House Hacks Say "Feed Me Feed Me Feed Me!"

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When chefs like ethically challenged redistricter Tom Delay, bumbling-but-still-not-lovable Speaker Denny Hastert, and roid-raging Virginian Tom Davis (didn't he used to be Al Franken's partner?) are doing the cooking, you can be sure federal separation of powers won't be on the menu. The three House Republicans are now asserting their constitutional authority to keep Terri Schiavo eating.

"Later this morning," says a statement from Davis, Delay, and Hastert, "we will issue a subpoena, which will require hospice administrators and attending physicians to preserve nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo to allow Congress to fully understand the procedures and practices that are currently keeping her alive."

That could take weeks!

I should speak a little Reason heresy here and admit that I am not as convinced as my colleague Ron Bailey that the case for turning off Schiavo's feeding tube is beyond dispute; I also think "turning off her feeding tube" is a euphemism (and not a very inventive one) for "starving her to death." (For my money, the scandal isn't that the system would allow Schiavo to die, but that it requires her to starve rather than just getting a thump on the head or a dose of cyanide.)

Schiavo's shameless parents have clouded the issue beyond recognition and tried to make her husband, who has gone broke keeping her alive this long, look like a monster. But all legitimate grounds of appeal have run out. Now we're stuck with only the illegitimate grounds.

But I guess it will be sort of funny, in a Farrelly brothers kind of way, to watch Hastert interrogating the vegetative Schiavo on March 28.

NEXT: Bring 'Em Off

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  1. If I ever end up in her condition, will someone please whack me when Congress isn’t looking?

  2. Has anyone else noticed the irony in the fact that traditional religous conservatives usually believe that a husband assumes the parent’s authority after the wedding. Isn’t that the point of having the father give away the daughter to her new husband?
    Maybe I am misinterpreting tradional mores but if a principle has exceptions then it isn’t a principle. Does anyone have a better understanding than I with regards to traditional family structure and authority? I this simply a case of forsaking one principle in favor of another one which is viewed as a higher principle?

  3. Twba

    They’re may be only one indisputable fact in this case, and that is that one needs a Living Will.

  4. Well, whatever one might think about the particulars of the case, isn’t it a bit disturbing that the House is now taking on the role of an appeals court?

    On the plus side, if they bring her to DC for this, despite her vegetative state (or whatever term you prefer), she’ll still be more intelligent than any of the Congressmen doing the hearing.

    Not sure if that’s an argument for euthanizing them or keeping her alive…

  5. “Is this simply a case of forsaking one principle in favor of another one which is viewed as a higher principle?”

    Perhaps i can answer this with a segment from the movie Napolean Dynamite:

    Nap: Do the chickens have large talons?
    Farmer: Large what?
    Nap: Large talons…
    Farmer: Boy, i don’t understand a word you just said.

  6. “They’re may be only one indisputable fact in this case, and that is that one needs a Living Will.”

    pretty much.

  7. Wow. It’s frightening, but perhaps not surprising, to see such unblinking evil on a more-or-less mainstream blog. I have sometimes enjoyed this blog in the past, but I will never be stopping by here again.
    Go to amywelborn.typepad.com for better Schiavo coverage.

  8. “traditional religous conservatives usually believe that a husband assumes the parent’s authority after the wedding.”

    You’re right! We religious conservatives have always supported the right of fathers to kill their daughters. Honor killings, you know. So when the daughter gets married, the paternal power gets transferred to the husband.

    We have always supported the right of adulterous husbands to starve their wives to death. How come we’ve changed our position so suddenly?

  9. So, let’s say that a gay guy goes into a coma or vegetative state or whatever you want to call it, and his husband wants to pull the plug. What will the religious right say? If they allow a wicked sodomite to die and go to hell on the say-so of his husband they’re acknowledging the legal legitimacy of gay marriage. If they fight to keep him alive, they’ll probably have to humanize a gay person.

    Whatever stance they take, I’m sure they’ll find a way to be really obnoxious about it.

  10. I have sometimes enjoyed this blog in the past, but I will never be stopping by here again.

    Except that the people who say that always come back…

    And if you reply to say that you really mean it and you’re not coming back, well, then you’ll be stuck in a contradiction and Gary Gunnels will go after you 😉

  11. Seriously, I’m not trying to mock traditionalists. I’m just trying to understand what principles are at work since so many seem to be invoking the assumed authority of the parents in this case.

  12. Nah, Eryk, the pretense that the parents are the rightful authority is just a means to an end. If the situation was reversed, the same people would be arguing vehemently about the parents improperly intruding on the glorious institution of marriage.

  13. The principle at work is “grandstanding”.

    And tyranically ignoring concepts like the separation of powers and federalism.

    Me, I ain’t going away.

    SP

  14. I can see it now:

    Congressman: Mrs. Shiavo, please explain the practices and procedures that are keeping you alive.

    Schiavo:

    Congressman: Mrs. Schiavo, you are compelled by subpoena to respond to our questions. If you do not, you will be held in contempt and subject to punishment.

    Other Congressman: Please, she can’t answer any questions; she’s in a persistent vegetative state!

    Congressman: Nonsense. If that were so, surely this august body would never have subpoenaed her! That would be a travesty, a gross abuse of our powers.

  15. “I’m just trying to understand what principles are at work since so many seem to be invoking the assumed authority of the parents in this case.”

    Demanding from anyone in today’s society that they provide (1) a logical foundation for, (2)consistency with, and (3) that they stand behind a “principle”, regardless of how unflattering a result that principle might yield if applied to a different set of facts, is tantamount to mockery.

    Principles are nothing more than momentary justifications designed to yield desired results. They are NOT foundational ideas from which binding conclusions must be drawn. Ain’t you learned nuthin’ from the tee-vee, boy?

  16. Wow. It’s frightening, but perhaps not surprising, to see such unblinking evil on a more-or-less mainstream blog.

    Wait until unblinking evil butts heads with unblinking stupidity in the form of BillyRay. It’s better than watching NASCAR’s multicar crashes.

  17. For my money, the scandal isn’t that the system would allow Schiavo to die, but that it requires her to starve rather than just getting a thump on the head or a dose of cyanide.

    Tim, if you really believe that someone in a PVS is capable of suffering from “starvation” or anything for that matter, you probably ought to believe they’re capable of joy too and should be kept alive. I don’t understand your point at all.

    If they allow a wicked sodomite to die and go to hell on the say-so of his husband they’re acknowledging the legal legitimacy of gay marriage.

    It wouldn’t be a gay marriage anymore. A persistent vegetative state is a cure for homosexuality, as Walter Freeman taught us.

  18. thoreau,

    Shut up Cathy.

    James Kabala,

    “Unblinking evil?” Where’s the evil in supporting an individual’s right to die? Like I always say, thank reason that Switzerland allows foreignors to go there and make their own end of life decisions.

    Isaac Bertram,

    That’s certainly true.

