Monday, March 21, 2005

The Husband.

A piece from NR a few years ago with some background on the Terri Schiavo tragedy begs the question - who really represents Terri's interests? Some astounding accusations, that, if true, would shame anyone siding with Terri's "husband". Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus weighs in and also recalls NPR's "evenhanded" treatment of this story.

Perhaps the most repugnant comment I've heard on this came from the none other than Ms. Maureen Dowd, who snickered on Imus this morning that Tom Delay and Bill Frist were acting out a sequel to "Weekend at Bernie's" - with Terry Schiavo as "Bernie". I glad that Ms. Dowd discovered the humor in this tragedy, high atop the Upper West Manhattan skyline, where the people below are just so many ants to burn with her magnifying glass.


Trotsky said...

First, lets address the irony of the Schiavo case in terms of our Congress and President. They spent so much effort to keep her alive, yet they would knock out the very things that have helped to pay for her current care. One of the major means of support that is paying for her care, the lawsuit against the treating physician, is now probably not possible due to the new tort law recently signed into law. So one of the very things treating Terri is very possibly unavailable for any future sufferers of PVS in her circumstances. A second means of her support, the Medicaid funding is also being undercut. So keep these people alive, its the Christian thing to do, just don't give them the money to do it. If that isn't irony, I don't know what is.

Do I side with Schiavo's husband, no. Do I disagree with her parents feelings, no. What I do know is that despite their contention to the contrary, she will not improve with time. No amount of rehab will allow her to eat on her own, or improve her mental status. To imply otherwise is medically inaccurate. If you would have listened to another, I am sure what you would consider biased, discussion on NPR, you would have heard her court appointed legal guardian. This gentleman is a lawyer representing not the husband but Terri and the state, he is also a physician. He stated after spending a great deal of time with her that he concluded that she was indeed in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of improvement.

We can debate the religious implications, but in the end the law states in Florida that her husband is her guardian, and this has been upheld in multiple rulings. Were all of these state courts "liberal and proeuthanasia". Please, this is Florida, not California. Also, I always find it interesting that the Republicans are so pro states rights, until it doesn't go their way. This has been constitently been upheld in the state courts, so why are the Fed intervening when they say they shouldn't. Even now, the first Federal Judge (a mad dog, revsionist liberal I am sure) has told them he wouldn't hear it. If it doesn't work, change the rules and ideology I always say

He also has been not been shown to have been abusive towards Terri. The only evidence to the argument he was abusive is from a fired nurse, who's claims weren't shown to be true. Had he been abusive there would be easily visible signs. One of the largest of which is decubiti(us), commonly know as bedsores. With very few exceptions, in the case of an abuse, decubiti are present in the patient. Any proof of withholding treatment was shown not to be true of the first 3-4 years of Terri's PVS. It was shown that he had pursued a normal course of treatment consistent with any possiblity of improvement until told by her physicians that she would most likely not improve. Do you really consider Mickey Kaus unbaised in his analysis. I can atleast say that I used NPR as a starting point of my own pursuit, then reviewing as much info from all sources, not just one or two. The belief that after 15 years that a major change in her state would occur is ludacris. It would literally take an act of God (and I would be grateful to see it, but not holding my breath).

In addition to this, her physicians state that she will have no improvement. So are we to believe that every physician caring for her now is a euthanasia advocate. Despite what many might imply, physicians are not fond of dealing with this topic. They tend to take their oaths very serious. To do no harm is key.

Do you know what can happen to people in PVS? Do you know the likely chances of her long term survival, and how she may most likely die? There is a good chance that she will succumb to an infection of one type or another. Before that, though, she most likely will undergo all sorts of difficult, and very painful side effects of her state. Once she gets that infection, and be assured she will probably get one this is probably what will happen. First she gets a lung infection, Pneumonia, bronchitis that turns into Pneumonia. Maybe she gets a staph or strep infection. Because of her state, she most likely will not be able to fight it. It will spread, antibotics will be prescribed. Slowly as they don't work, her organ systems fail. As they shut down, the rate of decline increases. She is burning up with fever, and there is nothing anyone can do but watch her die. And guess what, that death will be as or more painful than starvation. So many people opining on this have convinced themselves that somehow she wil die peacefully in her sleep, but look at the real facts and you'll see that is unlikely. Do I want this poor woman to die, no, but the sad truth is that given the probable choices of rotten deaths, this is maybe indeed be the most humane.

RollCast said...


Actually, there was a substantial sum of money - $1.3 million from the lawsuit, of which $750K was put in a trust for her care. (An aside: although I do not have a position on the tort-reform bill, I believe that it contains only a
cap on "pain and suffering" damage awards, and not awards earmarked for care.) Indeed, the "husband" promised to use this money to provide this care for the natural course of her life.

