clarifications and whatnot
[I said yesterday that I wrote my first and last thoughts on Terri Schiavo, but I'm diving into the subject again, mostly to defend myself against some rather crude accusations]
One of my greatest fears is of being buried alive. The dark side of my imagination has created a scenario in which this happens and it appears in my dreams every once in while: Imagine being held down, underneath layers of dirt or stone or maybe in a wooden box. You see a pinpoint of light above. Just out of reach. You can hear muted voices above you; there are people out there. Living, breathing people who are going about their daily lives while you are trying to claw your way out of your trap, while you are trying to shout to them. But no one hears you. No one knows you are in there.
When people tell me that Terri Schiavo is aware, that's what I imagine. That's how I envision her every cognizant moment to be. I donít know that this is true. Iím no medical expert. But no one knows whatís going on inside Terriís mind, do they? If anything is going on in there. The fact that she has no working cerebral cortex makes me inclined to believe that she isnít aware of anything. But I try to put myself in that place. Is that a way I would want to exist for fifteen years? Hell, I wouldn't want to live that life for fifteen days.
My post yesterday was not one based on expert witness testimony or facts and figures and data. It was based on emotion and I assumed it obvious that it was a personal view of what I would want if I were in that situation as well as an admonition to make a living will so this never happens to you.
To say - as some other bloggers as well as emailers did - that it would stand to reason then that I would advocate the killing of the retarded, the meek and the disabled is absolutely ridiculous. You may call my desire to see Terri die peacefully a slippery slope, but youíre creating that slope out of fallacies. When I advocate mercy killings, I donít mean that people should just run rampant through hospitals jabbing all the sick and elderly with needles full of morphine. I would expect that if euthanasia was ever made legal, it would be used only on people who have expressly and legally made provisions for such a thing to be done to them, in specific situations.
A few people asked why I didn't mention Michael Schiavo. I purposely didnít write anything about Terriís husband simply because he wasnít a factor in what I felt yesterday after reading countless news stories and blog posts about the case. I was looking at it from the point of view as someone who has watched loved ones die and as someone who would not want to linger inside a shell of myself for 15 years while my parents and husband fought over whether I may some day recover. My impression of her husband are not favorable, but I don't see why that matters.
And now I'm wondering why the Schiavo case is as famous, for lack of a better word, as it is. Why the lights and cameras? Why the politicians and reporters?
I mentioned yesterday the case of Sun Hudson.
The child was apparently certain to die, but was conscious. The hospital simply decided that it had better things to do than keeping the child alive, and the Texas courts upheld that decision after the penniless mother failed, during the 10-day window provided for by Texas law, to find another institution willing to take the child.
You have here another parent looking to keep their child alive. Where was the outrage? Where were the tv cameras, the Congressmen, the advocates? Sun Hudson's mother had to let her baby die even though she wanted to keep him alive. He would have died soon, anyhow, as do most babies born with Sun's defect. But should that matter? Shouldn't we err on the side of life? Aren't all lives worth keeping until nature runs its course? Then why weren't the same people who have been advocating for keeping Terri Schiavo alive doing the same for Sun Hudson? Why was the hospital able to kill him without a fight?
Honestly, I don't think anyone involved in this case any longer has the benefit of Terri Schiavo in mind. It's way past that. It's all about pushing agendas now. If people really, truly cared about making sure all lives are equal, whether brain dead or not, why weren't they rallying at the bedside of Sun Hudson?
Iím not at all impressed with either the White House or Congress right now. This is so obviously not the federal governmentís business that Iím embarrassed to even point it out. Whether Terri Schiavo lives or dies is of supreme maximum importance to her friends and family. Itís only important in a symbolic and voyeuristic way to anyone else - and thatís only because the media refuse to let go of it and political activists refuse to stay out of it.
As far as starving Terri to death goes (I'm trying to respond to all comments and emails here), some of you make it sound as if I'm sitting here gleefully rubbing my hands together, mumbling kill, kill, torture, kill! I've tried to read up on what happens when you remove the feeding tube of someone whose cerebral cortex is not functioning. I quoted such a thing yesterday. And if it were me - read again, if it were me, that's how I would want it done if there were no other legal recourse. Obviously, I'd prefer a nice shot in the arm of something that will let me die peacefully, but we only offer that resolution to animals in this country.
Does anyone remember Karen Ann Quinlan?
After three and a half months that Karen had been in a coma, the family decided to authorize the discontinuance of extraordinary procedures. The next day, the doctor decided that he would not take Karen off the respirator due to moral reasons.
Another reason to make a living will.
Karen lived for ten years after they took her off the respirator. Ten years in a persistent vegetative state. Ten years of laying in a hospital bed, unable to communicate. When I say I wouldn't want to live like this, that I advocate the mercy killing of people who would request such a measure be taken in such a circumstance, that is not the same as saying I want to kill the meek, the retarded or the disabled. There is no slippery slope here, people.
It's a complex issue. And an emotional one. It's easy to get caught up on either side of it and it's just as easy to sway from one side to the other. On the one hand, I imagine Terri suffering. On the other hand, I think of the suffering her family is going through in watching her die and I understand - though not necessarily agree with - their desire to not hasten that death.
I'm writing about this on a personal level, like I do every subject here. I'm not touting myself as a medical expert, a legal expert or as someone who speaks for any specific group. If I were in Terri's place, I'd want to die. It's as simple and as complicated as that.