View Full Version : Terri Schiavo: Court decides when you die?

03-18-2005, 07:30 AM
I live in FL, so I hear about this case a lot. In case you're unfamiliar, it's the one with the woman who's been brain dead (basically) for the past 15 years with no reasonable hope of recovery.

However, her family wants to keep her on life support, praying that there's some magical miracle cure right around the corner for her type of hideously extensive brain damage.

There's not.

Even if they were to throw billions of dollars into stem cell research, it wouldn't matter.

Nearly 99% of her neocortex is dead. Gone. Never coming back. There's nothing there. No mind. No personality. No Terri. She has brain functioning which is less than that of a fish (that's not an exaggeration. It's an appropriate comparison, structurally).

However, Gov. Jeb and his congressional cavalry are now trying to draft and implement "emergency legislation" to outlaw the court order allowing her feeding tube to be removed, thus continuing to keep this shell alive. A breathing corpse.

I sympathize with the parents. I can't even imagine the pain one must experience when they lose a child. However, to delude themselves with false hopes that she'll recover and continue to sustain a lifeless body is sick, IMO. It's the fault of two doctors, who told the parents that there's "no way of being 100% certain that there is no higher order brain functioning." Basically, they were saying that there's no way to prove the unprovable.

But, when your neocortex is dead, so are you, so considering the fragile emotional state the parents are in, I find it ethically appauling that those two doctors mentioned that to the parents, when about 100 other experts in the field have disagreed with them.

I think it's a sad day when the government can determine when you die. Is this a sign of things to come, where family members will selfishly sustain your mindless corpse for the sake of their own emotional satisfaction?

Again, I understand the pain they must be going through, but I find their actions disgustingly selfish and, frankly, torturous. Personally, I find the whole situation (but especially the actions of those fighting to keep the body plugged up) deeply, deeply disturbing.

And, if you are spiritual/religious, what affect do you think this would have on your soul (your mind dying yet someone keeping your body alive)?

If you were brain dead, with zero chance of recovery, would you want your body to be plugged up to a bunch of machines for years and years, keeping that shell alive? Or, would you rather have just died in peace, body, mind and spirit together?

Just thought I'd throw out a controversial topic to get a good discussion going.

03-18-2005, 07:42 AM
If I was in Terri's situation, I would want them to just pull the plug. I can sympathize with the parents. It's hard to determine their child's fate. I'm not sure if it was the right thing to do with having the Fl government step in on this matter. But the parents want to hold on what little hope they have left that their daughter is going to get better and maybe they need a reality check. Maybe the best thing for her is to let her go, let her be at peace. Thats just my opinion.

03-18-2005, 08:19 AM
Is she actually comatose?

03-18-2005, 08:33 AM
She's not outwardly "comatose" in the sense that most people understand it (unconscious sleep). But, she is essentially brain dead. There's no higher functioning at all. All PET and CT scans have shown that pretty much her entire neocortex has been obliterated from apoxia.

Neocortex is the outer covering of the brain that basically makes you who you are, in simplest terms, and makes you a person.

The only functioning parts left of her brain are basically her midbrain and hindbrain - things such as her pons, medulla, and cerebellum.

Those parts of the brain control things like the sleep/wake cycle, breathing, heartbeat, and orienting your eyes to stimuli (superior colliculus). All are involuntary reactions and don't require a "thinking brain" to do them.

That's one of the arguments of her parents, that she "looked at" a Mickey Mouse balloon that moved across the room. Well, her eyes oriented to it as it was a new stimulus, but it is an involuntary reaction of the primal parts of her brain. She was never able to replicate that type of reaction because there was never any actual thought behind it.

They say she "smiled" at her mother once, but that was just a muscle reaction, probably stretching, which is also controlled by the lower parts of the brain (stretching is actually a primal movement, not a thoughtful one). There was no intention or thought behind the smile. She also did the same thing, randomly, as the doctor examined her neck, at various intermittent times during the week, etc.

These movements are not voluntary. No part of her brain that controls voluntary movement is still alive. Brain cells (for the most part) don't grow back and never will. Usually someone with brain damage can compensate when another part of their brain takes over (always located in the neocortex). All parts of her brain that could do that (compensate) are dead.

So, while she doesn't appear to be outwardly comatose, as in asleep/unconscious, she is definitely brain dead in the sense that she has no consciousness and no chance of ever recovering consciousness.

It's sad, really. She's basically a fish.

03-18-2005, 08:36 AM
From what I've read of the case, Jenna, she isn't precisely comatose--but there isn't enough cerebral function for her to regain awareness.

The family is pretty squeamish about removing the feeding tube, though, because the result is that she essentially starves to death--not a pretty way to go.

Her husband is the one fighting her parents/biological family for her right to die.

03-18-2005, 09:20 AM
My opinion? She's already dead as a person, and her parents are in denial about it.

03-18-2005, 03:09 PM
Brain injury is a subject close to my heart, as I used to work in a brain injury re-hab unit. Most people don't understand that your brain is essentially you.
There are people in there who have fallen off rooves or been hit by busses, had very nasty viruses and such, who are un-recognisable to their families.
Someone who was a kind and love father can now not only be a permantly violent wreck who refuses to acknowledge his own children, but also it's the little things. Someone who used to hate coffee might suddenly drink it by the gallon, where there used to be an afinity for animals or children and such, there is nothing, or vice versa.
They should let her go. They can't rebuild a broken brain, as although connections can remake themselves with time, they are usually related more to physical movement and functions and frequently practiced therapies. They won't get their girl back. I have seen people manage to learn their own names again, to hold a spoon, but this takes a very long time and these people a certain level of brain activity to start with.

aka eraser
03-18-2005, 06:48 PM
I don't know what I'd do. It's a heart-wrenching situation and a gut-wrenching decision. I pray never to be in the position of having to make it.

