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March 21, 2005

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MattR

Perhaps those "complicated dynamics of her family life" was a reference to the lifelong eating disorder that Ms. Schiavo had which led to her current condition. The quote does say her family life, not his.

TM

OK, but did you get that from the Times?

MattR

Tom - your post has two pieces. I agree with the main point that the Times is as guilty as the rest of the media in not discussing the whole story/history. However, you made an assumption about what the Times meant by "complicated dynamics of her personal life". I was just pointing out that there is another possible meaning.

dsquared

Tom, I think you're operating on an entirely different standard of proof here in assuming the husband's financial conflict of interest from the one you adopted in a previous post when looking at hospitals' financial conflicts of interest in Mark Kleiman's cases.

dsquared

Actually, thinking about it, there is a real "elephant in the living room" issue here that also doesn't appear to be getting much play in the New York Times; the "complicated dynamics of her family life" could also very well be a reference to her relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. As far as I can tell, her parents were reasonably devout Catholics, her husband wasn't and her own religious practices appear to be a matter of fairly strong disagreement between the two sides; she attended Mass but that doesn't necessarily mean all that much in and of itself. (Bizarrely, the people who seem most convinced that she was a devout Catholic and that her Catholic faith is extremely important are the Southern Baptists - your Baptists are clearly very different indeed from ours in their attitude to Rome).

TM

Tom, I think you're operating on an entirely different standard of proof here in assuming the husband's financial conflict of interest..

Hmm. Here, I am saying that the probable presence of a conflict should be reported; in the hospital case I am saying that we can't just assume, without evidence, that they are motivated by the clients ability to pay (and, in the case of Sun Hudson, we don't even have evidence on that).

It may not be perfectly consistent, but I think "everyone knows" that hospitals are a business (although some are run as charities, and all do some charity work). I am not so sure that everyone knows the financial side of the Schiavo case (and I have not seen any update on the value of the trust settlement).

As to Baptists and Catholics, times sure do change. It was not long ago that down South, the Pope's opinion and fifty cents could get you a cup of coffee and a smack in the face.

gt

I thought the money from the malpractice award had mostly run out (part of the reason Medicaid has stepped in?). I also thought that the husband had been offered $1M to drop the case.

Is that incorrect?

alcibiades

What about the fact that Terri was seriously contemplating leaving her control freak husband, the same control freak husband who won't let go and is now kicking her butt up to the great hereafter before time.

Oh that's right he's doing it from his great love for her.

I guess the feminists are still up in Harvard throwing stones at Larry Summers for daring to get out of mental lock step and can't be bothered to take notice.

TM

GT - I found a story today saying that as of Nov 2003, the trust fund was down to about $40,000 (or $60,000; one might think I could remember that for ten minutes).

I have heard the "take a million and walk" story, but haven't looked into it.

And of course, someone from this debacle (or everyone!) needs a book deal and the made-for-TV movie. I love this country.

Mike

$1 million, invested at 5% return (which is not that hard to do), throws off $50,000 per year.

Basic nursing home care for an incompetent adult runs about $3,500 per month in my neck of the woods--$42,000 per year. Assume it's a bit more in Florida. Even at $5,000 per month, that's $60,000 per year. That being the case, and assuming no additional expense for rehab because Michael has determined that rehab is futile, most of the principal should be intact. If it's not, where did the money go?

slapshot57

Tom,

Seeing as how the money is almost depleted, I think saying there is some financial motivation would be disengenuous. That said, it will be disgusting if he does a book/movie about his experiences, though it might be a little less so if he uses it as a platform to prevent women from succumbing to bulemia and gives all the proceeds to a good cause.

And as far as his new family, that is part of the story, but I think it should be noted in the same breath how devoted he was to his wife for so long. How he became a nurse to care for her, and was faithful for something like 8 years. I just don't like how in a lot of places the two main points have been "he's killing her so he can move on with his new family with all the money". That's simply not true

Leo

Tom, I don't get this whole thing. I've read Michael Schiavo was offered a lot of money to walk away and let her parents take custody of Terry. I've read that he offered to give up any claims on the trust fund. (Both in Will Saletan's Slate piece, I think.) I've read there's no money left (or not much more than $40,000 to $60,000) in the trust fund. I find it hard to believe that Michael needs Terry to die so that he can marry his girlfriend. There really isn't a process in place for someone in those circumstances (someone meaning Michael) to fill out some forms and be divorced? (Plus, you keep mentioning the girlfriend like it's something shady. But the Orlando Sentinel article you linked to yesterday links to a report by a former court-appointed guardian who makes it very clear that Terry's parents encouraged Michael to start dating again--if I remember correctly he even brought some of these women home to meet Terry's parents.) I can see that there would be a conflict of interest if Michael stood to gain a lot of money from Terry's death. But as you point out by mentioning book deals, etc, the guy apparently stands to gain a lot of money from her death whether she dies now, in a year, or in 50 years. If all he cares about is money, why would he choose the path of most resistance to it? I don't understand.

