Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Terri Schaivo Remembered

Commentary by walford

When I was interning at Accuracy In Media, I noticed that a story about a cognitively disabled woman who was the subject of a fight between her parents and husband was being largely ignored by the mainstream media. My article was subsequently read on-air by G. Gordon Liddy on his radio show:

When the struggle went to the courts, the media finally picked it up, but distorted some facts while ignoring others. Someone who opens their eyes and responds to her surrounding is not comatose or in a persistently vegetative state. During a malpractice trial, husband Michael testified in court that he needed funds to care for her. Once the damage award was granted, he changed his tune. He forbade all rehabilitation therapy, including allowing her to be taught how to feed herself. A judge who belongs to the euthanasia movement issued a court order to have her starved for two weeks, then court action resulted in the feeding to resume. Likely this exacerbated her brain damage.

Meanwhile, Michael Schiavo bought himself a new house and Mercedes. He moved in with another woman and made a new family with her. He refused to divorce Terri and allow her parents to assume responsibility for her care, spending the malpractice award funds to pay lawyers to fight her being kept alive. Finally they succeed. Five years ago, Terri Schindler Schiavo died of starvation/dehydration after another two weeks deprivation. It is illegal to kill a dog or mass-murderer this way.

As Family Research Council senior fellow Cathy Ruse noted:

"What a terrible irony that the media allowed a puerile, self-absorbed husband to appear to be defending his wife's freedom to die when clearly the only freedom he was pursuing was his own."

Her brother Bobby Schindler also observed that...

"We recently heard from a woman whose mother was being cared for at a hospice facility. The daughter was powerless to effectively advocate for her mother because she had no power of attorney.

Even though she was her mother’s next-of-kin, and despite the fact her mother was begging her for food, the daughter was not allowed to feed her. It had been determined the mother was no longer able to swallow. But the daughter said her mother was eating safely just prior to being sent to hospice and questioned whether she still could. The mother was not given a feeding tube, and died just a short time later.

Perhaps the “Death Panels” Sarah Palin spoke of sounded like bombastic language. Yet when Palin added this term into our nation’s debate on health care, I believe she did not realize that many hospitals and facilities already have something frighteningly similar. Ethics committees are making many life and death decisions about patients, including whether to withhold simple provisions.

In a seemingly clandestine way, these ethics committees – comprised of medical and legal professionals – are empowering facilities to make life and death decisions independent of the family or a person’s own wishes.

The chilling stories we receive make it clear few citizens have any idea how vulnerable they are when it comes to judgments left in the hands of these ethics committees and facilities. And with the federal government now controlling our health care, there is no reason not to believe that these types of committees won’t become nationalized. Particularly when a health care system has been sabotaged by cost factors and quality of life judgments."

Many heated arguments erupted over this issue, some saying that a person should not be "artificially" kept alive -- even on a feeding tube -- if they as a normally cognitive person wouldn't want to live that way. Cathy Ruse continues:

"We have asked what she would have wanted as a competent person imagining herself in such a condition, instead of asking what we owe the person who is now with us, a person who can no longer speak for herself, a person entrusted to the care of her family and the protection of her society."

It is said that we are judged by how we treat the most innocent and vulnerable.

I have been very close to someone suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident. If not for her family's persistent advocacy, she would indeed be vegetating in a nursing home somewhere if she were deemed worthy of life at all. Fortunately in her state, life is still valued. She got rehab and as a result is a contributing member of society. She helps others with TBI to make the most of life while pursuing a Master's degree in the mental health field.

We should err on the side of life. It is a Divine gift. If my dear friend's family had not intervened, I would never have known one of the sweetest, smartest and most giving people I have ever met.

1 comment:

  1. The crime of withholding sustenance from an individual with the sole purpose of ending their life and it being legal, puts our society in the same camp as Hitler's death camps.

    Didn't we learn something from that massacre?