03-18-2005, 08:08 PM

Is this the case where the husband wants the life support taken off because he knows his wife didn't want it and the parents are fighting him about it?

If it is the same case, I heard on the news just the other day that some businessman offered one million dollars to the husband to try to bribe him into letting the parents have their way. I think the whole situation is sad.

My oldest daughter and I have a difference of opinion in cases like this. I would not want to be kept alive by artificial means and have me or my family put through such an ordeal. My oldest daughter, on the other hand, says "but, mom, what if a few years down the road they find a cure?" My answer is "then the cure came too late for me." This is the very reason there are "living wills," which allow you to state exactly what you want in situations as these.

I had a stroke at age 38. It took me six months of rehab to get my speech back and learn to walk again. After 14 years, I'm still relearning everything that I "once" had stored in my brain. I was lucky. I still joke about my "dead zone" when words won't come to mind. In fact, it is my sense of humor that kept me going. Had my stroke been worse and I had been in a vegetative state, I wouldn’t want to be hooked up to machines. As a writer, there was nothing worse to me than losing part of what made me who I am.

My heart goes out to Terri’s parents, but I also think they’re selfish. This poor girl is not living a life she dreamed of living.


03-18-2005, 08:22 PM
Boy, that's a tough situation. I think it would be so much easier if she was actually comatose... then the parents wouldn't "see" their daughter there. But because she's actually awake... how do you pull the plug on someone and watch her die?

I just don't know how I would feel in that situation. Is she in any pain? Is she suffering at all? (If there's no brain function, she can't be self-aware enough to know about her condition.) I guess my question is, how does it harm her to keep her alive?

Three out of four of my grandparents starved to death. Horrible freakin' way to go.

Sheryl Nantus
03-18-2005, 08:25 PM
I think everyone in the media's forgotten a basic fact here.

She's not going to die (or cease movement, or whatever) the minute they pull the feeding tube.

oh, no.


My family went through this decision with my grandfather almost twenty years ago. He had a genetic disease that curled him up into a ball, but his brain was still functioning. At one point, however, he was so sick with pneumonia that the doctor spoke to my grandmother about stopping medical intervention and allowing nature to take it's course as it were.

He then explained to my grandmother that when you pull the feeding tube, a person doesn't just die. The body reacts like every other thing in the world when you pull main nourishment - it begins to eat itself. Your stomach hurts; your bones ache and you turn into those pictures we all winced about of starving African children in Somalia and elsewhere. Your body doesn't know you want to die so it keeps on working and working, shutting down organs and devouring muscle and tissue to stay alive.

Meanwhile, the person is in a lot of pain. A LOT of pain. This isn't like turning off a respirator and the lungs stop moving. You can live for up to TWO weeks in this state before your body gives up and you die.

We jail people who do this to animals. We spend millions on foreign aid to help starving children elsewhere. But we have no problems pulling a feeding tube and allowing a person, vegetable or not, coherent or not, alive or not, to literally starve to death before our very eyes.

Better to just take a gun and shoot her between the eyes - be faster and more efficient. Let her husband do it, since he seems to be all eager to help her "move on."

'nuff said.

Betty W01
03-18-2005, 08:34 PM
I have lost a child (suddenly in a freak car accident), so I can sympathize with the parents. What an awful spot to be in. I agree with Frank and Mac, too, though. I hope I'm never faced with something like that. Is she breathing on her own, heart beating by itself, and so on? I guess I'd say, taking someone off artificial life support is one thing. Taking someone off food and water and allowing her to starve to death is quite another, no matter how she is functioning.

It seems to me like saying, well, if you can't produce, converse, move around, be part of society anymore, then you'd be better off dead. That's a pretty slippery slope. At what point does it become a twisted form of playing God - you have value [whatever that means] to society, so you can live. You don't, so you die, and since you won't die on your own, we'll starve you to death. Where do you draw the line?

And I have to wonder - is the husband her heir? If so, I'd be a little suspicious about his desire to take out the feeding tube. At the very least, it presents a conflict of interest.

My heart goes out to everyone involved in that sad situation.

03-18-2005, 08:44 PM
Didn't the woman already express the wish to be let go? That the husband was trying to carry out her wish?

That's why we should always have a living will. I mean in such a case, even your next of kin can't make the call, because the court/government is going to intervene.

I can sympathize with both sides. But I think it's wrong for the government to intervene. What does Jeb Bush know about his woman and her family? Who makes him King to try to decide?

And let me ask: what is the benefit for keeping this woman alive? Is there any chance she would come back and lead a normal life again?

I think the parents are selfish, too. They're not thinking of their daughter's quality of life, but their own selfish emotion because they don't want to let her go. If she's brain dead like Optimus said she was, there's no reason why she should be kept "alive" because she's not "alive." IF she is "brain dead" -- she wouldn't even feel the pain. I don't believe in starving her to death -- that's just cruel.

I think the doctor should enthanize her.

We do that to pets because we love them and we don't want them to suffer. Why can't we do the same to people we love?

Like Reph, I think the parents in denial, and they're selfish.

A friend of mine -- his mother died of cancer. There was no hope whatsoever, and the family had to watch her dwindle to death. There was no quality of life, $$$ was spent keeping her alive, she was suffering from all kinds of pain and indiginity. They couldn't do anything for her. She died at the hospital after three months of pain and suffering. All they could do was to see her suffer and eventually die.

And the family finally asked, after the whole ordeal, why? They wish they could have a way to let her go before she lingered in pain for three months, without dignity.

I think letting someone linger and die in pain is the cruelist thing you can do to them.

When I go, I want to go in dignity. I don't want to go in pain and in bed with crap all over me and to see my loved ones suffer as much as I do.