TM

Well, I am not saying that he is motivated by money. I am saying that the money and the girlfriend create obvious conflicts of interest. Might they be a subconscious (or conscious) influence on him? Does the girlfriend ask him each morning, "When are we going to get married?" How do I know?

But the point is, it strikes me (and I guess, a lot of other people) as odd that a fellow with such obvious potential conflicts can, in effect, be the one to decide if Terri dies.

MattR

Tom - I think the point that myself and others here are making is that the other woman and children are not the only conflicts of interest in this case. The eating disorder and the history behind it as well as any religious differences could just as easily lead to conflicts of interest.

Another important point to make, is that this really is not about what Michael Schivao wants. It is about what his wife wanted. It is not a strict he said/she said situation between the husband and the parents. The courts heard convincing third party evidence that Terri would not have wanted to live in her current situation. So I would argue that Michael is not deciding that Terri will die. The courts decided that Terri would have wanted to die and they are allowing Michael to fulfill her wishes.

Leo

I don't know, Tom. Even if these are subconscious influences on Michael Schiavo, even if his girlfriend wakes up every morning and asks him when they're going to get married--how can anything he might gain from pushing this be worth it? Again, maybe I'm being stupid, but there has to be some way he can divorce Terry, and he's no doubt going to benefit financially from all this one way or another. I just don't see what his motivation could be other than that he really thinks Terry would not want to be kept alive like this. Maybe he's wrong. But in any case, my understanding is that he didn't come to that decision all by himself--isn't that what the court-appointed guardian was for? I've only just started reading about this story in the last couple days, and maybe I'm being naive. But I really don't see why Michael Schiavo would put himself--and Terry's parents, and last but not least Terry--through all this if he really didn't think it was the right thing to do. He would have to be a giant scumbag but not such a giant scumbag that he didn't still care what people thought of him. I guess that's possible. But to me it doesn't seem likely.

TexasToast

Tom

I do estate planning for a living. Michael Shiavo's "conflicts of interest" do not disqualify him under any statute I am aware of from being the person charged with making the decision for his wife should her wishes not be "on the record", so to speak.

Someone must decide these things. Who better than the spouse? Can you suggest a better alternative for _all_ cases such as this? If Mr. Shiavo should have been disqualified, considering the enormous legal effort to do so, do you really think that he would not have been disqualified somewhere along the way in this tortured process?

Furthermore, it appears that a court appointed guardian reached the same conclusion Mr Shiavo did. Where is the guardian's conflict of interest?

I have great sympathy for the parents. Losing a child is a horrible grief - but all they have managed to do with all of their effort is extend the grieving process. Dr after Dr has said that Terri is not going to get better. They cannot begin to heal until this circus is over. Perhaps now they never can.

I see client after client who fears incapacity more than dignified death. Its cases like this one that show their fears may be well founded.

Patrick R. Sullivan

There's a rather obvious alternative as guardian; blood relatives such as mother, father, brother, aunt and uncle, all of whom visit Terry regularly and want to take care of her.

And, Michael was dating women before he filed the motion to have her feeding tube removed. Two of those women filed affidavits telling Judge Greer he told them he didn't know what to do about Terri. With no mention of her wish not to kept alive via 'machine'.

There is really no evidence to support the claim she wants to die. Even the testimony of Michael and his brother sounds like casual conversation while watching television.

However, there is a new idiocy. The Federal judge who denied an injunction, appears to have been reading Joseph Heller novels:

http://flyunderthebridge.blogspot.com/2005/03/yossarian-having-fun-yet.html

Particularly cute, that part about Michael and the Hospice not being government actors.

Patrick R. Sullivan

"I see client after client who fears incapacity more than dignified death."

When they bring in Terri's estate planner to testify that she did fear being incapacitated, you might have an argument.

byrd

Patrick, I was thinking just the same thing after I read TexasToast's closing statement.

From reading a lot of the debates in these forums, it really looks like a vast majority of the people who want the tube pulled are motivated by either (or both) of two things:

1) Republicans and religious groups want her kept alive.

2) If they themselves were in this position, they wouldn't want to be kept alive.

Ignoring the first group, the people motivated by #2 are projecting their own desires onto Terri. I wouldn't want to live like that either, but that doesn't give me the right to decide she shouldn't live that way. She doesn't have a living will. That should end the debate.

I don't have the right to decide whether another person's life is worth living.

