Well What Else Is There To Talk About?
If we’re going to get all political on this blog, and somehow we tend to, it seems necessary to pay some attention to the Terri Schiavo case
. Personally, I’d rather not. Yet there’s something fascinating about it—it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime incident, the lifetime in this case being Mrs. Schiavo’s.
It’s hard to get the straight dope on this case with every spin doctor and pundit offering three different perspectives, but basically here are the facts:
1.Terri Schiavo suffered a heart attack and stopped breathing in 1990.
2.For the past fifteen years she has been in a “persistent vegetative state”.
3.Her husband wants her feeding tube unhooked.
4.Her parents really, really, don’t.
I won’t bother arguing the “persistent vegetative
” thing. This woman is pretty much out of it. Otherwise she’d surely have said or done something
in those fifteen years to let someone know there’s still a synapse or two firing. And don’t mention the videos—they were carefully edited for television to arouse certain sympathies.
The reason this case has made headlines is that A) No-one knows what Terri might have wanted, and B) Two groups care very deeply about what happens to her. There have been a number of nasty rumours, all started by “pro-life” types, that Michael Schiavo didn’t do enough to help his wife immediately after her accident, or that he’s been fighting to murder her for fifteen years, yadda yadda yadda.
Let’s assume that he’s a generally good fellow who just wants to get on with his life and allow his wife’s to end. Michael Schiavo has been living with another woman for a number of years, has had kids by her. It’s hard to blame him. The Florida courts could have, presumably, granted him a divorce and let him ride off into the sunset while her parents got custody. Yet he’s still around; which suggests that he truly believes his wife might prefer the Great Beyond
Likewise, her parents have no choice—as parents they must fight for their child.
George Bush, who hasn’t stopped vacationing for war, terrorism threats, or head-of-state visits since being enthroned, actually flew back to Washington to write a special law affecting only this woman. Isn’t that unconstitutional, by the by?--Certainly is in Florida.
His brother (a poltroon) has gone so far as to ask if he can adopt Terri Schiavo. In stark contrast—I cannot recall ever hearing that GWB or JB ever offered to adopt any of the 147 or so death row inmates that W topped off during his gubernatorial reign--or even interrupt a vacation to save one.
And every pundit and blogger (now including me) has an opinion.
Myself, I’m sort of on the side of right-to-die. If Terri Schiavo had lived in any number of other countries, such as Russia, Bangladesh, or Thailand, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion
Just lately, some evidence has surfaced that the mind functions
to some degree, even in just the sort of state Mrs. Schiavo is in. This puts something of a different spin on it for me. Honestly, I’d prefer to let her die, were it my choice. But it seems unreasonable and a bit cruel to allow a person whose mind may
be functioning, somewhere in that lump of paralysed flesh, to die from starvation and dehydration.
Because amidst all the rancour, there’s a person at the centre of this mess. And no-one will ever know if she wanted
to lie there wearing a diaper and having her meals piped in for the past fifteen years. She may very well be a bit tired of it.
The two main questions here are “Who decides?” and “Is a feeding tube some sort of heroic measure?” Because the truth is, Terri Schiavo can breathe on her own. And as long as someone’s willing to assume the cost of her care, why shouldn’t this one person, in this one case, be left alone?
Terri Schiavo can’t decide—or rather, apparently can’t tell anyone what she may have decided. I’m beginning to think that Michael Schiavo, as a husband who presumably swore “’till death do us part”, is finding it a very tough go. Poor bastard.