Schiavo—"Erring on the side of liberty"

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For those not already worn out emotionally and intellectually by the on-going Terri Schiavo travesty, George Annas, a bioethicist with whom I rarely agree, offers a good summary of the history of end of life law in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Money graph:

"Erring on the side of life" in this context often results in violating a person's body and human dignity in a way few would want for themselves. In such situations, erring on the side of liberty–specifically, the patient's right to decide on treatment– is more consistent with American values and our constitutional traditions.

Amen.

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  1. Does this mean we can use the term “anti-liberty” to refer to the pro-tube folks?

    Can we, huh? Please? Please?

  2. Sound accurate enough to me, Chuck. Ironic that they believe in fighting for “freedom” all across the world.

  3. Bush’s position would make a lot more sense if he applied it consistently. You don’t believe in “erring on the side of life” if you routinely send prisoners to the death penalty with the casualness of Robespierre.

  4. cdunlea, you know that nothing else matters in the face of belief. Not consistency, honesty, logic, nor observable data. Actually, one can give GWB the nod for consistency. He consistently ignores data that doesn’t support his position.

  5. Maybe she’ll bump into Karla Fay Tucker up there. And a couple 10000 iraqis.

  6. Is that pro-tube in this case, or pro-tube in general? From what I’ve seen, our laws our written to permit denial of treatment by proxy. Absent the patient’s input, the state has interposed itself by allowing another person’s opinion to decide, even insist, for denial.

    The Supremes affirmed Missouri’s high standard in Cruzan. Why not adopt the highest “beyond reasonable doubt” standard here? Such a level is required to attain criminal death sentences. Why not give non-criminals equal protection?

    I disagree with Annas, and most everybody else, that substitute judgement is good law. The function of such law seems only to be used to end life without explicit consent. It is a greater loss of liberty to kill than to enslave.

    The quote Bailey pulled above would apply to a person who had refused treatment. Schiavo has not done so. A person with a legal and morally-charged relationship to her did it. Perhaps as we work to Constitutionalize the definition of marriage we might consider the capital proxy power implicit in that contract.

    If you’re going to have a state, it seems that preventing the unconsented death of its citizens would be among its highest obligations. What the majority would want is one of the things a state is allegedly created to defend individuals from. I agree that by the law this particular tube must remain withdrawn. The law sucks.

  7. If removing the tube without explicit instructions is murder, wouldn’t that mean removing the tube with explicit instructions is suicide? Are the pro-lifers actually supporting suicide?

  8. The problem of course is that we don’t know what her wishes are. We have her husband who claims to know what she would want, but there is no way to know if this is correct and I don’t think anyone would agree with the proposition that a husband should always have the last say over the life of his wife. Had Ms. Shiavo left a living will, I doubt anyone but the most ardent and unreasonable pro-lifer would object to ending her life. The problem, of course is that she didn’t leave a living will and we don’t know what she would have wanted. She is not brain dead and it is possible, though not likely that she could recover from this state. What the courts are doing is saying that anyone in that state would obviously want to die and that the State can make this decision for Ms. Shiavo and end her life because it has no value. The Shiavo case is so important and so disturbing because it puts society further down the road toward a day when human life is determined by attributes and not by virtue of its own existence. Ms. Shiavo, by this view, is dead and no longer a person entitled to due process because she can’t think or do things that we normally associate with personhood. The essence of being a human being is not just being alive, but being able to do certain things. What are those things? Who deserves heroic efforts to remain alive and who does not? We are now in the business of deciding who is worthy of life and who is not. If Ms. Shiavo is not worthy of life, why is a serverly handicapped child, or a person with terminal cancer requiring huge medical expenses to keep alive for a few months of intense pain worthy of life? The fact is that under the standard we are judging Ms. Shiavo’s life, they are not. The bureaucrats and the beancounters can now takeover and we can begin the slow process of exterminating our severly handicapped and terminally ill in the name of “dignity of human life”.

  9. Dynamist:

    “The quote Bailey pulled above would apply to a person who had refused treatment. Schiavo has not done so.”

    Actually, a court has determined that Schiavo had earlier expressed a desire to refuse treatment. Do you have evidence that she didn’t? Why should the “substitute judgment” of her parents override her expressed desires?

  10. The crux of the case for pulling the tube is that Terri Schiavo’s pro-life religious affiliation is trumped by her husband’s recollection of a conversation she had with him. In the civil contract that is marriage, you’re not supposed to betray each other by sleeping around, by having children with other women, and by spending family assets on your mistress and your second family. Since Michael Schiavo has clearly betrayed his vows to be faithful to Terri Schiavo could somebody please explain why his opinion should count for anything, much less be determinative in ascertaining her wishes? What, pray tell, is libertarian about that?

    Sadly, at this point, Michael Schiavo’s desire to keep rehabilitative professionals away from Terri and to not allow even the most simple rehabilitative treatment has greatly reduced her chances for recovery, if they were there at all. There is something terribly wrong in this case particularly aside from the general screwed up end-of-life ethic in the US. Unfortunately that is not going to stop people from trying to use this as a precedent. It’s another Roe v Wade in the making, a never ending oozing wound on the body politic. Everybody should mourn that outcome no matter what happens to Terri Schiavo in the end.

  11. Dynamist–

    I personally meant pro-tube in this particular case. If the court had found in this instance that Terry’s wishes were to remain alive, or had found that no clear evidence exists either way, I would be pro-tube here as well. And frankly, I would be more comfortable if the law required a written document. But, as you said, it doesn’t.

  12. Yes, joe, to me voluntary tube removal is suicide. I’m O.K. with that. The issue is not so much life, but individual sovereignty and liberty.

    I would not expect not demand the state pay to keep the tube in, either. At least not indefinitely. It seems wrong to make somebody else pay for one’s dinner. Fortunately, the human impulse for charity, expressed by non-state actors, has offered to buy Schiavo dinner. The law will not let her to the table because another person says she doesn’t want to eat.

  13. I don’t know where previous posters are drawing some sort of political point against Republicans for most of them opposing letting Schiavo die. Especially the ridiculous “point” about some sort of hypocrisy in supporting the death penalty while opposing her being allowed to dehydrate (or abortion if you do want to conflate the two.)

    If one *does* take the position that a person is a person from the moment of conception, then abortion is the ending of the life of a person who has committed no wrongs. Whereas the death penalty is retribution against those that have themselves taken an innoscent life. So there’s no inconsistency, conservatives are of the mind that a person should not be killed unless they have committed a particularly terrible crime.

    That being said, i’ll grant you there would be far less uproar if everything weren’t so ambiguous, what with both the parents and Mr. Schiavo both having a stake in this coming out their way, both would be obligated to provide evidence (fake or not) that they’re right. I know this has been rehashed countless times, however given Mr. Schiavo having a personal motive for her to die, and given that she has no living Will, it would seem only right to err on the side of caution.

    However I have to agree with something I read elsewhere, if the courts and Mr. Schiavo are so set on allowing her to die, the decent and humane thing to do would be to administer lethal injection. The manner in which she’s currently dying is completely barbaric, allowing a person to slowly die of thirst over the course of a week. If she is even *minimally* aware, that has to be the equivalent of torture. Frankly I can’t help be reminded of the Spartan practice of killing infants by placing them out on a rock and allowing them to die of exposure.

  14. John, Terri Schiavo is not a severly handicapped person, she is not severely retarded, she is someone who has lost half her brain! I don’t mean that half her brain has stopped functioning, I mean that it’s no longer there! Get it? She is not getting any better! Her chance of a recovery is about as great as Ron Jeremy becoming the next Pope. Even the neurologist appointed by Gov. Bush diagnosed her as minimally conscious, which means that parts of her brain are capable of reflexively responding to external stimuli, but they are not being processed as thoughts per se. In other words she is about as conscious as an earth worm. Not every life is worth continuing and yes, sometimes other people have to make the decision of when to call an end. Stop fetishizing life and denying death.

  15. Ron: As I wrote, the law seems properly applied. The court’s determination was made to what I think is an insufficient standard. Science has advanced past jurisprudence.

    What is legal is not necessarily right. Law evolves slowly and in reaction to developments in science and moral thought. Perhaps as a nation and society we are comfortable with substitute judgement. I don’t know that it has yet been popularly and fully tested.

  16. The problem is something like a lethal injection is illegal because the pro-life types don’t want it. And the feds won’t let the states decide this issue for themselves either. The current policy is more or less a federal ban on euthanasia. Ashcroft was adamant about enforcing it and I imagine the new guy will be too.

    So, when someone is a lost cause they have to pull the plug like this rather than give them a shot.

  17. Looks like Terri’s death may actually be a SCIENTOLOGY PLOT!

    http://www.libertytothecaptives.net/terris_law_a_scientology_sham.html

  18. I’m still fraked out by Bailey’s article about PVS. I sort of pictured those people as being barely awake. However, they seem to have the awareness of a bird or goldfish, in that they track stuff with their eyes and are on a night/day sleep cycle.

    If one of my kids had even that mimimal level of awareness, I gotta say I don’t think I could pull the tube, so they would die of hunger/thirst in a week or two.