Leo

Byrd, you may not have the right to decide whether another person's life is worth living, but if it were your spouse you would have the responsibility to decide it. And outside of bogus claims that Michael Schiavo was "romancing women" (the Weekly Standard, which apparently doesn't know that Terri's parents encouraged him in move on with his life and begin dating) and unsupportable claims that he wants to "kill" Terri so he can collect some malpractice money (which may in fact have been spent on Terri's care and in any case probably doesn't equal any amount he stands to gain from book deals and so on, assuming he's disgusting enough think that way) and despicable and equally unsupportable claims that he was somehow responsible for Terri's cardiac arrest--outside of these things, it seems that Michael Schiavo took that responsibility seriously.

John Anderson

"The key tidbit - Schiavo's attorney claims the malpractice award is essentially exhausted."

Another blogger looked into this. Now, the fund was established with wording that it would be used to treat (including rehab efforts) her. And Mikey had been supportive of such efforts for several years - until the money hit the bank. That is when he "gave up hope", remembered the casual comment after a TV film "I wouldn't want to live like that," started ordering all efforts at more than feeding and hydration stopped - and hired lawyers to defend his new position, using the trust money to block the established intent of the trust.

Seems that of a bit over $710k, some $500k has since gone to the lawyers.

MattR

Well, since you brought up the settlement, let's discuss it for a moment. The lawsuit claimed that Terri's bullemia was not properly diagnosed which led to her heart attack. Is it not possible that as a result of that trial and the testimony presented that the parents feel some sort of guilt for not helping their baby? Now they can't let go because they have an unfulfilled need to save her. Or should we continue to focus on Michael and the woman he met after Terri's parents encouraged him to date and expressed a desire to meet his girlfriends?

Jon Henke

Tom, you know I'm a big fan of yours, but I think you're being pretty disingenuous when you write "I am saying that the money and the girlfriend create obvious conflicts of interest", when you know there's virtually no money left in the first place, and that he has turned down money previously. (btw, the money was spent on medical care and on legal fees, after the Schindler's brought suit)

As far as the girlfriend goes, it's hard to see how that creates a conflict of interest. His decision to pull the plug predates the presence of the GF. Once he realized that Terri was not coming back -- that any further hopes were futile -- he decided to move on with his life. It's hard to believe that he made that decision knowing that he would later meet and have children with a woman.

I think you're engaging in some post hoc rationalizations for attacking Michael. The timeline just doesn't support it.

Jack Tanner

'Complicated aspects' are like 'complex situations' and nuances. Which from the Times POV means you're too stupid to understand so don't ask questions.

TexasToast

"I don't have the right to decide whether another person's life is worth living."

Perhaps not, but many people must make decisions that determine whether or not another person's life continues - whether "worth living" or not. Every military officer in battle and every doctor makes life and death decisions as part of the job. Does the "culture of life" extend to these sorts of decisions?


"There's a rather obvious alternative as guardian; blood relatives such as mother, father, brother, aunt and uncle, all of whom visit Terry regularly and want to take care of her."

True, but beside the point. Thes people are your chosen
alternatives because you don't agree with the decisions made by those charged with the heavy responsibility to make those decisions. Are you suggesting that any person who would even consider "pulling the plug" be disqualified? According to the polls, that disqualifies 70% of the population.

You may not like his decision, but its his decision - not ours.


fr. jim torpey

Tom, who does "estate planning" wrote: Losing a child is a horrible grief"
I have worked in the ministry for 22 yrs.....and have brought a Ministry of We Are Remembered to our diocese in Penna. over the last 12 years.

While I am sure that Tom does great work in his "job". I have never seen parents whose child is "murdered" legally or not ever get over that loss. Others have managed to "move on" somehow, including my own mother and the death of my sister.

Doesn't anyone see the apparent discrepancy by the tears shed over the murder of little 9 yr old Jesssica Lunsford and the murder of Terri just a few miles away?

Finally, for this woman to be denied Viaticum (food for the journey) and for the priests to be threatened with arrest reminds me that America is a-changin.......and it's not for the better.

TexasToast

Fr Jim

With all due respect, "murder" is not what is happening here. Bad things happen, even without human intervention, and, as Job learned, despite the advise of Eliphaz and his companions, without divine intervention.

We do not have the power to give Terri Sheivo her life back - no matter how much we may wish for it or pray for it. It is beyond our control.

What we must not do is condemn those who must deal with the difficult task of "moving on" by calling them "murderers" or continue to prolong suffering by continuing to encourage them to "expect a miracle". If a miracle is going to happen, I trust that the presence or absence of a feeding tube will have little effect.

TM

I think you're being pretty disingenuous when you write "I am saying that the money and the girlfriend create obvious conflicts of interest", when you know there's virtually no money left in the first place...

Well - first,just because there is no money now does not mean that there was no money when he chose to initiate this process in 1998; maybe he failed to anticipate the legal fees.

