Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I asked a friend his opinion about the Terri Schiavo case. Here, in part, is what he said.
Now that I'm back in the U.S., I've gotten a look at the Terri Schiavo media frenzy, as (with lumps in their throats and their skulls) they reverently narrate Bush flying in to sit a pious vigil by the phone so he could sign today an emergency bill overruling the husband's decision to let her die after 15 years of futile misery, as she apparently had said she would wish. …

Isn't anybody talking about the fact the Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly authorized hospitals to remove life support if the patient ran out of money to pay them and showed no prospect of recovery - even if the patient's entire family's wanted to "choose life"? Just this week, a 6-month-old African-American baby (whose mother insists the baby was active and responsive, but we'll never know because the hospital refused her pleas to let the media see the baby) had his tubes removed and died under that law.

It certainly isn't even mentioned in any of the few big-media summaries I've just seen.

These same Republicans are also trying to cut off both the malpractice claims that have paid for keeping Schiavo alive so far, and the Medicaid that keeps many other, less severely damaged patients alive.
I would love it if a few more (as Bush would call them) "radical judges" rule in favor of Terri's husband—as the first Federal judge to hear the case did earlier today. How many has it been so far? I think I heard a radio report saying that 13 judges have ruled for the husband. Perhaps Bush will have to eliminate the entire judicial branch. Too much independence and respect for the law.

What I don't get is why either side is so intensely interested. As yet another friend told me, if the Christian right believes in an immortal soul, then death is not so terrible. Wouldn't being in heaven be better than continuing in a persistent vegetative state? Why not let her go?

On the other hand, why does the husband care so much? If he thinks of Terri as essentially dead, then if it makes her family happy to keep her fed, why not? After all, it isn't as if she is suffering or that she has an unacceptable quality of life. She has no life at all. Does he think she would really object to that?

At the level of the immediate objective issues (in contrast to the political circus it has become) the whole thing has me baffled.

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