    But if it was me, I don’t think I’d want to keep on living, especially if I was getting midnight visits from horny orderlies ala Uma in Kill Bill.

  19. Native, “However, they seem to have the awareness of a bird or goldfish, in that they track stuff with their eyes and are on a night/day sleep cycle.”

    Actually, birds (and possibly fish) work at a higher level than Terri does.

  20. Rereading, I was struck by Ron’s “expressed a desire”. People express a lot of desires. When you sign on the dotted line it becomes a binding contract. Otherwise, it is more likely an unanalyzed hypothetical. If Schiavo really really really wanted to refuse treatment she would have sought the appropriate document and filed it in the appropriate place. (It would have eased Chuck’s mind, too)

    Did she show a categorical refusal of treatment (no aspirin or massages), or have an extended, active and vocal history of intending to refuse treatment if she was exceptionally damaged? Or was the evidence a collection of mostly off-handed comments where the context of the comment might override the seeming intent?

    If it wouldn’t stand up in probate, why allow it to create a probate situation?

  21. E. Steven,

    It does not matter what you want to call Ms. Shiavo. The fact is that she is being killed by the State because she does not have certain functions that the State, or the courts rather, have now deemed essential to be a human being. Many severely handicapped people do not meet this criterea either. Under that logic how do you justify the state not killing them also? You can’t and make no mistake, it will.

  22. “to me voluntary tube removal is suicide. I’m O.K. with that. The issue is not so much life, but individual sovereignty and liberty.”

    I second that. Furthermore, I agree with Dynamist that it is a poor law properly applied. Of course it’s much easier to imagine that because some opponents of the law are religious nutjobs that EVERY opponant of the law is a religious nutjob. Equating all those who may argue that this is a case about individual sovereignty with the religious right pro-life Bushies is not only innaccurate but entirely dishonest.

  23. John,

    We also have her best friend and her brother-in-law.

    Once you are in a true PVS, you don’t recover.

    The Shiavo case is so important and so disturbing because it puts society further down the road toward a day when human life is determined by attributes and not by virtue of its own existence.

    Ahh, human life has always been determined that way. What sort of fucking Disney movie do you live in?!?!? At one time the attribute was whether a person was breathing (this determination sometimes led to people being buried alive); now the attributes are different because of differing medical technology.

    Ms. Shiavo, by this view, is dead and no longer a person entitled to due process because she can’t think or do things that we normally associate with personhood.

    If you knew anything about this case you’d realize how fucking stupid this statement is!!!! This woman has had years of due fucking process!!!! Millions of dollars have been spent in the courts on this issue. Dozens of doctors have examined her. The testimony of the parties has been weighed. The court came to a decision. If she didn’t want others making a decision for her, she should been a responsible adult and created the sort of documentary evidence needed to avoid this situation.

    We are now in the business of deciding who is worthy of life and who is not.

    Again with the Disney movie.

    WE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS AS HUMAN BEINGS! SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL!

    TM Lutas,

    Again, there were three persons who testified at trial that her wish would not to be maintained in such a way. BTW, I have repeated this fact on this blog about a dozen times now.

    Your attempt to smear on Mr. Schiavo is fairly sickening, BTW.

    The general problem with the end of life ethic in this country is that the law won’t allow me to legally engage services to aid me in whatever process I decide to undertake, except to withdraw feeding tubes, etc.

  24. Yes, I’m burned out on this but I read it anyway.

    Despite the readily apparent bias in the piece it contained some very valuable information.

    And you know, I think it is just that rank hypocrisy that I find objectionable. The whole rah-rah about choice and rights is meaningless because most of the people involved in the Schiavo case have little regard for rights or choice in any other context. It just smells bad…or maybe that’s just the smell of death, I dunno…..

  25. about Mr. Schiavo’s adultery, it seems he only had 3 other options:

    1. divorce Terri, in other words abandon her to her plight and lose the legal right as her husband to help her wishes be expressed (I am assuming the courts’ findings in this matter are accurate.)

    2. go without sexual intercourse until Terri recovers or dies (it has been 15 years, not exactly a reasonable expectation to impose on others, but feel free to live up to this standard if your spouse is ever incapacitated like Terri Schiavo) (NOTE: I am not wishing Terri Schiavo’s condition on your spouse.)

    3. engage in intercourse with his wife. hey, she didn’t say no! I expect that most don’t find this option acceptable.

  26. Schiavo is an easy target. Near as I can tell he’s a first class asshole.

  27. Wellfellow,

    How is this case about individual sovereignty, when we dont’ know what Ms. Shiavo would have wanted? She didn’t leave a living will and her parents disagree with her husband’s assertion that she would not want to live in this state. this is not a case of a person choosing to end their life voluntarily because of the extreme nature of their condidition. This is instead a case of the State deciding for a person whose wishes are not known that their life is not worth living. That is not protecting individual soveriegnty but in fact the worst violation of such soverienty imaginable.

  28. “The problem of course is that we don’t know what her wishes are.”

    Yes, we do. By law, the husband’s guardianship and the corroborating evidence from others means we “know what her wishes were”. The courts have been incredibly consistent on this.

    “In the civil contract that is marriage, you’re not supposed to betray each other by sleeping around”

    He waited about ten years. Hell, if that’s not long enough, I guess you’re a Victorian.

    He could have walked away at great financial benefit (compared to what he’s got now). The fact that he DIDN’T shows outright that you’re full of crap, and that you wankers repeating Hannity and Rush’s lies ought to burn in hell.

  29. E. Steven,

    John lives in a fantasyland where we house tens of thousands of those in a PVS.

  30. John,

    They disagree with the assertions of three people actually. Please, read the guardian ad litem report.

    M1EK,

    Don’t expect reason or rationality to dent this guy’s brain.

  31. John,

    This is instead a case of the State deciding for a person whose wishes are not known that their life is not worth living.

    No, this is a state judge deciding the merits of a controversy between two contending portions of a family as to a person’s end of life decision. The court wouldn’t even be involved in this if not for the parties.

    That is not protecting individual soveriegnty but in fact the worst violation of such soverienty imaginable.

    No, it is the state protecting individual sovereignty; what is not protecting it is the efforts of individuals to force Terri to live despites the express wishes she made otherwise to three people, one who happens to be her husband.

  32. When you sign on the dotted line it becomes a binding contract. Otherwise, it is more likely an unanalyzed hypothetical. If Schiavo really really really wanted to refuse treatment she would have sought the appropriate document and filed it in the appropriate place. (It would have eased Chuck’s mind, too)

    Luckily for everyone, she did. It was called her “marriage certificate” and, among other things, gave her husband the authority to make medical decisions for her when she was incapacitated.

    Now, unless you’re going to claim that “refusing a feeding tube” is not a medical option (given large numbers of terminal Americans do it every year for themselves and others) you’ve argued yourself up shit creek.

    Terri quite legally and openly gave her husband sole authority to make decisions about her medical care, in the event she was incapacitated.

    Hell, he even went the extra step and had a judge, a court appointed GAL, and a trial to ensure that he was making the right choice for her.

    So which part do you have a problem with? Spousal power of medical attorney? Refusing a feeding tube in general?

    Those are the only two relevant facts here, boyo.

  33. since we can’t talk to her, how do we know she hasn’t changed her mind? i really don’t want a passing comment i made to a loved one 20 years ago to determine my fate.

  34. Bio,

    We don’t know why Mike won’t divorce Terri and move on. Maybe its because Florida isn’t a community property state. Maybe he’s ego invested in the cause. Maybe its to spite the parents. Maybe all the rumors are true. Maybe he has a guilty conscience. I would not call him an adulterer but I tend to agree with Iggy that he’s a jerk. Maybe I’m wrong. If so, sorry Mike.

  35. Ok let’s muddy the water some more. If all we have is 3 people’s testimony that Terri would rather be dead, and that’s not good enough because it’s not in writing, then why should anyone follow the 10 commandments? We have no evidence that they were written down (sure Moses SAYS they were on stone tablets, but where are they now?). I could give MANY more examples, but you get my point.

  36. Gunnels,

    You expose yourself as the usual foul mouthed, ignorent shithead that you are. What makes a human being and why is Ms. Shiavo no longer so such that killing her does not amount to murder? If you say that she is no longer a human being because of what she can’t do, then there is necessarily degrees of personhood based on those abilities because individuals abilities vary greatly. Under this view, the handicapped and sick are less than human because they don’t fit the criterea as well. This is the logic that tells you that its okay to kill Ms. Shiavo. Its not a question of suicide, because she did not leave a living will and we are not certain what she wanted. I am sorry, the second hand testimony of her adultorous husband and his family does not cut it when someone life is at stake. Yes, you are right mankind has been in the business of deciding who is human and who is not, primarily in the 20th Century. The Nazi’s did not start killing Jews right off, they started killing the handicapped and the sick, just as we are doing right now. A policy I am sure you would have supported in the cases of the severely handicapped, provided the court gave them a proper hearing of course, because these people, by virute of their handicap, simply are not people anymore. That is the inescapable conclusion of the logic that allows, Ms. Shiavo to die.

