Bioethicists Spank Congress


Below is a statement signed by numerous prominent bioethicists protesting the U.S. Congress' interference with Michael Schiavo's efforts to honor Terri Schiavo's desire to refuse treatment.

"Whereas, the courts of Florida and the Federal courts have upheld through extensive litigation and review the right of a husband (Mr. Schiavo) to make medical decisions for his wife who is in a persistent vegetative state, we undersigned participants from the bioethics community wish to express our strong objection to the manner in which the United States Congress is interfering with that right."

It's not surprising that no member of the President's Council on Bioethics signed the statement, but it is worrying that that body is currently considering public policy responses to end of life issues.

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  1. Pardon my preaching to the choir, but here’s a short list of other stuff that Congress has no constitutional authority to stick its schnoz into but does so anyway.

    I wonder how many of Ron’s friends at the Bio Ethics Club will sign a petition spanking Con-Gress for any of this stuff.

    Five bucks says not many.

    Legal drinking age

    Speed limits

    Driver licensing

    Child support (the billion dollar fine facing Californicate for not collecting child support Uncle Sugar?s way comes to mind)

    Medical marijuana

    Swiss cheese holes



    Steroid use by baseball players

    DUI laws

    Public education

    Gas mileage

    Defining Bar-B-Que

    I love Cavanaugh’s quote:

    “A people that need the government to tell them what barbecue is cannot be considered free in any meaningful sense of the word.”

  2. They’re generally not my “friends” and nope they won’t. Since generally bioethicists like government interference, it’s noteworthy when they object to it.

  3. The ethicists have not correctly characterized the situation.

    Congress gave the federal court jurisdiction to hear a suit concerning “the alleged violation of any right of Theresa Marie Schiavo under the Constitution or laws of the United States relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life.”

    Neither the Florida courts nor the federal courts have said that Michael Schiavo’s “right . . . to make medical decisions for his wife” includes the right to withdraw food, fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life.

    On the contrary, the state appeals court, in its decision on the first Schiavo appeal, has said:

    “In this case, however, Michael Schiavo has not been allowed to make a decision to disconnect life-support. The Schindlers have not been allowed to make a decision to maintain life-support. Each party in this case, absent their disagreement, might have been a suitable surrogate decision-maker for Theresa. Because Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers could not agree on the proper decision and the inheritance issue created the appearance of conflict, Michael Schiavo, as the guardian of Theresa, invoked the trial court’s jurisdiction to allow the trial court to serve as the surrogate decision-maker.”

    Congress interfered with the right of the Florida trial court to make medical decisions for Terri.
    Congress didn’t interfere with any of Michael Schiavo’s court-recognized rights.

    Shouldn’t ethics preclude making false charges, even if the target of the charges is a hated institution like the U. S. Congress?

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