03-18-2005, 08:52 PM
I have heard a lot about this case too and just thought I would mention a couple things. She is not on life support, only on feeding tubes, so as somsone else said she would starve to death which could take a couple weeks.
Also, this woman's husband (allegedly) has not allowed her to have any rehab since this happened, nor has she been allowed to have many visitors. She's doesn't have a radio or television. Something about the husband doesn't seem right to me.
I cannot imagine being in this womans situation for 15 years. Not being able to let out her screams for help or something, whatever it may be. Bf and I were talking about this last night and he was as emotional about it as I was.
I don't know if anyone here listens to Coast to Coast (radio program) but there was a woman on who had a stroke and the doctors told her husband they should just pull the plugs and he said no. What happened was she was aware of everything and couldn't let anyone know that! Finally her husband got her blinking signals and now she is a talking, walking (still slightly paralized on her left side) woman.
I wonder if Terri's husband allowed her in the beginning to have some kind of rehab, would she be okay? Maybe after 15 years it is too late for that now.
I am not an expert in this area, I am just throwing out ideas.
Another thing that crossed my mind, if he knew his wife wanted this WHY has it taken 15 years? I've only been hearing about this for the past 2.
Maybe a verbal contract in this kind of situation doesn't work...always put this kind of thing in writing (on video even), make it clear from your own self.

Tough tough situation. :(

03-18-2005, 09:10 PM
I don't know how you do it in America, but in my experience of withdrawing feeding tubes we also withdraw all drips, therefore people don't starve to death, they die of dehydration first. This only takes a couple of days usually, and as someone said, if brain dead, there is no pain felt.

Also, with withdrawal morphine is usually also the norm, and this not only slows the heart rate to help the situation along, but also removes all pain and any hint of consciousness with a large enough dose. So in a way, with the morphine and dehydration, a form of euthenasia is taking place, albeit a bit slow, but that way it's legal.
I have never known a case of someone being left to starve for two weeks.

Every case is different and I think there does need to be a certain amount of legal intervention to make sure no one takes advantage of the situation, but generally, the only way to make a serious kind of brain injury better is with the aid of a time machine.

Betty W01
03-18-2005, 09:12 PM
People are not pets, to be "put to sleep" at the whim of an owner. And to start asking about someone's "quality of life" in order to decide whether they live or die is a very slippery slope. Who decides that? What do they base it on?

I would think that history would have taught us the danger of someone choosing life or death for someone else based on the one in charge's thoughts on their victim's "quality of life" or "human value" or whatever. Think about the slaves in the south, who were considered on a level with animals, and whose life or death was at the whim of an owner. Kind of like a pet, maybe? Some owners treated their slaves well. Others treated them worse than they treated their livestock. Either way, they were treating people like property, like animals, like something with no intrinsic value, despite the Bible (which most of them would have claimed to believe in) having a lot to say about how to treat other humans. Of course, they didn't think Africans *were* human...

Or consider Hitler's treatment of anyone who wasn't a purebred Aryan. (Ironic, that, since he wasn't purebred, either.) The Jews had no human value, no value at all, in his eyes, not even doctors and lawyers and scientists (inividuals whose abilities would make them valuable, you'd think) and the treatment of the Jews at the hands of his followers included examples of some of the worst treatment humans can inflict on one another.

I remember once reading a quote something like this: God gives life to each one of us, and He decides when that life will end. Mankind does not have this gift. We cannot create life from nothing. We cannot grant life to someone God has marked for death or raise from death someone who has already died. Only God Himself can do those things. Therefore, it would behoove us to be really careful about deciding to take life away from someone.

I liked that.

03-18-2005, 09:48 PM
But in this case, the woman is brain dead. It's not a naive, emotional judgement. It's medically proven that this woman won't "come back." To keep her on a feeding tube, to me, is more cruel than letting nature take its course.

A brain dead woman is different than a slave who's been treated badly, or a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany.

I'm not saying humans are the same as animals. I'm saying the feelings are similar. We euthanize a pet because we don't want it to suffer -- we want to do what's best for them, despite our own selfish feelings about death. Because we love our pet. Why can't we feel the same about someone we love when we know that there's no quality of life possible (as in this woman's case, when she's medically brain dead).

My cat died in December, after close to 2 months of "treatments" administered by me. The illness was terminal -- the vets had already given up hope, but I wanted to try. I kept wishing she would get better and have a better life, but she didn't. She suffered so much. After she died, I wish I had taken her to be euthanized, instead of subjecting her to all that treatment and suffering (IVs, force feeding, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. etc.) When she died, her spirit was completely gone, and I didn't think she appreciated me at all.

That made me really sad. I wish I had let her go with more dignity. I have to live with that regret now.

Obviously, I'm not advocating euthanizing a human being under any circumstance. That's just absurd. But in some cases, personally I'd specify in my living will to be euthanized. Leave me some dignity, please.

I don't want to bring religion or faith into this discussion, because this shouldn't be about religious beliefs. Still, I think we ARE playing GOD when we forcefully keep someone alive, when she is already brain dead -- when nature already tells us: she's dead. What would God do if the woman were left on her own without all these tubes stuck in her? God would have taken her into heaven. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. If we believe in God, we should know that death is only the beginning. And death is not to be feared.

To me, God has told us she's dead. It's the human who's playing God, keeping her body functioning with a feeding tube.

To me, none of these people (the husband, the parents, Jeb Bush) are thinking what's best for the poor woman. They're all selfish. They all have their own agendas. And I think that's the saddest part of the story.

03-18-2005, 10:04 PM
Lately, I came across some interesting facts and new twists in this, um, event.

I learned that her husband was approached twice and offered money not to pull the plug on her. One recent offer was for a million which he turned down. To be fair, it was also pointed out by the writer of the news article that he no longer has a say since the courts decided the matter. Even if he took the money, he couldn't stop it.