  37. Mr. Schiavo may be a jerk, but that doesn’t make him wrong.

  38. John,

    That was exactly my point. Sorry if it wasn’t clear. I don’t support the state guessing that Michael Schiavo knows best when there isn’t any documentation. I’m not trashing him, I’m just not convinced. Like Dynamist said,

    “was the evidence a collection of mostly off-handed comments where the context of the comment might override the seeming intent?”

  39. The parents claim they have asked him to divorce her and walk away for years in exchange they would assume her care. That seems a reasonable request.

  40. “If Schiavo really really really wanted to refuse treatment she would have sought the appropriate document and filed it in the appropriate place.”

    Oh fucking PUH-LEASE! The woman was in her early 20s when she had her heart attack. If I told you some of the dumb shit I did, or failed to do, at that age, you’d slap me. Twice.

    Do you have any idea how many people in the 50s and 60s still don’t have wills?

  41. Heck joe, I might slap you anyway. ; )

  42. TWC, you are right we don’t know why Mr. S won’t divorce Mrs. S. My point is that calling him an adulterer, besides being largely an ad hominem argument, isn’t exactly fair considering the circumstances.

    I read the Schindlers encouraged him to get involved with someone else. I don’t know if that is true, but I haven’t read counterclaims. Maybe they wanted him to divorce Terri, so THEY could have the money. I don’t have any proof, just a hypothesis. See how unfair that is?

  43. I’m going to have to get in the boat with Sheesh here… I would hate to have a comment I made after watching a coma movie determine my fate after, say, a car accident. Anyone remember that Seinfeld where Kraemer watches a movie about going into a coma, falls asleep 3/4 of the way through it and gets a living will with instructions to pull the plug, then watches the end where the woman comes out of the coma and freaks out? no relevance, just funny…

  44. Ed’s solution:

    1) Reconnect the feeding tube. (Victory for parents)
    2) Fill it with enough morphine to kill an elephant. (Victory for husband)
    3) End this sideshow. (Victory for the rest of us)

  45. Why do you folks have so much trouble accepting the fact that the husband gets to decide, because that’s the LAW. If you don’t like the law, petition to have it changed. The Bible says (not like we can believe it, after all it was written 100 years after the fact) that marriage is between a man and a woman, not a man and a woman and her parents and the Governer and the Supreme Court and Congress.

    WE have no reason to suspect that ANY husband and wife don’t want to do what’s best for each other, and until we have reason, we should leave them to it.

  46. ed for president!!

  47. I think everyone would agree that if we knew for sure Ms. Shiavo did not want to live in this state, that it would not be a problem to end her life. The problem is then what standard of proof do you need to establish her intent. The law have a full proof way to do this through a living will, which she did not have. Yes, some people say that she expressed a view that she would not want to live in this state. Her parents, for whatever reason, disagree with this. The truth is that she was in her early 20s and probably hadn’t given it much thought and never concieved that she would be where she is today. Its difficult if not impossible to figure out who to believe. At best you can say is that by the proponderence of the evidence she did not want to live in this state. There is certainly good reason to doubt her husband’s claims even if you think they are probably true. We are now to the point that we are ending a woman’s life based on a few verbal statements made who knows how long ago which at best probably represented her views on the subject. That is not and should not be the standard by which anyone’s life should be ended.

  48. “Why do you folks have so much trouble accepting the fact that the husband gets to decide”

    I believe that was exactly Dynamist’s point. It seemed like he accepted the law, but didn’t like it.

    Anyway, I tend to agree. I merely wish there were better evidence for her wanting to die. There isn’t, of course, and that is unfortunate.

  49. John,

    You expose yourself as the usual foul mouthed, ignorent [sic] shithead that you are.

    Yes, I am the ignorant one. I’m the one who is so ignorant that I know it was more that just Mr. Schiavo who testified that Mrs. Schiavo didn’t want to live this way! Yes, my ignorance is overflowing!!! Overflowing so much that I know more about this case than you do and you likely ever will, because you clearly don’t give a shit about the facts.

    What makes a human being and why is Ms. Shiavo no longer so such that killing her does not amount to murder?

    Its not murder because, as the court has discerned, she doesn’t want to live this way. You have a right to refuse medical care. Read Cruzon twit.

    Under this view, the handicapped and sick are less than human because they don’t fit the criterea [sic] as well.

    The problem is that the handicapped and the sick are choosing to live. These issues are not analagous, no matter how hard you try to stupidly pound a square peg into a round hole.

    Its not a question of suicide, because she did not leave a living will and we are not certain what she wanted.

    We are as certain as a court’s finding of facts will allow us to be.
    I am sorry, the second hand testimony of her adultorous husband and his family does not cut it when someone life is at stake.

    One of the three witnesses was her best friend. You still can’t get the facts straight. Ahh, more smears against Mr. Schiavo.

    Yes, you are right mankind has been in the business of deciding who is human and who is not, primarily in the 20th Century. The Nazi’s did not start killing Jews right off, they started killing the handicapped and the sick, just as we are doing right now.

    We do it all the time in the U.S. right now; what the fuck do you think the death penalty is? When the regulation about the safety of a chemical they state a certain % (a small one) of folks might die from it. When auto manufacturers make cars their design allows for a certain number of deaths per accident, because otherwise, people wouldn’t be able to buy an affordable car. Our society makes life and death decisions every day.

    Ahh, yes, try to smear me as a Nazi. Great. You just violated Godwin’s law. I win!!! 🙂

  50. Morat: Spousal medical power of attorney, it seems, is closer to the problem. As joe observes, people don’t pay attention to the details when they make agreements, more so when young. The foolish contracts are binding, as I’ve written. But if you’re going to have a state, it should intervene on behalf of fools who are about to lose their lives.

  51. Is hit and run being linked by the Free Republic?

    I’ve never seen so many trolling righties in my life.

    I fail to understand how the people who so vigorously defend Terri’s right to life also love to have the state execute criminals at will.

    If you want to defend the absolute dignity of any form of human existence, you better make sure you understand the logical consequences of that.

  52. I agree with Dynamist that it is a poor law properly applied.

    What part of the law is poor?

    The part allowing you to refuse feeding tubes for yourself?

    The part allowing your spouse to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated?

    The part allowing your spouse to go to court to get an order that the tube be withdrawn based on clear and convincing evidence regarding your wishes and prognosis?

    If these laws are so bad, what would you propose for a replacement?

  53. KMW,

    Just who are these trolling righties? Most everyone’s name here I recognize. Furthermore,

    “I fail to understand how the people who so vigorously defend Terri’s right to life also love to have the state execute criminals at will.”

    Thanks for the blanket assumption, but it adds little. I’m really tossed on the issue, myself but I don’t believe the anti-removal arguments here can be so easily dismissed as trolls, as convenient as that may be.

  54. joe,

    She was an adult, was she not?

    biologist,

    He won’t divorce her because he wants (as he states) to fulfill her wishes.

    John,

    BTW, excuse me for not suffering fools like yourself. I know its a bad personality trait of mine, but its just how it is. 🙂

    The problem is then what standard of proof do you need to establish her intent.

    Depends on the state and the nature of the issue. In this case, the “clear and convincing” standard was used; that’s the highest burden of proof that exists in a civil trial.

    Yes, some people say that she expressed a view that she would not want to live in this state. Her parents, for whatever reason, disagree with this.

    And thus the court is presented with a quandry that it was asked to determine the answer to. Which the court did after searching review of the witnesses, the medical evidence, etc.

    The truth is that she was in her early 20s and probably hadn’t given it much thought and never concieved that she would be where she is today.

    She gave enough thought to the situation to tell three people that she didn’t want to live in such a state.

    Its difficult if not impossible to figure out who to believe.

    Only if you avoid such documents as the guard ad litem report from 2003 (which you have clearly done!).

    At best you can say is that by the proponderence of the evidence she did not want to live in this state.

    You can’t even get the burden of proof as used in the case right. The “clear and convincing” standard was used, not preponderance of proof standard. Read the guardian ad litem report.

  55. Bush’s motion has been denied. The State of Florida may not take custdy of Terri Schiavo.

  56. Dynamist: aren’t you aware that the courts in this case have BOTH reaffirmed the high standard AND have said that the evidence meets this standard? There was a dispute over her wishes. How else should this dispute be resolved, in your opinion? Pistols at dawn? The fact is, the law recognizes that TERRI is the ultimate arbiter of her medical decisions, and everything flows from that basis. Saying that the state decided is highly misleading. Legally, the choice was not up to the state.

  57. plunge,

    Its hard to tell what these idiots want, except for the tube to be re-inserted.

    They ignore the practical aspects of this case, try to falsely analogize it Nazi death camps, etc.

  58. By:Dave Bohman

    Clearwater, Florida – Judge George Greer admits there was an error in fact in the 2000 trial that established Terri Schiavo;s “right to die.”

    When a family friend claimed a 19-year-old Terri was upset that right to die icon Karen Ann Quinlan’s parents removed her from life support, the Judge discounted the testimony, reportedly because the Judge said Quinlan died in 1976.

    Quinlan was taken off life support in 1976, but died in 1985. A technical error, yes. But Wednesday afternoon, Judge Greer ruled it was not enough to affect the outcome of the 2000 lawsuit that held Terri would not want to be kept alive with severe brain damage.

