Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More Schiavo

There is lots of hot air on both sides of this issue. I would particularly recommend DB's Rants, Kausfiles, and Charles Krauthammer's commentary today.

To me, the case for pulling the tube is increasingly shaky.

1. "Rule of Law" arguments carry no weight for me. I believe doing what is right is most important If the law leads to a morally wrong answer, the law should be changed. If it takes an emergency act of Congress, then that is what should be done.

If an alleged killer were about to be wrongly executed, and the state government and courts refused to intervene to right the injustice, would it be wrong for Congress to pass an emergency law to stop the execution?

2. Michael Schiavo is looking worse and worse. As James Taranto points out, he has clearly not fulfilled the typical role of a spouse, openly living with and having two children with another women. I think this is justified, but raises question about his motivations and right to act with authority of a spouse.

I would still want the tube out if it was me, but am increasingly uneasy that this is the correct decision in this case.


At 8:42 PM, Anonymous jb said...

We're going to continue to disagree on this one. If you don't like the "Rule of Law," what is your substitute? That the law applies only when you, or I, or a certain percantage of the public, think it should? This is a situation in which perfect is the enemy of good. Do you really want Congress to have ANYTHING to say about your family's medical care? Your example is, I think, disingenuous. Nobody thinks that any alleged killer should be wrongly executed. The operative word is "wrongly." You may think that Terri should be kept breathing no matter what, and you are welcome to your opinion, and you are further welcome to try to influence public policy towards that end. You cannot reasonably state that people who disagree are factually wrong, only that you think that their opinions are wrong. Big difference.

I also disagree about Michael Shiavo. From what I have learned, he spent the years after Terri's brain injury devoted to getting her better. Despite being told by multiple doctors that her chance of recovery was nil, he spent time, effort, and money trying to get her better, even having the notorious thalamic stimulation electrodes implanted in a last ditch effort to make some progress. It took several years of no progress for him to face reality and he then followed her instructions to let her die in peace. His actions have been entirely consistent with a husband who wanted to have her wishes fulfilled. I can't criticize him for wanting to have some semblance of a life after Terri. He can't divorce her because he knows that her parents would then control her, and extend what he sees as her torment.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Dr. Andy said...

I admit my analogy is too strong, but say the guilt of the killer was unclear. Would you want to risk an innocent man being executed only to preserve the rule of law?

At some point, I think you'd have to admit that it would be reasonable for Congress to intervene to prevent a possible injustice.

That said, you are right that what we have here is more a difference of opinon. I won't pretend to have any reasoned opinion of this case, given my lack of expertise in neurology and in the facts. It does seem a bit troubling that

As far as Michael Schiavo, I don't think we can really know. Maybe he is the perfect husband, just looking out for his wife, but there are various allegations against him that I don't feel we can just dismiss. I also don't blame him for going on with his life, but if he has, why not let Terry live and her parents care for her?

The argument that she is in pain or tormented contradicts the argument that she is is a persitent vegatative state.

I don't have a great answer to all this, but the case unsettles me.


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