Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Terry Schiavo

On page 9A of today's paper there is a story about the Terry Schiavo case. Terry has been brain damaged for 15 years and in that time her parents have been fighting her husband's attempts to remove her feeding tube. If her feeding tube is removed Terry will slowly starve to death. I am by no means an expert on "persistent vegetative states," but I doubt the SAEN is either; however, this statement appears in the story anyway:
She breathes on her own, but relies on the feeding tube to survive. Doctors have ruled she's in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery.

That statement leaves no doubt in the reader's mind---Terry Schiavo will never get better. The only problem is that her parents don't agree and they have doctors who also don't agree with that statement. You can learn more about that here. Shouldn't the SAEN have presented both sides of the argument in order to be balanced?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I agree with those who want to keep the feeding tube connected. I haven't followed this case too closely, but I think in a case where a person did not leave a written directive stating their wishes, the decision on whether or not to continue artificial life support should be determined through a consensus of all immediate family members. If there is no consensus then they should err on the side of leaving the tube connected.
I'm not going to trash the husband in this case because he obviously believes he is carrying out his wife's wishes, but at this point I think he should defer to her parents and let it go.
Whenever I hear about this case the most troubling thing is why the husband won't let go and give responsibility for her care to her folks. I believe, and don't quote me on this, that he stands to receive a nice chunk of change when she dies, and only when she dies.
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