anyone in such a state. But why don't we address the best arguments of a particular side rather than the worst? In this case, the best argument is that of free choice, as best as can be determined under the circumstances.

  • ||

    Brian, the "you" who wrote the will clearly no longer exists at the time it is read and executed.

    If you daresay there is a difference, would you mind daresaying what that difference might be?

    There is a distinction between honoring a now-dead person's wish, and honoring a PVS-person's wish, you suggest, because the "you" no longer exists in the case of the PVS. Well, the "you" no longer exists in the case of a dead "you's" will, either. Whither this distinction? What am I missing?

  • ||

    What most puzzles me is the religous argument made by the Schindlers' attorney at the hearing yesterday "We are now in a position where a court has ordered her to disobey her church and even jeopardize her eternal soul." I understand that suicide is considered a mortal sin but even if you accept the notion that the removal of the feeding tube is tantamount to murder why would that imperil her soul? Murder is a sin, but is being murdered also a sin? If she were to receive last rights could she not be considered as having died in a state of grace? I am not a Catholic or a Christian, so I don't know the finer points of these issues. Anybody care to explain?

  • ||

    Fyodor--While I confess I haven't read the most words on this topic of anyone in America, seems to me the Best Argument is that we should kill Schiavo because she would have wanted to be killed in this situation. While I can respect the distinction between killing and merely not providing the means for continued life--food--I do wonder if those willing to make that distinction in this case would apply the same logic to, say, not feeding a 3 month old infant. If not, then I think its perfectly fair to call this "killing Schiavo," with the Best Argument distinction being "she would have wanted it that way." The reason I'm even making these angel's advocates arguments, to sink into repeating what's been said 10 gazillion times probably on Hit and Run alone, is that I think there are legitimate doubts absent an actual living will whether husband is accurately portraying her wishes or should be in a position to make best-interest decisions for her. And I am fascinated by the (and pace Julian, I didn't read what Russ Douthat had to say on this) frequent absense of grappling with the identity-as-consciousness school of thought, which I suspect most remove the tube partisans agree with, in discussing this matter.

  • ||

    Brian, are you basing your argument on the idea that there is a compelling interest in keeping Schiavo in her twilight state - her inalienable right to life - that outweighs her expressed wishes, because her lack of consciousness degrades the significance of her right to self-determination? Is it a case of one interest outweighing another?

    If so, can I have the government confiscate a dead guy's property, in violation of his will, if I can make a really, really, really good showing that the benefits of the disposition I propose outweighs the benefits of the deceased's disposition? After all, if I can save the lives of 100 African children, doesn't that outweigh the no-longer-relevant wishes of a dead body?

  • ||

    Joe--the possible distinction is, she already has gotten her wish---"she" is not in the state that she said she didn't want to be in. If you don't distribute property as per a will, then the person did not get their wish. In this case, they already have.

  • ||

    E. Steven,

    The claims of obviously in conflict, but that's not particularly unusual in a court case. The are making arguments A and B. If you don't find A compelling, your honor, consider B. What about A, which contradicts B, is not a rejoinder, because A has already been dismissed.

    Schiavo's lawyers don't have to have the judge find that A is true, and that B is true, just that one of them is true. They're acting like lawyers, that's all.

  • Jesse Walker||

    her expressed wishes

    Far as I can tell, there's no strong evidence of what her wishes were.

  • ||

    "It seems to me that Kill Schiavo types simultaneously believe both things, and I'm not entirely sure they go together."

    What terminology would you have people use then? Can you point to any that isn't just plain clunky and counterintuitive? Are you suggesting that when I reffer to the body of my dead dog that I'm burying as "he" what I'm really saying is that I'm a double-ungood crazypants who is burying a living dog?

    This post just seems like a flying hump at the moon.

  • ||

    "is that I think there are legitimate doubts absent an actual living will whether husband is accurately portraying her wishes or should be in a position to make best-interest decisions for her."