  19. Tim, if you really believe that someone in a PVS is capable of suffering from “starvation” or anything for that matter, you probably ought to believe they’re capable of joy too and should be kept alive.

    I’m not sure she shouldn’t be kept alive.

  20. It’s a shame that James is never coming back. I’d really like to know which part of Tim’s post was “unblinking evil”…the part where he noted the absurdity of Congress assuming by fiat the role of an appeals court, the part where he admitted having misgivings about the case for ending Ms. Shiavo’s life, or the part where he expressed disgust at the only particular means by which her life may legally be ended.

    James, if you’re still lurking, I’d really like to hear you expand on your point.

  21. “James, if you’re still lurking, I’d really like to hear you expand on your point.”

    I think his point was: “come check out my blog.”

  22. Hmmm, Hastert is going to question someone in a vegetative state? Why am I thinking of Monty Python’s Parrot sketch?

  23. I dunno what they should do with her. I do know it’s pretty grotesque to see moral giants like DeLay and Hastert use a vegetable as a stunt prop to make brownie points with the wackos. If only they had such concern for their fellow humans who happen to be outside of a uterus and able to brush their own teeth.

  24. “Wow. It’s frightening, but perhaps not surprising, to see such unblinking evil…”

    Thought the guy was talking about Congress there for a second.

  25. Wasn’t she separated from here husband for months (years?) before she went into a coma?

    (still – it’s not Congress’ business)

  26. Ironchef-

    Which is your favorite chef on TV? I kind of like Chen Kenichi, because when I first started following it they showed a string of episodes where the challengers all wanted to go against him. And they’d all get their asses handed to them by Iron Chef Chen. My hypothesis is that it’s some sort of nationalist obsession with trying to beat the Chinese at something.

  27. Quote of the Day:

    “Rep. Henry Waxman of California, senior Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, called the subpoenas a “flagrant abuse of power” and amounted to Congress dictating the medical care Terri Schiavo should receive.”
  28. Via the Associated Press.

  29. Rush is blathering on about Federal Supremacy.

    When the Dems are back in control and some Committee uses this same trick and tries to subponea Mumia the day before he gets a needle in his arm, and do an end run around the death penalty, I wonder what the Republicans will say then.

  30. Um, the link doesn’t say anything about the husband going broke.

    The behavior of both sides is an example replacing the rule of law with the rule of lawyers. If we still had something resembling the rule of law, the courts never would have allowed her husband, who has several kids now with a new woman, to continue to act as her guardian based on his account of what she said.

    She didn’t leave a living will, and the husband should have been disqualified as her guardian years ago.

    That said, the pro-life side is tearing up all sorts of constitutional guarantees in order to secure the result they favor. Justice Scalia should be appalled.

  31. Is this really a mainstream blog? If so, why aren’t any of the points discussed here being discussed by the same congress which subpoenas a brain dead wom….

    never mind.

  32. “When the Dems are back in control and some Committee uses this same trick and tries to subponea Mumia the day before he gets a needle in his arm, and do an end run around the death penalty, I wonder what the Republicans will say then.”

    I think it’s pretty obvious what they’ll say.

    so.. has Rush changed his view of drug addicts yet? or has he joined the cast of the new hit musical “That’s All In The Past And We Need To Focus On Moving Forward”? 🙂

  33. “Florida–The Persistent Vegetative State!”

  34. I am convinced that we are severly psychotic when it comes to death. Some people are so repulsed by it, that they can’t imagine anything else being worse.. like, um, maybe being a FUCKING DROOLING VEGETABLE ON NATIONAL TV.

    I lost all respect for Bill Frist when he disagreed with Schiavo’s doctors by simply looking at the propaganda videos. Un-fucking-believable.

    It’s very simple. Put a gun to her head. If she flinches or makes any action whatsoever towards fear/self-preservation, then spare her. Otherwise.. very, very simple.

  35. any question?: For the ultimate on Rush’s rehab, see Harry Shearer’s Le Show: http://play.rbn.com/?url=livecon/kcrw/g2demand/ls/ls031012le_Show.rm&start=27:58.5&proto=rtsp

  36. Who would have standing to ask the SCOTUS to issue an injunction against the Congress to stop meddling where it has no authority? And would Congress obey such an injunction?

  37. I was watching the hearings on C-Span today with my Swedish girlfriend and she thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. In her country, the doctors make the final decision, not next of kin.

    And Kabala’s got it wrong – this site’s always been mean – that’s why I keep coming back.

  38. James B.,

    Mumia has been permanently spared the death penalty.

  39. Mr. Nice Guy,

    Well, that and Frist is not like a neurologist or whatever specialized doctor they called into determine her condition.

  40. The case has convinced me o make out a living will.

  41. Did anyone just catch Sherphard Smith’s interview with Napolotiano on the Schiavo case?

    Both him and shep agreed that it was a states right thing, and Shep seemed pretty puzzled at congress intervening in this and the baseball thing yesterday.

    Funniest moment was when Napolotiano mentioned living wills, and Shep agreed that they are important, and that he made his own to make sure no one is mistaken should anything happen, and then proceeded to run his thumb across his throat and make a loud “cut” noise. Hilarious.

  42. In her country, the doctors make the final decision, not next of kin.

    Sounds like soft tyranny to me. Doctors should be there to advise and assist, not to make decisions that no one ceded to them.

    If Schiavo’s husband doesn’t want to keep her alive and her parents do, then give custody and responsibility to the parents. In the absence of a living will saying otherwise — or any other clear sign of the woman’s preferences — there’s no good reason to starve someone to death when there are people willing to keep her alive. I believe in the right to commit suicide, but not to run around killing other people willy-nilly.

  43. Tim, if you really believe that someone in a PVS is capable of suffering from “starvation” or anything for that matter . . .

    Um . . . starvation isn’t a feeling or an emotional state . . . it’s the state of being deprived of food until dead. Are you claiming that she can’t be killed by taking away her food? Or do you think that, because one is in a PVS, the body and brain will not internally experience that situation as painful? I assume you’re claiming the latter — the former being patently absurd — so I’m going to have to ask how in the hell you know?

  44. According to the article in the NY Times on this, Bill Frist is joining in on calling for a subpoena. Say what you will about Hastert and company, Frist is a doctor and he damn well knows better (of course, so should the others). Rather than being a voice of reason on this, Frist is playing up, or down, to his alleged base.

    Republicans, I won’t dare to raise them to the level of “conservatives” any more (or any more than I would call Democrats “liberals”), are showing the lie behind their oft spoken statements about marriage being a sacred bond between one man and one woman and how they only want to protect that highest of institutions. If it’s so sacred, then who has the right to interfere with this couple’s decisions?

    When they refer to gay marriage, the institution of 1 man, 1 woman marriage is indisputable and sacred. But when the proper situation arises, they want to interfere with the 1 man, 1 woman model as well. What they really want is for everyone to follow their rules regardless and that is tyanny.

