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Death and Dying
my first and last written thoughts on the Terri Schiavo saga

We've been discussing the Terri Schiavo saga in our house all weekend and it's prompted us to make living wills. I'm of the mind that laying in a vegetative state for fifteen years is not living at all and I would rather my family not try to keep me going in the hopes that one day I'll suddenly sit up and say "Hi mom and dad!" when in fact, if I did wake up, my first reaction would be to yell at my family for making go through that just so they didn't have to deal with my death.

Fifteen years of not being able to feed yourself, think for yourself, form a verbal thought, get dressed, tell anyone where it hurts, plead for medication, read a book, sit at a family dinner....that's not living. That's being kept alive. There is a difference, in my mind.

Obviously, I'm not a medical expert. This is all my own opinion. But I tend to think that even if Terri is cognizant of any of her surroundings at all (which is something I find rather unlikely), she can't be too happy at being who and what she is. Is that a way you would want to live? For fifteen years? Would you want to be trapped inside a useless body all that time, watching events unfold around you, knowing that you are a financial and emotional burden to those you love, that your parents and immediate family have lived every minute of the last fifteen years fighting to keep you in this vegetative state? Personally - again, my opinion - I would want to be dead, buried and a memory.

I hope that if it ever came to a situation like this one, the government would choose to stay out of my business. Who is Congress to step in and make rules and regulations about this one particular person, this one particular life? What about six month old Sun Hudson, whose breathing tube was removed this week, against his parents wishes? Well, there was no mass media coverage of little Sun's death, so why would there be any politicians around?
The political grandstanding going on in the Schiavo case is sickening.

Radley Balko:

Congress? Shamelessly grandstanding? You don't say. You know, for a bunch of "strict constructionists," these GOP lawmakers are awfully eager to crap all over the Constitution when it comes to "activist lawmaking." Laws narrowly tailored to apply to a specific person or a specific case are baldly unconstitutional. As are ex post facto laws. Anything legislation Congress may try to pass to prolong Schiavo's life would fail both of those tests on its face.

Andy says:

If her brain damage has resulted in her being forever incapable of having a rich inner life, that ability to converse internally and appreciate the now and remember and dream that seems to make us distinctly human, then there is nothing immoral in ending her life now.

If she is capable of having "a life," as opposed to simply "being alive," then to end her life would be immoral.

That said, if the goal is to end unnecessary suffering, then to allow her to starve to death strikes me as immoral. If the decision is that her "life" is over, and that she is merely "alive," then there's no rational reason not to actively move to end her biological life through lethal injection or the like.

After fifteen years of being not just a vegetable, but a pawn, and, in some instances, a puppet whose strings have been pulled in order for her to perform little "tricks" to show she is alive (again, opinion, I don't believe any of that), is that living a life?

In Andy's comments, Mike Ditto says:
She won't starve to death. She'll have multiple organ failure culminating in cardiac arrest as a result of dehydration, and during that time the nurses will keep her as comfortable as possible by giving her morphine and likely a sedative such as Ativan, as well as artificial tears, saliva, and a lip moistening gel. A side effect of the morphine will be to suppress her respiration, which will hasten the process. Her body will be comfortable. Her mind won't know the difference, because she has no capacity to experience anything cognitively. I've been through this with five relatives in the past 12 years, including my grandmother last month. It's the most humane way to go given the doctor's legal inability to intentionally provide a drug for the purpose of causing someone's body to shut down. When I go, I want to die instantly; but if I were to suffer an extended illness or be profoundly incapacitated, this is how I would want to go.

Which reiterates everything I've read on that very subject in the past few days. Mike also says at his own blog:

...[T]he torture is being perpetrated on both the parents and the husband, and the torture will continue as long as unethical, unqualified, religiously-motivated "experts" (most of whom have never reviewed Terri's medical records, and none of whom have actually examined her) keep giving patently false advice to the parents that someone with no cerebral cortex is a thinking, interactive human being just waiting to snap out of a light coma.
Again, Radley Balko:
What the hell is wrong with us? Why is it that when it get to the point of letting someone go, we force terimally sick people to die in one of the most agaonizing ways possible? Why is starving someone to death by removing a feeding tube considered humane, but injecting a terminal, pain-ridden patient with a solution designed to let them die painlessly forbidden? I know the answer. But it isn't acceptable. The answer is that removing a feeding tube isn't proactive. Whereas injecting someone with lethal, but merciful drugs is. That's asinine

Yes, it is. I wish I could make a living will that says, please do not let me suffer, do not let me linger in some horrible half-living, half-dead state. Shoot me full of some drug that will allow me to die a peaceful, painless death. Just let me go. Would that we could do that for everyone. Have you ever watched someone die? I watched both my grandparents die long, lingering deaths. Painful, dragged out deaths that made me think at many points it would just be so much more humane to give them a nice drug that would put them into a deep sleep from which they would never wake. It would be over. The pain, the suffering, the agony - and yes, those things apply to both the patient and the patient's family - would be over.