    This is where reading a few more words on the topic might come in handy, because her husband was not the only person to testify to her wishes, nor was his testimony the sole reason for the ruling on her wishes. Here's the Second District discussing why they ruled as they did:

    "We note that the guardianship court's original order expressly relied upon and found credible the testimony of witnesses other than Mr. Schiavo or the Schindlers. We recognize that Mrs. Schiavo's earlier oral statements were important evidence when deciding whether she would choose in February 2000 to withdraw life-prolonging procedures. See � 765.401(3), Fla. Stat. (2000); In re Guardianship of Browning, 568 So. 2d 4, 16. Nevertheless, the trial judge, acting as her proxy, also properly considered evidence of Mrs. Schiavo's values, personality, and her own decision-making process."

  • ||

    This is a silly thread, Brian. Joe is on center.

    The moral philosophy argument is fine as far as hypotheticals go. But there's no practical application here and your assertions that the "It seems to me that Kill Schiavo types simultaneously believe both things" statement is howlingly disengenuous.

    Points though, on the doubts about the husband.

    Except that unless you can prove in a court of law that those doubts are based on some sort of actionable fact, the law grants that authority to the spouse.

  • ||

    "Far as I can tell, there's no strong evidence of what her wishes were."

    The only evidence is her husband's testimony. That testimony was contradicted by her parents. The people in the position to judge credibility have found, every time the matter came up, that he was more credible.

    It would surely be better to have a written document, but it is not the case that we are left with nothing in its absence. We have judgements about the credibility of witnesses, and we have the presumption that the a husband is the best source for understanding his wife's wishes. Both of these can be refuted by evidence, but those who have attempted have repeatedly failed every time they've tried.

  • ||

    --I do wonder if those willing to make that distinction in this case would apply the same logic to, say, not feeding a 3 month old infant.

    I think that's a very telling statement. I think a three month old infant or a newborn infant has far more consciousness than a brain-dead body. However, I could understand how some people might see otherwise. Michael Schiavo looks at Terri, observes her reflexes and sees a sort of flesh and blood automaton. The Schindlers observe the same things and see a severely disabled but still emotionally intact individual. So, to a great extent, the parties are battling it out over their perception of the 'relationship' they have with this body. Indeed, if you look at the way the opposing parties have been discussing this case it's evident that one side sees a living corpse and the other side sees an impaired individual.

  • ||

    "why we should respect dead people's wills, "

    Because, uh, wills are written when the person was still alive and, uh, coherent?

  • ||

    Far as I can tell, there's no strong evidence of what her wishes were.

    I guess it depends on what your definition of "strong" is. In 2000, Judge Greer ruled that "The court specifically finds that these statements are Terri Schiavo's oral declarations concerning her intention as to what she would want done under the present circumstances and the testimony regarding such oral declarations is reliable, is creditable and rises to the level of clear and convincing evidence to this court."

  • Eric||

    Even Michael has admitted he doesn't know what Teri would have wanted.

    And there have been cases of people diagnosed PVS who recovered (here's one from the evil blogsforteri site).

  • Jesse Walker||

    The only evidence is her husband's testimony. That testimony was contradicted by her parents.

    In other words, there is no strong evidence of what her wishes were.

  • ||

    joe,

    There was more evidence than that.

    Brian,

    The problem is, from a practical standpoint, that someone has to make the decision if you don't make it. Our society has found that absent some evidence otherwise, the spouse is the best person to make the decision. The same is true for parents of children who are in a PVS.

  • ||

    Jesse Walker,

    Do read the guardian ad litem report.

  • ||

    Eric,

    Point out the statement please.

  • ||

    Consider also that she may not have been the good Catholic girl her parents believe. Perhaps her "immortal soul" was less important to her than her condition of being, and she DID ask to be allowed to die. I'll bet it wouldn't be the first time in the history of Catholisism that someone went to church on Sunday, and Caberet(sp) on Monday. And it ain't nobody's business if she did.

    As for ccomparing it to not feeding a 3 month old, the difference is that the 3 monther can't express thier wish to die, whereas Terri (according to her husband) did.