  45. Oh, and here’s the NY Times link with the reporting on Frist.

  46. “If Schiavo’s husband doesn’t want to keep her alive and her parents do, then give custody and responsibility to the parents.”

    jesse, what you’re saying is both reasonable and probably the best course of action, but at the same time i understand the husband’s position. i don’t know if i could let someone i care about be in that position for so long – especially in the face of his in-laws and what they’ve done to him.

    living wills, etc. very important.

  47. there’s no good reason to starve someone to death when there are people willing to keep her alive.

    Jesse,

    My understanding is that her parents have already offered to pay for her care, so it’s not a financial issue. The husband just thinks that’s what she would have wanted.

    Or do you think that, because one is in a PVS, the body and brain will not internally experience that situation as painful?

    It’s hard to answer your question without being too philosophical, but yes that’s basically what I’m saying. I prefer the word “suffering” which implies an experience rather than a simple neural impulse. I don’t think people in a PVS, with little above basic brain stem functions, have a self to experience the pain, so how you end their life is irrelevant.

  48. We’re treading into epistemology here, but I’d argue strongly that a sense of self is hardly required to feel pain, unless you’re part of the misguided Cartesian “Animals are clever automatons” school. Animals with far less brain function than Schiavo certainly feel pain, or at least they react as if they do, which at the limits of science is pretty much the same thing.

  49. Phil,

    Not to derail the comments with one of my pet topics, but it all depends on your particular theory of consciousness. I’ll just add that you hardly have to be Cartesian to think you need a self to feel pain. That’s basically Daniel Dennett’s theory which I’m partial to.

    And if you think that’s extreme, try Julian Jaynes. According to him, nothing was was conscious prior to when humans developed language a few thousand years ago.

  50. “Animals with far less brain function than Schiavo certainly feel pain, or at least they react as if they do, which at the limits of science is pretty much the same thing.”

    Not really. Even a *healthy* fly larva can respond to (and learn from!) unpleasant stimuli, and I expect the response part of that extends to single-celled organisms. However, Mrs. Schiavo is severely brain-damaged. There is no evidence (that I’m aware of) that she, or others in her state, experience anything whatsoever. On the off-chance that she CAN experience things, to me that weighs in favor of terminating her life humanely. (That’s certainly what I would want in such a position, and that’s what her husband — presumed under Florida law to know best — says she wanted.)

  51. Seriously, I’m not trying to mock traditionalists. I’m just trying to understand what principles are at work since so many seem to be invoking the assumed authority of the parents in this case.

    Putting aside today’s congressional action, let me attempt a brief summary of how this looks to right-to-life Christians (I’m Catholic). I don’t much encounter issues of parental authority regarding the Schiavo case, but that may just be the people I hang out with.

    There are at least two chief threads in the case of Terri Schiavo. The first is the obligation to respect and support life, especially helpless life. The second thread concerns disputes about the facts in this particular case–namely the suspicion that Michael Schiavo is simply lying about his wife’s wishes, since he is the only person to have heard her express the view that she’d want to die under these circumstanceds.

    As for the first point, I would say certainly from a traditional Catholic perspective, Schiavo is terribly disabled and needs the feeding tubes to survive–but this is not enough warrant to withdraw the tubes. There is a saying that hard cases make bad law, and though able-bodied people recoil from the idea of living in that kind of body, from a right-to-life perspective withdrawing nutrition from a woman who after all could live for many years amounts to murder. That is the very short version, just to lay it out.

    Fueling this is the history of the Schiavo case. It was stated above that Michael Schiavo has nearly gone broke to keep her alive, but this is hard to support. Schiavo gained something like a million-dollar settlement years ago and it’s pretty well documented that he not only ceased but positively barred any kind of rehabilitative therapy quite a long time ago. He put her in a hospice to die. Critics of Michael Schiavo say the efforts he once made to determine Terri was incurably vegetative were quite cursory and even damaging. In the intervening years, Terri’s parents have tried to gain access to their daughter so their own team of experts could properly examine her, but Michael has denied these efforts. The summit of suspicion among some is that Michael may have played a role in Terri’s brain injury, a suspicion that is buttressed in the eyes of some by claims about the kinds of injuries Terri sustained. If that suspicion is true, Michael’s actions are interpreted as an attempt to prevent Terri from testifying against him. Think Scott Peterson.

    So that is what’s going on, in brief.

  52. Frist sold his soul and his legislator-cum-physician authority a long time ago.

  53. “Animals with far less brain function than Schiavo certainly feel pain…”

    Could you give an example of which animals you’re talking about? Are you talking about pain tests done on animals in PVS?

    Or are you talking about classes of animals with unsophisticated cognitive set-ups, like lobsters or brine shrimp or something?

    Since most animals have a basic awareness of their surroundings — even those with relatively tiny and simple brains — it seems that most *classes* of animal would have greater “brain function” than she has. Which would make pain studies done on them inapposite.

  54. So who is paying to keep her alive?

  55. Schiavo spent the malpractice money on his wife’s health care. One of the more malicious things I’ve seen written about him is that he wants to kill her to gain an inheritance, since the malpractice money is gone. Who knows whether it’s true.

    As to how to invalidate the subpoenas–Schiavo doesn’t show up (and I suppose bars the committee from his wife’s room, as the NYT reported today that they were planning on holding the committee meeting in her hospice room), he’s charged with contempt, and then his lawyer aruges that the subpoenas were issued groundlessly and the court tosses the charges. Or, as the judge said to the House lawyers, I’m ordering the tube pulled, and you have no way to stop me (barring physical force, which I keep expecting someone to use).

    Should they pull the plug? Well, a classic libertarian argument in favor of abortion says, imagine you wake up in a bed with another person attached to you via tubes… I’m sure I don’t need to rehearse that here, but Schiavo is in some sense the person who woke up with a person attached to him–he certainly didn’t choose for his wife to become brain-dead, but now he must support her. Or must he?

    discuss or ignore, as you wish

  56. As I understand it her accomodations are supplied by the hospice (a charity) and her medical bills are being paid by Medicaid.

    Over 400K of the settlement money has gone to pay Michael Schiavo’s legal costs. It is all gone now.

  57. I wonder how many people appreciate the irony that there’s a big argument over whether or not to let a former anorexic/bulimic person starve to death.

  58. The tube was pulled at 1:45 pm EST

  59. Interesting question: Can they legally put a couple extra blankets on Schiavo to speed up her rate of dehydration via perspiration?

  60. Jesse Walker,

    Mr. Schaivo states that he is honoring her will. The guy has already been offered millions of dollars to give up custody of her. If he were interested in something else besides honoring her will, well, he would have likely taken the money and run.

    Christopher Rake,

    The first is the obligation to respect and support life, especially helpless life.

    Except when its not Catholic.

    …from a right-to-life perspective…

    Its apt to say “forced to lived at any cost” perspective. That’s why the RCC opposes even a conscious and willing decision to die as is the case with Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.

