Schiavo Re-visited

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The Schiavo case is active again with a flurry of legal action. As of right now Terry is on the clock with just under a month to go before her feeding tube is removed, barring any further reversals.

This one really troubles me because what I would want were I the person laying in bed conflicts with my natural wariness of opening the door to euthenasia.

Please note: this is just a discussion, not a legal statement. If you are some lawyer or doctor reading this 5 years from now because I wrecked my motorcycle and am in a coma, get off the internet and get back to work saving me!

Now, I'm just a layman, but this is what the preponderance of the medical opinion in this case seems to say: Terry Schiavo has nothing to look forward to other than years of being fed and ventilated by a machine. She's not going to get better. She's not going to get up out of that bed and start walking around. She's not likely to even get to the point where she can feed herself. And she's already been doing this for more than 15 years! I must admit - I'd want the plug pulled. For that matter, I would have wanted it pulled years ago. Not just for me, but for the family that would otherwise face years of living at the hospital with no hope, and no end point in site. At some point I would expect everyone to deal with reality and move on.

Unfortunately these decisions don't happen in a vacuum, and the legal world of life and death seems unable to handle "case-by-case" situations. When once something is permitted, even more of it must be permitted the next time out until we reach a point that would horrify even those who started the whole thing. Where Roe v. Wade has gotten us with baby-killing, Schiavo could take us with "mercy" killing. Thus I am instinctively cautious in this case.

I guess for me the telling thing is that Terry would not be able to survive on her own. Many would argue that removing her feeding tube would amount to "playing God" in deciding who dies. On the other hand, aren't we already playing God by forcing life into a being that is trying to die? Again, this is dangerous ground. In the grand scheme of things we are all dying. Still, as I read the accounts of her brain damage I can't help but think that living is more than continuing respiration and digestion by any means necessary.

I guess that I root for this whole thing to be resolved without being seen as a watershed case for someone's moral point of view. Even that is doubtful. Both sides have invested heavily in this one and are beyond reason.


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