March 22, 2005

The end is near

So a federal judge denied the Schindlers' appeal to reinsert the feeding tube into Terri. Even if the 11th Circuit grants the TRO, which is doubtful, the odds of Terri surviving have become remote. Four days without food or water do bad things to people. And when the end comes, a man will have been given license to kill his wife and acted upon said license.

There are thousands of children in this country right now suffering from cerebral palsy who are probably on the same physical and intellectual level as Terri Schiavo. Many of them are incapable of feeding themselves and are receiving food and water via tubes. So far, there hasn't been a movement to remove those tubes. Once the Schiavo case becomes a historical footnote, though, the court precedent will have been set. You might think that I'm full of shit, but I've watched too many ridiculous court decisions become the legal bedrock for other ridiculous decision. Mark my words: this country of plenty has now placed a market value on a human life, and it's the low, low price of inconvenience.

Some people are claiming that Congress shouldn't get involved in our day to day activities. Please. Federal regulations control how much water my toilet can use to flush; my shower head is limited by how much water can pass through it per second thanks to the feds. And those cans of hair spray and spray paint in my house? There are federal laws regulating how far I should hold them from objects and what motion I should use( 4-6 inches, using a side-to-side motion). I purposely hold the cans 10 inches away and move it in a circle. For some reason, I think a lot of these new true believers in federalism fully supported those nitpicky intrusions into my life. So yeah, color me skeptical that their current mood will last.

I'll say it now, and I'll have said my piece on this whole horrible episode: goodbye Terri. You deserved better from us. May you find the peace and comfort in the next life. Godspeed.

Update: Rachel Lucas is in fine rant mode today. Excerpt:


Now that I know that in America, many many people (mostly liberals) are totally fine with starving living things to death - specifically, living things with "rights", which would imply some sort of sentience or consciousness or soul but apparently that includes vegetables - I've been thinking of all sorts of practical applications of that belief.

Let's see. I have a dog named Sunny, as many of you know. I signed a contract at the pound taking responsibility for her and I clearly am her legal "next of kin." Now, it's very likely that some day, Sunny will have arthritis in her hips and legs, and she might eventually be unable to move around on her own.

So! Who knows Sunny better than me? No one! So you must take my word for it when I say that I "know" Sunny would not want to suffer from arthritis to the point that she couldn't even walk around. Really, she wouldn't. I am telling you.

So here's my idea to (1) save time and money, (2) to fulfill Sunny's "wishes", and (3) to enforce her "rights": when she gets to the point where the arthritis in her hips and legs is so severe that she can't even stand up and/or walk over to the food and water bowls....WE JUST LET HER LAY THERE AND DIE!!

It's fucking brilliant, I tell you.

After all. We won't actually be "killing" her. We'll just be letting her die naturally, exactly as she would if she were in the wild. Do you think that if she lived in the woods like wolves and raccoons and squirrels do, that anyone would bring her food and water when she became crippled? Fuck no! So why should we? This is nature, folks. It is Sunny's right to die a natural, peaceful death, unsullied by human or medical intervention.

It will probably only take 7 to 14 days for her heart to give up and stop beating. Her lips and eyes might get kind of dry, but I can slather Vaseline all over her face so she's not too uncomfortable towards the end. You know, while she STARVES TO GODDAMN DEATH LIKE WE COULDN'T EVEN LEGALLY INFLICT UPON SOMEONE LIKE ADOLF FUCKING HITLER.

Update: And from KJL comes the following email she received from O. Carter Snead, general council for the Council on Bioethics. I'm excerpting the whole thing because it's well worth the read:

The state of Florida, through its judiciary, has ordered the termination of Terri Schiavo's life. This is an interest clearly protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Thus, before Florida can order such action, it must accord Schiavo with the full measure of process that is due to her. Unfortunately, a review of the record shows that such process was never provided.

The courts in Florida were charged, first and foremost, with discerning what T. Schiavo would have chosen under the present circumstances ("substituted judgment"). Florida law provides a complex system of procedural safeguards for this determination, including a "clear and convincing" evidence standard (the highest in all of civil law), and a presumption that the now-incapacitated patient would choose to live, in exercising her constitutional right to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment. Moreover, Florida law requires that a guardian be appointed in circumstances such as these to represent the interests of the patient...

...The procedural irregularities that tainted the handling of Ms. Schiavo's case include...:

The court's failure to appoint a guardian ad litem (following 1998);
The court's usurpation of the guardian's role (in direct violation of Florida law);
The court's reliance upon insufficient evidence regarding T. Schiavo's wishes (namely, the recollection of her husband that T. Schiavo's had made ambiguous, casual remarks about "not wanting to be a burden" many years prior, in a wholly unrelated context);
The court's refusal to consider probative evidence of T. Schiavo's wishes (namely, witness testimony that Mr. Schiavo was lying and that he had never, in fact, discussed end-of-life care with T. Schiavo); and
On remand, the court's shifting of the burden to the Schindlers to demonstrate that T. Schiavo would have wanted treatment under the present circumstances (inverting the logic of the Florida laws).

These irregularities make it impossible to conclude that T. Schiavo's wishes under the present circumstances were proven by "clear and convincing" evidence, particularly in light of the presumption (under Florida law) that she would have chosen to receive life sustaining treatment. Any claim, therefore, that re-insertion of the tube is contrary to Terri's wishes (and thus an encroachment upon her right to refuse treatment) is groundless. We simply do not yet know what her wishes would have been.

The recently passed S.686 gives the Middle District of Florida jurisdiction to hear a suit or claim by or on behalf of T. Schiavo "for alleged violation of any right of T.M. Schiavo under the Constitution or laws of the US relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life." It gives third parties the standing to bring such claims. And, most importantly for present purposes, it empowers the federal court to determine, DE NOVO, "any claim of a violation of any right of T. Schiavo within the scope of this Act, NOTWITHSTANDNG ANY PRIOR STATE COURT DETERMINATION AND REGARDLESS FO WHETHER SUCH A CLAIM HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN RAISED, CONSIDERED, OR DECIDED IN STATE COURT PROCEEDINGS."

Thus, its seems highly improper for the federal court to determine on the basis of a two hour hearing that the Schindler family would not likely be successful on the merits in an entirely new trial, complete with extensive discovery, etc.

Nope, nothing to see here. Move along, please.

Update: These will end after Terri finally dies, but I had to post a link to Patterico's column. Excerpt:


In other words, although this witness originally seemed credible, the judge decided that she was not credible largely because he believed that Karen Ann Quinlan had already died in 1982 – while the witness had Terri Schiavo saying Karen Ann Quinlan was alive. But Karen Ann Quinlan died in 1985, not 1976 as Judge Greer appears to have believed.

Based largely on this mistake in dates, Greer rejected the testimony of Meyer in favor of that of Michael Schiavo, his brother, and his sister-in-law, who apparently testified that Schiavo had said she wouldn’t want to be “hooked to a machine” (is a feeding tube a “machine"?).

It’s hard to admit you’re wrong, and when this was pointed out to Judge Greer five years later, he wrote that it made no difference to his credibility analysis when Quinlan had died. As I read the language quoted above, it made a big difference to him. Greer just didn’t want to admit it.

Posted by Physics Geek at March 22, 2005 02:00 PM StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!
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