    Schiavo gained something like a million-dollar settlement years ago…

    And if it were greed that drives him, then he would have taken the ten million from the guy in Boca.

    …it’s pretty well documented that he not only ceased but positively barred any kind of rehabilitative therapy quite a long time ago. He put her in a hospice to die.

    Which is in line with his claim that he wants to honor her wishes.

    Critics of Michael Schiavo say the efforts he once made to determine Terri was incurably vegetative were quite cursory and even damaging.

    Court appointed doctors have stated that she is in an incurably vegetative state.

    In the intervening years, Terri’s parents have tried to gain access to their daughter so their own team of experts could properly examine her, but Michael has denied these efforts.

  61. SR,

    No is the short answer.

  62. “We have always supported the right of adulterous husbands to starve their wives to death.”

    Yeah, because the “Christian” thing to do would be to get it own with his PVS wife or go without until she dies the slow death that Jesus or that decrepit old asshole, Pope Larry, demands.

    Fucking religion.

  63. Let’s see….

    Thursday, The Salem Steroid Show Trials.

    Friday, The House of Lords (capital “L”) decree to themselves the supreme power over life and death, even over “lifeforms” that resemble a pot roast hooked up to machines.

    And this is suppose to be the greatest deliberative body on Earth?

    No wonder I’ve turned into a fucking anarchist….

  64. The first is the obligation to respect and support life, especially helpless life.

    Except when its not Catholic.

    Well, that’s not a serious response, that’s just ad hominem, so no need to respond.

    .from a right-to-life perspective…

    Its apt to say “forced to lived at any cost” perspective. That’s why the RCC opposes even a conscious and willing decision to die as is the case with Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.

    The Church opposes e.g. the Oregon right-to-die law because we have a stand against euthanasia–both on its own merits and because we believe, in practice, weak people are forced to die even against their will. In this context a “conscious and willing decision to die” is suicide and yes, that is something we oppose.

    Schiavo gained something like a million-dollar settlement years ago…

    And if it were greed that drives him, then he would have taken the ten million from the guy in Boca.

    Unfortunately for those of us on the outside trying to figure out what’s really gone on, key elements of Michael Schiavos’ behavior can be interpreted both as benign acts and inexcusable ones. Or something in between like simple offensive neglect. He could be refusing the money recently offered by a stranger and the care offered by her parents because he’s honoring her wishes–or to keep her silent. I will not attempt to persuade people in a mere comments box of the latter, but leave you with this:

    MYTH: Many doctors have said that there is no hope for her.
    FACT: Dr. Victor Gambone testified that he visits Terri 3 times a year. His visits last for approximately 10 minutes. He also testified, after viewing the court videotapes at Terri’s recent trial, that he was surprised to see Terri’s level of awareness. This doctor is part of a team hand-picked by her husband, Michael Schiavo, shortly before he filed to have Terri’s feeding removed. Contrary to Schiavo’s team, 14 independent medical professionals (6 of them neurologists) have given either statements or testimony that Terri is NOT in a Persistent Vegetative State. Additionally, there has never been any medical dispute of Terri’s ability to swallow. Even with this compelling evidence, Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, has denied any form of therapy for her for over 10 years.

    And this:

    FACT: In 1992, Terri was awarded nearly one million dollars by a malpractice jury and an out-of-court malpractice settlement which was designated for future medical expenses. Of these funds, less than $50,000 remains today. The financial records revealing how Terri’s medical fund money is managed are SEALED from inspection. Court records, however, show that Judge Greer has approved the spending down of Terri’s medical fund on Schiavo’s attorney’s fees – though it was expressly awarded to Terri for her medical care. Schiavo’s primary attorney, George Felos, has received upwards of $400,000 dollars since Schiavo hired him. This same attorney, at the expense of Terri’s medical fund, publicly likened Terri to a “houseplant” and has used Terri’s case on national television to promote his newly published book.

    The above from Terrisfight.org

  65. “In 1992, Terri was awarded nearly one million dollars by a malpractice jury and an out-of-court malpractice settlement which was designated for future medical expenses.”

    Here’s an issue on which I crave enlightenment:

    In the malpractice trial that culminated in the jury granting an award for medical expenses, did Michael raise the right-to-die issue with the jurors? For example, did Michael or his lawyer at the time say anything like the following:

    “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, before her horrible accident Terri said that she wouldn’t want her life artificially prolonged by, say, extraordinary medical care, or by getting fed. In accordance with Terri’s wishes, I reserve the option of cutting off Terri’s food at some time in the future if her prognosis of recovery isn’t good. It’s only fair that I inform you of this, so that you can take it into account in deciding how big of an award you should grant for medical expenses.”

    Did the jury back in 1992 ever learn about Terri’s alleged wishes? That might have induced the jurors to hand down a somewhat lower award, wouldn’t it?

  66. Bonar, that is keen question. I think the answer is no. Here’s an account, that tracks with others I’m familiar with, from the Christian magazine Crisis:

    …The immediate cause of Terri’s brain damage was cardiac arrest, which caused her brain to be deprived of oxygen for more than five minutes. In January 1993, Michael Schiavo won a malpractice award of $1.6 million from the hospital that treated Terri. He was also personally awarded $600,000 for loss of consortium. In his testimony, Michael spoke of his love for his wife and his intentions to honor his wedding vows for the rest of his life and to use the award money for Terri’s care and rehabilitation. Indeed, Michael repeatedly assured Bob and Mary Schindler that he would seek rehabilitation therapy for Terri once he had obtained a settlement.

    A month after Michael received the money, the Schindlers approached their son-in-law to remind him of his promise. This led to a heated argument, with Bob and Michael yelling in the hall outside Terri’s room. Michael stormed off and vowed that he was going to see his lawyer and that Bob and Mary would “never see [their] daughter again.”

    A month after this incident, the Schindlers were informed that Michael had cut off their access to Terri’s medical information….

  67. Sorry for some sloppy posting–a little further down in the same Crisis article I link above is the following:

    In 1998, Michael petitioned the court to remove Terri’s feeding tube. He argued that there was no hope for her recovery and that Terri had expressed the wish to him that she would not want to be kept alive in her condition. This was the first time that Michael had ever claimed such a wish on Terri’s part. Terri’s parents and several of her close friends who found his assertion totally out of character with what they knew of Terri vigorously disputed the claim….

    This follows an incident in which Michael Schiavo ordered the nursing staff not to give Terri antibiotics for a urinary tract infection that would have killed her–except that the staff eventually gave her the antibiotics anyway.

  68. Unfortunately for those of us on the outside trying to figure out what’s really gone on, key elements of Michael Schiavos’ behavior can be interpreted both as benign acts and inexcusable ones.

    You know, there’s a simple solution to this “unfortunate” problem: Mind your own business.

    If you think the husband’s argument is wrong on its merits, then address the merits. Don’t start this crapola about his character and his motives, or the innuendo about his having beaten her into a coma (for which there is no evidence, despite a malpractice lawsuit and more than five years of media attention on this case). If you can’t make the case for keeping her alive without libeling the husband, I wonder whether you have any case to make.

