The Right to Die is dead in the water

by alphamonkey on March 23, 2005 · 1 comment

in Uncategorized

We don’t often stray into Serious Land here at the ‘Buddha, and with good reason (Namely that we’re immature and childish dorks), but this Terry Schiavo case warrants a little attention, I think. 

Rather than be Mr. Bummer, how about I just put up a link to the incomparable Jon Stewart and Co.’s take on the matter, and you can skip the rest if you feel so inclined. 

And since it’s all over the place anyway, I’ll skip the synopsis, but here’s a comprehensive timeline of the events in the Schiavo case.

Since we’re contractually obliged to be snarky about absolutely everything, let’s take a Buddha flavored look at the salient points of this boondoggle of a ‘crisis’. 

Terry Schiavo’s parents have Randall “Sometimes I throw fetuses at women going to Planned Parenthood” Terry as their spokesperson, so right off the bat you know they are at least a little bit insane.  Was Carrot Top not available or something? He’d certainly bring more dignity and sanity to your cause.

Secondly, Randall Terry, the Schindlers (Terry Schiavo’s parents), and a whole host of supporters continually claim that Terry isn’t in a persistent vegatative state, in the face of numerous neurologists, hospital/hospice staff, and the like who have categorically described her as such.  Folks, Terry Schiavo’s brain is half-gone. Seriously. The frontal cortex is gone and in it’s place is spinal fluid.  I hate to sound overly cruel, but she’s less responsive to outside stimuli than the daffodils in my front yard.

George W. Bush interupted one of his many needed vacations for the very first time to travel back to Washington, D.C. in order to have cameras present be available to America when he signed the Senate’s bill demanding the Schiavo case be sent to a Federal Court.  He didn’t interupt his vacation for the death of untold thousands in December’s tsunami, nor when the last big batch of Israeli/Palestinian violence broke out.

Speaking of The George, do you think the 1999 Texas law he signed into existence allowing doctors to cease treatment of patients regardless of parental or spousal wishes passed through his head when he made a recent speech talking about preserving the sanctity of life?  Speaking of which, that Texas law was first put into effect last week in the case of a 6 month old boy, whose treatment was ceased over his mother’s wishes.  (To be fair, that case involved a child with a disease with an almost 0% survival rate, and his mother had received zero pre-natal care.) Screw Universal Health Care, huh?  But that does raise the point: Why is Terry Schiavo’s life so important when Sun Hudson’s was not?  I have a hard time believing that the Republican Party leaders might use Terry Schiavo as some kind of sick political tool, don’t you?

Since we’re on the political benefits track, Senate Majority Leader (and former heart surgeon) Bill Frist, (while on the Senate floor), gave an impromptu diagnosis of Schiavo’s state that once again contradicts the expert opinion, based of a home movie. I’m sure a heavily edited video tape is a much more reliable diagnostic tool than spending countless hours with the patient, as had the various neurologists who have testified in the various court cases.  Hey, Bill:  I know you’re gearing up for your Presidential run in 2008, but try not to look like such a ignorant dumbass this early. Save it for the primaries, Doc.

I’m curious how a case like this fits with the GOP’s belief in a Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment.  After all, isn’t their direct interference a complete slap to the face of Michael Schiavo’s rights as a husband?  If you had a medical crisis, wouldn’t you rather have your spouse making decision as opposed to say, Tom DeLay?  (As an aside, this case is an excellent example of why gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry.  If Terry and Michael Schiavo were a same-sex couple, Michael would have no rights nor say in this matter whatsoever.  That is simply an affront to human decency.)

This should be an easy issue.  While it must be supremely painful for parent’s to accept the loss of their child, it’s Terry’s husband who should have the right to determine the extent and continuation of her treatment.  Numerous courts, medical experts, and state-assigned guardians have agreed, but thanks to the case’s perceived political value to the Republican Party (So much for States’ Rights, huh GOP? ), our tax dollars have been spent on writing legistlation that only pertains to one individual and contridicts even the basest understanding of a separation of powers. 

No one wants to imagine themselves trapped in an unresponsive body, unable to communicate their consciousness while doctors pull the plug on them.  It’s a horrible thought that’s fueled nightmares for many, but folks that simply is not the case here.  Terry Schiavo is gone.  Sure her body remains alive, fueled by the most primitive elements of her remaining brain, but her dreams, her hopes, her memories, and her personality are gone.  Erased forever and replaced by simple spinal fluid.  There’s an argument among the more religious debaters in this debacle that only a divine being has the right to determine when someone should die, but to them I have to ask:  Then isn’t the artificial prolonging of life of someone who would die without sustained mechanical assistance directly in contrast with that tenent?  Make no mistake, Terry Schiavo, a women who is cognitively blank, unable to communicate, and unresponsive to even the most simple stimuli, would die of dehydration and starvation without the help of a feeding tube.  Michael Schiavo says (and the courts have agreed) that his wife would never want to live this way.  It’s time to remember that at the heart of this political drama is a human being whose wishes we must respect and adhere to, even if it means letting her go, if we wish to truly claim that we care about the sanctity of life. 

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  • olivesmarch4th

    I bow at the exhalted alter of Jon Stewart.

    I also, of course, agree with you, AM.  Totally.

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