    Greer also ruled against Bob and Mary Schindler’s request that Terri get a new medical evaluation.

    The Schindler’s are Terri’s parents and claimed that Doctors are ready to testify that Terri is not in as bad shape as the court believes, and that new medical advances could help her.

    Before the Judge’s ruling, DCF attorneys asked the court to delay the March 18th, date for the removal of Terri’s feeding tube. DCF lawyers claim they cannot investigate a February abuse complaint if Terri dies.

    The lawyer for Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo called the request “odious,” that Terri’s life and suffering would be prolonged against her court-established wishes, just so DCF can complete their investigation.

    In Tallahassee,Republican lawmakers crafted a bill requiring that Terri Schiavo and other incapacitated people be afforded water and nutrition unless a living will directs otherwise.

    Those who support Terri’s right to die say the bill would be rejected by an appeals court because Terri’s wishes to terminate life support have already been established.

    Dave Bohman, Tampa Bay’s 10 New

  59. Gary:

    I agree, I was laying out the alternatives to adultery for those intent on labeling (and libeling?) Michael Schiavo.

  60. RC,

    I’m not sure the evidence is as clear as people pretend. It suffices for current law, and yes, there were three witnesses, but 20 year old heresay is hardly clear and convincing evidence. What do I propose as a replacement? I don’t know yet, that’s one of the reasons I’m here reading everyone’s posts, to learn more. I refer to my 1:54 post above. I wish the evidence were more clear. Perhaps this makes me a right-to-life religious Bushbot lunatic troll. That, or I don’t think the case is as clear cut as some people here.

  61. “But if you’re going to have a state, it should intervene on behalf of fools who are about to lose their lives.”

    Sorry, that’s not what the state is for (except for Social Security, damnitall). On the plus side, word has it that there has been a run on Living Will websites, so this case IS making young and old think about this issue.

    Thank you Mrs. and Mr. Schiavo, you’ve done the rest of us a great service with your sacrifice.

  62. wellfellow,

    Its admissable hearsay (if it is hearsay at all – lots of out of court statements are not considered hearsay after all).

  63. wellfellow,

    BTW, in light of the cold record, I think stating that it was hardly “clearly and convincing” illustrates your bias. You weren’t at the proceeding; you didn’t hear the witnesses on direct or cross; etc.

  64. Of couse she was adult, Gary. I raised the point merely to refute Dynamist’s assertion that her lack of a living will should be interpretted as supporting the case that she would want to be kept in this state. Given the multiple witnesses and complete lack of countervailing evidence, the fact that she didn’t put her wishes in writing should probably be interpretted as an indication that she was a normal young person.

  65. Wellfellow,

    Then what do you call character assassinations, as opposed to arguing a topic on it’s merits alone?

    What do you call talking over the other posters, as opposed addressing the questions asked?

  66. How long after Terri made these statements did she go PVS? If it was only a year or few, Mr. Schiavo and the others would remember clearly because this HUGE event would have cemented it in their minds.

  67. Oh, our friendly lying troll has returned. 🙂

  68. Ignore the troll in the livingroom…

  69. General consesus of the American public:

    It’s time to plant the turnip and move on. Life is for the living, which does not include some ghoulish fetishization of the concept. This shit happens every day, just without the grandstanding loonies.

    Move the fuck on.

  70. Gary,

    That’s true. This is quite the ugly situation.

  71. How many hundreds of posts have there been on this topic since the matter came back to public attention a week or so ago?

    Any new insights achieved in this discussion?

  72. I wonder if Judge Greer will be killed over this? Imagine, a good Republican christian judge, killed by religious extreamists, for NOT being an activist…

  73. thoreau, “Any new insights achieved in this discussion?”

    Yes. People in America don’t seem to care about the law (including the lawmakers), they just want to get their way.

    Ok, maybe that’s not new….

  74. KMW,

    I thought Dynamist made some good points without talking over people or resorting to ad hominem attacks. I’d call that a differing opinion.

  75. wellfellow,

    Ok, apparently my blanket statement covered too many people. My apologies.

  76. WSDave,

    December 1963: Birth

    November 1984: Marraige

    February 199: cardiac arrest & a severe loss of oxygen to her brain

    May 1990: in rehabiliation center for aggressive therapy

    July 1990: brought to the home where her husband and parents live; after a few weeks, returned to the rehabilitation center

    November 1990: in California for experimental therapies

    January 1991: returns to Florida and placed at a rehabilitation center in Brandon

    July 1991: more aggressive aggressive physical therapy and speech therapy at new facility

    May 1992: Michael & Terri’s parents stop co-habitating

    January 1993: $1 million settlement; jury find failure to diagnos bulimia the culprit behind heart attack

    March 1994: transfer to nursing home

    May 1998: petition to determine whether feeding to should be removed; start of the legal scuffle

    February 2000: Judge Greer rules that clear and convincing evidence shows Terri would chose this life

    This timeline take from here: http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html

    It has more of the timeline and lots of relevant links.

  77. plunge: If you have the patience to read between the Gunnels, you’ll see that I’m aware of the standard and application.

    The Supremes affirmed Missouri’s high standard in Cruzan. Why not adopt the highest “beyond reasonable doubt” standard here? Such a level is required to attain criminal death sentences. Why not give non-criminals equal protection?

    If it wouldn’t stand up in probate, why allow it to create a probate situation?

    For RC, I don’t have a replacement. Perhaps one isn’t necessary given the polling. But let’s actually consider the prospects that science has given us before we accept an irreversible outcome.

    What is legal is not necessarily right. Law evolves slowly and in reaction to developments in science and moral thought. Perhaps as a nation and society we are comfortable with substitute judgement. I don’t know that it has yet been popularly and fully tested.

    Once such law is tested and accepted, I’ll follow it and make it clear that I want my body to live as long as technology allows, my spouse’s opinion notwithstanding.

  78. Thank you Gary.

  79. Dynamist (who exhibits the rare trifecta of being honest, fair, and arguging that pro-tube side) writes: “But if you’re going to have a state, it should intervene on behalf of fools who are about to lose their lives.”

    First, there is no reason to conclude that Schiavo’s choice was irrational, coerced, or made stupidly.

    Second, you attempt to steal a base by assuming that Mrs. Schiavo MUST have been a “fool,” because she chose not to be kept in this state. I disagree, and most Americans disagree, that ceasing medical care in these circumstances is foolish.

    Circular logic: Theresa didn’t want this treatment. But we should ignore that, because she was incompetant to make the decision. How do we know she was incompetant to make that decision? Because the didn’t want the treatment.

    Other circular logic: Mr. Schiavo says his wife wouldn’t want to live this way. But we should ignore his statments, because he’s a bad person. How do we know he’s a bad person? He says his wife wouldn’t want to live this way.

  80. February 1990: cardiac arrest & a severe loss of oxygen to her brain

  81. [troll]
    her lack of a living will should be interpretted as supporting the case that she would want to be kept in this state

    The state she is in: alive. Is it too weird to presume that people want to be kept in that state until they clearly state the contrary?

    [/troll]

    🙂

  82. Dyanmist,

    Your standard for state intervention would get us in deep trouble quite quickly.

  83. Fox news just had somebody on who said that Gov. Bush actually had Protective Services on the way over to the hospice, but the judge told sherrifs not to let them in. I’ll assume that Protective Services gets to carry guns (like the IRS), so that could have been quite the showdown.

  84. Dynamist,

    And thus we get to the issue of money (barring any other discussion regarding her expressly stated witnesses, what the trial court found re: that matter, etc.). How much money should be spent on the PVS who are indigent? Should families be forced to care for them when they can? Your reductionist position ignores a plethora of important issues.

  85. I thought the quote was “Give me Liberty OR give me Death.” Note the operator “or”, rather than “and”.

    I dunno. I just wish I were more sanguine about the “she would have wanted it this way” piece. Sorry, but I want a piece of paper saying “Please, if my bulemia ever puts me in a permanent vegetative state, please follow through on my previous mania by continuing to starve me to death like I was doing in the first place. Oh, yes, and while you’re at it, don’t give me anything to drink, either.”

    Don’t ask much, but it would make me feel better about putting her down at this point.

  86. WSDave,

    The Florida executive and judicial branches are butting heads.

  87. I wouldn’t be surprised if her wish was that under no circumstances should she fall into the clutches of her mother.

  88. Are butt heads? Oh, butting heads. Sorry.

    I think a least 2 movie-of-the-week projects and 4-5 books come out of this.

  89. thoreau,
    Only that:
    1.Many people need 100% proof before agreeing with any decision(99% isn’t near enough) doesn’t agree with their preconception.

    2.Due process means a decision must allowed to be appealed until it favors what they would do.

    3.Many people have far different standard for what others should be doing than for their own lives.

    Actually none of this is news.

  90. clarityiniowa,

    Again, your basic argument, and the basic argument of most of the folks who are pro-tube, is that we must have a perfect system, when clearly we tolerate a less than perfect system in all manner of situations where life and death is at issue. After a while, you people sound like the Democrats discussing the 2000 election!