  69. I’ve read all sorts of things which, if true, and if in the correct context, would completely vindicate one side or the other.

    Normally I’m not a big fan of taking the authorities at their word. I certainly wouldn’t take the word of a single LA jury. But my understanding is that multiple courts have all found in favor of the husband after hearing his case, the parents’ case, and the testimony of court-appointed experts. When multiple judges rule the same way on the same case after hearing both sides as well as third party testimony, well, that has to count for something.

    I’m not convinced that the husband is right (as a scientist I can only be convinced of things that I directly examine, and even then only 99% convinced), but it seems the much more likely hypothesis. And since I have no stake in this fight, I’m content to leave it at that without doing the investigative work needed to become convinced.

  70. I got post #69! Whoo-hoo!

  71. I was watching the hearings on C-Span today with my Swedish girlfriend and she thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. In her country, the doctors make the final decision, not next of kin.

    If I had a Swedish girlfriend I’d probably humor her in her opinions too, but if these are the same doctors who get to know their hospital patients so well by devoting about 30 seconds a day talking to them, well, I think I’ll stick to having my kin make the decisions, thanks.

  72. Bonar Law,

    it’s not like he had to make a binding promise to the jury. he lost consortium whether he tube feeds her or not; lost her future income whether he tube feeds her or not. Don’t know if Fla. could allow damages for “future pain and suffering”; i always thought you only got pain and suffering for what you’d already gone thru. It’s been a while since i took the bar and i have never done any pi work and i can’t be arsed with running a google search, but as far as i can tell, any testimony about keeping her alive is fair game, is not a binding promise on the jury, and any intent to pull the plug would not need to be disclosed.

    Unless some “1 in a billion chance of a hitherto impossible miracle occurs” is supposed to be a factor in a jury’s decisionmaking, i see no reason why his statement would have been relevant to the factors on which a damage award is based.

  73. Christopher Rake,

    Well, that’s not a serious response, that’s just ad hominem, so no need to respond.

    Its a VERY SERIOUS response. However, if you don’t like your faith’s history, there is nothing I can do to help you on that score. The notion that all life is sacred is a very recent spin on Catholic dogma; just like the Catholic Church’s relatively new found opposition to slavery, capital punishment, etc. Sorry, it is impossible to take an institution like the RCC seriously in light of its historical record. They’ve had to catch-up so often on so many on issues like universal suffrage, slavery, capital punishment, religious liberty, freedom of speech, scientific freedom, etc., you just know that they will ALWAYS be resistant to the expansion of human liberty.

    The Church opposes e.g. the Oregon right-to-die law because we have a stand against euthanasia–both on its own merits and because we believe, in practice, weak people are forced to die even against their will.

    Which of course is something that isn’t substantiated. The fact is, whether the person were “forced” or not you would oppose it; so the whole “weak person” argument is a stalking horse for your real reason for opposing an individual’s right to end their life as they see fit. Happily, when I make my end of life decision, I can always fly to Switzerland to take care of it (if Oregon law no longer allows it by that time).

    Note that Terri’s father (in line with the insanity of Catholic dogma apparently) has stated that he would hack off all the women’s limbs if that’s what it took to keep her on the feeding tube.

  74. a-hole lawyer,

    Correct, its difficult to see how it could even past the low threshold of relevancy found in R. 401 of the FRE (assuming that Florida’s relevancy rule mirrors the Federal rule on the matter).

  75. If you think the husband’s argument is wrong on its merits, then address the merits. Don’t start this crapola about his character and his motives, or the innuendo about his having beaten her into a coma (for which there is no evidence, despite a malpractice lawsuit and more than five years of media attention on this case). If you can’t make the case for keeping her alive without libeling the husband, I wonder whether you have any case to make.

    I wonder whether you have spent any time examining the competing claims in the disputes I have very briefly traced above. Actually, I don’t wonder.

    The extent to which Michael Schiavo has (or in my opinion, has not) permitted doctors to properly examine her and therapists to aid her are at the heart of this case. (“Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, has denied any form of therapy for her for over 10 years”..”Dr. Victor Gambone testified that he visits Terri 3 times a year. His visits last for approximately 10 minutes”…see link above. There’s much more.) As noted first by me and then by another poster, much of his behavior can be interpreted both as protective and malicious. That’s part of what makes it difficult, at least for me, when it comes to parsing out motives. Other actions are more difficult to interpret favorably, starting with the timing of his unique assertion that Terri said she would want to die in her current state. As noted above, he only announced this after he collected on the lawsuits.

    I hope I’m never in Michael Schiavo’s shoes, being the target of public scrutiny including comments by strangers in comboxes. But I hope even more I’m never in Terri’s shoes.

  76. Gary,

    “The fact is, whether the person were “forced” or not you would oppose it; so the whole “weak person” argument is a stalking horse for your real reason for opposing an individual’s right to end their life as they see fit.”

    You are quite probably correct about the motivation of religious conservatives in raising this argument. Nonetheless, it is a legitimate issue on its own terms.

    Frankly, in insouciance with which many right-to-die advocates (with whom I am in broad agreement on the larger issue) treat this objection is a problem for me. As in most things, the “you either have a gun to your head or you’re choosing freely” position is not an adequate answer.

  77. Gary, I am very disappointed that you left out Galileo.

    However, you should become more familiar with the literature on euthanasia before making statements about it.

    Repeated studies sponsored by the Dutch government have found that doctors kill approximately 1,000 patients each year who have not asked for euthanasia. This is not only a violation of every guideline, but an act that Dutch law considers murder. Nonvoluntary euthanasia has become so common that it even has a name: “Termination without request or consent.”

    Despite this carnage, Dutch doctors are very rarely prosecuted for such crimes, and the few that are brought to court are usually exonerated. Moreover, even if a doctor is found guilty, he or she is almost never punished in any meaningful way, nor does the murderer face discipline by the Dutch Medical Society. For example, in 2001, a doctor was convicted of murdering an 84-year-old patient who had not asked to be killed. Prosecutors demanded a nine-month suspended probation (!), yet even this brush–it can’t even be called a slap–on the wrist was rejected by the trial judge who refused to impose any punishment. Not to worry. The appellate court decided to get tough: It imposed a one-week suspended sentence on the doctor for murder.

    There is also the related calamity there with euthanised disabled babies.

  78. Well, for every version of the story that has him refusing therapy for his wife, there’s a version in which he spent a few years trying to bring her back to health before accepting the conclusions of doctors who said that her brain is gone beyond repair.

    I don’t know which version is right. But when different courts repeatedly find in favor of his version, well, that has to mean something. If it were a single LA jury finding in his favor that wouldn’t mean much to me. But when he keeps winning, and the only reason this isn’t over is because they keep appealing, well, that has to mean something.