I mention this to people and they say, only God has the right to say when a life is over. Let God do his work. So is it God's design that my grandmother was to spend months in a hospital, floating between consciousness and unconsciousness, breathing on her own and then not breathing on her own, unable to recognize her children, her family called to the hospital time and time again to say good-bye, only to have it stretched out again when she was brought back to life, just to spend another couple of weeks dying? What kind of life is that?

For fifteen years Terri Schiavo has been dying. And these politicians, who don't know Terri, who don't know her family, are clamoring to claim that she not be allowed to die? And our government overall wants to tell us that - all of us - when we are in a similar situation that involves us laying in a hospital in pain, in agony, inches away from death, our families tortured by their constant bedside vigil, our eyes unfocused, our brain not functioning, our limbs not moving on their own, our children watching us die a slow, terrible death, that our loved ones cannot gently put a needle into our arms and end it for us, even though that's what we would desire, that we have no right to honor the wishes of someone who knows that enough is enough, that doesn't want their family to go through this, that doesn't want to go through this themselves, they - our lawmakers, our leaders, have the audacity to determine that there should be no such thing as mercy killing, that we must suffer until some mysterious man in the sky lets our suffering ends, or until our bodies run out of steam and finally shut down, no matter how long it takes - I find that all abhorrent. I would hope that should I ever find myself in a situation like this, one of my family members would have enough guts and enough sense to come into my hospital room in the middle of the night and put a pillow over my face.

Make a living will, people. Today.

[Wind Rider has more]

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my first and last written thoughts on the Terri Schiavo saga
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Comments

We already have ours but we're going to be going over them again to make sure that it's where it needs to be.

If I'm a hydroponics farm, I want them to turn off the faucet. I'd prefer a nice overdose of something warm and fuzzy but I'll take what I can get.

It seems to me as I've surfed around and made my own post that the people who are most self-righteous in this are the folks who have never had anyone in their lives in this condition.

What's really pissing me off is the far right who is always all about marriage and what it means and keeping government out of our lives, they are the ones that are all over this thing.

The new GOP: We'll stay out of your lives unless God says it's good for you.

Terri is currently "living" literally right around the corner from where I live, so yeah, I have formed some opinions. And yeah, I'm thinking about my living will right now too.

I'll second your suggestion that everyone get a living will as soon as possible. As far as the government, courts, and hospitals are concerned, their position SHOULD be to keep you alive for as long as possible by whatever means they have at their disposal. If it can NOT be proved beyond a SHADOW OF A DOUBT that you want to die in these situations, you should be kept alive. The request to terminate your life should come from YOU, not your parents, not your spouse who's currently banging someone else, and certainly not the courts or government.

And that is my problem with removing Terri's feeding tube. If it was me, I'd want to die. But I'm not Terri and the only person who claims she wants to die has moved on with his life, to put it as politely as possible. Since Terri left no clear orders for what to do, I believe the government has no choice but to default to the position of keeping her alive. At least while there is at least a shadow of a doubt in the claim that she would want to die.

I'm in agreement with you on this one.

While I've got serious reservations about the type of folks like Jack Kavorkian running around out there, that would vote, no even advocate, for people to off themselves or family members at the sign of a serious hangnail, I do think there should be the option to say enough is enough.

I find the 'but, they might find a cure' or the 'but he/she might wake up' arguments to be pretty self centered - with that usually not being the patients center we're talking about.

In the Schiavo case, the most horrific aspect of the entire thing, in my opinion, is the absolute agony that her parents have been allowed to enter into, with medical uncertainties being allowed to fuel their desires that their daughter wake up and return to them - something which will in all but the most miraculous of cirumstance, will never happen.