    Just to stir the Hornet's nest a little: Consider also, as far fetched as it sounds, that Terri's parents may be right. She could still be in there, able to think and feel. Does the fact that she won't chew or swallow indicate that she's making a choice to starve herself, because she doesn't want to "live" this way?

  • ||

    Just a thought. We all accept that pulling the feeding tube will kill her. That's the intent. So...let's say she wanted to be cremated. Couldn't they just slap her straight into the furnace and fire it up? Or would that be murder? Cruel? Wrong? Why?

  • ||

    Jesse Walker,

    When you do, you'll find that Mrs. Schiavo made statements to a friend and to her brother-in-law. Boy you sure did swallow the pro-tube crowd's argument hook, line and sinker.

  • ||

    I have to say that the reporting done on this issue has been some of the worst I have ever seen out of the press. Why the news people haven't shown a scan of Schiavo's brain and compared it (with expert in tow) to a healthy brain I cannot say. In a court that is how I would teach a jury about an issue and why the media doesn't do the same is beyond me.

  • Eric||

    What, you can read guardian reports but not a transcript? :)

    But here it is:

    KING: Do you understand how they feel?

    M. SCHIAVO: Yes, I do. But this is not about them, it's about Terri. And I've also said that in court. We didn't know what Terri wanted, but this is what we want...

  • ||

    JC,

    Our legal system doesn't allow for assistance in that way (the distinction is non-sensical, but it exists in the law).

  • ||

    Eric, a thought experiment:

    You have a loved one who's involved in a horrendous accident. The doctors weren't able to save any part of their body except their brain which has been kept alive in a container. The doctors are fairly certain that the brain is undamaged and can be kept in that state indefinitely. They further surmise, that perhaps at some point in the future there may be a way to unlock or otherwise communicate with the consciousness contained within that brain, perhaps by dowloading it onto a computer. Do you keep the brain alive?

  • R C Dean||

    To the extent there is no personhood left in her body, then there is no reason to keep it alive.

    To the extent her personality survives, we should respect its wishes.

    See? Not so hard to resolve the apparent "contradiction."

  • ||

    Eric, "And there have been cases of people diagnosed PVS who recovered (here's one from the evil blogsforteri site)."

    OK, but having read the article, this woman doesn't have any kind of life that I would want. I'd rather be dead. Just because someone can "recover" doesn't mean that they'd want to (at least not to a condition like that). Terri's parents say she can recover, while her husband says she wouldn't want to.

  • ||

    Eric,

    Sorry, I am having a hard time squaring that with what Mr. Schiavo stated in court.

  • ||

    WSDave,

    Or that that they can. Eric is stupdily analogizing one case to another without any evidence that such analogy is anything more than wishful thinking.

  • Eric||

    "OK, but having read the article, this woman doesn't have any kind of life that I would want. I'd rather be dead."

    That's fine for you, but you can't make judgment that for Teri, can you?

    And Gary doesn't see the analogy between one person being diagnosed PVS and recovering and Teri being diagnosed PVS and being starved. And the people closest to both cases say they are alike, but Gary obviously knows better.

    Here is another case that I'm sure has nothing to do with it.

  • ||

    Plenty of folk have been linking the woman diagnosed PVS who recovered (after 70 days, mind you, not 15 years). That's a useful reminder that one always ought to be careful, because mistakes are possible. But the extent of that woman's recovery also makes it quite clear that her cerebral cortex wasn't liquefied, making the comparison something of a red herring.

  • ||

    Eric, that is just sad. You are citing cases in which there was a misdiagnosis that happened very early on about the preliminary findings, and the patient quickly recovered. A VS only becomes considered a PVS after three months of a completely non-cognitively responsive state. Terri has been non-responsive for 15 years, despite what her parents desperately want to believe. Terri also has clinical findings that support the idea that unlike those with mostly intact brains who have minor damage that inhibits expression but may recover, she has lost so much brain tissue that there is no reasonable argument for her recovering.

  • ||

    Eric, ""OK, but having read the article, this woman doesn't have any kind of life that I would want. I'd rather be dead."

