Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Reforms needed after the death of Terri Schiavo

By Aussiegirl

Wesley Smith, writing in the Weekly Standard, lays out some common sense reforms that need to be implemented following the tragic case of Terri Schiavo, including protection of the rights of the disabled under medical care, requiring express written consent for the withdrawal of life-sustaining measures rather than basing such decisions on remembered casual conversations, a distinction being drawn in law between true life support and the withdrawal of food and water, and some other good starting points.

But what we also need to look at is the distinction between end of life issues, where even the Catholic church endorses the idea of not artificially prolonging death, and the premature ending of life by the slow and torturous route of dehydration and starvation of those who are merely disabled.

We need also to look into the necessity for demanding representation for any disabled person who is unable to speak for himself, especially requiring an up to date and exhaustive medical work-up. Terri's medical condition had not been re-evaluated for years, even when new medical diagnoses of minimally conscious states had been discovered. Once the court (Judge Greer) determined it as "fact" that she was in a PVS, nothing and no one appeared to be able to bring in new evidence.

This is akin to saying that because DNA evidence was not available when a death sentence was handed down, that new DNA evidence of the innocence of a person be considered.

Furthermore, as he so succinctly states, we do not distribute an estate based on hearsay oral conversations (yes, I distinctly remember Uncle Walter leaving his entire fortune to me and cutting out his wife and children, and my wife and children will also testify that that's true). This is essentially the kind of evidence that Judge Greer accepted as indicative of of Terri's wishes to be dehydrated and starved to death over the period of 14 days. Do read the whole article:

From the article:

TERRI SCHIAVO IS DEAD. But her death by dehydration last week need not be in vain. Great good can still come from the harsh, two week ordeal she--and to a lesser extent, we--were forced to undergo by court order.

Terri's story generated a torrent of compassion. (The root meaning of compassion is to "suffer with," which is precisely what her legions of supporters did.) Hundreds of thousands of people who had never participated before in a major public event engaged untiringly in advocating for the sanctity and equal moral worth of the life of Terri Schiavo. And these many supporters were not, as the mainstream media took great glee in portraying, limited to the Randall Terry brand of religious activist or to orthodox Catholics. To the contrary, notables of the secular and religious left--Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Nat Hentoff--joined in solidarity with their usual conservative opponents, such as President George W. Bush, Senator Bill Frist, and Rush Limbaugh, to declare that Terri should live.

. . . As Terri's family made clear in their dignified public statement after her death, it would dishonor her memory for her supporters to indulge in hatred. Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge George Greer aren't worth the psychic cost. How much better to honor Terri's memory by enacting a series of legal reforms that rededicate our society to standing for the equal moral worth and unwavering legal protection of the most weak and vulnerable among us.


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