If we are going to go by polls, then the poll question to have people respond to would be 'do you wish to be kept alive in a vegatative state - unable to communicate, ven at a rudimentary level, peeing and crapping yourself uncontrollably, and fed by a tube?'

Medical science may not be precise, but for people to argue that physicians don't or can't know with almost absolute certainty when the methods available would be capable of reversing a terminal condition is ignorant. Doctors know what methods are available. And this isn't a discussion of what methods are financially feasable, but what methods are available. If they are there, and there is a chance they'd remedy a condition, then that should be the test.

But if there isn't anything else, other than some desperate belief in some sort of hoax such as apricot pit extract, or 'pshycic surgery' in some third world pit, then the option to spare everyone the extended agony of an extended and painful passage.

I watched my father pass in this manner, from liver cancer. He has wasted away already to less than 50% of his normal body mass. By the time he'd reached the point that a potential transplant was rulled out because of the combination of lack of a donor and his immaciated condition, his cognitive abilities were already severly degraded from massive doses of pain management meds. The only thing that made those months bearable at all was the knowledge that the pain meds were helping.

But the last two weeks - those were absolute hell, for him, and for all the rest of us.

There are instances where death is not the tragedy - it is the relief.

Why we consider this as 'humane' for our mere pets, but abbhorent when thinking of the ones we love the most - our families - insisting as a society that they be forced to endure horrendous suffering that we could not bring ourselves to allow for a dog - is ludicrous.

For those that take the stance 'well, it's God's job to decide when we die' - I'd counter with the response that for that particular argument is a straw man, when you consider that in a huge number cases where the question of 'should we let them go' would apply, the patient would already be dead without the interventions of medical science (which has the effect of pretty much altering 'God's timeline' if things had played out naturally).

This is not to say that I reject the notion of 'God having a plan' - what I do reject is the arrogance or pomposity of some people assuming that they know what it might be.

Well, Sun Hudson was not a one-time attractive and vivacious WHITE woman, was she? And it didn't help that her mother was an absolute freak show who grew to enjoy the klieg lights just a wee bit too much.

I'm not normally one to cry racism, but Sun Hudson's case is one that likely would have played out much different had he been a cute WHITE baby born to affluent, well-connected WHITE parents.

Yes, Virginia, racism is not dead. It's simply learned to be more subtle in how it allows itself to be displayed.

I agree with everything you say, but her husband is pretty clearly an unreconstructed asshole so it's difficult to actually decide.

100% in agreement with you. I have my living will. I need to make copies and give them to all the persons who should have a copy.

Observation: You don't know what Terri is going through. You can't know what Terri is going through

Acutally Alan, we can. She does not have a functioning cerbral cortex, which means she has no thoughts. "She" is not going through anything.
Remember the Dead Cat Bounce.

WORD.

This whole thing has me angry.

I've been tyring to put my thoughts into words for days about this but have been unable to ... thank you, Michele, for so eloquently saying what I could not.

Why they would keep Terri alive but were so eager to give up on Sun is beyond me ... the only reason I could see would be what Jack pointed out ...

This whole thing is a bit too close for me. I lost a student 2 weeks ago, a student that had a cold that turned into dehydration. She was multi-handicapped but she could communicate, she was mobile, she would respond when spoken to. She was young and strong and had a promising, albeit not perfect or privledged, life ahead of her. When she arrived at the hospital, she could have been nursed back to health, none the worse for wear. Instead, she was allowed to expire with little or no intervention.

I'm angry about this because she didn't have to die. It came down to the hospital thinking they knew what was best for her and using their powers of intimidation to convince an uneducated, frightened and emotionally overwhelmed mother that this would be best for everyone.

sigh



I'm getting a living will. My loved ones know my wishes but I would never want them to be put in the position of having to fight for my right to die when they really would want to do everything they could to save me.

People should have the right to die with dignity--but only the person should have the right, and it should be enunciated clearly, soberly, and unequivocally.

Not based on the word of a man who wants to get on with his own life. And not based on the words of parents, etc.

Living Will, living Will, Living Will.

I agree with Michele. The husband may be a jerk, but he's not trying to go against the advice of her doctors. No parent wants to believe their child is really gone, but tragedies happen and railing against the fates and spending millions of dollars on legal and medical experts isn't going to bring Terry back.

Republicans in Congress are making a circus of this to score points with their base, and it's reprehensible.

Just a little newsflash for all of y'all who want to 'pull the plug on a vegetable' ... Terri has not been credibly shown to be a vegetable. Read the article, people.

