The case of Terri Schiavo – The right to live?

The case of this women sparked one of the most intense legal, political, moral and ethical debates of the decade.

Who should decide if someone has the right to live or die?

Who really knows what’s going on inside a persons head? Are they in a vegatative state? Or are they perfectly aware of everything that’s happen, they are just incapable of any form of communication.

Terri passed away, March 31st. May she rest in peace.

There is a lot of information at the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation here: http://www.terrisfight.org

Euthanasia has always been a subject to draw discussion, usually the religious on one side, the rest on the other.

This can be defined as:

The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.

In this case Terri wasn’t actually on life support, just only a feeding tube, and it was her husband who was battling to have the feeding stopped, which of course would end in her death.

This is where the argument came about, many people believed he had ulterior motives (she received a large settlement and he disappeared for some time) and there has been an ongoing legal battle..The whole thing has been going on since 1990.

A complete (Unbiased) timeline can be found HERE.

This story has been making the press for a long time, and I was going to post about it previously, as many other bloggers did..

Now the news begins, much of which can be found at Google News

There is a great article from the Guardian HERE.

What is your take on this? Would you prefer to have the tube pulled and let nature take it’s course, or hang on to whatever you can get and stretch it out?

If your elderly grandmother is in pain and suffering, but the medicine is keeping her alive, would you help her end it? Or would you let nature take it course?

It’s a difficult moral issue, much like abortion, and it always will be.

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17 Responses to The case of Terri Schiavo – The right to live?

  1. Jon Choo March 31, 2005 at 10:57 pm #

    All I can say is I am totally annoyed with the media, politicians and religious right for turning this into such a world ‘event’.

    I also found Dubya’s apparent care for the sanctity of human life totally ironic.

    My grandmother passed a few years ago. She was in a vegetative state and we decided to let her go after a day in coma.

  2. spot March 31, 2005 at 11:36 pm #

    Terri Schiavo was consistently diagnosed (over a course of 7-9 years) by court appointed doctors to be in a persistent vegetative state.

    Over 40 judges have considered her case over that period, many of them having watched the over 6 hours worth of continous video of Mrs. Schiavo as an indication of her level of cognition. The videos on Mrs. Schiavo’s parents website to which you link, are heavily edited snippets from the total footage.

    Despite claims that she can recover, the fact remains that it’s been 15 years. Her cerebral cortex that controls cognition has atrophied. It is a legal and medical fact that she is PVS. PVS for 15 years is without doubt, an incurable condition.

    You might want to link to a more neutral source for the chronology of this saga. http://www.miami.edu/ethics/schiavo/timeline.htm

    Even better yet, I recommend the very unbiased report by her court appointed Guardian for the full medical and legal facts. http://www.miami.edu/ethics/schiavo/wolfson's%20report.pdf.

    It is a given that the death of Mrs. Schiavo is wrong in the eyes of the conservatively religious. But society is based on secularism, the rule of law. And legally, since Mrs. Schiavo is PVS, it is up to her legal guardian, her husband, to decide.

    Sorry to have to get on a soapbox in your comments box, but I really am quite dismayed at how many people have taken to seeing only one side of the story. Particularly the emotional one.

  3. kimberlycun April 1, 2005 at 1:12 am #

    The fact remains that nobody could conclude whether she was 100% psv. Even if she was 100% psv, I personally think that unless she had drawn up a will in the presence of witnesses, her life and death should be dealt conservatively. That she didn’t want to live was only an account from her husband’s lips! She wasn’t given a benefit of the doubt and that is so wrong. I’m pro-choice so I’m in support of some cases of euthansia. But Shiavo’s case is just way off.

  4. Thoughtful April 1, 2005 at 3:00 am #

    If I were her husband I will do the same ,15 years still cannot find a cure is surely a confirm PVS. Why want to have more sufferings for her, if she has to go then it’s better for her.May she rest in PEACE.

  5. inn April 1, 2005 at 5:19 am #

    I love my grandma so much. And she was suffering but I know she hang on for us. I didnt realize it then and I was so angry at myself when she left. Then I learned it was me who being selfish till the very end, I couldnt even let her die in dignity. I forgot that “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” .. Peter Pan

  6. shanks April 1, 2005 at 7:52 am #

    i’m pro-choice (the whole nine yards, abortions, euthanasia, circumcision, alrite just kidding) but had this been my choice, i would definitely work it out with the wife’s parents. legal or not, we’re talking bout somebody’s daughter here, goddamnit.

    actually, from the looks of it, that guy’s motives were bloody questionable since he is currently in a relationship with another woman and they had two kids together. athough both of them glorify themselves by telling the court how both of them took care of the vegetable in bed, but heck, it is the only humane thing to do.

    the guy may wanna move on with his new girlfriend and kids, but heck, give the one million plus of money to the parents to take care of their daughter, unless he had spent every damn dime.

  7. luzzio April 1, 2005 at 9:01 pm #

    Yes. It sucks the way politicians and media are using this as a way to publicize themselves.

    To tell you the truth, I’m really fucked up just by reading that article. I mean, cmon! What’s the point of living if you’re, like they say, a vegetable? It would hurt people to see her in that state more then it would if she passed away and end all the suffering.

    If i had a wife, and she said those things to me too about not wanting to live that way, I’d make sure it happens no matter what. Do you really want to see your loved one living on…like…a vegetable?

  8. oja April 2, 2005 at 4:52 am #

    it’s better to die rather than live artificially tho.