I am not arguing the correctness nor consistency of the President position on all of this - I am concerned that her civil rights are being violated. Yes, the "pecking order" default law in Florida is in effect. Nobody is challenging the legality of that, but there are extenuating circumstances, namely, that there has been evidence produced that Terri's "husband" is not acting in her best interests because of financial and personal conflicts. Judge Grier basically said that these issues were irrelevant, and the Florida appellate courts have ruled that there were no irregularities in the proceedings (which are what the appeals are about - they did not independently judge the original case). The Federal court system has now been directed to review this. This happens all of the time for other state rulings, and so is not that unusual.

I find it interesting that liberals who are so dead against states' rights on marriage regulation and parental notification and consent are now blasting the states' rights horn. Don't you? The federal government intervened in the early sixties when it was deemed that some expressions of states' rights were incompatible with the 14th and 15th Amendments - perhaps this is another example of this?

My dig about NPR was that they presented no point of view that suggested that even a life in PVS was perhaps a life of value. (bitterness on) I suppose to them, not being able to appreciate the quality of NPR is a valueless life.(bitterness off)

What is your point about how she will eventually die? That it doesn't matter whether she dies of natural causes then or we kill her now, because at this stage her life really has no value? Your reasoning may lead down the road to euthanasia.

Trotsky said...

As for the tort reform, yes, there is not an affect on the "care" awards, but on the "pain and suffering". Quite often, though, the amount awarded for care is not even close enough to maintain any long term care. In situations like this you often find money awarded for pain and suffering is used for care because of the prohibitive costs of care. Often the awards for care are tapped out in a few years. In fact, with a rough estimate of her care, the award would be gone in about 6-8 years So the loss of additional money in terms of pain and suffering does affect care. Yes, I know it sounds good to us to say it is the lawyers being greedy (and yes, some are); but I have had the opportunity to observe first hand what happens to someone, and the costs of care in these situations. It is easy for you to think these awards are out of hand, but remember the people that have to try and care for these people are often need the additional awards to get by. Many times these caretakers, fighting the well-paid lawyers of the large interests have their resources exhausted before the resolution of the suit. They take money out of their houses, have to take large amounts of time off of work (sometimes lossing their job). Their lives and those of their loved ones have been literally destroyed. I pray you never have to experience this, I have personally witnessed it, and it sure changed my mind. But until it lands close to your home, I doubt you could ever understand, it is an academic exercise until then. It is easy to hold a conviction when you haven't had to experience the down side. If you do, get back with me then and talk about tort reform.

The case, again, for Michael Schiavo acting out of self-interests are cirumstantial (still doesn't mean I am a Michael Schiavo fan). If I could see good evidence, solid, not he said she said, then I could change my mind about his interests. The arguments for him wanting money, how much is left from the settlement? And if he was really that much about money, why not take the multiple offers to pay for her life. As I last heard, the ante was up to 10 million offered by one individual. So if it was cash, why not give in, give her over to someone elses care, to just be done with her. Why is he not taking that money now. That is a lot more than what is left of the 1.3 million. If he really was this person, would he give up that kind of money?

As for PVS, do you really understand what it is, do you really know? Is it life, well we could debate the religious, medical and moral implications. But it is not a nice place to be. No one would obviously choose it. So why is it that none of us would choose it, yet we would tell Terri to "live" with it. Would you, a man of great accomplishment, want to be there. If you were in a position to decide, would you deicide to be in a PVS knowing that is how you would be? Do you think if I could go back and show Terri a picture of how it would look, do you think that she would say yes? Do I favor euthanasia, not quite; but I certainly don't support many of the "proceedures" we do to "sustain" life. Too often, because of technology, the medical field and some people think we should play God. Do you believe that those people who will not receive treatment, or allow their children to not get treatments because a belief in the will of God are wrong? They are acting out of a strong moral belief that God makes the choice. Should we circumvent their wishes? Should we force people who decide not to undergo treatment for cancer or other diseases to undergo those treatments because their lives must preserved at all costs, because it would be a horrible death (even if they were going to die of the cancer or disease anyway, and just as horribly).

As for States rights, it is the republicans who have said that you shouldn't interefere with the state. So it isn't the liberals that are going against their stated prinicples but the conservatives. This is just one more example of going against states rights. So it is an example of not ideology, but convenient ideology (I'll have a belief, that is until it intereferes with my desires). As for consent laws, I would like to believe that it was always just a case of a girl making a "mistake" what about incest, the dirty little detail no one on the right ever deals with. How much help is this girl going to get from an abuser, and do you think that abuser is going to make choices in the best interests of the girl? And with marriage regulation, what about those nice regulations that stated misogyny was immoral.

AS for NPR, you are going to tell me somehow they have a radical agenda not to care about the non-NPR listener. Your bias is so bad it is scary. Why bitter, what did NPR really ever do to you, or do to destroy or nation. I find public radio and TV to be some of the most educational, and informative. In a waste land of Jerry Springers, Oprahs, American Idols and endless Clear Channel takeovers and station neutering, you are going to actually try to convince me that NPR is awful?

RollCast said...

Ill let you have the last word. But NPR is the Devil's Megaphone! ;)