Friday, March 25, 2005


I implore you to read two new pieces in The New England Journal of Medicine on the Schiavo case. (Thanks to Bluest Fist reader Linda Berman for drawing them to my attention.) They are both thoughtful, informed and not polemical:

The second piece concludes in this way:

"Erring on the side of life" in this context often results in violating a person's body and human dignity in a way few would want for themselves. In such situations, erring on the side of liberty -- specifically the patient's right to decide on treatment -- is more consistent with American values and our constitutional traditions. As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said in a 1977 case that raised the same legal question: "The constitutional right to privacy, as we conceive it, is an expression of the sanctity of individual free choice and self-determination as fundamental constituents of life. The value of life as so perceived is lessened not by a decision to refuse treatment but by the failure to allow a competent human being the right of choice."

As a side note, I was heartened this morinng to hear two typically right-wing sports talk radio hosts in Boston (John Dennis and Jerry Callahan) excoriating George and Jeb Bush for their manipulative use of Terry Schiavo. Perhaps their role as loving husbands trumped their role as Republican talking heads in this case.


Blogger Jeff W said...

I must start by saying that the NEJM articles are indeed great-kind, complete and thoughtful. I have held off on responding to the comments of Joe V from the last posting for the simple reason that, especially in a case such as this, opinions are just that-opinions. Along those lines, when an emotionally charged issue becomes national debate those opinions turn into personal stakes and are not easily modified. I suppose that is probably a good thing actually.
The point of my response is to address the 'facts' that he put into his posting. As it often occurs in charged debates, 'facts' become so only if they agree with what one believes in the first place. In other words with enough electronic noise flying through the air to slow down weather patterns, people pick out the stuff that mirrors thier own bias and hang onto it in order to support that bias. This couldnt be more true in this case.
Here are some facts- parts of this woman's brain have liquified. Yes you read it right LIQUIFIED. Last time I took an anatomy course I dont believe that was compatible with any real degree of thought. Secondly, if Terry is able to respond and interact like her family says (and other people's 'facts' state) then why doesnt someone just ask her what she wants??? Thirdly, I dont know many people, especially, as has been suggested, this proported gold digging, unfeeling husband who would stick to a battle for 15yrs for the small amount of cash that may or may not be left over. By the way, as for the malpractice settlement- its been 10yrs. I see nothing but a loving husband trying to help a woman fullfill an advance directive.
The Schiavo family compared her to a prisoner of a concentration camp today. It has been suggested that prisoners on death row have more rights. If I wasnt disgusted before (and let me assure you I was) I am over the top enraged now. It is beyond insult to compare a historical tragedy of that magnitude to this case. It is beyond insult to suggest that more consideration is given to a mass murderer than to this woman who simply stated at one time that she does not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Quite honestly I am not a religious man but if anyone is praying, I hope that the loudest prayers are those that beg to deliver some sense and humanity to the people that have let this continue as long as it has.

Jeff Wilson

March 25, 2005 at 2:19 PM  

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