However, I also learned that he was offered ten million much earlier, apparently when he did have some control over the outcome. He refused that as well. Taken together, I don't think this is about any money as far as he's concerned.

Now for the interesting twist. It appears that Congress is stalling the removal of the feeding tube by calling her as a witness. That means Federal agents are now tasked with the responsibility of keeping her alive even though we know she's unable to testify and probably never will. Still, it's a novel approach which I dare say we will see repeated someday in some other case, perhaps one involving a death row convict.

03-18-2005, 10:06 PM
Makes me glad I have a living will.

When governments try to muck with your lives...

03-18-2005, 10:29 PM
I think we ARE playing GOD when we forcefully keep someone alive, when she is already brain dead -- when nature already tells us: she's dead. What would God do if the woman were left on her own without all these tubes stuck in her?

Very, very ture.
The things that are done to people to keep them alive are playing god in themselves, therefore we are forced into making these decisions.
The world would be one hell of an over crowded place if every nation had access to these facilites.

To genuinely not play god in any case we have to have no intervention, and see what happens.

There is a little girl in this country who is very disabed and after years of treatment doctors are refusing to resussitate, and her parents have been to court to fight this.
Their plea was rejected, but since then, their daughter has started to respond to treatment and making leaps forward.
Whether it has anything to do with a God or not is irrelevant to me. As I see it she wants to live, and so she's doing her best to do that, regardless of doctors or machines.

There is a section of the brain injury unit where I worked which is nothing but people with no brain activity. Rooms and rooms full of people not capable of doing anything other than breathing. It's a strange sight to see so many beds, so many sad stories, and so much nothingness. It really is soul destroying, and not many nurses stay long, as it seems to defeat the object of nursing. You know that nothing you do makes any difference, and no one is getting any better, just made steadily worse with the effects of inactivity.

We do need to be careful, but we shouldn't forget we are just human animals after all. We have to die one day, and I think if your time comes and you are held back from it artificially to the point of barely exisiting anymore, that's interfering with the natural process of the world.

And now for the bit where I make everyone hate me.
I have financial motvies too.
In a country where there is a national health service, we all contribute, and it's a case of first-ill first-served.
It costs approx £500 (an underestimation to be safe) a week to keep a person in this state, that's about $900. That money is paid out of the fund that everyone in this country has to pay into. Meanwhile, a person (even a child) that might need expensive cancer treatment can be deprived, and have to either raise the moeny themselves or suffer and/or die. It means that people with serious painful and treatable illness can be left to the side as they happened to get ill after the braindead person. That's about £24,000 a year, and the unit had 20 beds, so nearly half a million a year. If you add the outside costs of doctors and drugs not footed by the home, it gets even bigger. Then consider these homes are hidden away all over the country, and million and millions are being spent. Compare to the benefits of an air ambulance, something that saves so many lives, but because of funding there are only a few.
I have stood and watched so many people die who didn't have to, and although I don't want to weigh one life against another, when there is limited funding and a child with a future suffers or dies because a braindead person is kept stable, we have to ask ourselves if we are using our medical skills in the best way.

That's how it is in some national health systems anyway.

03-18-2005, 10:57 PM
My dad had a stroke which eventually led to dementia. He had a living will stating he did not want to be kept alive by "any" type of artificial means including feeding tubes or IV's. Dementia eventually takes over the brain function and the person stops eating. Yes, he stopped eating, due to the disease he had. By this point he quit talking, but he was aware of what we said and nodded his head. We tried coaxing him to eat, but he pursed his lips, frowned in anger, and pushed the food away. Within a few weeks his body began to shut down. A night duty doctor, who didn't see the "living will" in my dad's file, told a nurse to put an IV in his arm for nourishment. By morning, my dad had pulled it out. Watching someone die is not an easy thing, especially when you know they are starving and wasting away to nothing. I do know that even though my dad had dementia, he still had moments of awareness and one of those moments was when he pulled out the IV he didn’t want.

Poor Terri may not even have that ability. But she did tell her husband she didn't want this.


03-19-2005, 12:00 AM
I guess I'd say, taking someone off artificial life support is one thing. Taking someone off food and water and allowing her to starve to death is quite another, no matter how she is functioning.
Both choices seem like positive acts: doing something, as opposed to doing nothing. Either of them would seem like a negative act (doing nothing) if we take the view that starting life support was the "something" and stopping it reverses that act and restores the original condition of "The doctors aren't doing anything."

A bias is built into the way people think about what amounts to doing something and what doesn't. I don't think we're always rational in making such evaluations. When we view a person's behavior as doing something, we tend to attribute greater responsibility, whether or not our view of the behavior as a "something" is more correct than other ways to look at it. However, the law recognizes negligence – failure to act – as culpable, too.

03-19-2005, 12:33 AM
I also live in Florida so I hear about this case all the time and frankly I'm steaming mad about it. Terri as a person has been dead for 16 years -- 16 years...think about that. The parents want to make the husband out to be a monster -- as do some of the posters here -- but she has been like this for 16 years! All of the things the parents are claiming signal her beign alive, are involuntary reflexes...the only reason she woudl have to starve to death as Sheryl likes to point out, is becuase this country won't allow people to humanely end thier lives. The people who are protesting the feeding tube being taken out are the same people who protest medical advancements with things liek stem cell research -- pick a side already! They want to "save" her for a cure, but they are against all advancements in medicine..Duh! it makes me sickthe way that the government feels that they have a right to step in...this is a personal matter...and these same "spiritual" people who are protesting are the ones who say that a husband and wife's bond takes precedence over the parents...that would mean these people are being hypocritical in saying that its not the husband's decision...I'm getting so mad I think I might go down there and protest against the protestors! (not really but I'm really tired of these people who are out there praying to keep her alive when if you think about it 16 years of prayer should have already helped her improve somewhat if it was going to help at all.)