    That's fine for you, but you can't make judgment that for Teri, can you?"

    My post wasn't very long; you should have read all of it. I'll repeat:

    "Terri's parents say she can recover, while her husband says she wouldn't want to."

    Her husband CAN (and should) be allowed to carry out her wishes. It's not so far-fetched that someone would choose death over that kind of "life", not even a "Catholic".

  • ||

    Eric,

    No, I stated that you hadn't substantiated the analogy.

    And the people closest to both cases say they are alike, but Gary obviously knows better.

    No, at best, SOME of the people closest to the cases say that and they do so by evaluating a couple of minutes of videotape!!!

    Why don't the Schindlers produce all four and half hours of the tape instead of presenting a few minutes of tape punctuated by abrupt cuts and made up of very short snippetss? The likely reason is that is the only way they could present the video as believeable, that's why.

    Since BillyRay doesn't have the nuts to answer my question, may you could step in and answer it for him.

  • ||

    WSDave,

    Reading comprehension skills are not Eric's strong suit. :)

  • ||

    Julian and plunge,

    Don't confuse Eric with reality.

  • ||

    Julian, thank you. Again: a PVS is only suspected to be permanent after three months: not 70 days, not a few days, but three months. Terri has not only been like this for 15 years, but she has extensively documented pathology consistent with the idea that there is no chance of recovery.
    http://www.issuesinmedicalethics.org/093di077.html

    You'll note that the experts that the parents cite appear not to have seen her medical records, and only seen the heavily edited videotape which the courts and medical examiners deemed highly misleading to her actual condition and manufactured. Many of them aren't even aware of what PVS is: that vocalizations, movements, waking/sleeping, expressions, and even limited eye following are all consistent with PVS and NOT indicative of higher cortical function.

  • Eric||

    Everyone,
    Don't confuse Gunnels with class.

  • ||

    Eric, "Everyone,
    Don't confuse Gunnels with class."

    That's debateable, but that he's correct isn't.

  • Xrlq||

    Joe:

    Brian's question is a bit like asking why we should respect dead people's wills, or prosecute perverted embalmers who molest the deceased.



    Hardly. If Terri were 100% dead, without a will, and the current dispute were over who should inherit her property, all the evidence in the world that she "intended" to leave property to you, me, or anyone else would not amount to a hill of beans. The court would simply note that she left no will, and the property would pass by intestacy. Period (full stop), end of story. That's what they should have done here: no living will, no patient-kill.

    I guess it depends on what your definition of "strong" is. In 2000, Judge Greer ruled that "The court specifically finds that these statements are Terri Schiavo's oral declarations concerning her intention as to what she would want done under the present circumstances and the testimony regarding such oral declarations is reliable, is creditable and rises to the level of clear and convincing evidence to this court."



    Greer screwed up. Part of the basis of his "clear and convincing" ruling was his decision to ignore Diane Meyer's corroborating testimony that Terri Schiavo thought Karen Ann Quinlan should live. His reason for ignoring an otherwise credible (by Greer's own admission) witness? Because she said Schiavo made the comments in 1982, at a time when Quinlan was actually alive (she died in 1985) but Greer falsely believed she was already dead (he apparently believed she had died in 1976).

    Of course, Greer now claims none of this mattered. It sure as hell sounded like it did when issued the original opinion, though. "Fake but accurate," anyone?

  • ||

    Re: E. Steven's hypothetical --

    If I could keep the brain alive at no cost to myself, I surely would.

    If I would find the cost burdensome, in light of the remoteness of the likelihood of its revivification, I probably would not. On the other hand, if some other party who also cared about my loved one volunteered to take over custody of and financial responsibility for the brain, I would certainly let them do so, however futile I thought their hopes were.

  • gaius marius||

    And there have been cases of people diagnosed PVS who recovered

    as i understand it, something like 3 PVS cases in 100,000 come back to some measure of personhood, but none have ever after as many as 22 months. she's been in this state for a minimum of ten years.

    she's more dead than we are alive, statistically speaking, and i think it a sign of moral strength, not weakness, to recognize so.