  9. Dabido (Teflon) April 3, 2005 at 10:56 pm #

    Stick with me till I get to the point on this one:

    At present the US has been doing work with Nanomachines which have been living inside peoples cells for months. The nanomachines have been finding out how the cells replicate DNA and so forth. The Doctors/Scientists doing this think they’ll be able to repair damaged cells etc in a few years.
    If this technology is only a few years away (like they claim) then repairing a cerbral cortex would be a distinct possibilty. Which means it will be possible to bring back some of those people in vegetative states in the near future.

    I would assume that anyone in Terri’s parents position would have wanted to try to keep their daughter alive long enough for that technology to be readily available.

    Admittedly this technology is not available yet, but wouldn’t anyone in this situation want to hold out for this? I’m not sure how long it will take, but I know I’d wait to see if the tech was available before pulling the plug on someone I loved.

    Just a little fuel for thought for people who aren’t up to date with current technologies.

  10. ShaolinTiger April 3, 2005 at 11:16 pm #

    Plus the advances with stem cells, an area specifically devoted to repairing brain related trauma and problems.

  11. ShaolinTiger April 3, 2005 at 11:21 pm #

    But shouldn’t nature be allowed to take it’s course?

    I mean it’s un-natural for her to be artifically fed in the first place.

    But then again, shouldn’t they hang on, until she passes away as there might be advances in technology that could save her?

  12. ShaolinTiger April 3, 2005 at 11:27 pm #

    It’s ok the post was intended to spark some debate, you’re welcome 🙂

    For the record I agree, I’ve updated the links 🙂

    Thanks for your input.

  13. ShaolinTiger April 3, 2005 at 11:29 pm #

    Yeah it’s pretty fucked up, there’s been bombings, a couple of thousand people wiped out by an Earthquake in Indonesia and they just got some lesser coverage..

    What to do, media drives media.

  14. kimberlycun April 3, 2005 at 11:36 pm #

    some millionaire who advocates stem cell research actually offered mike schiavo a million bucks in exhange for him dropping out of the case

  15. Spot April 4, 2005 at 12:14 am #

    There’s been no official verification of the offers claimed to have been made to Mr. Schiavo (he does himself say that offers were made). But if any were made (and i wouldnt be surprised, there must be at least a handful of multimillionare catholics around), it can only bolster Mr. Schiavo’s credibility in maintaining that his intentions are to honour her wishes.

    The million dollar settlement was instituted by Mr. Schiavo against Terri’s obstetrician (the Schiavos had trying to conceive a child) for failing to spot the chemical imbalance. 750k was awarded to Terri and placed with a bank as a trust fund for her care, with the bank as trustee. 300k was granted to Michael for loss of consortium (therefore this 300k is legally his).

    750k was awarded in early 1990s. In 10 years of high quality care (Mrs. Schiavo has never had a bedsore), there can’t be much left (claimed to be 50k).

    Motives aside, by all accounts, Mrs. Shiavo was a unassumingly shy woman. A childhood friend of Mrs. Schiavo said that if she were aware of what was happening on her behalf, she would have said “all this for me?”. Her parents, although understandably in their desperation to keep their child alive, have turned the whole thing into a media spectacle. The militant protestors outside the hospice were acting selfishly – what about the rights of the other patients in the hospice to spend their twilight hours in peace and quiet, without chants and protests outside their windows?

    It’s been at least 9 years of litigation btwn the husband and the parents. The animosity must be unimaginable. A large part of Mr. Schiavo’s disregard for the parents stem from their (and the rest of their relatives’) statements to court that they would go to the extent of amputating her limbs if she gets gangrene from diabetes during her pvs state. Just to keep her alive.

    I think with all that background, if I were in Mr. Schiavo’s shoes, I would have done the same:- kept them out of the room during her dying moments. She deserves to die without the spectacle that’s followed her for 15 years. Quietly, without cries of “he’s killed you”, “we tried to save you” that’s bound to accompany the parent’s grief.

    The actions of Mr. Schiavo and the Schindlers are understandable and it’s possible to feel for them. But it’s come that far. On death’s door, what’s most important is to send Terri through it with love, dignity and closure.

    Oh dear. soapbox again. I’m so sorry, it’s just that i feel very strongly about it.

  16. Jon Choo April 4, 2005 at 11:03 am #

    Sort of conflict of interest isn’t it?

    Letting her die or keeping her alive to be used as research or to be saved by a by-product of stem cell research all seems to be conflicting views of a pro-life advocate.

  17. Dabido (Teflon) April 5, 2005 at 12:18 am #

    I never mentioned keeping her alive to be used as research. The research is already being performed now as we speak.. I was talking about saving people after the research is done. (ie the technology is available).

    In response to the Stem Cells (though I didnt’ bring it up) Not all stem cell research involves fetuses. Bone Marrow Transplants use stem cells which are retrieved from adult blood. (If you don’t believe me, sign up to be Bone Marrow Donor).
    Stem cells can also be retrieved from adult nasal passages (why there, I don’t know).

    So, it doesn’t necessarily conflict with pro-life advocation. Only using fetus stem cells woud (and I’ll let people debate that in their own time).

    The media and scientists who wanted fetus stem cells failed to mention their were other ways to get them in the big debate they fired up in recent years.
    I’ve heard some people say there are differences between the fetus stem cells and adult ones, but that has to do with the fact that cells can only split seventy times maximum (or something). I’m not a Doctor, so I am unsure as to other differences or other technical stuff.
    Still, stem cell research using adult stem cells retrieved from blood and nasal passages suffered during the recent media circus, as it made out you can only get them from fetuses.