  91. joe: The foolish choice seems to be blinded by love and giving a spouse such control over one’s life. There’s no effective disclaimer or warning in the civil ceremony. We’ve heard “til death do us part, etc.” so much that I believe few consider its full legal consequences. Perhaps we put a “living will” checkbox on the marriage contract…

    WARNING: Checking YES will permit your spouse to end your life should you be unable to speak your preference at the time, possibly in the distant future, such decision is made.

  92. Ron Hardin,

    *ouch* 🙂

    Cool news – Scientists find T-Rex soft tissue: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7285683/

  93. I’m all for it, Dynamist.

  94. Dynamist,

    You are now clearly misrepresenting what actually happened in this case; its not merely the case of the husband saying that she should have the feeding tube removed after all. When you an actually state what has actually occurred, get back to us.

  95. Does the family still have the web cam set-up in Terri’s room? Do we get to “actually watch” her die?

  96. I’ve learned a lot about the moral reasoning behind the “culture of life” ideology. Specifically, that it is animated not just by an outsized respect for the value that is its theme, but also by a remarkable disrespect for, or ignorance of, other values.

    The assumption that it is obviously better to be in a persistent vegetative state than dead – a assumption considered so obvious as to render the opinions of those who conclude otherwise not just wrong, but manifestly immoral – can only come from a mind that simply doesn’t grasp that dignity, commitment to carrying out your spouse’s wishes, and a peaceful end are important values of their own.

    Tom DeLay’s statment that “the moral questions are very simple” demonstrates not only his individual moral ignorance, but the lack of appreciation of the conflicting values here.

    Dynamist, we will someday have the technology to keep human brains alive in jars for re-implantation. Should we just assume that this is the treatment everyone should get unless there are written instructions otherwise?

  97. The problem is that the handicapped and the sick are choosing to live.

    This is a problem?

  98. “I think everyone would agree that if we knew for sure Ms. Shiavo did not want to live in this state, that it would not be a problem to end her life.”

    No, we don’t. I, for one, think that Tom DeLay, Bush, the Pope, and the rest of the religious right fundamentally don’t like the idea of a living will. Period.

  99. Gary: I’m not the person to argue in favor the state’s duty to save the lives of the indigent. But we have a state, and I acknowledge it has some benefits. So, if you’re going to have a state, let it protect the voiceless and unconvicted.

    I would not expect nor demand the state pay to keep the tube in, either. At least not indefinitely. It seems wrong to make somebody else pay for one’s dinner. Fortunately, the human impulse for charity, expressed by non-state actors, has offered to buy Schiavo dinner.

  100. But joe, re-implantation might involve stem-cell research to GROW A NEW BODY!!! Can’t have that… ; )

  101. PVS appears to entail a complete lack of awareness, of the self or the world, and a lack of ability to engage in any voluntary behavior. See http://vegetativestate.org for example for the difference between PVS and minimal consciousness. Even the latter diagnosis entails only the ability of the brain to respond minimally to stimuli.

    We now recognize brain death as death. Perhaps we should consider whether PVS is death or, in the alternative, have the default be a rebuttable presumption that nobody would want to live in a PVS. Or not. What do you people think?

  102. February 1999: cardiac arrest & a severe loss of oxygen to her brain

    On October 24, 2003, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was interviewed by Greta van Susteren on Fox News. He disclosed that with low potassium and no elevated enzymes, it would be extremely rare for a young woman to collapse as Terri did from a heart attack. When asked what the bone injuries suggest to him, Dr. Baden replied, ?Some kind of trauma. The trauma can be from a fall, or the trauma can be from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. It?s something that should have been investigated in 1991 when these findings were found.?

    Dr. Michael Braden

  103. Dyna, “So, if you’re going to have a state, let it protect the voiceless and unconvicted.”

    No, let it protect the rights of it citizens. Rights like a spouse deciding what partner wishes are when they can’t decide for themselves.

  104. Don’t misstate my position. I am not necessarily “pro-tube”. Silly term, by the way.

    In fact, I am one of those who feels that either human life is something we are empowered to make decisions about or it isn’t. I am both pro-choice and pro death penalty, for example. I’m just saying there are some instances where the best decision is to take no positive action and hold the status quo. This may have been one of those times. As it stands, I hope they don’t have to replace the tube. This needs to be over.

  105. The Schindler’s are going to try to get a restraining order at 6:00 Eastern.

  106. Dynamist,

    “So, if you’re going to have a state, let it protect the voiceless and unconvicted.”

    And here we get to the bottom of the issue: I don’t consider the continued animation of Mrs. Schiavo’s body to be “protecting” her, any more than keeping your tumor-ridden cat alive is a kindness. I think both are a selfish act, by people who are putting their own emotions ahead of the interests of the striken.

  107. At this point, kill the family too.

  108. Good for them. They need to break this hack Greer from the case.

  109. Have you seen Mrs. Schindler? She could use time away from the feeding tube…

  110. The judge on Fox News just said that they’ve effectively run out of legal options. He believes that nothing tey try in the courts, at any level, will change the courts mind. The only optionleft is for Bush or Bush to do something “nuclear” (as he put it).

  111. I’m going to start calling my dick “the feeding tube”. We need more of this type of humor in these dark times.

  112. WSDave: OTOH, the right to life is Consitutionally higher than the custom of substitute judgement. If it was determined that the state violated a right to liberty in forcing treatment, treatment could be suspended. Once life is ended, it is probably over for a really long time (until science masters resurrection or the Wayback Machine). If it is a case of conflicting rights, we can let the Supremes decide for us, or we can amend the Glorious Rag.

    joe: Yes, brains in jars is the absurdist conclusion to what I support. If that seems goofy, we can change the Constitution to determine the bounds of life. I’m advocating exactly that debate.

    clarity: I like “pro-tube” because its silly. And when I’m tired of saying “Schiavo”, I like Florida Death Lady.

  113. Bush won’t do it, but Bush might.

  114. Henry, “I’m going to start calling my dick “the feeding tube”. We need more of this type of humor in these dark times.”

    Just be careful about removing it… : )

  115. henry:

    humorous AND classy

    you must be a hit with the ladies 🙂

  116. Dyna, “If it is a case of conflicting rights, we can let the Supremes decide for us,”

    They did. Several times, in this case. Honor the woman’s wishes, as expressed by her husband (and others).

  117. Ignore the troll in the livingroom…

    Comment by: WSDave at March 24, 2005 02:25 PM

    poor little Davie. You really must be a wussie

  118. At this point, kill the family too.

    Comment by: Henry at March 24, 2005 03:24 PM

    While we’re at it, lets just kill kill you too

  119. Chicken; Pig: What’s the difference?

  120. “clarity: I like “pro-tube” because its silly. And when I’m tired of saying “Schiavo”, I like Florida Death Lady.”

    Florida Death Lady….hmmm, how about the brain-dead Elian?

    Greetings from Florida, the persistive vegetative state!

  121. No question, Dynamist, there are some serious discussions we need to have as a society.

  122. joe: I have thought of my still-missed kitty, who (or which) I had killed. I’m O.K. with human life being accorded special consideration.

    That idea of protecting her makes me think of the legal standing and cultural reverence we give to human remains. Even the unaminated body is usually given preferential treatment. I don’t know whether we are still protecting the conscious entity formerly known as Terri Schiavo or just keeping a bag of human organs functioning for our amusement. But is the conscious entity is gone, who is left to to dignify by letting the bag of organs decay? Again, I prefer to err for life (as long as the state doesn’t make some third party pay for it).

  123. Henry, LOL!!!!!!

  124. Dr. Baden later stated that indeed the situation could have happened as decribed; he has also never examined the woman nor has he examined much of the documentation on the case; why trolls continue to quote off the cuff remarks by doctors who have never been involved in the case I can’t say.

    Anyway, its nice to see the consistency of our resident troll; he keeps on lying and citing selectively as always. 🙂

    jimmypete/BillyRay,

    Do quote me in context asshole. The problem lies with the argument of the author, and not the choice (and that is as clear as day from my statement).

    Dyanmist,

    The problem of course is that no matter who may wants to keep the tube in and pay for it (and the term “pro-tube” apty applies), this woman’s expressed concerns and wishes as found by the court trump this desire. That you continue to ignore this fact is beyond belief.

    Vache Folle,

    Well, that’s where individuals like Dynamist and the like really look like fools.

  125. Billy, Billy, Billy…you are so fucking dumb you can’t even the right Henry Krinkle via Google.

    Think movies, not music, you doughball.

  126. Get. Or git.

  127. You really are a loser

  128. Warmer, but you are still only finding the other clones.

  129. Dyanmist, “I have thought of my still-missed kitty, who (or which) I had killed. I’m O.K. with human life being accorded special consideration.”

    I think of what my own still-missed kitty experienced at the end, and I don’t believe that denying a human being the mercy we showed to her could be considered “special consideration.” Just cruelty.

    Your example of human remains is significant, though. As an earlier poster said, keeping Mrs. Shiavo’s metabolism going is akin to giving your wife’s body the “Weekend at Bernie’s” treatment.

