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Controversial life decision

By jkaras ·
Here in Orlando there is a case that is getting national headlines. The case in question is regarding Terri Schiavo. She is a woman who had a heart attack/ stroke over 13 years ago that left her in a vegitative state. The case is a right to life/right to death controversy.
She has been in this state without the ability to communicate effectivly while in this awake coma. She can smile and coo like an infant but cannot sign like blinking of eyes to signify concious though or understanding. During this time the husband who has done questionable things when dealing with the situation and contends that they talked as husband and wife if a situation ever happened she would choose death. Her parents have fought to keep her alive not willing to let go contending that he didnt invest the insurance money for recuperative therapy despite doctors that contend that she is brain dead and that no therapy can change. He has since the incident has fallen in love with another and having a baby getting on with his life wishing to remarry. He has fought a legal battle to terminate her life to end her suffering and won. The only way to do this was to remove her feeding tube and starve to death. Our Gov. Jeb Bush abused his powers and overturned the court's ruling stopping the death sentence after 5 days of starvation. Whether he did it for political reasons or right to life, he broke the law stalling the already long awaited release of wasted life.

This fight is about not having a living will documented in marriage causing abiguity. I think it is wrong to have it in writting and that your spouse is legally responsible to carry out your wishes. Regardless of the parents still alive, when a man a woman join in matrimony they are one and that responsibility is theirs and no one elses regardless of the mistake of spouse. Also I cant imagine anyone wanting someone they love to live in that state without the ability to live life experiencing the good or the bad, to me that's tourture and it shouldnt have gone longer than a couple of months to determine recovery. What do you feel is right about living or death? Government intervention or family?

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by TheChas In reply to Controversial life decisi ...

Personally, I am very torn on this specific case.

As a general rule, I am 100 percent pro-life.

That does not mean that I believe that it is acceptable to keep someone alive by mechanical means.

In the case of Terri Schiavo, I am torn.
Her body physically functions properly.
The only intervention is the feeding tube that is more convenient for a care-giver to use than other options.

The BIG problem, is that medical science cannot accurately determine if there is a reasonable chance that she may recover.

This issue became more problematic when I heard a woman who had been in a 'vegetative' state discuss how she was able to remember all that went on around her while she was in the 'vegetative' state.
Her problem was that she was unable to get her body to communicate to those around her that she was there alive and thinking!

Like I say, I am torn.
I would not want to go through what Terri Schiavo is going through.
Neither would I want my life ended simply because I was not able to interact with the world around me.

In the final balance, I feel that the life ending option for Terri Schiavo is NOT an acceptable option. Death by forced starvation is not the correct way to end this situation.


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Quality vs Quantity

by glenn In reply to Torn

There are times that decisions must be based to insure the quality of life more than the quantity of life. The same gov't that allows babies lives to end to improve the mothers "quality" of life because of her choice seems to be taking away the choice of this family. The decision is up to the family and unless there is a case of incompetance, the husband should be the primary decision maker especially if he knows her wishes prior to this coma. I don't understand however how that death by forced starvation is a viable option. If there is a compassion to allieviate suffering then causing more suffering is not the answer.

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I agree with the last post, SPLIT DECISION

by finmedmgr In reply to Controversial life decisi ...

I had an employee who had Cerebral Palsy. I asked her one time what was the hardest thing dealing with her condition. She said it was sooo frustrating because her mind worked fine (she had a degree in her field) but her body just wouldn't do what she wanted it to. The same lady was faced with ending her father's life support, a very crutial decision, we discussed. She decided to end life support, he lived for another week then died in the night on his own. Someone of a much higher authority spared her thinking his passing was of the actions of her decision I am convinced. Have you ever had weakness in your muscles and couldn't lift something? What if it were the means to communicate(Control to communicate?) No, I would not want to end it all for that reason. Now If on the other hand, all major organs were shutting down on their own like my dad, lungs, heart, blood pressure, kidneys, stroke all at once, I guess pull the plug because someone else in a higher authority is making the decision other than the doctor..........I agreed because I knew my dad throughout my life and the doctors helped him go peacefully. I am glad I was there. Did he have a living will, no. My mother did and she said "feed me, medicate me give me fluids but don't let machines only keep my body alive. Her body started shut down of major organs and 96 hous later died at 63. I was there also, all 96 hours with my husband. She was not coherent, couldn't speak and I followed her instructions to the letter because they were her wishes to the point she put them in writing and discussed them over a three year period before she even got ill, she could have changed her words at any time, even up till the time she quite responding.

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Some general thoughts ...

by jardinier In reply to Controversial life decisi ...

One of the seeming conradictions of scientific development is the enormously disproportionate amount of money spent on ways of killing healthy people (as in war) compared with what is spent on finding ways to cure and or alleviate sickness.