Michele’s description of Terri as “not only a vegetable, but a pawn, and, in some instances, a puppet whose strings have been pulled in order for her to perform little "tricks" to show she is alive,” I find to be not only painfully callous and cynical, but maddeningly inaccurate.

IMHO, the federal intervention is being done for the simple reason of taking people's minds off of Tom DeLay's ethical problems.

It's also a nice way to pander to the anti-abortion evangelical types. "See, we're repaying you for getting us re-elected!"

I agree that this points up the necessity of a living will and having your wishes known, but I have to disagree about the rest. Michael Schiavo apparently wants her gone so he can inherit the insurance settlement, but other than that, he's moved on, is living with another woman and has fathered kids with her. Terri's death would just be a financial windfall for him.

Then there's the matter of the cruelty involved in starving this poor woman to death. Here in Florida, criminals on death row are entitled to a humane death by lethal injection, and if someone did to his dog what they're doing to Terri Schiavo, he'd be arrested. Why should murderers and animals have more rights than Terri Schiavo?

Just updated my entry with a link to the Republican memo story; apparently they're taking Peggy Noonan's advice to make this a political issue rather than a human issue.

(Note: I think the Democrats would do the same thing were the tables turned, but then I think most political leadership is comprised of assholes)

I have one major bitch with this whole situation:
Why, in 15 years, has Terri Shiavo not recieved an MRI or a PET scan??
CT scans are not nearly enough.
MY father had a very bad stroke in 1996.
The CT scan looked like half his brain was goo. They told us no way would he ever speak or walk again. They were wrong. The MRI showed that the damage wasn't nearly as bad as it looked on the CT scan. My dad can talk fine, walk and even drive now on his own.
I'm not saying the having an MRI will miraculously show that she's going to pull out of this after fifteen years (my personal feeling is that she's a vegetable). But why in the hell are they going through with this without even doing the basic tests necessary to adequately diagnose her condition??
There are a lot of things in this case that just stink to high heaven.

Well said--but... Doctors can be wrong. Had at least two serious experiences myself so I don't buy their story 100%.

The court-appointed "guardian" to Terry says she's a veg, but there are a lot of problems in FL with "guardians" working hand-in-glove with lawyers and relatives to collect $$ under the table for saying those things.

I have the biggest problem with the "starving" issue. If Terry wanted to die and the courts agree with her wishes, then she should be helped through the process as painlessly as they can with a lethal injection. Starving to death is neither peaceful nor painless.

Balko should have looked up the phrases "ex post facto" and "bill of attainder" in a dictionary before embarassing himself in public. There may well be constitutional problems with the legislation Congress is working on, but neither of these objections come close.

Perhaps if she had made any wishes to die, this would all be more clear. But I doubt the husband with the live-in girlfriend really has her interests in mind. Give custody to the parents...divorce her...whatever...

Also, has anyone heard the rumor/truth/whatever that says that Michael Schaivo may have been abusive to her, causing her condition?

To me, this isn't about the state interfering - it's about a family asking the state to decide whom should have guardianship. The parents disagree that a man who is virtually married to another woman, with children, should have guardianship of their daughter. They are using whatever means they can to try to make their wish come true. The state isn't stepping in -they've been invited (actually, they've been BEGGED to assist.)

To me, there are two issues -that of guardianship, and the "right to die." I can't say whether or not her life is "worth" living (since I've read conflicting reports.) I simply don't believe the husband should be making all the decisions here.

It's not only important to get a living will, but to inform your doctor, lawyer, family, friends, and even your insurance agent about your choice. If no one remembers that you have a living will, the default position a hospital is going to take is that you want extraordinary measures taken to save and maintain your life. After that, the care you receive is up to insurance and your wallet.

I think the Sun Hudson story has much more to do with family finances than race, but I could well be wrong. I hope I'm not wrong in that, though I won't feel that relieved to be right.

"Should, should, should." Everyone's all up in arms about how it should be. Here's how it is: Florida state law states -- and Florida state judges have repeatedly ruled in accordance with the law -- the it is the SPOUSE who decides if medical intervention should be withheld. He says she told him she didn't want to live like this and he is supporting her wishes. Period.

All you "should" people should be outraged that BushCo is injecting themselves illegally into a private family matter on the behest of their Christian Right masters. You should be afraid of what this holds for the future of personal rights. You should be fighting this intervention tooth and nail instead of debating what the facts "should" be.

