Friday, April 15, 2005


Here is another point of view. BOG Terri's death, American values, and American obsessions
Guest Author: Rajiv
I am not American. I have no great interest in or liking for America, other than for the fact that in any modern society anywhere in the world, one cannot escape the influences of American politics, the American economy, American culture and the American media.
On the othe hand, I do care about God (although I am not Christian), life and people. I also believe that over the course of our lives, whatever we may do, in our careers or with our families, or even in our interactions with friends or strangers, we all have choices to make, choices that should be exercised thoughtfully and carefully, based on all available information.
Terri's life and death ultimately reflect upon things I care about.
I believe polarising the issue along pro-choice and pro-life lines seriously confuse the real issues.
Firstly, the feeding tube provided Terri with food and water, not medical care.
We may all have a choice whether or not to receive medical care. Apart from the right to refuse medical care, there is a question whether, in the event that there is no viable life ahead, a person can choose (whether prior to the event, or during the event), to end life - euthanasia.
In the US, I understand the law allows the former, not the latter. Removing feeding was backdoor euthanasia.
Euthanasia may be acceptable in some countries, provided that the choice is clear and unequivocal, and that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure this. That is a matter for each society to determine for itself.
However, when American society has rejected euthanasia, for the courts to allow it through the backdoor, without the essential safeguards, and without allowance for a merciful end, so that we have a cruel, long-drawn, painful death, in hypocrisy to say the least.
For Terri, apart from the question whether removing the feeding tube was backdoor euthanasia, determining her choice was impossible in all the circumstances. Even if she did say that she would not want to be kept alive in a coma while watching a movie many years ago (which evidence is questionable, and is not consistent with Michael's earlier position), was it a considered and unequivocal choice? We all say things in passing, which we may not hold to when a serious decision needs to be made.
She was also denied the choice of whether she remained legally married to Michael. Michael made a choice for himself - despite having another woman and children by that woman, he "chose" to remain married to Terri. Would Terri have made the same choice for herself, if she could have known that Michael had another family? There is clearly a conflict in Michael making the decision to remain married both for himself and Terri. Would any of us allow the very question whether our marriage or partnerships continue to subsist at all be determined by our spouses or partners alone?
These basic considerations are apart from the questions as to whether she was really in a persistent vegetative state (whatever that actually means), whether there was any prospect of improvement in her state, and what actually caused her brain damage.
Ultimately, her interests could only be protected by the persons who had her interests at heart, and not those who acted in conflict of interests. Her parents and her siblings were the only ones who actually had her interests at heart, but they were deprived of the opportunity to protect her -by the courts.
Like the courts, the American media and the ACLU never really got to grips with the facts and issues. The presentation of the case in the media has influenced American public opinion to such an extent that a significant majority feel that the right outcome was reached. The case has been presented in the following simplistic terms:
a. Terri was in a persistent vegetative state.
b. She was being kept alive by artificial means.
c. She made a choice not to be kept alive by artificial means.
d. Her husband, who is her lawful guardian (despite having another family), implemented her choice, with the assistance of the courts.
These are hardly the true or undisputed facts.
Why has the media presented the facts in this way? I think it has a lot to do with certain "values" that have come to dominate American society - the pursuit of an ideal life, and the free market ideal that the use of resources should be optimised.
There is an obsession with an "ideal life" - to be successful, rich, famous and beautiful. The obsession with wealth and celebrity are just facets of this. Anyone who falls short is dispensable - as in "Survivor" or any of the new breed of reality TV. The media is particularly obsessed with success, celebrity and beauty - increasingly, it is how it sells itself. The farther one falls short, the more dispensable is that person. The poor and the helpless are easily abandoned. Terri was helpless, and "dispensed with" by the courts. In the process, they "dispensed with" justice.
Secondly, the free market ideal is that resources are utilised where they are most productive. By this ideal, Terri takes up resourcs, but produces "nothing". The love and caring that her family has for her, or that she may have had for her family, meant nothing to the American courts. Therefore, the courts easily reached the conclusion that resources should not be "wasted" on her - she should be deprived even food and water, and ultimately, life itself.
It would be tragic if these "values" continue to spread around the world without regard for what it actually means to be human and a living thing - the spirit to strive for betterment, often against the odds, care and concern for other living things, and the many other intangibles that are part of life, and make us human.

by guest author RAJIV in


Blogger jukelahoopla said...

How does one acquire a feeding tube if not by an extraordinary medical measure. Not just anyone can cut a hole through all the tissue and stomach and stick a tube in just anyone. Her life was direly artificially prolonged and her husband was the proper and legal person to make her decisions, irregardless how his involvement is spun. This will test your PCness BOG.

7:32 PM  
Blogger bog said...

This subject was discussed at length on disagree with you Hoopla to put it mildly. I just want you to consider one thing. Hitler was elected to power in a democracy.His followers were following the law within their society at that time.Justice is what's important IMHO.I know several severely disabled people personally. I'm ok with euthanasia as long as their is a legal living will.There was nothing remotely resembling this in theSCHIAVO murder.Ms Schiavo died a cruel unjust death by torture IMHO.

8:56 PM  
Blogger jukelahoopla said...

But you and everyone in your position keep ignoring the FACT that a legal precedent had been set, thank GOD, to establish who makes these decisions in the event one can't and has no living will. From a medical perspective, if this weren't so, the hospitals would be a familial nightmare to all who work there. This was not euthanasia, I viewed the films and I sincerely believe, Terry Schiavo if able to view herself, would not have wanted to live like that. The one that really got me was when she does the startle reflex, the most rudimentary reflex humans have, and it's spun by her family as a great response to their words of prompting. Look, CT showed she had spinal fluid filling most where her cerebral cortex should have been. What about her case makes everyone think she is different than the 100's or 1000's of others daily, whose family's armed with the same information, choose the same course. And usually with the blessings of each other and their church. What?

7:19 AM  
Blogger jukelahoopla said...

Oh, and to equate Terry Schiavo, with a "disabled person" is simply ludicrous, IMHO. That is why as long as your position does so, we will never see eye to eye on this issue, even though I definately lean right.

7:23 AM  
Blogger bog said...

Jukelahoopla ,if you send me your email I'll make you a team member so you can start topics on this forum.

8:20 AM  
Blogger jukelahoopla said...

I often go for weeks without looking at the boards, but I may indulge you off and on, anyway here it is,

4:31 PM  

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