I have never had to face the "pulling the plug" decision in relation to a human, but in many instances I have made the decision to put a pet animal, obviously incurable, out of its misery. How well I remember the last such instance when my dog could not eat, drink, or move in any way, but just lay whimpering. I placed the dog on a mat, under the side of the house, with an electric light bulb so that it would not feel abandonded. After a week or so, I could not see the sense in prolonging the animal's irreversible suffering and had it put down. I suppose the creature, had it been human, may have been placed on life support systems at a hospital, but for how long and for what purpose?

I see it as a double standard that it is taken for granted to put an animal out of its misery as quickly as possible, while at the same time extracting the last ounce of suffering from a presumably incurable human.

If a desire for euthanasia has been expressed verbally or in writing, let it be carried out, at the point when the person can no longer indicate their wish.

If no such desire has been expressed, then let common sense prevail. To avoid premature termination of life which may be desired by potential beneficiaries, let a team of doctors with no previous personal involvement in the case make the decision.

To me there is an obvious contradiction between extending as long as possible an unconscious life which has no doubt been filled with experiences, while unhesitatingly sending off to war young people who have not experienced even the fundamental fruits of a normal human life.

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medical decisions

by john_wills In reply to Some general thoughts ...

When your GP, at the behest of your wife, with whom he has been having an affair, wants to get you committed to an asylum for the insane he pretends he's examined you and found you insane. He needs a second opinion on the committal certificate, so he goes to a doctor he's friendly with, who signs without evera having seen you. So the panel of uninvolved doctors seems a good idea, until you realise that they would certainly discuss things with their colleagues who are already involved, and would not want to contradict them.

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This reminds me of a time

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Controversial life decisi ...

A few years ago when I was in North Queensland I had the job of attending the local jail to do some repair work, there I meet a man who would never be released from jail because he was unrepentant for murdering his wife.

At first I though he was getting what he disserved but when I heard the full story form one of the jail personal I was less than impressed as was the jail officer. This man had turned off the life support machinery that was keeping his wife alive after a severe motor vehicle collision where she had sustained serious injuries and had actually been dead for more than 15 minutes before bring revived by attending Ambulance staff. They only took this long because they needed to extract her from the wreck.

By this time he had served 25 years in jail and every time he was put up for parole he was asked the same question was he repentant for his actions to which he always replied no and I would do the same thing again if the situation ever arose. Needless to say he never received parole but at the very same time there was a contract killer in the same jail for murdering two people it seems that he got parole for the first murder by telling them what they wanted to hear and within a week of getting out he had murdered someone else for money.

This person who held true to his beliefs is probably still in jail but he certainly is no threat to the community in any way whatsoever but a contract killer can get parole and murder again in a vicious and painful manner.

Now maybe it?s just me but I see some serious problems in our legal system when things like this can happen.

But on the other hand this person had been in jail so long that he didn?t want out and was prepared to live there for the rest of his life as it offered a structure that he could cope with.

Unfortunately this isn?t the first time that I have seen this either as I ran into a Doctor of Medicine who was on remand for stealing a car and had then spent 12 months in jail because while he was away at a conference his wife had the locks changed on the house and when he arrived home was told to get the hell out. He just jumped into his car and drove off and his wife reported the car as stolen so when he was caught several miles down the road he was arrested and refused bail because of the value of the car and waited in jail for I don?t know how long for a trial but when I meet him he had already spent 12 months inside for driving a car registered in his name and didn?t want out either so he did everything possible to stay inside.

I think this is more a condition of our jail system than any form of justice.

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some points

by john_wills In reply to Controversial life decisi ...

1. Governor Bush did not break the law; he worked within a law the legislature had just passed.
2. Mr Schiavo did not remember his wife's wishes until after he'd found a fancy-woman.
3. A former colleague of mine put his gaga wife in a nursing home then divorced her and "married" another, singificantly younger, woman. Would Florida law not allow Mr Schiavo to do likewise? Or does he merely not wish to seem contemptible, as my colleague did?
4. Food and water are not extraordinary means of life sustention. We are not talking about iron lungs or germ-free bubbles here.
5. If you do not want to feed your dog in your yard, it does you no harm that I feed and otherwise care for him in my yard. If Mr Schiavo does not want to feed his wife, it does him no harm that her parents do so.
6. I once had a sick rabbit put to death rather than have the pain of seeing his pain. But it would be irrational - although singularly common - to claim that I had done the rabbit a favor. I killed him to spare myself, not him, pain. And I could have been prosecuted had I starved him to death.
7. Your description of Mrs Schiavo's reactions does not coincide with that of her family: they say she follows things with her eyes and so forth.
8. If God the Hunter strikes you down, shout defiance as you fall.
9. During the early 1990s a man in Ohio or some such place, having been in a coma for 13 years or so, had his regular dental checkup, as a result of which the dentist decided to do a filling. Injection of the anaesthetic woke the patient up.