03-19-2005, 12:57 AM
I have a living will and a medical power of attorney as well, but in case that fails, I am putting all of you on notice that I do not want to be on life support or a feeding tube, nor do I want any extreme life saving measures to be taken.

Brady H.

03-19-2005, 12:59 AM
I'm there, Brady. Done it before, can do it again--and I can stare down any doctor when I know I'm right...

03-19-2005, 02:20 AM
This issue is so sad; I really feel for her parents who are hanging onto anything at this point. But they're in deep denial and really aren't acting logically.

I believe Terri Schiavo died 16 years ago. Yes, starving her to death is cruel. But if one of her doctors did the kind thing -- slip her a syringeful of potassium chloride, so she'd die peacefully, otherwise known as euthanasia -- you can bet Jeb Bush et al would indict him or her for murder.

Everyone makes the case "what about that one patient who the doctors said s/he was dead and then they woke up." Well, this isn't a patient who has been ill for a short period and might regain function. Ms. Schaivo has been in a persistent vegetative state for 16 years. The sad truth is that she's not going to get better, with or without therapy, no matter what her parents think.

My prayers go out to everyone involved.

edited to add: If you don't want this to happen to you, get a lawyer, and have a living will. Then your doctors will be able to act without being second guessed by your family.

03-19-2005, 06:00 AM
As we all seem to agree, there's no easy answer.

I live about five miles from where Terri is. I went down today out of inquisitiveness and to support her husband's right to let her go and take her out of the purgatory that has been her life for 15 years.

The crowd was mostly composed of religious fanatics; the other side was under represented in numbers, but I think, well represented in the quality of their opinions.

IMHO, her parent's are obsessed with keeping her under their watchful eyes. They are delusional, similar to Michael Jackson, and truly believe they are doing the right thing.

More later, I'm anxious to see the Schindlers on Larry King, starting right about now (9 pm).


03-19-2005, 06:11 AM
Both my mother and my grandmother, when cancer had taken them to the point of no return, stopped eating and drinking. Both went to a hospice house. My grandmother in the early 80's when they would not give morphine because she might "get addicted." How dang f'n dumb was that?

A lot has changed since then.

My mom was given pain meds if she wanted them. They took care of her in a dignified manner. It took her 5 days to die. She did drink a little here and there, ate a few bites of things--but she was ready to go.

My great aunt on the other hand, after a stroke that stripped her life, was taken home where she spent the next 15 years in a wheel chair brushing the table with one hand and asking to be "put down." (farm raised, you put down a disabled animal that had no hope of recovery) Her brothers fed her, by force if they had to.

Death should be a choice. Perhaps it's my background--many native tribes accepted that when a person was very very ill, or aged, or a burden on themselves or others that the person would go out into the wilderness and die. (often in deep winter)

How can we say that medical intervention is allowed by "god" but taking it away is against god? How can one be natural and the other not? If you get cancer and you don't do what is needed to fight it--you die. With no intervention you die, simple as that. If you believe that some higher form of being gave you the illness or could take it away, then why any treatments at all?

Simply let life, as controlled by the higher being take its course. If the "god" wants you to live, then you will, if it doesn't, then you die.

But how do we determine if a person has the right to die--that seems to be the question--who says when we die?

The answer is in the living will--but even those have been fought. And so many people don't think they need a living will or medical power of attorney--they are too young or don't want to think about it.

So then big brother steps in, parents and spouses and so on.

And what if the scans are wrong? HMMMMM--that's got to be what her parents are thinking--what if the scans are wrong? What if she's still in there?

And if the courts say OK--she dies, then what about the downs syndrom child? What about Aunt Mary who needs help eating, or John whose body no longer functions but he is still all there? How do we determine who the reaper visits?

There is no easy answer.

Brain dead? But do we really understand the way the brain works? We think we do. We can look at this picture and that one and say uh huh, no function. But where does the spirit reside? Where is the soul?

Locked in the "brain dead" body?

Gone already?

as I said, no easy answer.

If we allow the government to decide when someone is "gone" then what?

<shakes head>

I know what I would do if I were her parents. I'd let her go.

And that's what it boils down to---PERSONAL choice.

The government has no right to decide what we do with our body. And we have to provide a living will to assure that our wishes be known. Otherwise we face the same fate as this poor woman.

So, if nothing else, take responsibility and go make out that living will.


03-21-2005, 04:12 AM
I am the father of two girls.

If I were in the same position as Terri Schiavo's parents and I believed that there was a glimmer of hope, no matter how remote it might be, that my daughter could get better AND I believed that there could be some impropriety on the part of the husband, I would do the exact same thing that her parents are doing.

This is NOT a left-wing, right-wing thing. The only reason the government is involved in this matter is because her parents feel, and perhaps rightly so, that the court system has failed not only them but Terri Schiavo as well. Again, if I were in the same situation, I would fight like hell to keep my daughter alive.

The problem is that there is no living will in force. All anyone has to go on is the word of Terri's husband. And again, there are questions about his motivation here. He obviously wants to move on with his life. Great. Sign the guardianship over to her parents, divorce her, and go on. Why does she have to die in the process.

I do feel for her parents. I can't even begin to fathom what they've gone through and what they will go through if they lose this battle. There are no easy answers here but I can't blame them for doing what they're doing. I wouldn't call it selfishness; I would call it love.

03-21-2005, 04:19 AM
I do feel for her parents.

But you see, that's the problem right there. This should NEVER be about the parents, or the husband, or the government. It should be about Terri. I mean, if the husband wants to let his wife die in dignity, suddenly he has ulterior motive and he's a monster. If the parents want to keep her on feeding tube for, I don't know... the next 15 years, and suddenly they're loving parents?

Let ask ourselves, what is best for Terri?