  • ||

    "Of course, Greer now claims none of this mattered. It sure as hell sounded like it did when issued the original opinion, though. "Fake but accurate," anyone?"

    Now claims? He revisited the issue in a separate hearing (itself a very rare and lucky thing for a judge to grant after the trial process) and found it immaterial and irrelevant to the final outcome of the decision. No higher court has disagreed or suggested that he acted inappropriately.

    Your attempt to make the legal process sound like an episode of crossfire isn't exactly convincing.

  • ||

    Wow, they're turning the slime hose on Judge Greer!

    Here it comes. If I don't see three professional Republicans accusing Judge Greer of personal corruption by this weekend, I'll eat my hat.

    Scumbags.

  • ||

  • ||

    Couldn't lay off the Dan Rather quip, could you?

    Does anybody have any question about what's going on here?

  • ||

    Brian,

    By that reasoning, can we not also say that "she" therefore CAN NOT be suffering now? If that's the case, then keeping the body in some form of a minutely functioning condition or ceasing to keep it that way becomes nothing more than an excercise for everyone else since "she" can't be affected. So if someone wants to keep "her" in her condition (and is willing to pay for it) what's the problem?

  • ||

    Look, everyone, oddly synchronous right wing posters introducing a new story into the debate!

    How DO they do that?

    It is on, ladies and germs. Where's Mona?

  • ||

    As an analogous question, Russ, is it OK for me to keep corpses in my living room to spruce the place up? If not, why not?

    If there's no person in there, then it's a personless body that used to be that person being kept alive past its due date.

  • ||

    I said it before and I think it's worth restating.

    The argument for letting Schaivo die is roughly along the same lines as burying Bernie Lomax instead of taking him to the beach with you.

    "Her wishes" are not what she wishes now, but what she wished then. The Kill Schaivo camp (if you insist on calling them that, as far as most are concerned, she as a person is dead but not yet buried).

    I don't think there's any substantial debate over whether she's suffering now or wanting to live. She's not *wanting* anything, because there is no "she." Anyone who's saying they're acting for Schaivo is kidding themselves. This is more akin to a debate about who gets to arrange your funeral in the absence of a will, a freely chosen (by your spouse) court arbiter or the federal government.

  • ||

    Mr. Doherty,

    "Joe--the possible distinction is, she already has gotten her wish---"she" is not in the state that she said she didn't want to be in. If you don't distribute property as per a will, then the person did not get their wish. In this case, they already have."

    I don't find this compelling. "Dr., I don't want to be an organ donor if the surgery goes wrong."

    "Oh, don't worry. YOU won't be an organ donor."

    According to her husband, Mrs. Schiavo, ike a lot of people, didn't want to be left to linger in this condition.

  • ||

    By that reasoning, can we not also say that "she" therefore CAN NOT be suffering now

    No we can't say she isn't suffering from this government forced starvation

  • ||

    This just in:
    Generalisimo Terri Schiavo is still undead. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

  • Ron Hardin||

    The ``she'' is the woman he married, and who he owes a final obligation to, which he is trying to carry out.

    That is, a past woman; as we say ``in memory of,'' in an obligation to speak for somebody who can no longer speak for themselves.

  • ||

    I guess my big beef with the whole process is that, absent a living will, there are only two ways to deal with people in a persistent vegetative state (and looking at the brain scans, that appears to be Terri's condition):

    1) Keep them alive at all costs, and under any circumstances
    2) Assign someone the responsibility of deciding whether they should be kept alive.

    With our laws, we've chosen the latter, and according to the established decision hierarchy it is Terri's husband who must make that decision. I think a lot of the 'Save Terri' people haven't yet confronted this dichotomy, and aren't aware of the consequences of choosing option number 1.