Secondly, I don't know if we have seen a formal trustees statement of the trust fund balance.

Third, I don't know what evidence would "prove" the money is a conscious motivation for him. However, it does create the appearance of a confict of interest, and may have a subconscious effect.

Fourth, its not just me! Judge Greer and the court appointed guardian noted the issue in 2000. Just because the judge decided it was not disqualifying does not mean I have to agree.

As to the girlfriend, the timeline runs opposite to the money - I will grant that she was not a factor in 1998, but how about today? Do she and Michael want to make the kids legal? What subconscious effect does that have?

None of which proves anything, and one can argue that the judge ruled on the financial conflict in 2000.

But no, I don't think it is disingenuous to note the issue.

you know I'm a big fan of yours...

Thanks, the feeling is mutual. And no worries - I have gotten kicked so often by my righty buddies that I went out and bought some Kevlar underwear.

Sam DeVille

>>>"complicated dynamics of her family life...[The Times]"

Rather complicated, yes, when your adulterous husband decides to kill you and then manages to get legal sanction to do it. "Complicated" - the word is succinct, and deceptively innocuous.


>>>"We do not have the power to give Terri Sheivo [sic] her life back - no matter how much we may wish for it or pray for it. It is beyond our control. [TexasToast]

Hello? SHE'S NOT DEAD YET. She HAS a life. Just because she is disabled doesn't mean she deserves to die.

The underlying question is whether in the future our society will allow

incapacitated people to live--people who have family members (or even

devoted friends) who value their lives, limited though they may be--and

are willing to give them the care they need--OR whether they can be put

to death just because another person so chooses, whatever the reason.

Michael abandoned her years ago. He does not deserve spousal rights to any degree.

If we can't allow an incapacitated person, especially one who is loved and valued, to remain alive

in the care of those who love her, what is to stop "busy-bodies/the government/the doctors" from

terminating the lives of any incapacitated person. There will be nothing to stop mass euthanasia. Nothing at

all. Hell awaits.


>>>"I have never seen parents whose child is "murdered" --legally or not --ever get over that loss." [fr.jim. torpey]

No kidding. Neither have I.
The issue is the fading perception of the sanctity of life, convenience killing, and the

encroaching "culture of death". Yes, death is inevitable for everyone eventually, but that is not

the question. The question is how will 'we the living' treat life while we

have the chance?

>>>"With all due respect, "murder" is not what is happening here."

Right, and Henry VIII didn't murder his wives, either, he just changed the law... Only in the strictest sense of the word is "murder" not happening: "The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice," and only because the law has become corrupt. Premeditation is definitely a factor in this case. Death will be the result. I hope Michael Schiavo is slapped with a wrongful death suit that puts him away for years, if she dies.

>>>Doesn't anyone see the apparent discrepancy by the tears shed over the murder of little 9 yr old Jessica Lunsford and the murder of Terri just a few miles away? [fr.jim. torpey]

I see it.

"The moral imperative should be that medical care cannot be withheld from a person who is not brain dead and who is not at risk for dying from an untreatable disease in the near future. To do otherwise makes us recall Nazi Germany where retarded people and those with serious disabilities were "euthanized" (that is, killed)." [James Q. Wilson, Wall Street Journal]

It is utterly ridiculous to assert the Michael Schiavo cannot move on without killing his wife.

Samantha DeVille


TM

This affidavit from Heidi Law, a nurse at Terri's hospice in 1997, is being touted by Newsmax.

Maybe she is lying, too (I sort of thought the first nurse might be).

The first nurse has been on Fox (I have heard). I have no doubt the Times will want to interview Ms. Law.

MMM

Please see:

http://codeblueblog.blogs.com/codeblueblog/2005/03/csi_medblogs_co.html

As to Terri's so-called 'rehab' trust fund, here's a hint...

Approved court transactions

Attorney George Felos(1) $307,188.35
Attorney Gwyneth Stanley(1) $10,668.05
Attorney Deborah Bushnell(1) $49,958.15
Attorney Steve Nilson(1) $7,404.95
Attorney Pacarek(2) $1,500.00
Attorney Richard Pearse(2) $4,511.95
(1)Michael Schiavo's attorneys
(2)court appointed attorneys

Total $381,231.45 (As of Sept. 2001)

Other Expenditures

1st Union/South Trust Bank $55,459.85
Michael Schiavo (Promissory Note) $3,535.00
Total $58,994.85

Grand Total: $440,226.30 (As of Sept. 2001)


No doubt Felos has racked up enough time since then to suck up any remaining. Bottom line: Michael Schiavo gambled she would die sooner and lost. Now he's playing the game to (try to) save face.

Patrick R. Sullivan

I believe Heidi Law's affidavit, it sounds like a nurse.