    I don’t disagree that people deserve a high degree of consideration and humane treatemeht. I disagree that that consideration and treatment equals compelling them to live at all costs. I don’t support ending Mrs. Schiavo’s ordeal because I am unconcerned about her, and don’t care if she’s mistreated, but because I am concerned about her, and consider the continued animation of her body to be mistreatment.

  130. Henry: A great slogan given Florida’s status as a retirement destination. We may be at the tip of an iceberg (or edge of a hurricane) of similar cases.

    And doesn’t Jimmy Buffett celebrate recurrent vegetative states…?

  131. The manner in which she’s currently dying is completely barbaric, allowing a person to slowly die of thirst over the course of a week. If she is even *minimally* aware, that has to be the equivalent of torture.

    Another form of torture is solitary confinement for 15 years and counting and no hope of freedom except for death. Just a though-

  132. Dynamist,

    That idea of protecting her makes me think of the legal standing and cultural reverence we give to human remains. Even the unaminated body is usually given preferential treatment.

    Not true. Thousands die every year without much in the way of reverance. Life isn’t Disneyworld. Some people get funerals where hundreds show up and others get cremated because they died in a V.A. hospital and no one showed up to claim the remains.

    Furthermore, those that are buried in fancy caskets, etc. are generally having their families scammed of money. The death industry in this country is full of scam artists.

    But is the conscious entity is gone, who is left to to dignify by letting the bag of organs decay? Again, I prefer to err for life (as long as the state doesn’t make some third party pay for it).

    No, you err on the side of something else besides “life.” Rank sentimentalism maybe?

  133. Yeah Sure Grunnels. Care to provide a link or any documentation, or are you gonna do what you always do, start calling me every name in the book and run off with your tail tucked betwen your legs.

    Unlike you Grunnels, I don’t post under different names here kid.

  134. “The manner in which she’s currently dying is completely barbaric, allowing a person to slowly die of thirst over the course of a week. If she is even *minimally* aware, that has to be the equivalent of torture.”

    Actually, its a standard option in Florida Living Wills, and has been for years. It happens every day, just without the grandstanding creeps.

  135. Dr. Jay Wolfson (the GAL appointed by Jeb Bush):

    The cause of the cardiac arrest was adduced to a dramatically reduced potassium level in Theresa’s body. Sodium and potassium maintain a vital, chemical balance in the human body that helps define the electrolyte levels. The cause of the imbalance was not clearly identified, but may be linked, in theory, to her drinking 10-15 glasses of iced tea each day. While no formal proof emerged, the medical records note that the combination of [Theresa’s] aggressive weight loss, diet control and excessive hydration raised questions about Theresa from Bulimia, an eating disorder, more common among women than men, in which purging through vomiting, laxatives and other methods of diet control become obsessive.

  136. Link on Dr. Baden: http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2005/03/debunking_lies_.html

    BTW, this the second or third time I have provided this particular link.

    Henry,

    The woman is being fed morphine constantly.

  137. The troll the other day claimed that fifty doctors had diagnosed her as not being in a PVS; it turns out that his link merely stated that some number of doctors were “gravely” concerned about the diagnosis. The troll will will lie through his teeth if he has to.

  138. Morphine is good, but it doesn’t get everybody all the way to the end peacefully–I have witnessed the contrary in the context of cancer.

  139. Dynamist,

    One has to ask, if erring on the side of life is so important to you, why money is any object?

    BTW, from a practical POV, your position would lead to the vast majority of those in a PVS to having to the feeding tube pulled.

  140. Henry, unlike cancer, dehydration reliably causes loss of consciousness as the end approaches.

  141. Henry,

    But she isn’t a cancer patient.

  142. joe: I accept that a genuinely concerned and compassionate person may be anti-tube. I’m for assisted suicide (pro-needle?). Your word “compel” might not be appropriate, as we don’t know if she desires or refuses treatment, to a standard similar to that in capital crimes or probate cases.

    Maybe I give less weight to assessments of “quality of life” or medical prognoses than I do to the underlying life. Can a PVS suffer? If not, who are we being compassionate to?

  143. Didn’t think so Grunnels. Hell, you’re just a punk kid.

  144. I don’t care about the hypocracy…
    I don’t care about the pro liberty logic which I can’t disagree with…

    I’m still totally and completely shocked and dismayed whenever I see footage of Schivo that anyone would call that a consistant vegetative state. I don’t need to be a M.D. to know that’s garbage.

    I’m sorry, I’m a hypocritical, anti-liberty, conservative, fundamentalist christain (even though I don’t go to church) whacko…I don’t care. This is clearly wrong.

    I’m sort of reminded of the NAMBLA episode of SouthPark. The NAMBLA members are spouting their usual BS about who are you to say what a relationship should be and you can’t impose your belief system on me, yada yada yada…

    The kids on the show just looked at them in disblief and simply said, “But you want to have sex with children.”

    Of course, that should be the end of it, but the NAMBLA members keep spewing libertarianesque mantra…

    The kids just say, “But you want to have sex with children.”

    I feel the same way as the boys…when I was a pre-teen, I went to school with some seriously handi-capped children (I have M.D. and went to the same school to get daily physical therapy). I still remember one 8 year old girl who couldn’t talk, could barely move because her Cerebal Palsy was so severe – so she certainly couldn’t feed herself. She and Terri Schivo had the same look on there face. I thnk to myself the incremental difference in their situations. This girls parents would have been arrested if they stopped feeding her.

    I know you all are saying that tihs is anecdotal and you’d be right, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

    The courts are doing the right thing by the law, but ultimately our society will be killing an innocent life. I have zero doubt about it.

  145. OK, I truly hope that is the case here, all black humor aside (which has been motivated not by Ms. Schivano, who has been oblivious for 16 years, but the cranks and crazies around her–and here.)

  146. Henry, not to worry. No medical professional would let her feel pain. In fact, since they know she’s to die anyway, they would probably err on the side of too much Morphine (or Demorall), and actually kill her quicker. Which I’m all for, by the way.

  147. Dynamist,

    I can see some of your rationale. You would choose to be sustained in a PVS, so it makes sense that in the absence of real documentation, you would prefer that law favored that view.

    I would rather not be sustained in a PVS, and in the absence of proof, would prefer the law allow me to die.

    We had similar debates in my family when my grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. My father agonized over the do not resuscitate order. We eventually decided to let the disease take its course.

  148. The only thing I have learned from this debate is that Gary is quite an asshole.

    Even when Gary is right, I want to slap him for being a self-righteous, name calling prick. Everyone who disagrees with him is a fool or a troll.

    The only thing I can guess is that he actually hold the exact opposite of his expressed views. Even when I agree with him (as in this case), I want to take the other side, as I don’t want to be associated with him.

    Wow.

  149. Native NYer,

    It takes absolutely zero “awareness” to either follow things with one’s eyes or to follow a day-night sleep cycle. Human beings have evolved mechanisms for both–indeed, the circadian cycle is far enough removed from our control that going off it, whether by flying or by extended periods of wakefulness, can have quite serious health consequences, both physically and “mentally.”

    The fact that she sleeps at night means only that her body is receiving stimulus from light on something approximating a 24-hour cycle, and her hypothalamus is responding accordingly. Although the hypothalamus is near the brain, it is unlike both anatomically and functionally the neocortex that is necessary for thought, awareness, etc, and that Schiavo doesn’t have. She is not aware of anything.

    Again, it requires no concious thought for the eyes to track a moving object in a field of vision. Although you are aware of your eyes darting about to follow things, that doesn’t not mean you are in control of it, and, likewise, it is unnecessary for you to be aware of it for it to happen.

    Don’t confuse things you can do with things you can control. Don’t confuse appearances with reality. Schiavo is, at this point, essentially a machine. When she was a human, she asked to not become such a machine. It is the least anyone can do to follow her wishes.

    Liberty is a moral value, too.

  150. Once she’s dead, what will we have to generate 100+ posts about?

    Besides Iraq.
    And the Civil War.
    And gay marriage.
    And “intelligent design.”
    And the marriage between libertarians and conservatives.

  151. thoreau:

    I vote for a “discussion” of “intelligent” “design” next

  152. or maybe that should be an “intelligent” discussion of “intelligent” “design”

  153. How the hell do you err on the side of “the patient’s right to decide on treatment” when that very issue is hotly contested? In the context of the Schiavo controversy, Annas’s statement and this blog entry are about as useful as a general directive to “err on the side of doing the right thing.”

  154. How about the gay marriage of conservatives and libertarians? We have been taking it up the ass from them for years….

  155. 154 comments? I am so sick of this story.

  156. How about the gay marriage of conservatives and libertarians? We have been taking it up the ass from them for years….

    And we have a winner for best post of the day!

  157. Xrlq

    On what grounds is it hotly contested, though–it seems to me that her parents have essentially said “Nuh-uh” for the past 8 years. Bringing up the pope’s directive last year to Catholics not to refuse food and water is just the latest example–how do they know she was such an obedient Catholic that the pope’s statement would change her mind? They don’t. I am writing a living will, since, as I am a once-confirmed Catholic but now an atheist, I don’t want to be dragged on in some nightmare existence if some yahoo were to maintain that my church required some absurd clinging to life. That is lacking, so we have the word of her husband and several others about what she wanted in such a situation. That is all we have to go on. Go with it.

