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Thursday, June 16, 2005

More on Terri's Autopsy

You have to admit that this is a pretty ridiculous headline: Terri Schiavo Autopsy: Manner of Death Undetermined. Again, I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure we do know the cause of her death. Maybe being denied food and water for two weeks had something to do with it.

Michelle Malkin, once more, sheds light on a cloudy subject. She writes, "Terri Schiavo, a profoundly disabled woman who was not terminally ill and who had an army of family members ready to care for her for the rest of her natural life, succumbed to forced dehydration at the hands of her spouse-in-name-only.

We know she died of dehydration. And we know that she was severely brain damaged. What the 39 page autopsy did not answer is what caused Terri Schiavo to collapse 15 years ago. We will probably never know that.

The autopsy does not tell us what degree of awareness Terri experienced. But some will ask, "wasn't she a vegetable?" Experts have reminded us that an autopsy cannot determine the existence of PVS.

Supporters of Michael Schiavo now mock those "extreme right-wingers" who wanted to keep Terri alive. I guess they forgot about the legions of lefty Democrats who also defended her life such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Joseph Lieberman, Nat Hentoff, Lanny Davis, and Alan Dershowitz. Only extremist left-wingers think this was a right/left debate.

Some good thoughtful comments from Captain's Quarters, who wrote:

Terri had never requested to die, not with any transparency or formality. All we had for witnesses on her state of mind was a husband who waited until after he had won a substantial lawsuit to recall a conversation in which Terri made an offhand comment about not wanting to live on a respirator, and two of his relatives who corroborated him. The husband had a conflict of interest in the matter, having started a new relationship with another woman and fathering two children. On the other side, Terri's parents and siblings were willing to take over her medical care and the responsibility for its costs.

Amd most of all, as the coroner affirmed yesterday, Terri was not dying.

Despite all of this, Florida decided that it would deliberately kill Terri on the basis of her husband's wishes, without any living will or formal indication of her state of mind....

And when the state decides to kill someone who isn't dying on their own -- as opposed to stopping artificial breathing/cardiac support for those who lack any ability to survive without it -- it should have more substantial oversight before doing so, and it should have more to rely on than an estranged husband's belated recollection of a superficial, general conversation as its basis.

Why do you suppose 26 national disability rights organizations spoke in favor of preserving Terri's life? Because, if we don't check ourselves, this really can become a slippery slope.

Other good insightful commentary can be found at Polipundit and Gatewaypundit.

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Jerry said...

With all respect for a complicated and difficult situation: Ms. Schiavo was dead; the mind, feelings, thoughts, joys and sorrows gone forever.

If what makes a human is the the body, respiration and heart beat sustained by the brainstem functions, then she was alive. If what makes a human is thoughts, dreams, perception, interaction, hope, love...she was dead for fifteen years.

I know this is going to be ill-received by the most of the readers here, but her brain was destroyed, save for the most prinitive functions. The fact that her physical body functioned under those those controls does not, in any sense, make her "alive."

Anonymous said...

Jerry, Sorry, but you don't get to decide what makes a being "human" nor a life worth of these... Elaine P.

Anonymous said...

oops, sorry I messed my comment up, but as I so clumsily tried to say, you don't get to decide what makes a being human nor a life worth living. The person of Terri Schiavo was known, loved, and redeemed by her Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you. Elaine P.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

The reason I disagree with you is because the people who actually saw and interacted with Terri on a daily basis state otherwise. You say she had no thoughts, perceptions or emotions, but her family says she did. And the doctors simply do not all agree. PVS is a very ambiguous diagnosis.

According to her parents and her nurses, Terri spoke. She could say "momma." She could say, "Hi," when someone said, "hi" to her. She could respond yes or no. She could laugh. She responded to her parents, to music, to touch. She felt pain.

You claim she was already dead. I'm a religious man so I'm assuming by that you mean her spirit had left her body. But who can say that? Theologically, it is a mistake to completely associate the spirit with the brain.

If a person believes that Terri was, in your words "dead," then that person MUST favor abortion rights. For whatever was wrong with Terri, she certainly had as much or more of a brain than a fetus.

You make these definitive statements about the nature of Terri's soul/spirit, yet her family contradict you.

Funky Dung said...

There's a good discussion of this topic going on in the comments at my blog.

Anonymous said...

Pastor S, Forgive me if I'm missing something, but what do the family's perceptions have to do with the morality of euthanasia? Isn't the bottom line that we are called on to care for the least of these and not to play God by ushering them off to the great beyond (either actively or passively as in Terri's case)? Your response to Jerry seems to imply that if her family did not perceive her to be responsive we can then agree that Terri was in fact no longer "alive". How can we judge that one's "personhood" though altered or severely disabled has left a body that continues to live without artificial means? Why would that person not still be there despite the fact that we can no longer recognize or communicate with her? Where else would that person be, most particularly as a Christian who is dead to "oneself" and alive in Christ? Thank you. Elaine P.
PS Happy Birthday!

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Elaine P.,

I agree with you. Jerry said Terri was dead. I was merely trying to offer him the evidence that Terri was quite alive.

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