Carin, it doesn't matter if he's "virtually married to another woman". He's actually married to Terri.

My father, who had a living will, died in less than three months after being diagnosed with cancer because the doctors said nothing could be done to save him. The doctors basically convinced my father and my family that my father should simply give up and die because so much suffering would be place upon everyone involved. After the doctors convinced my father there was no hope for recovery they injected him with morphine and he die shortly after. I once made that mistake of believing the doctors were correct in their diagnoses and am in torment for believing in what the doctors determined would be a 'mercy killing', that being inject with a 'feel good' drug to end the 'misery'. The only misery which ended was the doctors misery of having to treat a sick patient.

My mother, on the other hand, was diagnosed with cancer around the same time as my father with the same form of cancer. My mother refused to accept her cancer as a given death sentence despite what the doctors said and is still alive today, living independently as is her wish and the cancer in her brain is today in remission even though four years ago she was told her diagnoses was terminal.

Neither doctors nor judges have the right to determine when life is over.

I find it abbhorent that our culture finds it so easily swayed by that which we perceive as a 'miserable inconvenience'.

As easy as it sounds, human pain and suffering is not something we can simply inject away from our conscience.

Is this how our culture wants to be defined as a people who believe that if it causes us inconvenience or misery simply terminate the cause.

To those who eagerly wish to terminate our humanity, I would hate to be your child or your parent.

Doctors and judges are not Gods either.

I, for one, will fight for life both in the womb and outside.

Our culture treats dogs better than it treats human beings, this fact is abbhorrent.

It is inhumane to simply rid ourselves of those we determine inconvenient. Life is not utopia.

This post reminds me of the movie "The Beach" in which a member of the collective utopians became ill from a tooth cavity and was throw out of the tribe and left to die becasue his pain was causing misery for all member whose only desire was to feel happy and carefree of suffering.

It was made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, you might wish to view it since the people in the tribe reflect the inhumanity found in this post.

By the way, once the doctors discover you have a living will they are more than eager to acccommodate death.

I'll bet dollars to donuts, Syn, that you support the death penalty though, don't you?

Not to make light of your parents' experiences, but a parallel of your argument could be that nobody can say for sure that daily pedicures won't bring Terry Schiavo back, so because of that she should be kept alive against her own stated wishes "just in case."

I want our culture to be defined as one that allows its citizens free choice in their own destiny, not one in which government meddles to impose the wishes of those not involved.

It's not about G-d for me, it's that I'm afraid of death. Who knows what happens when we die? Maybe the experience is like being in a coma. Maybe there is no experience, and this is all we get. And, if that's the case, I want to be kept alive as long as possible, not only because medical science makes strides all the time that may be able to save me, but because some life is better than no life, in my opinion. I hate that respecting the idea of respecting life has to automatically tie into religion. I'm not religious but have told everyone that matters to keep me alive at all costs.

Oh, and I am for people making the choice to die. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing that Terri made such a choice.

Well, Sun Hudson was not a one-time attractive and vivacious WHITE woman, was she? And it didn't help that her mother was an absolute freak show who grew to enjoy the klieg lights just a wee bit too much.

Sun Hudson was removed from a breathing apparatus. In other words, the kid couldn't even breathe without help and suffered from a form of dwarfism that would lead to death soon! The Schiavo case is completely different. Schiavo is able to breathe on her own and is not rapidly declining because of a disease/abnormality that is attacking her body.

No Chuck, I do not support the death penalty. It is far to easy a way out for the criminal to have ever understood the horrific consequences of their actions.

By the way, there is no proof of Terry's wishes only hearsay from someone who gave up on her fourteen years ago, a husband who could not be bothered to honor in sickness and in health his wife who is incapacitated. His words are meaningless.

I am simply saying that we don't know what the future might bring, this includes doctors, lawyers and judges.

That said, by your logic then I am assuming you are anti-abortion? I mean, there are those babies in the womb who are legally murdered because THE MEDDLEING GOVERNMENT determined it was legal to do so. Those babies murdered in the womb are not given the right to determine their destiny now are they. On the contrary, their lives are determined by women who believe offspring are inconvenient to an exciting lifestyle.

I have to ask this, if Terry dies by starvation simply because people have determined her incapacitated what is going to happen to those inflected with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other mentally incapacitating diseases?

Are we just going to throw them away too?