  158. Second that!

  159. To the troll in question: you got your link. All your howling otherwise won’t undercut this fact. 🙂

    But hey, instead of pathetic rejoinders, maybe you can prove me wrong. 🙂

    RTL,

    Read a little bit about PVS before you start making claims about her condition based on a highly edited tape.

    David,

    Note that given Dynamists monetary caveat, most of those in a PVS would have their tubes pulled.

    anvilwyrm,

    Like I wrote, if not suffering fools and liars is a bad personality trait, I wholly admit to it.

    annoyed,

    The ignorant are essentially letting eye movement and the like fool them into believing that she is not in a PVS. In fact, that’s one of the cruelties of someone in a PVS.

    biologist,

    That discussion will consist of the following statement:

    “Its B.S.” 🙂

  160. Gary:

    you’ve got to stop stealing my comments before I have a chance to make them (:

  161. annoyed,

    Wait until the Mormons start praying for you in order to give you a post-death baptism. 🙂

  162. RTL, the reflexive movements of a PVS person are often mistaken for conscious, deliberate acts, especially by people who really, really want to believe that their little girl is in there somewhere. But they’re not. If the girl you went to school with looked like the unfortunate Mrs. Schiavo, that’s where the similarity ends.

    I don’t want to be insensitive, but you are aware of the proverbial chicken, post-chopping? Vertibrates can continue to have physical movements without actually having a mind.

    When you combine these involuntary movements with some slick editing of a tape, and mix in a cup of passion with a pinch of dishonesty, I can understand why someone could conlcude that they saw evidence that Mrs. Schiavo is conscious on the teevee. But she’s not. She’s gone.

  163. Gary,

    Unless some Mormons I was friendly with in college have forgotten about me, they already are praying for my salvation after death.

    That aspect of Mormonism actually makes being friends with them fairly easy–they essentially maintain that they can avoid being both proselytizing and obnoxiously self-righteous now, because I can always accept Jesus (not to mention Moroni and the rest) later.

  164. joe, “When you combine these involuntary movements with some slick editing of a tape, and mix in a cup of passion with a pinch of dishonesty, I can understand why someone could conlcude that they saw evidence that Mrs. Schiavo is conscious on the teevee.”

    This same concept hold true for many polticians, unfortunately.

  165. RTL – I sympathize with your argument and respect your sticking with your standards, even though I don’t wholeheartedly agree. Your NAMBLA case is interesting, as the Libertarian lust to see Schiavo put down smacks of “We’re Libertarians, and we think the tube oughtta come out, therefore that is the Libertarian position,” rather than an affirmative, reasoned argument. Whim-worship, Ayn Rand would have called it.

    But the question isn’t other people taking her life, but whether it can truly be known whether or not she would have wanted her physical existence prolonged in this manner. I am hugely ambivalent on that point, therefore the safest position to have taken would have been to keep her fed and hydrated. That is now moot, and the kindest thing at this point, it seems to me, is to let her, or her body as the case may be, go.

  166. on the side of good coming from this:

    – the healthcare institution i work for has been besiged with requests from staff, patients, visitors and community members for living will/health care proxy forms and information. we can all agree people taking responsibility for their care beforehand is a good thing ™.

  167. clar, “as the Libertarian lust to see Schiavo put down smacks of “We’re Libertarians, and we think the tube oughtta come out, therefore that is the Libertarian position,” rather than an affirmative, reasoned argument.”

    You obviously haven’t been reading the posts.

  168. annoyed,

    I find it annoying.

    clarityiniowa,

    Many of us have been giving you lots of affirmative, reasoned, etc. arguments; you just choose to ignore them, that’s all. Thanks for your smear tactics.

    Again, you want to make the perfect the enemy of the good; that’s fine; but that, I am afraid, is not how the world works. We have to make decisions based on imperfect data, etc. all the time after all; and many of those decisions are life and death ones.

  169. clarity:

    “…the Libertarian lust to see Schiavo put down smacks of “We’re Libertarians, and we think the tube oughtta come out, therefore that is the Libertarian position,” rather than an affirmative, reasoned argument..”

    that’s not the argument I’ve seen articulated here and on other Reason discussion boards

    what I’ve read smacks of: the court has considered the evidence, made a ruling based on that evidence, other courts have concurred or refused to review the case, so let’s follow the legal finding of the court, which is that she didn’t want to be kept “alive” in this state, and allow her body to die

    as far as ambiguity of her desires goes, her family is the main force behind questioning what Terri wanted

    personally, my friends know me way better than my family does. I suspect the same is true of the majority, if not the vast majority of people, including Terri Schiavo.

    as far as arguments go, yours is strictly a strawman

  170. Here’s a philosophical question for you.

    If the “culture of life” (cliche 1) demands that we “err on the side of life” (cliche 2), as the Brothers Bush tell us, how the fuck could the BBs ever sign a death warrant (which , collectively, they’ve done hundereds of times)?

    Now, I admit some (like the Pope, to give the devil his due) are consistent on thses points, but let’s talk about the great mass of “conservative” “culture of life” bullshitters that infest our fair land (like the BBs).

    Let’s assume that committing murder somehow removes you from even the penumbra of the “culture of life” (a debatable point–take up with the pope). And let’s further assume that the VAST number of the condemned are truly guilty–let’s arbitrarily say 99.5% (which leaves us with 1 out of 200 who are not). Still, with disturbing frequency, we have guilty men exonerated long after being condemned. Only someone mortally convinced of the infallibilty of the state (and what the fuck are you doing here?) could contend that the goverment is NOT executing some innocent prisoners as a part of this process.

    If this “culture of life” is the uber-trump card that its bullshitters proclaim, so deeply ingrained in their religion and morality (and that of our Christian land), I just don’t see how their finely tuned consciences allow them to play Russian roulette with lives of the innocent with such frequency, or with such glee (witness Bush The Idiot’s drooling mocking of that one broad he offed in Texas–the one who, surprise, became a jailhouse Christer).

    Discuss. Or not.

  171. What’s interesting is the low turnout there in Florida. They expected thousands, they got dozens.

  172. Gary, what low turnout?

  173. “Making the perfect the enemy of the good..” That would be a stronger argument were we dealing with a subject with less finality and more margin for error. For instance, I believe there are some crimes for which the death penalty is warranted, but the evidence needs to be overwhelming to a virtual certainty for me to support any particular sentence of death. More than a handful of eye witnesses is good, solid forensic evidence is better, solid DNA with good provenance and a clear chain of evidence is best.

    For me, this case simply does not meet the test. I’m judging the judges, to put it succinctly. IF we’re to take the Libertarian perspective that individual rights are paramount, with which I agree in principle, and agree that the wishes of the primary person in the case, Mrs. Schiavo herself are paramount, to which I would agree, then it follows we have to know, not guess, not take a show of hands, but know to a reasonable certainty, before a final step is taken by others.

    There is no libertarian position, from Terri’s point of view, if she is not sentient. Any action that is taken is, if she is no longer “alive,” taken for the sake of other people, not for her. If she is “alive” in some fashion, then her wishes in this matter are even more paramount, and must therefore be crystal clear before others act to either affirm or override those choices.

    In either case, maintenance was no worsening her position any, and options remained open. Now those options will close. I just hope the right conclusions were drawn.

  174. Dynamist writes, “But we have a state, and I acknowledge it has some benefits. So, if you’re going to have a state, let it protect the voiceless…”

    That is a good idea, if we have a clear idea what the “voiceless” want. But in this case, we certainly do *not* have such a clear idea.

    I told my family (via email last night) that if I’m in the same situation, they should take me home, and put a *wholllle* lot of aspirin in my feeding tube…maybe mixed with a little alcohol. And I told them they should NOT wait 15 years to do it.

    Unfortunately for Terri’s husband and parents, Terri never left such written instructions. (Not that I’m blaming her…I didn’t leave such instructions until last night.)

    So it is not clear how to “protect” Terri Schiavo.

  175. Henry, “Now, I admit some (like the Pope, to give the devil his due) are consistent on thses points,”

    Hating to bring up Hitler, but don’t forget that the Pope (at the time) blessed the Nazi troops.

  176. “There is no libertarian position, from Terri’s point of view, if she is not sentient.”

    Actually, I think there is:

    If she is not sentient, and her estate does not have the money to keep her alive, and no charitable money can be found, then she should not be kept alive. That is, the libertarian position would be that no one should be forced through taxes to keep anyone not sentient alive. (Probably that would even apply to the sentient, but this particular Libertarian would be willing allow for some “unlibertarian” government action there. After all, the federal government at all levels is already taking a third of my income…)

  177. Well, I did said “the devil”.

    I was speaking strictly of the American death penalty process, not the millions upon millions of murders endorsed or “passively accepted” by the Church over the centuries.

    C’mon, give the fucker a little break–if you are bigger hardass than me on all matters Catholic/Christian, then you are either (1)too much of a hardass or (2) Nietzsche.

  178. Did “say”–damn, I type like an ass.

  179. clarityiniowa,

    That would be a stronger argument were we dealing with a subject with less finality and more margin for error.

