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Since some people don't understand ... [Mar. 25th, 2005|03:40 pm]
John
I've seen more than a few things asking why "liberals" what Terri Schiavo to die.

This is a nasty piece of questioning, and it proves that the poor woman has, in many people's minds, become nothing more than a weapon to be used in a despicable partisan battle.

However, let me make clear what I think any person of *any* political persuasion should want for Terri Schiavo.

You should want her wishes regarding her medical care to be carried out.

*Not* her parents' wishes, however heartwrenching it might be for her parents if Terri would not want medical care to continue.

Being fed through a feeding tube is a medical procedure; you're allowed to say "no". If someone feeds you through a feeding tube when you've refused, that person is assaulting your body and your freedom. Now, there are exceptions, just as there are in all circumstances. However, those exceptions do not include "your parents insist you really would want this, in the face of evidence that you would not."

Do I want her to die? No, I want her to wake up with a miraculously restored cerebral cortex - hers is currently completely gone, or so close to that as makes no difference - and have a similarly miraculous solution to all the awkwardness this would entail, and go on to live a full and happy life. While we're at it, I want world peace, an end to world hunger, and a whole bunch of other things. Oh, yeah, and enough money to put Chris through college, put into a trust fund that can only be accessed if she actually *goes* to college. Give me enough miraculous wishes, I might even come up with something for myself... but I digress.

Everyone, liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, or any other political designation you can come up with, should want for her wishes to be carried out. And right now, the courts found that *her* wishes would be to stop medical treatment, including feeding. Now, if anyone out there has a better method for determining *HER* wishes, great. I really, honestly, truly, want to know, but a better way of finding out her wishes falls into the last paragraph's level of wishful thinking, I'm afraid.

So, what do "liberals" want? For her to be able to refuse further medical treatment, and yes, this means, allowed to die, since nothing but medical intervention will save her. And yes, this means dying of starvation and dehydration. If she were bleeding and refused medical treatment, it would mean she'd bleed to death; if she had terminal-if-untreated-cancer and refused treatment, it would mean she'd die of cancer.

It doesn't matter if some people insist that she wouldn't want this; the courts have done their damnedest to figure out what she would want, and they are as certain as they can be that refusing further treatment is what she'd want.

Do I want her to die?

No. But I don't want anyone to force her to take treatment she would refuse. Not even her parents, no matter how much it hurts to see her parents suffer because of her suffering and death.

It hurts, sure, but to recall a particular quote, "freedom is not pretty."
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jhetley
2005-03-26 12:24 am (UTC)
I have this problem with "right to die" as a slogan. Last time I checked, we all of us have an _obligation_ to die. Can't avoid it. For me, the question boils down to "How?" And to my eye, "living" like that looks a lot like torture. Deliberate, interminable, torture. I wouldn't treat a dog like that.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-03-26 12:55 am (UTC)
Nod. I don't support her "right to die", but I do support her right to refuse medical treatment.

Now, if you really want to hurt me, change this situation so she could swallow a thin pudding that would supply water and nutrients. (She can't, though some people have spread untruths stating that she can.) At that point, if her parents were willing to care for her and feed her, I couldn't say she had a right to refuse "medical treatment" because being spoon fed isn't medical treatment.

Her situation strikes me as nightmarish, and I suspect that she deserves a quick, peaceful death. But, under those hypothetical circumstances, it would be euthanasia, not "refusal of medical treatment", and that's a completely different set of issues.
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[User Picture]From: jhetley
2005-03-26 02:51 am (UTC)
Why couldn't she be allowed to refuse food?

Last time I checked, it was still legal to starve yourself to death. Scott Nearing did it without facing any Congressional intervention. (Of course, he was a Commie, so they probably _wanted_ him to die....)

For that matter, family lore says a great-great aunt of mine did that when she fell off a horse at age 80-something and broke her hip. Just refused to eat, until she died.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-03-26 03:51 am (UTC)
It's not that a person can't refuse food; it's that a guardian can't decide that she's refuse to be spoonfed, the way a guardian can say she'd refuse medical treatment. At least, I'm pretty sure it's different. Philosophically, if she would swallow pudding if it was put in her mouth, I'd feel compelled to let someone put pudding in her mouth for as long as someone was willing to do so.

The key difference with the great-great-aunt is that she was (presumably) conscious and simply refused to eat or drink... no one had to say "no, I know her, and she would have refused to be fed".
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[User Picture]From: jhetley
2005-03-26 04:00 pm (UTC)
I just checked the wording on our "Advance Directive" forms (Maine legal-beagle-speak for "Living Will") and it does specify "artificial means" such as a tube or IV. Maybe I need to write in a bit of creative prose there. The form specifically says you can modify any part...
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[User Picture]From: edschweppe
2005-03-26 04:00 am (UTC)
Everyone, liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, or any other political designation you can come up with, should want for her wishes to be carried out. And right now, the courts found that *her* wishes would be to stop medical treatment, including feeding.

Amen!
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[User Picture]From: starcat_jewel
2005-03-26 07:53 am (UTC)
I have a much shorter answer to that question. You're missing the thinly-veiled assumption in that phrasing, which my response addresses. I don't want her to "die", because she's not alive now -- she's a breathing piece of meat that can't even eat on its own. I just want them to LET HER MEAT GO.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-04-01 04:27 am (UTC)
Well, if she was just a breathing piece of meat, and I was sure of that, I'd have had no objections to her being kept alive.

I don't *think* she was in any way aware of what was going on; if we have a soul (or whatever), I *think* it would have left already.

But I don't *know*.

That makes following her wishes all the more necessary. I mean, if Terri Schiavo had been completely dead and gone, but her parents didn't realize it, and wanted to keep her body around, well, I don't like it, but at that point, no one besides Michael would be hurt by it.

But if Terri *was* still in there, it would have been horrible to disobey her wishes, and keep treating her.

I sincerely hope you're right, that anything that was Terri Schiavo was long gone, but I can't deny that niggling worry that there was something left, and I don't even want to imagine myself in that situation, with someone trying to hold me back.
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