  79. Most of the legal action in this case has taken place in the court of Judge Greer, and one of the chief complaints is that he has repeatedly rejected attempts to verify Terri’s condition independent of the wall that Michael Schiavo has built around Terri.

    As for “accepting the conclusions of doctors,” again, we must get down to cases–what doctors have tried to determine Terri’s condition, and in what way? There seems to be a helluva lot more evidence that virtually nothing has been done to help Terri, and much has been done to prevent Terri being helped.

    Anyone interested in the details should read this article–if nothing else it will help any sincerely interested persons understand why many Christians, and others, are appalled and amazed at what has happened to Terri Schiavo:

    And, quite apart from the question of Terri’s therapy and care, it is entirely likely that Terri has never been properly diagnosed. Terri is usually described as being in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), and indeed Judge Greer ruled as a finding of fact that she is PVS; but this diagnosis and finding were arrived at in a way that has many neurologists expressing surprise and dismay.

    I have spent the past ten days recruiting and interviewing neurologists who are willing to come forward and offer affidavits or declarations concerning new testing and examinations for Terri. In addition to the 15 neurologists’ affidavits Gibbs had in time to present in court, I have commitments from over 30 others who are willing to testify that Terri should have new and additional testing, and new examinations by unbiased neurologists. Almost 50 neurologists all say the same thing: Terri should be reevaluated, Terri should be reexamined, and there are grave doubts as to the accuracy of Terri’s diagnosis of PVS. All of these neurologists are board-certified; a number of them are fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Neurology; several are professors of neurology at major medical schools. …

    Terri’s diagnosis was arrived at without the benefit of testing that most neurologists would consider standard for diagnosing PVS. One such test is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). MRI is widely used today, even for ailments as simple as knee injuries, but Terri has never had one. Michael has repeatedly refused to consent to one. The neurologists I have spoken to have reacted with shock upon learning this fact…

  80. And this article is a more comprehensive review of the case–by the same author.

  81. Christopher Rake,

    Gary, I am very disappointed that you left out Galileo.

    Galileo was treated mildly by the Catholic Church. At least in comparison to individuals like Hus or groups like the Albigensians. But that’s not really the point. The RCC claims some special morality authority when it has consistently resisted what is the ultimate morality – human individual liberty and freedom. So I treat apologists for the RCC the same way I treat apologists for the Soviet Union; as the fools or scumbags that they are.

    Repeated studies sponsored by the Dutch government have found that doctors kill approximately 1,000 patients each year who have not asked for euthanasia. This is not only a violation of every guideline, but an act that Dutch law considers murder. Nonvoluntary euthanasia has become so common that it even has a name: “Termination without request or consent.”

    And what, pray reveal, does this have to with MY RIGHT to make MY OWN end of life decisions? Nothing. I’ve already memorialized them; I have already stated on paper, before witnesses, my desires. My suggestion is that others do the same.

    So, as I wrote earlier, it doesn’t matter whether one is “weak” or not from your perspective. What you want is to is for me to be forced to believe in your irrational religious beliefs as has been Catholic tradition since time immemorial.

  82. Christopher Rake,

    And of course the point is that I am dedicated enough to making my own end of life decisions, that if I have to, I’ll take my .357 to my head and do it myself when I have made my decision on the matter.

    As far as the NR article is concerned, it (and other articles by overwrought alarmists) has been roundly and rightly criticized as misrepresenting the studies in question.

  83. Christopher Rake,

    Oh, that’s right; the RCC is a gun grabber organization.

    Debunking the about B.S. about Schiavo: http://atheism.about.com/b/a/154583.htm

  84. What Christopher Rake says! And I’ll add that I’m not Catholic, or any other variety of Christian. I would not sttempt to (forcibly) prevent Mrs. Schiavo from shooting herself dead, if that was her choice, or from leaving a living will saying that she did not want feeding tubes to be used to keep her alive, but that isn’t the situation here.

    It is unnecessary to wallow in ad hominems about Mr. Schiavo’s possible motives to conclude that he should not be allowed to cause the death of his wife. “Mind your own business” is sound advice in some contexts, but when one person proposes to kill another, it is not solely the business of the two directly involved. The rest of us may be justified in intervening, or at least in demanding to know more about the circumstances.

  85. Nicholas Rosen,

    Actually, what Christopher Rake the nanny-stater says is that only his morally bankrupt Church has the right to decide your end of life decisions.

  86. Coroner: Bring out your dead!
    Husband: Here’s one.
    Jeb Bush: She’s not dead!
    Coroner: What?
    Husband: Nothing, here’s your fee…
    Jeb: She’s not dead!
    Coroner: I can’t take her like that, it’s against regulation.
    Husband: Can’t you wait around, she won’t be long?
    Coroner: Naw, St. Patrick’s Day just ended and I’ve got lots of drunk driving casualties to attend to.
    Jeb: She feels fine!
    Husband: No, she doesn’t.
    Jeb: I think she’ll go for a walk now. She feels happy! She feels happy!
    Husband: Look, isn’t there something you can do?
    (Coroner knocks out Jeb Bush and accepts corpse.)
    Husband: Thanks!
    Coroner: Not at all! See you Thursday!

  87. I posted that a year and a half ago. I edited the part about Halloween and replaced it with St. Patrick’s Day. I forgot to replace Jeb Bush (who was intervening back then) with Dennis Hastert.

    To remedy my mistake, here it is again, in edited form:

    Coroner: Bring out your dead!
    Husband: Here’s one.
    Dennis Hastert: She’s not dead!
    Coroner: What?
    Husband: Nothing, here’s your fee…
    Hastert: She’s not dead!
    Coroner: I can’t take her like that, it’s against regulation.
    Husband: Can’t you wait around, she won’t be long?
    Coroner: Naw, St. Patrick’s Day just ended and I’ve got lots of drunk driving casualties to attend to.
    Hastert: She feels fine!
    Husband: No, she doesn’t.
    Hastert: I think she’ll go for a walk now. She feels happy! She feels happy!
    Husband: Look, isn’t there something you can do?
    (Coroner knocks out Hastert and accepts corpse.)
    Husband: Thanks!
    Coroner: Not at all! See you Thursday!

  88. thoreau,

    Maybe you should make Hastert in something resembling a “Greek Chorus” made up of Hastert, Frist, etc.

  89. You know, it just strikes me as bizarre that we’re nearly 90 comments into a thread about vegetables and Congress, yet there’s still no Strom Thurmond jokes.

  90. Terri’s diagnosis was arrived at without the benefit of testing that most neurologists would consider standard for diagnosing PVS. One such test is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). MRI is widely used today, even for ailments as simple as knee injuries, but Terri has never had one. Michael has repeatedly refused to consent to one. The neurologists I have spoken to have reacted with shock upon learning this fact…

    I’m no expert, but pretty sure it’s not a good idea to do an MRI on someone’s head if they have a metal implant in there like Terri Schiavo.