    It works in every other area of life where finality is common, etc. Yet you want to make an exception to it for persons who are in a PVS for some reason.

    For instance, I believe there are some crimes for which the death penalty is warranted, but the evidence needs to be overwhelming to a virtual certainty for me to support any particular sentence of death. More than a handful of eye witnesses is good, solid forensic evidence is better, solid DNA with good provenance and a clear chain of evidence is best.

    People are put on death row with far less evidence every year.

    It seems that you have a problem with the entire structure of our judicial system. Well, that’s fine.

    For me, this case simply does not meet the test. I’m judging the judges, to put it succinctly.

    You’ve demonstrated to me time and time again that you don’t know much about the case, so how you came to that conclusion I can’t say. Read the guardian ad litem report.

    IF we’re to take the Libertarian perspective…

    I don’t see what the L.P. has to do with this.

    …that individual rights are paramount, with which I agree in principle, and agree that the wishes of the primary person in the case, Mrs. Schiavo herself are paramount, to which I would agree, then it follows we have to know, not guess, not take a show of hands, but know to a reasonable certainty, before a final step is taken by others.

    That’s the problem of course; what is and is not a “reasonable certainty” depends on your P.O.V. BTW, I am getting sick of this moving target of yours.

    In either case, maintenance was no worsening her position any, and options remained open. Now those options will close. I just hope the right conclusions were drawn.

    She is in a PVS; her only option is to lay there and be feed from a feeding tube or have it taken away.

  180. “There is no libertarian position, from Terri’s point of view, if she is not sentient. Any action that is taken is, if she is no longer “alive,” taken for the sake of other people, not for her.”

    So, as somebody else analogized earlier, we should all feel free to give clarityiniowa’s wife’s body the Weekend At Bernie’s treatment at will. She doesn’t get a vote, after all, she’s dead!

  181. Henry,

    I just can’t stand any Catholic-based arguments about morality, considering the church’s history.

  182. How did Ron Paul vote on Terri’s Law?

    That is the last thing I want to know before I pull the feeding tube from this thread.

  183. Dave (not WS): We’re at a convergence of several moral questions. I would prefer that the law be clear about what it protects, and in which order those protections are offered. It seems that life will always be top priority, and is the top priority in our arrangement. We are adding modifications (reductions) to the kind of life that is protected without what seems to be a due process.

    Again, I have a decent idea of what the law is, that the tube must be legally out. The law sucks because we do not have an equal protection for the voiceless in life as we offer the voiced criminal or the assets of the deceased. I don’t see in the Constitution any equivocating about the “quality of life” that it endeavours to protect. The specifically enumerated classes of human given protection has expanded over time. Now it seems worthwhile to consider if the recently-possible class of PVS humans are worthy of specific protection.

    Is death a deprivation of liberty? When consented, it is the final liberty one will exercise. If prolonging life is a deprivation of liberty, it is easily corrected.

    But the problem is not with life/death, rather medical treatment and individual sovereignty. Do the customs of marriage sufficiently reflect the possibilities created by advancing technology? Many conditions that would have formerly resulted in death are now treatable. Is a blanket power of attorney appropriate?

    It ain’t about Florida Death Lady, it is what her situation has revealed about our law and society.

  184. This is the only Schiavo thread I’ve jumped in on…

    Since she’s gonna die, but her other organs work, is she a donor? Did she discuss that permutation with Michael so we can harvest corneas and kidneys from her?

    “Honey, I don’t want to be kept alive too long, but if it turns out that I’ve been preserved for years before you’re allowed to honor my wishes, make sure somebody uses my organs so they can live in a better condition than you would hypothetically be freeing me from.”

  185. Judging by some of the comments I’ve seen posted here in the past few days, some of you folks have a lot to learn about the way the world works. Here are a few pointers before I pull the plug on this thread:

    1. If you want to bitch about the law, learn what it is first. This case is not about right-to-life, state sponsored execution, forced euthenasia, or strangers making decisions for you. This is a probate case. The kind decided by some magistrate at the county courthouse downtown every day. Someday, you and your loved ones will go through the system. We all do.

    2. Pulling the plug on your loved one in these circumstances is routine and happens every day across the land. Doctors pull feeding tubes but continue to inject morphine to lull the body to permanent sleep. It’s one of the best ways to go, actually. Why single this case out? because the parents have not allowed themselves to grieve over their loss and face reality.

    3. Finally, whether you leave a will or not, somebody will have to make decisions regarding you, your final care, your funeral, your distribution of goods. If you leave a will and instructions, you make the decisions. If you do not, the judge will do it for you. But if you don’t take responsibility to do it, you have no right to complain if things don’t happen the way you like it.

    I helped bury a close friend two years ago after she was killed in a tragic night club fire in RI (it made national news). She was single, no kids, and much closer to her best friend of 35 years and her kids than she was with her father and some crazy Catholic auntshe hadn’t seen in eight years. Well, guess who made all the funeral arrangements? It wasn’t the best friend she practically lived with, who knew her as a goth-girl wiccan raver–it was the aunt, who dressed the body up in a dowdy smock like the Queen and gave her a Catholic mass funeral with all the trimmings (I was waiting for the lightning bolt to hit). Hell, we had to hide the girl’s computer so the aunt didn’t see a hard drive full of bisexual porn! The aunt smelled lawsuit, and that was it. The best friend had no say in anything. Why? There was no will, and the law gave the aunt and father power over everything.

    If we learn anything from this, it’s this: plan for the unplannable.

  186. “If prolonging life is a deprivation of liberty, it is easily corrected.”

    Not by Terri Schiavo, or people like her.

  187. “Doctors pull feeding tubes but continue to inject morphine to lull the body to permanent sleep.”

    If it’s me, I prefer the feeding tube stays IN, with the morphine just increased to a lethal level.

  188. cdunlea: If it were a probate case, where as I understand it the person is completely dead, a higher standard of proof would be required for substitute judgement. I’ll guess, in regard to your point 2, that the vast majority of the everday plug-pulling is for people who are terminally ill, afflicted with imminently threatening disease or decay, rather than people with trauma-caused impaired functioning.

    If somebody sneaked a tube in, what would that individual be charged with? Assault? It is not the state that seeks to put the tube in, but the parents? If the state is not violating her refusal of treatment, it becomes a reverse-Kervorkian, where a doctor may conspire with the parents to sustain life.

  189. make her an “enemy combatant” and we can do with her as “WE” in the “USA” please! In Cuba, Arabia, Iraq, ……..

  190. Biologist-

    I also had to make some changes to my advanced directive, after my Opus Dei brother, noted that he was not under any obligation to honor my wishes, because I didn’t have a properly “formed conscience.” I left the Catholic Church 25 years ago, but apparently my baptism 20 years earlier, forever mandates that my end of life decisions, comply with Papal directives. I considered excommunication, but even Hitler didn’t qualify.

    My brother is now specifically excluded from participating in any decision making regarding my care. Due to my fear that conscience laws are going to be applied to end of life care, I’ve included stipulations regarding care by either Catholic MD’s or hospitals.

    I work in hospice program planning and development. There’s always some hero that flies into town at the last minute, and tries to take control of a family member.

    BTW, the Mormon Church keeps a list of people who have specifically requested that they not be baptised after death. The other half of my angst-ridden family are LDS.

  191. without the state’s intervention michael would not be abole to starve his wife to death.

    only a court order allowed him to remove the feeding tube.

    this is state-assisted murder.

  192. reliapundit,

    It is not “murder” if her desire was to end her life. The court found that was the case.

  193. The perfect ending will be her death today and her resurrection on Sunday.

  194. We’re closing in on 200 comments. Keep repeating the same tired arguments and we’ll make it.

  195. BTW, the dim-witted media has finally gotten it through their heads that Michael Schiavo wasn’t the only witness to testify as to her wish not to have her life sustained.

  196. Has an H&R thread ever reached 200 comments? Only one more to go! I will leave the honor to someone else.

  197. “without the state’s intervention michael would not be abole to starve his wife to death.”

    Bzzt. I’m sorry, the correct answer is, Michael had the legal authority to cease medical care of his own volition years ago, and chose to have a court appoint a guardian to make the decision, so that he could be confident that it was the right decision. Sorry.

    Take your Turtle Wax and get the heck off the set. It’s time for the Lightning Round.

  198. OK, joe’s post makes 200. This thread is now officially used up. I declare myself the winner.

  199. No! I am the winner! I am appealing! I shall go to every court I can find–state, federal, appellate, SCOTUS, the International Court and the Elders of Krypton!

  200. C’mon, give the fucker a little break–if you are bigger hardass than me on all matters Catholic/Christian, then you are either (1)too much of a hardass or (2) Nietzsche.

    Why thank you, I’ve been called many names on H&R, but I have never been called Nietzsche before. Where is gaius marius these days, anyway? Let’s go for 300 postings – what the heck!

    I’m going to start calling my dick “the feeding tube”. We need more of this type of humor in these dark times.

    Wow, “the feeding tube” and “paradise junction”…I’ve learned so much great slang on Reason.com.

  201. well, if they’d let Michael put his feeding tube in paradise junction, he wouldn’t have had to commit adultery

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