What would you do if you were her, and you had a way to tell your loved ones what to do.

Shouldn't it be her decision? The problem with this case is there is no living will. And the court is trying to take away Terri's husband's right as a spouse.

If the court wins, it will open a BIG can of worms. What's next? That living will can be challenged now because of supect of "foul play" or coercion? Can someone choose to die in peace anymore?

Maybe the husband should walk away with all this. Let the parents have Terri, and take care of her for however long it takes. Get on with his life. He could do that.

But he's not. Maybe he does love her, don't you think?

03-21-2005, 04:30 AM
I am the mother of four children. If any one of them were in the condition of Teri, I would not want them to have to go on that way.


03-21-2005, 04:37 AM
if nothing else, take responsibility and go make out that living will.

Problem is, I don't think I'm going to know how I feel about it until I get there, and by then it'll be too late!

Too many variables.

03-21-2005, 05:48 AM
I can certainly see both agonizing sides in the Schiavo debate, and I have only been certain of one thing: I am blessed to not be making the decision.

But once again, I am discomfited by the government's arrogant involvement in what will be the most intimate decision loved ones must make (completely legally): Whether a life must end. The husband's pain of deciding ... and in the case of Terri's parents, not having any control ... must be inestimable. The government's intrusion at this point seems motivated only by political ends.

I cannot see where the government's singling-out of this one case is not comparable to the entire weight of government injecting itself into one 16-year-old girl's legal and personal right to decide to get an abortion. Abortion is legal, and the decision to allow Terri to die, too, is legal. To me, it's not the role of government to rally against what is legal, but to decide -- and to live by -- the decisions our democracy makes.

03-21-2005, 06:32 AM
I am the mother of four children. If any one of them were in the condition of Teri, I would not want them to have to go on that way.


I respect that.

God willing, none of us will ever be put in that position.

03-21-2005, 08:09 AM
I have never questioned if her husband loved her--. After all we tell our mates things we would not tell our parents or our children.

And I can understand the way her parents feel. If not from the other end, when my own mother decided to not do chemo, and to just die. She didn't even fight it. I had nothing to say about it.

It was her choice.

It should be Teri's choice. It can't be. Her wishes are a question. Her husband says she would not have wanted to go on as she is. The media and her parents say--he only wants her out of the way.

BUT, he could do that. He could just sign her over to her parents, he could divorce her and go on with his life.

I still say that everyone should have a living will. Think about those you love having to make the same sort of choices that Teri's parents and her husband now have to make. The fights, the media--and so on.

That will is more about those you love than you.


03-21-2005, 05:34 PM
From my morning paper:

"Hospitals can provide information about advance directives to people in their communities, according to the U.S. Living Will Registry. The registry electronically stores advance directives and makes them available to health care providers 24 hours a day via secure Internet connection or by fax. Its Web site, www.uslivingwillregistry.com, has information and links to state-specific living wills that can be lownloaded free of charge."

My husband (who had a life threatening illness some time ago) has long had a living will, but he reminds me that I need one, too. Our college-age kids will be home for spring break soon, and we intend to make a family event of it--the wants of everybody in this household will be on record.

(A durable power of attorney which activates only on your spouse's incapacity is also a good idea.)

I hope this case goads us all into making sure it won't happen to us.


03-22-2005, 12:09 AM
This issue is so sad; I really feel for her parents who are hanging onto anything at this point. But they're in deep denial and really aren't acting logically.The radio just had an interview with the mother, who gushed how Terri responds to her when she talks to her, and how when she told Terri how awful it was she couldn’t tell everyone to let her live...Terri got extremely upset. Now, of course, the mother interpreted this as Terri saying "yes, I want to live"...but listening to it, I got a decidedly different impression.

03-22-2005, 12:09 AM
Bill Frisk is such a hypocrite. Here's a physician-turned-politician who would not dispute, even when asked directly by the media, that kissing and patting would lead to AIDS and pregnancy (as described in a religon-sponsored pamphlet). And here is the physician-turned-politician who said Terri Shiavo has cognitive functions, telling that her doctors were all wrong, without personally examining her, not even once. The more I read about this guy, the more I despise him. Here's a politicians who have sold his soul for the power of his party.

Despite what your personal feelings about this case is... these politicians make me sick to my stomach. Some have to sink so low to call her husband "abusive" -- there is ABSOLUTELY no evidence that her husband has been abusive and less than loving. Leave the poor guy alone -- he's already lost a wife.


03-22-2005, 12:12 AM
The radio just had an interview with the mother, who gushed how Terri responds to her when she talks to her, and how when she told Terri how awful it was she couldn’t tell everyone to let her live...Terri got extremely upset. Now, of course, the mother interpreted this as Terri saying "yes, I wan't to live"...but listening to it, I got a decidedly different impression.

The mother is in extreme denial. I do sympathize with her, but she's not listening to anyone, and she's only hurting her daughter and everyone who loves her.

03-22-2005, 02:37 AM
Suddenly the government seeks to dissolve the decisions of the Florida State courts. The Supreme Court has refused to hear the case.

Since when does Congress get to override the courts? I'm no lawyer, but I thought I read something about the checks and balances of the three branch government.

And I agree, Shawn -- if it happened to my kids, I'd let them have peace.

I don't think Mr. Schiavo is a monster. If this were happening to me, I'd hope that my husband would do the same thing. (Thankfully, it wouldn't. I've got a living will, and a durable power of attorney.)

03-22-2005, 02:59 AM
This is frustratingly similar to the Elian Gonzalez case from 1999 in some ways. There, too, the government was willing to go to extreme measures to override the state courts as well as the rights of an individual, in this case to take a child away from his father simply b/c they did not agree with the father's political views. The media helped irrational relatives villify the man, and Congress tried to introduce a bill specific to the circumstances in order to prevent Elian's father taking him home. It was political egotism that bordered on the surreal, much the same here.