Having spent a couple of weeks in a hospital over a quarter century ago, and having...er...developed a social relationship with one of my nurses after I was released, I know that a good nurse will know much more about the patients than the doctors who are ostensibly in charge.

It's--I later learned--Hayekian. The nurses spend so much more time with the patients, they get to know their idiosyncracies. They know what medications will do, and won't do (usually much better than the doctors), because they are around to observe the results.

Jon Henke
Well - first,just because there is no money now does not mean that there was no money when he chose to initiate this process in 1998; maybe he failed to anticipate the legal fees.
Maybe. On the other hand, if money is a motivating factor, then you'd think he would have 1) taken them up on the offer to pay him to relenquish guardianship, or 2) backed off once money was not longer operational. At this point, it's just costing him money. (and the amount I've seen kicking around is ~$50,000. Not dinner and a movie, but hardly worth what he's been going through for so many years now.
However, it does create the appearance of a confict of interest, and may have a subconscious effect.
(shrug) If the money were there, it certainly might.
As to the girlfriend, the timeline runs opposite to the money - I will grant that she was not a factor in 1998, but how about today? Do she and Michael want to make the kids legal? What subconscious effect does that have?
I will be prudent and forgo venturing a guess as to his subconscious, but since she wasn't around when he first made the decision, I'm not tempted to surmise that when one demand curve for Terri's death fell, another one was already high enough to overcome any difficulties.

Seems like a rather tenuous post hoc justification.

I don't think it is disingenuous to note the issue.
Disingenuous was too strong a word. I should have written "I think you're ignoring the timelines to grasp at straws". On the other hand, I may be biased. I think it's rather clear that she's no longer anything but a shell of a human being, and the stuff that made her Terri Schiavo has been gone for a very, very long time.

Except, if you believe the Schindlers, for the period from 95-97 when she got all Chatty Kathy...but only in front of one nurse. Oh, and the Schindler's "forgot" about that until 2003. So, yeah, I'm having trouble assigning them any credibility.

And no worries - I have gotten kicked so often by my righty buddies that I went out and bought some Kevlar underwear.
Heh. I make it a habit to disagree with my ideological acquaintances. Good for our character. Oddly, I'm not a big fan of them disagreeing with me. Let's not dwell on that, ok? :)


MattR

I would be careful putting too much credence in these nurses. I do not know the details of Heidi Law, but I do know a bit about the nurse who was on Fox and CNN yesterday. I find her credibility shot by the fact that she says she told the Schindler's about all her allegations yet the Schindler's never bothered to use her testimony or call her as a witness.

TM

Some of the first nurse's comments just sounded too good (fore the parents) to be true. And I have no doubt there are plenty of pro-life, pro-patient nurses hanging around.

But apparently we are now up to three (Heidi Law is two, and Newsmax says there is another).

My Not So Bold Prediction - folks who liked the way the Waco conspiracists and the Vince Foster crowd hung around are going to *love* the Terri Schiavo cult. Too many unaddressed questions that a new court could have looked at.

And what are the odds she dies on Easter Sunday?

Gino

Here's a basic comment. What does Michael stand to gain by having Terri die? Answer: NOTHING! There is no financial gain. All I can ascertain is that he can now marry his new girlfriend without going through a divorce. But he could do that anyway.

I think he really is acting in what he believes to be Terri's best interests. I don't know if he's right. But it should be obvious that the easiest thing for him to do would be to let her parents take care of him and he can just never see her again. Shouldn't we give him some credit for trying to do what he thinks Terri would have wanted?

clyde ickes

let her die in peace. this is all about pushing the republican agenda and making living wills not a choice of a person if they cant choose the guardian they want. the fla. govt assured me of that.

Sharon

I find this whole situation to be perverse and incidious. Let's talk about the "real elephant in this room". What is occurring here is the Christian right exercising their political muscle to promote their political agenda of an antiabortion stance under the guise of everyone's right to life.

In the process of promoting a political platform, these "Christians" are using the desparation and hopeless hope of Ms. Schiavo's already devastated parents for their own personal gain.

What is even more perverse is that those who are currently the care takers of our nation are buying into this, to use the support of the antiabortionists to further their own personal political asperations.

This should be a private family matter not decided by special interest groups or politicians. It is a matter for our judicial system. And our courts have spoken.

Shame of all of you who are abusing Ms. Schiavo's parents, husband, our legislature and our courts in order to for further your own agendas.