    If make the determination that somebody with vital signs must always be kept alive using any medical means necessary, regardless of all other factors, then we are in effect saying that as long as science can sustain those vital signs, it must do so. The implications of this to my mind are staggering: What happens in effect is that the 'can' of science then replaces the 'should' of life. Anything that science can do to the body to keep those EKGs beeping is permitted. The shoulds all become secondary. Do we trust whatever level of medical technology we currently have to substitute for the wisdom, love and care of those closest to the comatose individual?

    Keep in mind that medical technology is advancing every hour, and that someday it might simply not be possible for us to 'die'. Do we want to be subjected to a life that dead-ends into a pile of medical equipment, simply because science can make it so?

  • ||

    Eric,

    You may not like my personality, but that's hardly a demerit against the substance of my statements. If the best that you can is get down and dirty on my personality, then I think who has is correct here, and it ain't you twit.

    Xrlq,

    If Terri were 100% dead, without a will, and the current dispute were over who should inherit her property, all the evidence in the world that she "intended" to leave property to you, me, or anyone else would not amount to a hill of beans. The court would simply note that she left no will, and the property would pass by intestacy.

    Actually, that's not true. Courts consider that sort of evidence all the time. In my estates course we read innumerable cases where non-memorialized evidence was used to determine the final disposition of an estate. The idea that intestacy laws are the final and only word on the matter is just, well, silly.

  • ||

    BillyRay & Eric,

    I am waiting for either of you fucktards to answer my question about the videotape.

  • ||

    You can feel the love that the Republicans have for Terri....

    Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 a.m.

    GOP memo says issue offers political rewards

    By The Washington Post


    WASHINGTON � Republican leaders believe their attention to the Terri Schiavo issue could pay dividends with Christian conservatives whose support they covet in the 2006 midterm elections, according to a GOP memo intended to be seen only by senators.

    The one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, called the debate over Schiavo legislation "a great political issue" that would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who is up for re-election next year.

    "This is an important moral issue, and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. "This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a co-sponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

    Copyright � 2005 The Seattle Times Company

  • ||

    BillyRay, if Ms. Adamson had any evidence that Mrs. Schiavo was improperly diagnosed as she herself was, her take on the issue would be worthwhile.

    But she doesn't, and all she's doing is muddying the waters.

  • ||

    "With our laws, we've chosen the latter, and according to the established decision hierarchy it is Terri's husband who must make that decision."

    Again, and I don't know how many times this has to be repeated, but her husband did NOT make the decision. He submitted the case to the court to make the crucial determination about her wishes, which is why it is the state courts are under challenge. I don't know why the media explains this so poorly. While it's true that next-of-kin get to make medical decisions, it's not really directly relevant to this case.

  • ||

    "Kate Adamson"... had a BRAINSTEM injury. NOT a cerb cortex injury! Trying to present this case as if it bore any direct relevance on Terri's condition is just flatly dishonest, and a key example of how poorly educated and informed people are about science and medicine: where any quack can make any case sound like magic, or puff events up to imply completely different things than they do.

  • ||

    Seems they just picked up a Catholic worker (?) for trying to sneak in water to give her. Had she succeeded, Schaivo most likely would have drowned and this would all be over.

    And Julian, shame on you even contemplating allowing RWJ Foundation to take your money upon hypothetical death. Much better to sponsor a Reason open bar night in their name. May you be drunk in heaven half an hour before the teetotalers know you're dead.

  • ||

    The matter of the memo to Republican Senators has come up in a previous thread here on H&R. At that time, much was made of the fact that it is unsigned, and so is of dubious provenance. If the memo really was distributed by party leaders, as the WaPo article claims, that puts it in a different light.

    This whole thing about making it an issue for Bill Nelson's reelection is going to end badly for the Republicans. Remember, Ohioans don't get to vote for or against Nelson--he only has to keep the support of Florida voters. Floridians may be on the whole a conservative lot, but they REALLY don't appreciate the federal government meddling in their internal affairs, Jeb notwithstanding. I predict this will backfire, and Nelson's position against the bill will be a plus for him in next year's election, if his campaign doesn't screw it up.