It's really sad that so many people's minds are poisoned by Bush hatred that they would be willing to sacrifice an innocent woman's life because of it.

You seem to think more for the family's welfare - learning to deal with death - than what an incommunicative woman thinks. Assuming of course she would want to die is pretty narrow minded. For myself, I trust medical technology enough to hope that I could be brought out of my state. For all we know she did too. Her husband, who has treated her horribly for a decade, is certainly not the most credible witness.

"It's really sad that so many people's minds are poisoned by Bush hatred that they would be willing to sacrifice an innocent woman's life because of it."

It's even sadder that some people can't see the irony in criticizing political bullshit while their own statements are, uh, political bullshit.

I would find it easier to agree with you, Michele, if it weren't for the evidence I've seen that doctors think she can make at least a partial recovery and some semblance of normalcy with treatment and therapy that her husband denies her. And that the Florida courts have refused to take any of that into consideration.

This is where my own feelings on the matter more or less stopped being so certain she should "just be allowed to die."

You know what? It's a real damn shame that they killed that little kid too. Of course, you could argue that it was done out of "mercy" to spare the child "prolonged suffering" and the family "further grief." In fact, I believe that is what the killers of this kid and others like it, as well as the wannabe killers of Terri Schiavo, are saying.

Mercy killing seems to be like potato chips: you can't stop at just one, can you?

Dean, none of the doctors saying that have A) examined her or B) even looked at her medical chart. They are basing this on 15 seconds of edited videotape they've seen on TV -- if even that much evidence.

Do you people really think that 19 judges over the course of 7 years would all rule as they all have if there really was a chance she could recover? If so, I wish we could harness the power of such wishful thinking -- we could work miracles!

Andrea, et al: Why can't you entertain the possibility that Terry Schiavo really did tell her husband she wouldn't want to be kept alive like this? Why do you insist on believing he's lying, even though he has nothing to gain from this and has even turned down $1,000,000 to give up his guardianship of her? Why can't you accept that he is trying to do what she asked him to do? You all seem to believe this isn't what she wanted, even though the person who would know best (her husband) says it is. Why???

Clearly, you all disagree with her wishes about this. I think you could all stand to examine your own feelings about this and figure out why you think her will should be ignored.

Michelle,

I would highly recommend the article written by Father Johansen over at Nationalreview.com to get a better sense of (a) what's involved with this kind of death and (b) what exactly happened here to bring Terri to the state she's in.

May I ask: under what conditions would you draw the line? Say you were effectively retarded from an accident, would you want your husband to smother you then too? What if you just lost motor control from the neck down?

And do you think it's OK to kill retarded/disabled kids when they're born?

I might add that the "Sun" case was a big deal in conservative circles this past year.

"...these politicians, who don't know Terri, who don't know her family, are clamoring to claim that she not be allowed to die?"

I'm really sorry, Michele, but that's just plain missing the point. This is not and never has been a "right-to-die" case, but one about 1) whether that right was ever actually exercised and 2) who can have legal standing in the place of someone who's medically incapacitated.

Chuck, for someone who proclaims their opposition to meddling government, your absolute faith in the courts is, charitably, pretty naive. As someone who worked for the Florida Legislature and was following this case for years before most people had ever heard of Terri Schiavo, I certainly would not be willing to entrust MY life to the utter dysfunctional rogue judicary who are de faco the real rulers of that state.

I have another concern about this case as I am not a lawyer. Since Terry does not have an actual document expressing her desire to have her life ended in case of incapacitation yet a judge rules according to hearsay from the husband, doesn't this then make the concept of living wills null and void?

In other words, had Terry a living will there is not despute as to what her wishes are, however she does not but the judge ruled as is she had one. Would not this set a presedence that even if I had at some point in my life set up a living will which said I wanted the doctors to do everything possible to save my life my husband could turn right around and say that at some point I had expressed to him that I would have wanted to die?

What appears to me is that the judge violated the law of living wills.

Chuck, dude, all I can say is if you want to know my thoughts you'll have to read my blog. But I'll just say this and keep it short: I really think that a vague conversation he claims he had with his wife years ago while watching tv is not really much of a basis for allowing Michael Schiavo to kill her now. All the rest of you who are so frantic that you not be left in similar condition already know what you have to do. These blog posts and comments won't be binding enough, so I suggest you get yourselves to lawyers pronto. Put your money where your mouth is.

