Sunday, March 20, 2005


No doubt my readers have been following the case of Terri Schiavo.

Since this story broke, I've read the following in two separate places...

Random Democrat: 'If Terri wasn't white, Republicans wouldn't care.'

Random Republican: 'If Terri wasn't white, Democrats would care.'

Not that either is particularly proveable other than by hearsay, the assurance that the people to whom you say either one buy into your assumptions beforehand, and both are just plain logical fallacies that contribute very little to the actual issue.

Anyway, the only thing I really find fascinating about these two quotes is that they come from two places independent of one another.


Unknown said...

I think it's going to be very difficult to get the true story here. I wonder why the husband wasn't willing to let the parents take charge of her care. Was it really about money? I read a story that indicated he felt (this goes back to 1993)they were primarily interested in the malpractice award. And articles supporting the parents have tried to suggest that Terri was actually strangled all those years ago.
All I know is that I certainly wouldn't want the Congress involved in my family tragedy.
And I wonder why people who claim to have faith are so frightened of death?

Jeff Nelson said...

Hi Martha!

I agree about the difficulty of getting the true story. One piece that has been brought up recently is a bill that George Bush passed back in Texas allowing hospitals to remove life support when it seems that no more payment or recovery is possible. Yet a special law to the contrary might be signed by him.

What I wonder about even more is the level of her vegetative state. The parents say she responds, the brother-in-law says she doesn't. One aspect of the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state is that a patient can appear to react when there really isn't anything going on cognitively.

Finally: 'And I wonder why people who claim to have faith are so frightened of death?' I think it has less to do with fear and more with taking life, or what is percieved to be life.

Then the question becomes, ho wmuch of a life does Terri really have?

Difficult indeed.

Unknown said...

It's both difficult and terrible. And it does have a link to the abortion debate, not just in the "culture of life" line of talk, but also in the sense that these matters ideally are worked out among the concerned family members with the help of equally concerned physicians and in consultation, if desired, with concerned clergypersons.
I also think there is an urge in situations of helplessness to get control of something and to lash out at someone, and that seems to be where both sides are now. And there is no clear way out of the dilemma.

Anonymous said...

How sad that such a personal decision end in the U.S. federal court system. How much sadder the Texas law deciding when to end a life based on payment of hosital bills. My power of attorney papers and living will are both on file with my physician, attorney and family.

Nick Dukes said...

Hey, haven't actually heard either of those. I started following this about a year ago, maybe; it popped up with another story from Florida where a metal band was going to have an assisted suicide on stage.

My original opinion, that it's not really a matter for government, still stands, but if government is going to get involved, I would have to say that it'd be nice if they sided with the husband, but then again, I'm not in the family, I don't know all of the story.

Also, a hearty hello to Mrs. Nelson. I wish *my* mom read my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick. Give me her number. I'll tell her.

Jeff Nelson said...

Wow. Worlds collide. Heh.

Yeah, I hadn't realized until the other day that this battle has been fought for no less than 2 years. I guess the '10 judges have already decided...' line should have tipped me off, but people were writing about it back then, too.

The member of a listserve of which I'm a part reminded us this evening that situations like this take place every day in the dark corners of nursing homes and hospices. Why this one and why now? Hm...

Anonymous said...

Hi- just skipping through blogs.

Lots and lots of misinformation on the Schiavo case. Back in 1993 the parents wanted half the husband's "loss of consortium award" and when he said no they had a split. This is not the $700,000 for Terri, it was $300,000 for the husband for "loss of consortium". They wanted half of that.

Then in 1998, eight years after she lost consciousness, the husband finally believed the doctors that she was "gone", and asked the courts to decided "what she would have wanted". But the parents, who'd been trying to get themselves declared guardians since the initial fight over the $300,000, continued to do so, and tried everything: allegations of abuse, changes of venue, carefully edited videotape--the works.

Seven years of litigation and the courts never believed them. But they get all the good press for some reason.

A really ugly story and not at all what people think.

This legal website from Florida is a great source for unbiased info. Read the decisions and testimony and you won't look at this case the same way:

Anonymous said...

p.s., Martha, funny, but my 80-year old devout mother asked me just today why "people who claim to have faith are so frightened of death."

I'll spare you her answer to her own question 'cause it wasn't pretty. She's what you'd call a devout cynic.

Unknown said...

I'm still wondering the same thing. As I wrote to a parishioner (in Florida, Jeff, where as you point out everyone is going),this body is a husk, a shell, good to live in while we are living--beautiful, in fact. But it's not our essence. And because I believe our essence moves on to other things after this particular life, I do not fear death. It's hard to imagine that a loving God rejoices when a person is locked in that halfway house between life and death, but it is easy to imagine God welcoming her home.
I think what is troubling to the average person is that it seems so mean not to feed a helpless person. Does the end justify the means? Some people don't think so, but the polls suggest that most people, in this case, do.