An interesting thought occurs to me: for all those Christians who supposedly believe in a better place in the hereafter, they sure fight like the dickens to keep people here. One would think they would want the woman to finally find peace in the Elysian fields instead of lying trapped in a body that no longer functions and is confined to a bed, which is no life at all, brain dead or not. Seems there is more fear of death in this case than faith in God's victory over death.

03-22-2005, 03:00 AM
Hey all, dont post alot, but want to say a few things here. I work for a hospice, and day in and out i see people die. We have discharged many feeding tubes, and to be truthful and rather blunt, most doctors do not know about end of life events. When a person is terminal, they will stop eating on their own, and the body begins to use the mussle tissue as nourishment to fuel the shutting down process. When the body is ready to shut down, if you use artificial means to feed it it can create a great pressure in the digestive track, which wants to stop working. Urination and defication have already slowed or stoped, and the body has no where to move the feedings to. This creates pain and discomfort, not sustinance. The process of dying is not painful for the most part, and although there might be some hunger pains at first, they do subside after a day or two, if they occur at all, and the patient expierences almost a euphoria state, feeling no pain or discomfort at all, and at times becoming more active and talkative as a result. Terri is at a hospice, which means that she is in a state that SHOULD cause death in 6 months or less, although in her case this is not so, but her state persistis. She needs to be let go of, religion and personal feelings aside. Consider this, if they say that she has some thought left, with no hope of being rehabilitated, what war is she fighting in her head knowing what state she is in. A fate worse than death if you ask me.

Off the soap box now....

03-22-2005, 03:35 AM
My point exaclty. I spent time in a hospice with both my mother and my grandmother. My mother in Oct of last year.

I can't tell you how much I appreciated all they did for her there. Anyone who works in a Hospice should be given a medal, should be thanked often---

And I agree about the "off they go to a better place"--if they really believe that then why the fight to stay here?


03-22-2005, 04:52 AM
Maybe this has been asked... but in decideing all this... ask your selfs these questions:
2. Why did he wait 7 years into all of this and then decide to bring up Terry's wishes..?
Just some questions among others that I have.

03-22-2005, 05:21 AM
Maybe this has been asked... but in decideing all this... ask your selfs these questions:
2. Why did he wait 7 years into all of this and then decide to bring up Terry's wishes..?
Just some questions among others that I have.
1. The husband didn't. It's standard hospital procedure. Believe me, in an emergency situation you're not going to get a physician to do anything less, even in the face of a living will.
2. The husband waited only two years past the definitive diagnosis, and spent most of that trying to do things short of a lawsuit and somehow work things out with the parents.
:Soapbox: It's one thing for parents to love their children. It's another thing entirely to never let them go. Note that the one thing that the media has not covered—which leads me to believe it's not favorable—is Terry Schiavo's relationship with her parents as an adult. We've heard the usual platitudes, but no details.
There are no winners in this sad situation. The least we can do is let the rule of law be the rule of law, because as insufficient as it can be in hard cases, it does a helluva lot better in more instances than any other decisional system. It's one thing to think about measures for the future; it's entirely another to violate the Constitution as Congress and President Bush did.

03-22-2005, 05:25 AM
violate the Constitution as Congress and President Bush did.

It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.

03-22-2005, 05:28 AM
Maybe this has been asked... but in decideing all this... ask your selfs these questions:
2. Why did he wait 7 years into all of this and then decide to bring up Terry's wishes..?
Just some questions among others that I have.

Or let me put it this way, if you or your spouse is 98-99% brain dead with no chance of rehabitation -- meaning even if you "wake up," you won't be able to function as a vegetable, let alone a person, what would you do?

It's one thing to value a person's life, it's another to keep him/her alive in that state. Personally I think that is one of the cruelest things you can do to someone you love.

03-22-2005, 05:46 AM
It's one thing to value a person's life, it's another to keep him/her alive in that state. Personally I think that is one of the cruelest things you can do to someone you love.

Personally--I agree. More than agree. Mom keeps speaking of the way they communicate--but why hasn't anyone else seen this?

I am reminded of a Law and Order I saw. The son was autistic--basically non-functional. He went to this school were they used shock therapy to subdue him. His mother really really believed that the boy (adult) communicated with her. They proved that he wasn't. She'd been talking to herself for several years--she saw what she wanted to.

I think that's the case here. Teri's mom is seeing what she wants to--Oh look, she smiled at me, Oh look, she cried, Oh look, she looked at me.

If Teri can do all this, then why wouldn't she "tell" a doctor what she wants? If she can become excited, smile, and look at someone, then why hasn't she answered the question--Teri do you want to go on, smile if you do.

It should be as simple as that. But she hasn't--doctors have not been able to replicate any of the mother's claims.


03-22-2005, 05:56 AM
sorry for my rant earlier, just hits hard in my line of work when something like this happens. It is really a case of education and knowledge. Just a little fact. only 20% of people have a living will or a DNR in place, and if more had it, this would have never happened. Just goes to prove that people are not educated and prepaired for end of life issues many times.

And i just would like to point out that the "smile" they keep talking about is a slack jawed expression typical of people with head injuries, seen it many times in martial arts tourneys, and trust me, they aint smiling after taking a hit that leaves them with that expression.


03-22-2005, 09:22 AM
I work in a veterinary clinic and we have access to the drug 'Euthanol'. It's the solution used to humanely end the life of an animal, by injection. I jokingly told my boss the other day, that I was going to slowly siphon off some of it every month, so that in a about a year or so, I'll have enough to off myself ( with a little help hopefully) if ever I end up anywhere remotely near a brain dead state like that. My coworker is a nursing student, training below the palliative care floor in the geriatric section... the stories I've heard are ghastly.