Do you people really think that 19 judges over the course of 7 years would all rule as they all have if there really was a chance she could recover? If so, I wish we could harness the power of such wishful thinking -- we could work miracles!

Given the fact that many of those 19 judges (does that include appeals court panels? or only individual judges in individual courtrooms?) could not rule on the facts of the case, but only procedural matters, I think you're being incredibly naive as to the obstinance and protectiveness of members of the judicial club.

Some of those judges were undoubtedly never confronted with the issue of "whether she could recover or not?" Therefore, your whole assertion is baseless.

We wouldn't allow a dog to die in this manner. What has our society come to that we would allow a person to starve to death. This woman will not die immediately; it will take at least two weeks before her body is so devastated that she breathes her last breath. Perhaps, we can start behaving like this with AIDS patients, or with sick children, or with Alzheimer's patients, or with handicapped -- all people unable to feed themselves. The infant who recently died was on a breathing apparatus, not a feeding tube. Certainly, it should be your choice to prepare a living will and to decide to not be kept alive by any means. That is your choice; it wasn't Terri's.

Oh, Michele-

Don't you see? Sun Hudson and his family are BLACK PEOPLE. Their lives aren't important to the lily-white heads of state. Not like sweet, white, not-quite dead Terri Schiavo and her lovely Caucasian parents. The photos are such a pain to equalize. Black faces, white politician. That's just unAmerican.

"And our government overall wants to tell us that - all of us - when we are in a similar situation that involves us laying in a hospital in pain, in agony, inches away from death, our families tortured by their constant bedside vigil, our eyes unfocused, our brain not functioning, our limbs not moving on their own, our children watching us die a slow, terrible death, that our loved ones cannot gently put a needle into our arms and end it for us, even though that's what we would desire, that we have no right to honor the wishes of someone who knows that enough is enough, that doesn't want their family to go through this, that doesn't want to go through this themselves, they - our lawmakers, our leaders, have the audacity to determine that there should be no such thing as mercy killing, that we must suffer until some mysterious man in the sky lets our suffering ends, or until our bodies run out of steam and finally shut down, no matter how long it takes - I find that all abhorrent."

Welcome to Bush's "Culture of Life", baby! Right to die? LIBERAL PROPAGANDA! Bioethics? HAIRSPLITTING! In the New America, only God and the Government can tell us what to do with our bodies. And that's final.

Chuck:

Yes, the doctors who say she might benefit from rehabilitation and regain some functioning have only seen small video clips. However the one doctor who has diagnosed her as PVS saw her for a whole 45 minutes, when all the experts in the field say that it requires hours over several days, along with tests which have never been done.

If credible experts (and one lone doctor who makes his living testifying on PVS, always for the side wanting to kill the patient, does not meet that test in my book) were given access and appropriate testing, and they all said, "yes, she's PVS", this whole thing wouldn't be an issue. But she hasn't had the testing, she hasn't had the rehab. She can swallow (she doesn't drool), she can take liquid by mouth, the tube is just for the ease of her caregivers, as feeding her would take far too long if done by hand every day. Judge Greer's order includes no oral feeding. So a woman who is on no life support (if feeding is life support, then we are ALL on life support) is to be starved to death at the request of a man who at best has abandoned his marriage vows, and at worst may be the cause of her condition in the first place?

I don't want to see this country dissolve into one whose society/culture automatically assumes that death is preferable to life, unless the life is perfect. Because who of us has a perfect life? And who is to decide whether that life isn't perfect enough?

The husbands lawyer has said:
ďI think itís hard-hearted to say to somebody whose spouse has Alzheimerís, or whose spouse has had some catastrophic accident, that they are consigned to a life of loneliness and then canít form other relationships. Thatís a moral judgment and you know, I think people have different views on it.Ē

I agree. I think anyone in Mike's position should get on with their lives.

It seems many have not seen all the evidence. For example, Terry had not only told her husband her thoughts on being in a situation like she is now, she had told others:

//Felos also said Terri Schiavo told her best friend, brother-in-law and uncle that she would never want to be kept alive in this type of scenario.

Outside court, Felos told reporters that Terri Schiavo long ago made clear her wishes: "She said, 'I don't want to be kept alive artificially -- no tubes for me. I want to go when my time comes. Take the tubes and everything out.'"//

Until last night, I'd believed she had only told her husband that.

