Thursday, March 24, 2005

My Terri Schiavo thoughts

Terri Schiavo, what an unfortunate case. Seems like this is what everyone's been talking about lately. So here are my views on the matter:

Terri's cerebral cortex, according to experts, is completely gone. That along with cognition, sense of self, consciousness, feeling pain, and really everything which makes us human. "Terri" died years ago. What makes a person is not their body. A man who lost an arm is not less of a person. Personhood sits in the brain, specifically the cortex. When the cortex is gone, all you have left is a shell. So the question of morality if it's right to kill her is moot. She's already dead.

Second, according to the courts, it has been made clear to them that Terri would want to die if she was ever in such a condition. I'm no expert here and I don't know what she might have wanted or might not have wanted. I don't know her or any of the people involved. This is what the courts found and if true then Terri's wishes should be followed through.

This is what the courts do, they are fact finders. They're not infallible but I have no status to go on second-guessing their rulings. So, like I said, if Terri would have wanted to die, so be it.

The only final issue really is the method of death. Had Terri been on a machine and the question was about whether to pull the plug, that's one thing. She'd be dead in minutes and that would be that. But she only needs a simple feeding tube to keep her body alive. Dehydration and starvation are nasty ways to die and I think that's what really bothers a lot of people.

I think it's silly that legally they can order her to starve to death, but they can't order an overdose of morphine or other poison to kill her quickly. Terri can't tell the difference and I think that would make a lot of people feel better.

2 comments:

Enigma4U said...

I am all for euthanasia when it's the express wishes of the individual. Clearly, this is not the case. Terri did not leave her wishes in writing, and as the media reports it, her husband suddenly "remembered" a conversation they reportedly had two years after she was already brain dead. So in actuality, we do not know what Terri would have wanted for herself. Her parents want to keep her alive. That should have been the deciding factor. As long as her parents who were involved in her day-to-day care for 15 long years are against disconnecting her from a feeding tube, it is immoral for anyone, even expert neurologists, to bring about her death.

Orthoprax said...

Enigma,

The media tends to give quick answers when the boring truth is more complicated. Terri is not brain dead. Her basic brain functions are normal. She can breathe on her own and her heart beats by itself.

What happened was that she damaged her brain during that original incident and since then her brain has deteriorated. Maybe a year or two into her disability she could have had a chance, but right now there is no chance of recovery whatsoever.

I do believe he loved his wife and he hoped for her recovery but after enough time passed I think he brought up his and other's conversations with her to show that she wouldn't want to be kept alive as she is.

Can we ever know for certain? Save for a miracle, no. But this is what the court's job is. To decide what she would have wanted. And I really don't think I know the case better than they do.

What her parents want is not relevant. They have no say in what happens to her. That's why they are not a factor at all. Her husband believes and the courts have ruled that she would have wanted to die. This court order is as legally valid as a personal DNR. And just like a DNR, parents of the individual cannot overrule it.