Terri Schiavo

Terri-Sch123Perhaps as early as this afternoon, a judge will decide whether Terri Schiavo lives or dies.

Briefly, this vibrant young, Floridian became severely brain damaged. Her husband believes she would not wish to have her life sustained “artificially” and is seeking legal permission to stop feeding her. Terry’s parents wish to provide her with the care she needs to live, and are attempting to save her life.

Terri is not in a coma. She is not in what we usually think of as a “persistent, vegetative state,” a phrase I despise because it equates human beings with cabbages.

Terri’s eyes are open and they follow stimuli. She has facial expressions. She makes sounds. She laughs. She moves. She is unable to leave her bed or feed herself. Think of a child of 6 months, trapped in an adult body.

In my view, Terri is no different from a great many people in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, ALS, brain cancer, and other neurological diseases. In such cases, we have not yet as a society advocated starvation or less painful forms of euthanasia as a way of speeding the inevitable end, and it would be a terrible mistake to permit such a thing.

By PETA standards, we should not allow sentient creatures to be subjected to painful procedures against their will.

By NARAL standards, a mother has a greater right to determine the fate of her own daughter than any court.

By the ethical standards of Peter Singer, a “person” has full human rights when he or she becomes cognizant of his own existence.

By Jesus’ standards, our treatment of the least capable human being reflects our attitude towards God himself.

By every enlightened, ethical standard, Terri Schiavo deserves to live. Pray for a decision that will reaffirm the preciousness of human life and our obligation to serve and care for those who are unable to care for themselves.

Update (25/feb/05): The judge has ruled that Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, may remove her feeding tube on March 18, three weeks from today.

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  1. Anyone can see that she is still inside. my God,

    I can’t imagine the thoughts that must be going through her parents mind. I have major respect and love for them I wish I could do something. Its like they are relatives or something. Keep fighting your doing exactly what ANY loving parent, sister, brother , human being would do. There is always hope!!! Bless you Beth Smile

    I can’t even comment on the husband all I can say is there is a pay day for all evil doers.

  2. I think the husbands wrong

  3. Fuming in Florida says

    Where do people get the idea that pulling the feeding tube is a horrible way to die????? My opinion, if you want to bring God into this, is her time to go was a long time ago and we are preventing God from taking her!

    If a large percentage of her brain is gone and replaced with spinal fluid, how could she possibly improve (since brain tissue does not regenerate) and even people with lobotomies react, but what kind of life is that?

    The patient isn’t feeling any hunger. The dying is part of a very tragic disease, and the inability to eat is an expected part of its last stages. Inserting a tube will not stop the progression of the fatal disease, though it might prolong or hasten the dying process. Dying without hydration is comfortable, many loved ones choose to forgo the tube feeding. Society is doing her a great injustice by making her the poster child to live no matter what! I myself, would hate my family for eternity if they ever chose to keep my dying body alive with my mind gone

  4. Fuming: If we’re going to begin making judgments like “what kind of life is that?” we’re going to create a society in which only the well and perfect have a right to live. The alternative to executing the chronically ill or the physically or mentally defective person is providing compassionate care for them, and in this case, there are two adults ready and willing to make that personal sacrifice.

    I am surprised to hear that you are certain that Terri Schiavo “isn’t feeling any hunger.” The court has been debating what she does or does not feel since she became incapacitated.

    For those of us who are less certain, it seems cruel and inhumane to starve a person to death. Dehydration is a frightening and painful experience for any conscious being, even more so for one who has a diminished capacity to understand what is happening to her.

  5. Michelle in Kansas City, MO says

    Fuming is WAY off base. First of all, the brain CAN regenerate and dying by starvation/dehydration is a terribly painful way to go, unlike what Terri’s “loving” (sarcasm intended) husband has said.

    Visit this website to see what pulling her feeding tube (which is not in all the time, by the way, but only when she is being fed) will be like.


    Also, there is one woman who was considered comatose and had her feeding tube removed. She later recovered and said that she could hear everything that went on around her but couldn’t say anything. Her original diagnosis of “comatose” was changed to another condition whereby muscles cannot move (like speech muscles). So, original diagnosis was WRONG! That’s why they call it PRACTICING medicine.