Also, the comparison between her 1996 CT scan and that of a normal person is amazing. Shes lost at least 50% of her brain...or so it appears to me.

There has been a lot of noise about starving her. I dont know if she has the capacity to suffer from this -- that is, feel pain -- but it seems to me it would be better to put her to sleep. I've long observed that animals are treated more humanely than people. I'm assuming there is some law against 'mercy killing'. But which is worse? Starving her or putting her to sleep?

Terri Schiavo, the person, died many years ago following the massive destruction of her cerebral cortex. What we see today is Terri Schiavo, the tragic medical specimen whose body is being kept functioning with liquids flowing through tubes inserted into her intestines.

Forcing caregives to continue this mindless treatment is both immoral and inhumane -- something reminscent of Dr. Mengele's ghastly experiments. Give Terri her final rites and then let her die with dignity so she can be buried according to her wishes. Does anyone believe that was never her desire for herself?

As for Michael, here's what a recent editorial in the Indianapolis paper stated:
"And Ms. Schiavo's husband, Michael, doesn't appear to be motivated by money, as her parents have accused. The $700,000 he won in a malpractice suit to pay for her care is mostly gone. He has offered to donate what's left to Hospice.

He has been attentive: He went to nursing school to learn to care for her. He took her to California for experimental surgery. He waited eight years after her collapse, when it was clear she wasn't going to improve, to go to court to get her feeding tube removed.

Ms. Schiavo's parents and their Right to Life and Operation Rescue friends point out that for the past few years Mr. Schiavo has lived with a woman, and that they have had two kids. But when all hope for his wife's recovery was gone, was it really so wrong to move on?

Mr. Schiavo visits his wife twice a week, does her laundry, and pays for services most patients in a vegetative state don't get. She is dressed every day, for example, and make-up is put on."

To me, he seems like a fine man and wonderful husband.

From what I've read, it seems a person in PVS would not suffer from starvation. If that is true, then it is somewhat comforting. Still, removing a feeding tube or breathing apparatus seems barbaric, compared to how we treat pets.

I suggest that for more detail you look at
www.abstractappeal.com/schiavo or or www.miami.edu/ethics or www.findlaw.com. Lots of detail and actual access to the actual documents.

As far as starving go, starving is a word with judgmental connotations, just as the word murder has judgmental connotations that the word kill does not. Starving implies that the person is hungry and would eat if they could. Studies done with conscious terminally ill patients show us that people in the dying process begin to eat less and drink less and really are not hungry. Are these people starving to death? No, the disease process is causing their death. Of course, Terri Schiavo's death has been delayed a long time but I seriously doubt that she is experiencing pain or discomfort from the lack of feeding.
I work in a hospital with dying patients and their families. I have seen that the process of allowing a person to die naturally with the family around them can be a blessed event. I never know whether to believe the news reports but I am troubled by reports of not allowing the parents to give her small pieces of ice. In my experience, this doesn't make any difference and if it comforts the family, why not? If fluid collects in the mouth, a little suctioning might have to be done. We encourage families to do mouth care for the person with these little sponges on sticks. A person like this, whether she's PVS or minimally conscious, cannot swallow. An experienced neurologist does not need hours to diagnose PVS. Remember that Terri did receive aggressive PT and speech therapy in the first 2 or 3 years after this accident. Her husband raised money to take her to California for some special therapy which did not work. I haven't seen a list of the various medical tests Terri has been given but being in the profession that I am I don't believe that she has not received all of the appropriate medical tests.

I think people should read the actual GAL reports with medical and court histories before they make their decision. And don't base your information on a biased website's article.

There is only about 50k left of the malpractice money- none of which Michael Schiavo controls. SunTrust Banke is the independent trustee of the trust the money was put into and Michael cannot touch it, not even once Terri dies.

"For example, Terry had not only told her husband her thoughts on being in a situation like she is now, she had told others:

//Felos also said Terri Schiavo told her best friend, brother-in-law and uncle that she would never want to be kept alive in this type of scenario."

You're showing your ignorance of the evidence. Or maybe you're reading the National Enquirer. The only people whose testimony Greer allowed was Michael, his brother, and that brother's wife.

He wouldn't accept the testimony of her friends and family.

Get you facts straight before you spout off.

And anyone who is getting their facts from Abstract Appeal is missing many key documents and facts.

Look at the actual court document.
The report of the judge indicates that the judge also received testimony from Terri's brother, sister, and parents.