  91. I’m no expert either, but it probably depends on whether or not the implant is made of a ferrous metal. Is it?

    Also, an MRI may not be necessary if previous scans have showed indisputable and extensive brain damage.

  92. phocion,

    She’s had a Cat Scan. The Cat Scan shows that everything above the brainstem is, well, mush.

    Here is how a Cat Scan works: http://science.howstuffworks.com/cat-scan.htm

  93. GG,

    I realize that much. Just trying to respond to people who cling to the refusal of MRI as evidence of a deeper Michael Schiavo conspiracy.

  94. phocion,

    Well, after a while it makes sense for the guy to say “enough is enough.” Of course, if the court found it necessary, or one of the court-appointed doctors for that matter, it could order that an MRI be done if they thought Cat Scan’s results are faulty. But the notion that an MRI is the “only option” to determine what’s going on with her cerebrl cortex is a sign that a person is either ignorant or a liar.

    As far as I can tell, the keep her on the tubes crowd never mentions this Cat Scan.

  95. GG,

    Of course they never mention the CAT scan. Half of these people don’t even realize doctors can tell the difference between cardiac arrest and beating/strangulation.

  96. But the notion that an MRI is the “only option” to determine what’s going on with her cerebrl cortex is a sign that a person is either ignorant or a liar.

    To be fair, it could be that in most cases an MRI really is necessary. Just not this case.

  97. It could be that performing an MRI on Terri would be like X-raying the arm of someone whose arm has been severed. Simply unnecessary because the damage is so obvious from the CT.

    One of the NRO columns linked above says the following:
    But in spite of the lack of advanced testing, such as an MRI, attorney George Felos has claimed that Terri?s cerebral cortex has ?liquefied,? and doctors for Michael Schiavo have claimed, on the basis of the CT scans, that parts of Terri?s cerebral cortex ?have been replaced by fluid.? The problem with such contentions is that the available evidence can?t support them. Dr. Zabiega explained that ?a CT scan can?t resolve the kind of detail needed? to make such a pronouncement: ?A CT scan is like a blurry photograph.? Dr. William Bell, a professor of neurology at Wake Forest University Medical School, agrees: ?A CT scan doesn?t give much detail. In order to see it on a CT, you have to have massive damage.?

    Hmm… once again I’m no expert, but doesn’t liquefication sound like it would qualify as “massive damage”?

  98. Yikes. Those quotation marks didn’t look like that in the preview.

  99. “…I hope even more I’m never in Terri’s shoes.”

    Terri’s shoes are easy ones to be in. There’s nothing there, she’s in suspended animation. It’s the husband and the parents who have it bad.

    They know what they’re going through.

  100. Everyone should get drafted a “Durable Power for Health Care Decisions” and a “Living Will” if you don’t want to end up like this woman. Don’t let the fundamentalist Christians in to fuck with you.

  101. Phocion: “Of course they never mention the CAT scan”

    GG: “As far as I can tell, the keep her on the tubes crowd never mentions this Cat Scan.”

    From the National Review article which was previously linked in this thread:

    “. . . doctors for Michael Schiavo have claimed, on the basis of the CT scans, that parts of Terri’s cerebral cortex ‘have been replaced by fluid.'”

  102. I wonder whether you have spent any time examining the competing claims in the disputes I have very briefly traced above. Actually, I don’t wonder.

    Your “competing claims” are gorilla dust designed to distract attention from the numerous courts that have found in the husband’s favor and the family’s inability to make a persuasive argument that there’s any hope for the patient. There are many arguments you can make for your side-that husbands should never be awarded this sort of custodial role, that the eye-blinking creates a reasonable doubt, even that a feeding tube does not qualify as an extraordinary life-saving measure and thus can’t be disconnected-that would be interesting and maybe even convincing. But if your point is that I haven’t spent enough time entertaining the argument that a guy who turns down a $1 million offer to be relieved of his burden is greedy, or the fantasies of your buddy above who advises us to “Think Scott Peterson,” then I can only say you’re damn straight I haven’t. I’m busy back here on Planet Earth.

  103. Galileo Had It Coming,

    Yeah, once the Church started to crackdown on science in Italy such research moved elsewhere and benefitted others. I should write a book titled “Stupid Moments in Catholic History.” 🙂

  104. Gary Gunnels:

    I still await with anticipation your attempt to justify the claim you made:

    “As far as I can tell, the keep her on the tubes crowd never mentions this Cat Scan.”

    The *National Review* article did indeed “mention this Cat Scan.”

    As to your animadversions on my screen name — my screen name was an attempt at humor. I provide a definition of humor for your convenience.

  105. Galileo had it Coming,

    Ahh, like I wrote, “as far as I can tell…” That ought to be obvious.

    As to the issue of humor, you never gave me any clues as to the nature of your nick, I just took it at face value (given the number of religious twits this write-up has attracted that seemed like a safe assumption to me). Humor on-line is generally followed by markers like 🙂 and such.

  106. Your “competing claims” are gorilla dust designed to distract attention from the numerous courts that have found in the husband’s favor and the family’s inability to make a persuasive argument that there’s any hope for the patient.

    Tim, it is clear you have not bothered to examine the ample evidence that Terri has been shamefully neglected. You therefore are unaware of the extent to which Michael has prevented independent doctors from examining Terri properly; or Michael’s denial of any reparative therapy for more than a decade, or the fact that most of the legal action has taken place in Judge Greer’s court, or what actions he has prevented, or much of anything that relates to what has actually happened as opposed to the movie you are watching inside your own head.

    In short, you have dismissed these arguments without refuting them.

    As for the CAT vs. MRI comments above, it’s pretty simple: Michael has denied the MRI and other examinations that might “make a persuasive argument” that Terri is not completely lost.

    From that article by Fr. Johansen at NRO that I’ve been quoting from:

    …Dr. Morin explained that he would feel obligated to obtain the information in these tests before making a diagnosis with life and death consequences. I told him that CT (Computer-Aided Tomography) scans had been done, and were partly the basis for the finding of PVS. The doctor retorted, “Spare no expense, eh??” I asked him to explain the comment; he said that a CT scan is a much less expensive test than an MRI, but it “only gives you a tenth of the information an MRI does.” He added, “A CT scan is useful only in pretty severe cases, such as trauma, and also during the few days after an anoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injury. It’s useful in an emergency-room setting. But if the question is ischemic injury [brain damage caused by lack of blood/oxygen to part of the brain] you want an MRI and PET. For subsequent evaluation of brain injury, the CT is pretty useless unless there has been a massive stroke.”

    Other neurologists have concurred with Dr. Morin’s opinion. Dr. Thomas Zabiega, who trained at the University of Chicago, said, “Any neurologist who is objective would say “Yes” to the question, “Should Terri be given an MRI.”…

    As for those implants, yes, they must be removed before an MRI, and they could be, but (try to detect the pattern) Michael has prevented this from taking place as well.

  107. “Ahh, like I wrote, ‘as far as I can tell…’ That ought to be obvious.”