  6. Michelle in Kansas City, MO says

    Okay, I found the story of the woman who had her feeding tube removed for 8 days and she wasn’t as responsive as Terri Schiavo. Her name is Kate Adamson. Here is the story:

    Meet Kate Adamson. She is the mother of two, a motivational speaker, author and another “miracle.” In 1995, at just 33, she suffered a double brain stem stroke and was in a coma for 70 days. She was completely unresponsive to stimuli and was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Doctors finally pulled her feeding tube and, for eight days, she lay dying.

    Instead of being completely unconscious as the doctors believed, Kate actually was very aware of everything going on around her. She was intensely aware of being left to die and very much in pain. She appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor,” in 2003 and host Bill O’Reilly asked Adamson about the dehydration experience:

    O’REILLY: When they took the feeding tube out, what went through your mind?

    ADAMSON: When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, “Don’t you know I need to eat?” And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.

    O’REILLY: So you were feeling pain when they removed your tube?

    ADAMSON: Yes. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. To say that–especially when Michael [Schiavo] on national TV mentioned last week that it’s a pretty painless thing to have the feeding tube removed–it is the exact opposite. It was sheer torture, Bill.

    O’REILLY: It’s just amazing.

    ADAMSON: Sheer torture . . .

    Luckily for Kate, her husband, Steven Klugman, actually fought to have her feeding tube put back in. He wanted to save his wife’s life. For another two weeks he fought doctors to convince them that Kate was really communicating with the family. She says that she would try to blink to communicate. She would blink once or twice and then she was too weak to do it again for an hour or more. After three months in acute rehab she was finally able to speak.

    Kate was never really in a persistent vegetative state, she was cognizant the entire time. Even when they took her to surgery for a bowel obstruction and operated on her, giving her minimal anesthetic and treating her like a vegetable, she felt the entire thing.

    What are the differences in the case of Kate Adamson and Terri Schiavo? First, Kate was completely paralyzed and obviously no where near as responsive as Terri Schiavo who laughs and interacts with her family. And second Kate had Steven Klugman who loved his wife and wanted to her to live. Unfortunately, Terri has Michael Schiavo who has always refused to allow his wife to have the tests and rehab that she needs. He is fighting to let her die.

    Then there’s this story:
    February 23, 2005
    Terri’s not the only one
    WriteWingBlog has links to several testimonies from people who have first-hand experience with acute rehabilitiation or with a misdiagnosis of PVS. Hyscience’s Richard has a moving story to tell, and you can understand why Terri’s situation matters so much to him. And Rus Cooper-Dowda’s story is amazing — like something out of Kafka — you must read it:
    In February of 1985, I woke up in a hospital bed in Boston, MA. I couldn’t see very well and I couldn’t move much — but boy could I ever hear!
    I heard a terrifying discussion then that I will never, ever forget.
    Around the end of my bed were a “school” of doctors in their white coats, planning when to disconnect my ventilator and feeding tube. I immediately started screaming, “I’m here!!” No one but me heard me.
    They did notice my sudden agitation. They heavily sedated me. For a time, everytime I woke up I would make as much noise and move as a much as I could to show them I was “in there.”
    And they would, in response, heavily sedate me…
    I then started spelling the same word in the air, “Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!….”
    The doctors decided that the letters I was spelling in the air were repetitive seizure activity and just happened to occur most often when they were in my room discussing killing me…I even took to writing them backwards to make it easy for them to read…
    It took subversive nurses to keep me from being killed. One nurse brought in a clipboard and a broken pen so I could finger-paint letters on paper.
    Yet, it earned me a final conference where the doctors had to prove to the nursing staff for political reasons that all my communication was just agitation and seizures.
    At that meeting, my then husband, who was a doctor siding with the other doctors who wanted to let me die, held that clipboard which was my lifeline up in the air in front of me. He was not going to make it easy.
    The purpose was to prove that the nurses were basically hallucinating and that I was really and truly brain-dead.
    To prove I could not communicate, he then put ink on my fingers and asked while laughing, “There isn’t anything you want to tell us, is there?”
    In response I spelled out, “D-I-V-O-R-C-E Y-O-U!” The laughter got very nervous then. The doctors called for medication because I was obviously having a sezure.
    Then the nurse who used the board first with me said, “Let me try” and “What do you need to tell us today?”
    I spelled out, “D-I-V-O-R-C-E H-I-M!!!!”
    There was never a question after that about whether I was “in there’ or not.