That does not sound terribly Christian to me.

drkaisr

Frustrated with media hype and political hype, I would like us to think of the bigger implications of the true story. This girl was Anorexic-Bulemic, secretly starving and vomiting at age 26. It caused her heart to stop. You can read the 1990 hospital discharge summary of her 3 month stay on terrisfight.org.
That seems to explain why the parents are desperately trying to feed their vegetative shell of a child (guilt), and why the husband 'knows" she wouldn't want to live forever in this position. I wonder what would have happened if there was no "malpractice" case. Who was blamed for this tragedy? That was the first mistake - seeking "compensation" for what she did to herself. The husband has stayed with her a long time. his motives may have changed many times over the years. People are complex. Grief is a process. I hope everyone in the family gets to see counselors. I hope this media show puts "makeover" shows like "the swan" out of business. It won't happen, but I can hope.

Suzanne

Conclusion of the matter.

I personally believe that the soul of our nation is on trial. How we respond to the issues of this day, will be the measure of what we shall reap in the future. When the people in our nation were polled by the news agencies and asked if Terri Shiavo's feeding tube should be removed and over 70 percent agreed that it should be done, this brought fear to my heart for our nation. You see, we reap what we sow in thought and deeds. This answer is demonstrating that a culture of death has now pervaded our country.

We can understand where the doctors, judges, congressmen and women and people are coming from when they strictly look at this from a logical and legal position. However, they are missing several other factors. This is not something that mere logic can produce an answer, because we have a spiritual factor here also. Terri is a spiritual being, so is her husband, as well as the mother and her family, plus all the parties involved and we all must answer to God for our actions and attitudes before Him.

It blesses me to see a mother and father who have a heart of compassion for their brain damaged daughter, when so many people today are aborting their babies simply because they are an inconvenience to their own selfish lifestyles. It must please God to see a mother and father who want to care for their child, in spite of the trouble she poses for them. I pray God gives them a miracle, but most of all I pray for our nation to return to goodness and repent from our hard heartedness. We are reaping the results of hard heartedness in our society now; the violence in our streets, the corruption in our politics, the unrestrained lust that robs others; these all began as heart attitudes. We need Jesus to change our hearts so that we once again love our neighbors as ourselves. Love does not murder the innocent and helpless.

The Bible tells us to choose life. When we will agree that a woman should be starved to death because it is the law, it is time to change the law. We need to change our laws to agree with the laws of God, the true and righteous Judge. When we learn to live by God's commandments, then we will not face these kinds of things. When we vote for death of our babies through abortion, and now we begin agreeing for death by euthanasia, because someone is brain damaged; where will it end? Those who agree with death, may find it on their doorstep sooner than they think; as this kind of mentality in our nation will bring us closer to judgment day.

To me, this is just another test to reveal the soul of our nation. Are we going to have a culture of death that will produce more death or are we going to choose life? Do we want to embrace euthanasia in our country along with abortion or do we want "heart"? We must not side with the part of our nation that encourages euthanasia, as life and death are in the spiritual realm. The Bible says in Revelation 1:18, "I (Jesus) am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Let's leave the keys in His hands.

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John

Killing is different from allowing someone to die in peace. Removing food and water from those unwanted is killing. End of Story

TexasToast

"Hello? SHE'S NOT DEAD YET. She HAS a life. Just because she is disabled doesn't mean she deserves to die."

"The moral imperative should be that medical care cannot be withheld from a person who is not brain dead and who is not at risk for dying from an untreatable disease in the near future. To do otherwise makes us recall Nazi Germany where retarded people and those with serious disabilities were"euthanized" (that is, killed)." [James Q. Wilson, Wall Street Journal]


It must be nice to have the certainty demonstrated in the above statements. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my understanding of the facts that Ms. Shievo has no upper brain function left. She has spinal fluid instead of a cerebral cortex. That is not “life” as I understand the term.

I ought to just cite Godwin’s law and move on, but the hubris of the people who claim to KNOW God’s will in this (or the abortion issue, for that matter) is very troubling. “Murder” and “Nazi Germany” are rhetorical bombs being thrown by people who are so certain they are right that rational discussion becomes almost impossible. Such people might do well to read the Bible and ponder why God rebuked Eliphaz and his companions for claiming to know God’s will by saying that tragedy is a penalty from God for sin. None of us can “know” God’s will here.

All we are left with is our human ability to discern justice, differentiate right from wrong and ability to understand why tragedy happens. We must puzzle out for ourselves where the line should be drawn defining “life”. If God assists you in drawing that line in a particular manner, that is a good thing. Howerver, my drawing that line in a different place (or Mr. Sheivo or Texas Children’s Hospital or NARAL, for that matter) does not make any of us Nazis or murderers. Drawing the line to include what Mrs. Sheivo has become would logically make Nazis and murderers out of all of us who aren’t vegans .