    Very well, I’ll put that down to an honest mistake on your part.

    “As to the issue of humor, you never gave me any clues as to the nature of your nick, I just took it at face value . . .”

    Very well, I’ll put that, too, down to an honest mistake on your part.

    After all, I’m sure that, if someone else made a mistake in this forum, you would be equally willing to give that person the benefit of the doubt and presume that the mistake was honest. I mean, it’s not as if you’re the kind of person who is constantly attributing dishonesty to other people.

  108. Christopher Rake,

    Are you suggesting that court-appointed doctors aren’t “independent?”

    In short, you have dismissed these arguments without refuting them.

    And you have made claims without substantiating them. Get a clue. One substantiates claims before you expect people to refute them.

    I asked him to explain the comment; he said that a CT scan is a much less expensive test than an MRI, but it “only gives you a tenth of the information an MRI does.”

    Having had MRIs and CAT Scans done my person I can tell you that the idea that a CAT Scan is “much less expensive” is a crock of shit. I’ve had to pay for them out of pocket and they are roughly equivalent in price. Also, note that the link I provided above from a source wholly unrelated to this case (which unlike the NRO article clearly has an axe to grind) directly contradicts what you have provided.

    Galileo Had it Coming,

    Are you going to continue this circle jerk or are you going to address something substantive?

  109. Ultimately the question of what should happen to Ms. Schiavo comes down to what she would have wanted, a question that the trial court investigated quite thoroughly and its decision should have ended the matter.

    But what we have here is a much greater problem, one likely to affect many people: How in heck does Congress believe they have the authority to intervene in judicial cases? Unlike the British Parliament, Congress is not a court; that’s what the separation of powers was all about. It seems to me that this subpoena is a “Bill of Attainder” and invalid on its face, and should be disobeyed.

  110. Some info on the good doctors discussed in Rake’s quotes:

    At National Review Online, Father Rob Johansen writes about the legal proceedings surrounding Terri Schiavo. The point I’m interested in is Johansen’s contention that “[e]xpert witnesses in court are supposed to be unbiased: disinterested in the outcome of the case. Part of the procedure in qualifying expert witnesses is establishing that they are objective and unbiased.” Johansen argues that an expert witness, Dr. Cranford, who testified Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state was a biased witness because he is allegedly an advocate “in the ‘right to die’ and euthanasia movements.” Says Johansen, “one needs to know a little about Cranford’s background and perspective” in order to evaluate Cranford’s opinions.

    To support his argument, Johansen quotes some neurologists to whom he provided a selective account of the medical evidence and legal proceedings.

    Among them, there’s “Dr. William Bell, a professor of neurology at Wake Forest University Medical School.” For some strange reason, Johansen doesn’t think we need to know a little — or anything — about Bell’s background or perspective. Among other things, Bell is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Society. Although Johansen obviously thinks otherwise, you might be interested to know that the Christian Medical and Dental Society believes that “[t]he human body belongs to God,” holds some bigoted psuedo-scientific views about homosexuality, and compares embryonic stem cell research to Nazi war crimes.

    No bias or interest there. And I’m sure Johansen picked Bell entirely at random, as opposed to selecting him for the outcome he desires.

    Then there’s “Dr. Thomas Zabiega, who trained at the University of Chicago.” I think we can presume that’s Thomas Zabiega, M.D., Vice President for Legislative Affairs for the Catholic Physicians’ Guild of Chicago. Let’s keep that Father Rob’s little secret, shall we?

    In the article, Father Rob makes it sound as if Dr. Bell is hearing about the Schiavo case for the first time. (“I have spent the past ten days recruiting and interviewing neurologists willing to come forward and offer affidavits or declarations concerning new testing and examinations for Terri….”) Yet Bell, apparently accepting Father Rob’s version as gospel, has made up his mind: “It seems as though they’re fearful of any additional information,” “medical realities are no longer governing this case,” “once a decision is made they don’t want additional information.” No prejudgment there either.

    Father Rob is a man who likes to cherry-pick his experts and avoid disclosure of important but inconvenient facts. If we judge him by his own standard, he can’t be trusted.

    http://rogerailes.blogspot.com/

  111. “Tim, it is clear you have not bothered to examine the ample evidence that Terri has been shamefully neglected.”

    My wife is a medical proffesional that works in a hospital. She was shocked that the woman hasn’t had a bedsore in 15 years, and even more shocked that she hadn’t succumbed to an infection. This speaks to exceedingly good care, not neglect. If Mrs. Schiavo was not given round the clock care, her saliva would pool in her mouth (she mouth breathes, not having any conscious control over breathing, her teeth would quickly rot away, and it would become a breeding ground for massive amounts of bacteria.

    “You therefore are unaware of the extent to which Michael has prevented independent doctors from examining Terri properly”

    There was a count appointed doctor. There was her own court appointed legal advocate. Each side got two doctors of their own, though the parent’s doctors couldn’t demonstrate any clinical findings or casework to support their claims. After that there have been attempts to stall the process over and over. The parents can ALWAYS claim that she isn’t examined properly, that more could be looked into or done. There is no end their claims of additional examination.

    “or Michael’s denial of any reparative therapy for more than a decade”

    Please, name me one “reparative therapy” for a missing cerebral cortex. Michael discontinued flogging his wife’s decaying body once it became clear too much of her brain was gone. Since then even more of it has decayed. Even a magic fairy process that creates new brain tissue wouldn’t bring her back: it would just situate a whole new brain in her head. Her memories, her personality her conscious cognition: all of that was in areas of the brain that are now simply gone. Tell me: what reparative therapy is going to change that?

  112. plunge,

    Don’t let reality get in the way of zealotry and religious belief.

  113. “Tell me: what reparative therapy is going to change that?”

    Wouldn’t it be amusing if we were now offered a solution that depends on stem-cell research.

    Please, please, please…

  114. Where do I go to get a living will?

  115. Where do I go to get a living will?

    You can have a lawyer draw one up at the same time as a regular will.

    If your cheap or just hate lawyers, there are probably premade forms at Office Depot or on the net.

  116. On the question of the husband assuming the parent’s authority. I know of no authority for the taking of a daughter’s life without due process.
    On the question of the CNN poll saying that 89% of those polled would not want to live in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), even 11 jurors out of 12 92% cannot convict.
    On the question of George Felos’ comment that a CAT
    Scan had revealed that Terri Shiavo’s cerebral cortex had liquified, neurologist agree that a CAT
    Scan cannot reveal that kind of detail.
    Or as God said to Job, Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place for taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from its surface? The earth is changed as is clay by the seal, and dyed as though it were a garment; but from the wicked the light is withheld, and the arm of pride is shattered. Have you entered into the sources of the sea, or walked about in the depths of the abyss? Have the gates of death been shown to you, or have you seen the gates of darkness? Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell me, if you know all: Which is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the abode of darkness, that you may take them to their boundaries and set them on their homeward paths? You know, because you were born before them, and the number of your years is great!

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