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I appreciate your reply but..

by jkaras In reply to some points

not one article or doctor that was covering her case closely said that if you asked her does she want to live or die, blink once for yes two for no. She cannot communicate despite her ability to follow movement, she gives no "intelligent" responses to her surroundings. Every doctor has maintained that she is brain dead and has the mental abilities of an infant that cant possibly be rejuvinated. To me, to keep her alive like that for even a less than 10% chance at recovery is horrible and selfish. I understand it's hard to let go of someone you love but when it's time it's time.

I can speak of this due to the fact that I was entrusted with my father's dying wish to not be brought back if the odds were bad. He did not want to live that way or suffer. He gave me that job cause he knew my mother couldnt. There was no written will, only father to son talk to not fail him. When I got the call that my dad had a massive stroke we knew it was the last. When I got there he had over 15 tubes keeping his body alive. I asked the doctor what were the odds. He responded that they were less than 30% that their would be concious thought due to being dead for over 5 minutes and having the kidneys fail. The doctor tickled my dad's feet and he did the arm raise that is typical with brain dead people. I remember the day that Do Ku Kim did that with smelling salts when Boom Boom Mancini knocked him out. I watched that fight with my father when it happened and knew it was over while the doctor explained the significance of his demonstration. I had to force my mother to make the decision to pull the plug or I would, and I almost went to jail for it. This happened in front of my entire family who looked at me with eyes I've never seen look at me before. It was the hardest thing I've ever done that effects me to this day, but I know that I didnt let my dad down, that my love for him and his wishes and happiness superceeded any selfishness that I wanted. The Shiavo case is much different, but she is beyond help to restore her life. Could you look at a person you love live the rest of their days like that? I know I couldnt and I've proven that I would do anything to perserve someone's dying wish.

Bush did break the law. He overturned a federal court's decision on purpose to gain votes. He abused his powers claiming that he didnt have a chance to review the situation. He knew the story for some time before the case. He allowed her to starve for five days to be dramatic, saving her life. If he was so concerned with her life why did he wait? Why didnt he get involved much earlier? The truth, votes and press coverage.

I dont know if she gave that dying wish to her husband or not. Do I think he has done some questionable things since then? Yes to some degree. I dont fault him with wanting to go on with his life, would you want your significant other to live on in solitude? To me that's selfish. Women want to be married to complete their life and I dont think she should have to die to get divorced so he could get remarried. Perhaps a new law could be written to protect a comatose spouse that doesnt negate the insurance. This case has many selfish issues from all parties including the right to lifer's crusade to save a life that once saved give no more assistance or help once they save another. This situation will always be up in the air but he is the legal guardian, not her parents or the government. She cannot be revived, she cannot communicate in any way to demonstrate awareness, and 13 years are far too long to to live life like that.

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Then there is also the question of

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I appreciate your reply b ...

When the medical profession uses extreme means to keep people alive what happens when they run out of resources for this?

They could concieviebly have a full unit of living dead and then get someone from any sought of accident in and lack the means to treat them and they had a good chance of recovering if only the equipment was available but because it was currently in use by others with little to no chance of recovery that person dies needlessly.

This is a very real possibility as these resources are not endless and are limited so unless we are prepared to fund the long term treatment and at the same time make as much of this equipment as necessary available there will always be these decissions that need to be made.

Just one question here when Govener Bush steped in and over rulled the courts did he make any more money available for the necessary medical equipment or for treating this patient?

I for one would think not and like most politions only reacted to his needs of the day for short term political advantage without any long term conquences of that action. We can not ever afford to see a family sent bankrupt in medical bills for a person with little to no hope of recovery.

Even if they made a full recovery what kind of life would they then leed knowing that they where responsible for the finicial situation that their family was now in?

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medical resources

by john_wills In reply to Then there is also the qu ...

As far as I can see, there is no problem with resources in the Schiavo case. A lack of resources can lead to all kinds of bad things: if I give $100 to Birthright I cannot give that $100 to the Coalition on Homelesssness. I can well imagine a situation where it would become impossible to feed Mrs Schiavo without starving one of her children. But that is not the problem. I think we have to distinguish between the obligation to sustain a particular person and the right to do so. If there were no insurance or publicly funded health care the case would be simple: if Mr Schiavo is somehow quit of his obligation to keep his wife fed, and chooses not to keep her fed, it should be open to her family, or indeed to anyone, if they so choose and if they have the resources (i.e. money), to keep her fed.

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