Several years ago, I witnessed a very close friend of mine who had to make the horrible decision to let her “persistently vegetative” son go so that others could be given a chance at life again. Calling her a “Nazi” or a “murderer” is the worst sort of sin.


mary

As a mother I can't imagine what this woman's parents are going through. As a wife, I can't imagine what her spouse is going through. The moral of the story is that in the old days people couldn't choose if they would die as the result of permanent brain damage; if you were brain damaged, you died. God's choice. Now medical science has given us the choice. Choose while you can. I don't know if it matters whether or not that the Times has not fully represented every stinking little facet of this story or not. What matters is whether or not we've learned something from this horrible personal tragedy being suffered by the parents, the husband and even Terri herself.Think of your parents or spouse wrestling with the decision of whether you would want to live or die if you were in Terri's shoes. Please don't take the chance of making them live through that agony. You can write your own advance directive and assign durable power of attorney. If you haven't done it yet, make a living will. Today. Right now. Express your wishes in writing, sign it, get it witnessed, date it and give copies to your doctor, spouse, parents, adult children and a lawyer if you have one.

mary

As a mother I can't imagine what this woman's parents are going through. As a wife, I can't imagine what her spouse is going through. The moral of the story is that in the old days people couldn't choose if they would die as the result of permanent brain damage; if you were brain damaged, you died. God's choice. Now medical science has given us the choice. Choose while you can. I don't know if it matters whether or not that the Times has not fully represented every stinking little facet of this story or not. What matters is whether or not we've learned something from this horrible personal tragedy being suffered by the parents, the husband and even Terri herself.Think of your parents or spouse wrestling with the decision of whether you would want to live or die if you were in Terri's shoes. Please don't take the chance of making them live through that agony. You can write your own advance directive and assign durable power of attorney. If you haven't done it yet, make a living will. Today. Right now. Express your wishes in writing, sign it, get it witnessed, date it and give copies to your doctor, spouse, parents, adult children and a lawyer if you have one.

john

I cannot understand why the credibility of Michael, who has a vested interest in wanting Terri dead, is not questioned, while the credibility of all who want Terri to NOT be killed is continually questioned.

It is also of concern that Micahael is so insistent on having Terri cremated. I suspect that he is trying to cover up evidence. After all, there have been unanswered questions about the circumstamnces of her heart stoppage. Also, nurses at the hospice have reported abuse of Terri by Michael during his visits to her in the hospice have file police reports. This would seem to support their credibility.

With Terri cremated, there is less (no?) possibility of being able to follow through with an investigation of the circumstances leading to her injuries and death.

Donna M. Latham

I too am very concerned as to the "conflict of interest" of the so-called "loving, concerned husband who continues to live in an adulterous situation, with two (not just one child) as proof of his adulterous acts. How can our legal system continue to allow him to remain as the "legal guardian" of a disabled woman, whose death stands to profit him financially? Also, I am wondering if Terri's family and their attorneys have not considered whether or not there is a way to have Terri's marriage to him legally terminated, on a "religious" basis due to his continuous "adultery" !! Is there a way to get this suggestion to Terri's parents and/or legal team??? I'm just wondering whether or not they have considered following through on the "religious/legal" arm of things! Since her very life is at stake here, I find this to definately be "food for thought"!! What about you????? Dee Latham (Orlando, Florida) 3/24/05

Linda

What future does a dog have? We feed dogs or go to jail. These parents deserve the right to try. This is murder. If she couldn't breathe on her own it would be different. She is living, breathing and we do not know what else she could eventually do. We do know that until the feeding tube was pulled she did not suffer. Her parents could hold her. Love her. We are withholding food and water from a living being. Let the parents take charge and do as they will. Why won't the husband let them? What reason? He spent 500K on lawyers when he could have spent it on rehab, or just let the parents take charge. What is wrong with the world. LET HER LIV

Ryan

It seems like an awful lot of the blog debate over this is framed in terms of who "wins" -- Michael Schiavo or the parents. But neither of them win here, not in the emotional sense -- this is such an incredibly sad situation all the way around -- or in the legal sense -- the courts are tasked with figuring out what Terri would have wanted. And they've consistently, for years and years, ruled in only one way.

That's enough to satisfy me (whatever that means) regardless of my personal feelings on the case. I choose to trust a system that's got to be the best in the world. Of course I reserve the right to disagree with individual decisions as they come up, and especially those I have some expertise in, but in this case 1) extremely few people are intimately familiar with both sides of the story, and 2) courts that are have produced the same results for more than a decade.

It amazes me that bloggers can Google up an affidavit here or a legal document there to support their instinctive feelings -- as valid as those certainly are -- then render judgment on years' worth of court decisions that have been made in the context of those same documents. The term "hubris" comes to mind.

Of course it also amazes me that John Kerry became a "bad man" after bringing up a private citizen's lifestyle during a public debate, and Tom DeLay hasn't suffered nearly the same media slings and arrows for absolutely savaging Michael Schiavo from his seat as a congressman. But that's a different story.