  • ||

    And also, while Nelson might be a supreme boob, he's a lovable boob, and says all kinds of populist nonsense that people love to hear.

  • ||

    WSDave,
    ABC news, Washington Post, Seattle Times.
    Now there are 3 unbiased "news" organisations that I'd believe. Especially writing something derogatory about the evil GOP. Did they mention that Dick Cheney and Halliburton are behind this too?

  • ||

    I say keep her alive and use her as a stem cell research guinea pig.

  • Omar K. Ravenhurst||

    Brian, we can obviously regard Ms. Schiavo's body as her property. I don't know why you would take any other view.

  • fyodor||

    Brian,

    C'mon.

    The differences between Schiavo and a three year old refusing his food are twofold. One, Schiavo's husband knew her when she was a competent adult. Two, she is braindamaged, in a vegetative state and is very unlikely to ever recover to a conscious, volitional existence. These are both huge enough differences that there is no reason to think that those who would allow her husband to represent her preference (okay, her preference from back when she was in a state in which she could have a preference) are not inherently reduced to such simplistic reasoning.

  • ||

    mojoe,

    Regardless of the vailidity of the memo, America will THINK it's real and hold it against the GOP. If you doubt that, consider how many people still thought that Iraq was behind 9/11 even after Bush himself said they weren't.

  • ||

    No she's not Joe. The Docs all said she was brain dead too.

  • ||

    BillyRay

    For FIFTEEN years?

    NO? (see also "Posted by plunge at March 22, 2005 03:50 PM", thanks for that one)

    Didn't think so?

    Apparently some people have nothing better to do than drag red herrings around.(see also "Posted by plunge at March 22, 2005 03:50 PM", thanks for that one)

  • ||

    What's useless. Brain-Damaged Woman Talks After 20 Years

    Glad the state didn't order her starved!

  • ||

    Billy Ray,

    That girl had locked in syndrome, her cortex was still there. Schaivo's cortex is gone. You're comparing apples and orange rinds.

  • Xrlq||

    Gary Gunnels:

    Actually, that's not true. Courts consider that sort of evidence all the time. In my estates course we read innumerable cases where non-memorialized evidence was used to determine the final disposition of an estate. The idea that intestacy laws are the final and only word on the matter is just, well, silly.



    Go ahead, name a single case where a court implied a will where none existed. I'll wait.

  • ||

    There are clear distinctions between refusing premanent life support (artificial hydration, nutrition, respiration, circulation) when a person has no chance of recovery and denying temporary life-sustaining medical care to get someone through a crisis or to support the life of a conscious human being.

  • ||

    Xlrg,

    You purposefully and stupidly misread my point of course. Its not an issue of implying the existance of a will (duh!), its the use of non-memorialized evidence to determine a decedant's intent be it for the disposition of property or something else. As for a case, well, there is one noted here on Abstract Appeal: http://abstractappeal.com/

    BTW, a few states do allow for oral wills (noncupative wills); see Restatement (Third) of Property, Wills and Other Donative Transfers, sec. 3.2, Statutory Note (1999). This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    BillyRay,

    You've already lied repeatedly about this issue. There is no reason to take you seriously.

    And you do realize the difference between being "brain dead" and being PVS, right? Being PVS is not the same as being "brain dead." And this chick had "locked in syndrome" anyway, which is a completely different condition from PVS. At least learn the proper terminology!

    chthus,

    Its BillyRay's purpose to obfuscate; don't expect the lying troll to actually admit ignorance or error.

  • ||

    подача нет напевает

  • ||

    Yeah, what this guy said!!!

  • ||

    If people truely believe that this woman has ceased to exist in any meaningful term, why are we wasting time starving her to death? Why not just strangle her, or shoot her? I wonder how many people on this thread who are so gung-ho to kill this women because her already re-married husband says she would have wanted it that way, would be willing to pull the trigger or take a cord and strangle her? If not why not? Afterall she is just a brainless body. It shouldn't be anymore difficult than killing an animal. My gues is none of them would have the nerve to do it, because deep down they know she is alive and a person still. What this argument is really about is whether society can dispose of the less fortuneate for convienence of all those involved. It starts with Ms. Shiavo and goes to people with low IQs or severe physical imparments who really can't have any quality of life by our standards and ends with killing anyone who doesn't quite fit the mold or is viewed as a burden to us.