There are worse things in life than death. There are laws that prevent animals from suffering as this poor woman is. Euthanasia is truly a gift when performed for the 'right' reasons. I hope that soon, this poor soul is finally at rest.

Lady Brick
03-22-2005, 11:00 AM
The thing that makes me really sick is that so many people on both sides obviously see Terri as a pawn to further thier own agendas. Everyone talks about about how this tragedy proves that _______, but I wonder how many actually took the time to think about who this woman was before this happened. I know she didn't have a living will (I think she was only about 26 when the accident happened) but still, she was an actual person, and this should be about what SHE wanted. Her husband seems to be the one who is focused on that.

My wishful thinking is that as soome as she reached the point where she was brain dead, her soul moved on. If the right-to-lifers actually took the time to consider with what God wanted, maybe they would see it is slightly different then them shouting what they want in His name.

03-22-2005, 11:49 AM
My wishful thinking is that as soome as she reached the point where she was brain dead, her soul moved on.

I honestly think that is sometimes the case.
In my day job as an embalmer we test for death first, but I just know, it's pretty obvious. You can walk into a room full of people but still feel very alone.
In my night and old job as a nurse I used to be able to tell from across the room if someone had gone, simply as I feel alone in the room. Rather like the old caveman-dinosaur-predator knowledge of being watched.

When I worked with brain injured people, sometimes I would sit with people for hours as I monitored specific situations (mis-behaving peg feeds etc), and you could feel them there. See tiny responses, and that feeling you get when someone is listening to you as opposed to when you are being ignored.
Although, sometimes I truly felt alone in the room. Even with someone that was capable of opening their eyes. Their bodies were being kept alive, but I honestly think they'd died.

The link is brain activity. Some watch you with knowing eyes, and it's no surprise when you check the care plan and see their level of function. Other have nothing, but it's not necessary to check the plan, you can just feel it. The room is empty. The chances are Terri has gone.

03-22-2005, 09:37 PM
I think it's worthwhile to point out that Terri's condition predates the first President Bush signing the bill into law that formalized advanced directives.

No matter what her expressed wishes were, no matter what her husband told the doctors, even if she'd had a living will--she likely would have ended up in the same circumstances.

03-22-2005, 10:39 PM
There was a woman on the radio saying "If you don't feed and give water to an animal, that's animal cruelty. How could you do that to a human being?"

She couldn't understand the difference between not giving food and water to a HEALTHY pet and putting the pet to sleep when they're not treatable. The problem is, doctors can't "put people to sleep." Because of that, they have no choice but to take away the feeding tube. Now they're using that to say the doctors are cruel -- hey, they would euthanize her if they could. Some people can be so ignorant.

03-23-2005, 02:20 AM
This whole situation outrages me. If you trully love someone you have to let them go...am I the only one that's heard that saying?

I'm a Catholic. I am against abortion and the death penalty (to an extent), but I am in favor of a person's right to choose death. I don't want to be kept alive wasting away on a hospital bed. I want to die as the man I was and as God intended. If my family trully loved me, they would end my pain and humiliation and let me go. Then, if they really loved me, they would use the money they saved from keeping me on lifesupport and start a fund in my name to provide medical expenses to people who might actually recover. I would want that. That would help me rest in peace.

People use the bible to defend keeping her alive and it makes no sense to me. If you have faith, if God wants her to live, then she will live without the intervention of science. To extend life un-naturally, and without any quality of life, is wrong to me. People act like dying is the worst thing that can happen to you. If you have Christian faith, it's one of the best things that can happen to you. Funerals aren't for the deceased, they're dead and don't care, funerals are for the living who are mourning. Terri is not the only one suffering, everyone around her has been tortured for too long.

Euthanasia, I think should be legal. I think they should have medical reviews and psychological evaluations, and if they determine a patient is in pain and wants to die only to escape the pain, then why continue to torture them? What sick thrill do people get out of holding on to someone at the expense of that person's quality of life?

And at the same time, and this coment will probably piss people off, why does she deserve life more than others? Yep, I said it! We have children dying from diseases overseas who could be cured with 50 cents worth of antibiotics but instead we're funnelling tens of thousands of dollars to keep people alive who have no chance of regaining their normal lives. In this country alone (USA) we have staggering numbers of children who could lead normal functional lives but are not protected by health care and have little or no access to a doctor. It just seems terribly cruel and unfair to me.

And as to the government, they have no business butting into people's personal lives and family affairs.

Lady Brick
03-23-2005, 03:08 AM
Well put, hapsburg. I agree with pretty much everything you said.

03-23-2005, 04:32 AM
And as to the government, they have no business butting into people's personal lives and family affairs.

Yup. I think it's wrong for Congress and the Bush's to get involved.

03-23-2005, 06:12 AM
Yup. I think it's wrong from Congress and the Bush's to get involved.

I couldn't have said it better myself. I am tempted to go on a rant about all sorts of things that our Congress and our State Legislatures should not be involved in, but that would serve no useful purpose. Instead I suggest reading my signature at the bottom of this, that'll give you a good idea where I come from.

But hey, here in Texas our illustrious idiots in Austin are more concerned with high school cheerleaders having "suggestive" dance routines than they are with real issues such as prison overcrowding, an unconstitutional criminal justice system, and other things of that nature.

Brady H.

Hang of Thursdays
03-23-2005, 07:33 AM
Isn't it funny how certain issues can languish for years, never paid attention to, and then, all of a sudden, overnight, our government becomes a well-oiled machine?

Cases like this are what turn people into screaming libertarians.

03-25-2005, 09:22 PM
then, all of a sudden, overnight, our government becomes a well-oiled machine?

And why can't they balance the budget with that kind of alacrity?

04-01-2005, 03:26 AM
Terri died this morning. My sympathies to her husband. I pray she may now rest in peace.