Bryn Patterson

The Judges and Courts of America have no authority if some politician motivated by personal beliefs, not the peoples, can trump their decision. Big Brother Stay Out! People Beware!

MMM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my understanding of the facts that Ms. Shievo has no upper brain function left. She has spinal fluid instead of a cerebral cortex.

OK. Correcting....

"First of all, the University of Miami's appellation for this scan is inaccurate. 'Cortical regions' are not and can not be filled with spinal fluid. The sulci (spaces between cortical ribbons) are enlarged secondary to cortical atrophy and these sulci are filled with cerbrospinal fluid.

The most alarming thing about this image, however, is that there certainly is cortex left. Granted, it is severely thinned, especially for Terri's age, but I would be nonplussed if you told me that this was a 75 year old female who was somewhat senile but fully functional, and I defy a radiologist anywhere to contest that.

I HAVE SEEN MANY WALKING, TALKING, FAIRLY COHERENT PEOPLE WITH WORSE CEREBRAL/CORTICAL ATROPHY. THEREFORE, THIS IS IN NO WAY PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE THAT TERRI SCHIAVO'S MENTAL ABILITIES OR/OR CAPABILITIES ARE COMPLETELY ERADICATED. I CANNOT BELIEVE SUCH TESTIMONY HAS BEEN GIVEN ON THE BASIS OF THIS SCAN.

The worrisome, no alarming thing, for me, was that I heard a bioethicist and several important figures on the major media describe Terri's brain as MUCH WORSE. One "expert" said that she had a "bag of water" in her head. Several experts described her as a "brain stem preparation"

These statements are wholly inaccurate. This is an atrophied brain, yes, but there is cortex remaining, and where there's cortex (?life) there's hope.

If you starve this woman to death it would be, in my professional and experienced medical opinion, the equivalent of starving to death a 75-85 year old person. I would take that to the witness stand." - Dr. Thomas Boyle

MattR

Time to correct the correction. From Judge Greer's (I believe it was him) decision not to rehear the Schiavo case.


On the issue that caused this court to reverse in our last decision, whether new treatment exists which offers such promise of increased cognitive function in Mrs. Schiavo's cerebral cortex that she herself would elect to undergo this treatment and would reverse the prior decision to withdraw life-prolonging procedures, the parents presented little testimony. Dr. William Hammesfahr claimed that vasodilation therapy and hyberbaric therapy "could help her improve." He could not testify that any "specific function" would improve. He did not claim that he could restore her cognitive functions. He admitted that vasodilation therapy and hyberbaric therapy were intended to increase blood and oxygen supply to damaged brain tissue to facilitate repair of such tissue. These therapies cannot replace dead tissue. Although the physicians are not in complete agreement concerning the extent of Mrs. Schiavo's brain damage, they all agree that the brain scans show extensive permanent damage to her brain. The only debate between the doctors is whether she has a small amount of isolated living tissue in her cerebral cortex or whether she has no living tissue in her cerebral cortex.

mary

I'm having difficulty understanding the parallel between abortion and discontinuing Terri Shiavo's tube feedings. When a baby is aborted in utero it is physically assaulted. These fetus's don't die from a clamped umbilicus, they die from a variety of other horrendous physical assualt. If you leave a fetus alone, it won't die, it will live from the nourishment of it's mother's body. The same cannot be said if we leave Mrs. Shiavo alone. If Mrs. Shiavo can suckle from a bottle the same way a baby can, then by all means I think they should bottle feed her. But if she has lost so much brain function that she cannot even perform this basic reflexive function, is it reasonable to say that hooking her up to a feeding tube is the natural course of things? How is bypassing this woman's mouth and pumping liquid nourishment into her stomach God's will? Can't we have enough faith to understand that He designed the body with certain failure mechanisms for a reason?

TM

From Texas T:

All we are left with is our human ability to discern justice, differentiate right from wrong and ability to understand why tragedy happens. We must puzzle out for ourselves where the line should be drawn defining “life”. If God assists you in drawing that line in a particular manner, that is a good thing. Howerver, my drawing that line in a different place (or Mr. Sheivo or Texas Children’s Hospital or NARAL, for that matter) does not make any of us Nazis or murderers.

I agree. And, FWIW, Peggy Noonan was back with Auschwitz comparisons today.

Regretably, we have the crazies on each side to set the tone for the rest of us.

This should be a private family matter not decided by special interest groups or politicians.

If the family had not been divided, this would have remained a private matter. The courts got involved, the losers chose to fight any way they could, and here we are.

TM

Big catch-up Michael-basher in the Saturday Times - innuendo, unanswered questions, no mention that the trust fund is depleted... why now?

MisterPundit

Shame of all of you who are abusing Ms. Schiavo's parents, husband, our legislature and our courts in order to for further your own agendas.

That includes yourself, Sharon. Friggin hypocrit.

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