  • ||

    Sounds like John's ready to pony up for continued feeding and care costs, plus all available therapies, both experimental and completely ridiculous.

    Or are you simply afraid of your height on that slippery slope? Regardless, all those spoken agreements you and your wife have? I've got better plans. Carry on.

  • ||

    "because her already re-married husband"

    You are a liar and deserve nothing but scorn. There is a word for printing malicious falsehoods: libel. Regardess of your opinions it is not wise to commit libel on a public board.

  • ||

    Mr. Doherty--

    How, if your conjecture is true, are the people arguing for keeping Terri Schiavo alive not holding the same doublethink about "her"?

    They argue what's best for "her" but the "her" they refer to and celebrate is somebody who is gone. So basically they are arguing that it's better to force someone to keep alive a personless mass of human flesh because a pink bunny told them it's bad to let it die.

    Pink bunny, God, whatever, "he" has the same standing in our legal system: none. So if what you argue is true, then there is no non-religious argument you can make for keeping the mass of flesh that used to house Terri Shiavo alive.

    By first amendment, that argument is legally without basis. So Mr. Shiavo's wishes prevail.

    Now who has the contradiction?

  • ||

    You are a liar and deserve nothing but scorn. There is a word for printing malicious falsehoods: libel. Regardess of your opinions it is not wise to commit libel on a public board.

    One of the things about this case is the conspiracy theory(ies) that has grown up around it.

    Somehow M. Schiavo has manged to corrupt the legal system by buying off judges, doctors and myriads of witnesses. While such things might be possible it seems unlikely Schiavo has the resources to pull it off.

    Like all conspiracy theories this one relies heavily on untruths or irrelevant or misconstrued facts.

  • ||

    Seems they just picked up a Catholic worker (?) for trying to sneak in water to give her. Had she succeeded, Schaivo most likely would have drowned and this would all be over.

    Apparently one of the new myths being spread (and being believed by the keep alive crowd) is that Terri really can eat (be spoon fed, I suppose) and that the tube is there because the hospice workers just can't be bothered with her.

    Of course like the "Terri can really talk" claim nobody is prepared to even file a sworn statement let alone provide any actual evidence.

  • ||

    "I wonder how many people on this thread who are so gung-ho to kill this women because her already re-married husband says she would have wanted it that way, would be willing to pull the trigger or take a cord and strangle her? If not why not? Afterall she is just a brainless body. It shouldn't be anymore difficult than killing an animal."

    I wouldn't want to strangle Ms. Schiavo, though probably that's just my own squeamishness and aesthetic morality. I wouldn't want to strangle an animal, either, but that is at least based on a moral determination that it is evil to cause undue suffering.

    To get to the heart of the matter, I would have no problem giving the unfortunate woman a shot to stop her heart, and I hope to God someone will have the compassion to do the same form me if I'm ever in such a state.

  • ||

    BillyRay has been reduced to pretending there is no difference between widely divergent types of brain injury.

    PVS? Minimally conscious? Locked-in syndrome? Comatose? It's all too hard, let's just have Tom DeLay decide.

  • ed||

    "Eat your vegetables!"

  • ||

    There's a vast psychological and moral difference between letting nature take its course by refusing continued medical intervention for a woman who has no chance of recovery and strangling her.

  • ||

    Serafina,

    There is no moral difference between shooting someone or allowing them to starve to death. In both cases you are conscously deciding the person's death. By your logic, I suppose Mao is not guilty for starving millions of Chinese because afterall all he did was let nature take its course with them. You either think this women should be killed or you don't. Its that simple.

  • Omar K. Ravenhurst||

    John, that looks like a fine statement of the liberal position. But it doesn't seems directly relevant to the case of a woman who lacks this. See especially the description of association areas.

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