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rdenoncourt

Should Schiavo's Feeding Tube Come From Our Pocket

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The story of Terry Schiavo has been smeared all across televisions and newspapers nationwide as the struggle of one woman to stay alive in the face of apathy and insensitivity to life, right?

This is how people would have you look at it. Pro-life fanatics parade around Schiavo's hospital with red tape over their mouths in order to rub their opinion in our faces, which is that every human being deserves to live, even if it is at the expense of others. Well I strongly disagree. Terry Schiavo has every right to live so long as there are people willing to voluntarily support her. Otherwise, it is the sad truth that no one deserves to be given a lifeline using money that was taken forcefully from taxpayers. What this means is that Schaivo's family can decide to keep her alive out of their own pockets, but not out of our pockets.

Schiavo has become a symbol that has divided this nation once again. Should people in vegetative states be kept alive or shouldn't they? That should not be the question. Rather: Should people in vegetative states be supported by our tax money? We should strongly reject any ideology or political agenda that lays claim on our tax money to support those who cannot support themselves.

Tibor Machan writes: "Free men and women...are not owned by anyone other than themselves. Nor is their labor, nor their resources, available, morally speaking, to be seized by others, even those who are in dire straits. That is the price of liberty — not being able to take from others what others refuse to give of their own free will."(1) No matter how hungry Schiavo gets, it is not our moral or legal duty as American citizens to feed her.

I suggest we all keep in mind that forcing those who are better off to pay for those less well off is similar to forced labor. The money that would be used to pay for these thousands of individuals in vegetative states (assuming they do not use personal funds or funds that were voluntarily provided) would have to come from taxpayers, and taxpayers must work to make that money. Forcing a dollar out of someone who makes 6 dollars an hour is similar to forcing that person to work 10 minutes for no pay. While there is nothing wrong with feeling bad for Terry Schiavo, there is something wrong in supporting forced labor on others so that her body can continue to pump blood.

UPDATE: According to www.terrisfight.net, a website dedicated to prolonging Schiavo's life, "Terri was awarded nearly one million dollars by a malpractice jury and an out-of-court malpractice settlement which was designated for future medical expenses."(2) Her husband and legal guardian has decided to allow for Schiavo's life to end naturally, stating that this is what she would have wanted. No one knows for sure what Schiavo would want since she lacks upper brain functioning (supposedly) and cannot communicate. However, the point is that as long as there are private funds available to support her, the government should NOT get involved. This is a family issue and President Bush should have no influence in the matter unless it is in the protection of the individual rights of someone being victimized. That is not the case here. Schiavo's husband should be allowed to disavow himself of any responsibility for her care. This can either mean letting her die naturally, or shifting that responsibility to someone else who wants it. Her family wants it and should have the ability to keep Terry alive so long as they pay for it.

But there are those who would have taxpayers pay for it. For example, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin claims that "[the] measure of a nation's commitment to the sanctity of life is reflected in its laws and to the extent those laws honor and defend its most vulnerable citizens...When a person's intentions regarding whether to receive lifesaving treatment are unclear, the responsibility of a compassionate nation is to affirm that person's right to life. In our public actions, we must build a culture of life that welcomes and defends all human life."(3) He can only mean one thing by "defend its most vulnerable citizens:" Money. The only way to defend someone like Schiavo is to keep her alive. This costs money. What happens when her private funds run out? She could very well live another 30 years. Having doctors come check on her and feed her is expensive. If the family cannot afford this expense, who should have to pay for it? Here is where I have a problem. As long as the funds are private, she has every right to live. As soon as someone else is forced to pay for her (a "duty" that many Republicans would force on the taxpayer), the issue becomes morally reversed: now the taxpayers are the victims.

One more thing:

Florida Statute 744.3215 Rights of persons determined incapacitated:

(1) A person who has been determined to be incapacitated retains the right

(i) To receive necessary services and rehabilitation.

What is this supposed to mean? If all of those deemed "incapacitated" unconditionally retain "the right" to receive services and rehabilitation necessary to their relative well-being, this can only mean that taxpayers will have to involuntary uphold this right through the redistribution of their wealth. This is what I am arguing against. Schiavo is no exception. Keeping incapacitated individuals alive at the expense of the taxpayer is a moral transgression, plain and simple. As long as Schiavo is being privately supported, there is no problem. My only disagreement is with those who believe that it is the moral duty of the nation to keep her alive at its own expense.

(1) Machan, Tibor. "Terry Schiavo's Sad Saga." The Atlasphere, 23 March 2005. <http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns/050323-machan-shiavo.php>

(2) The Schindler Family.

(3) Cable News Network LP, LLLP. "Emergency vote puts Schiavo case in federal court."21 March 2005

[Deleted unnecessary advertising of blog.]

Edited by Felipe

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Schiavo has become a symbol that has divided this nation once again. Should people in vegetative states be kept alive or shouldn't they? That should not be the question. Rather: Should people in vegetative states be supported by our tax money? We should strongly reject any ideology or political agenda that lays claim on our tax money to support those who cannot support themselves.

Actually, the question shouldn't be whether "people" should be kept alive in a persistent vegitative state. The question, all along, the one that cannot be objectively answered because Terri can't speak for herself is "What would Terri choose to do in this situation?" If that question can't be answered, I would say it is better to err on the side of life, as long as the family members that want her kept alive pay for her care out of their own pocket or through donations. They are the ones that want to keep her alive, therefore, she is their responsibility, not anyone else's.

Edited by ann r kay

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It was objectively proven and upheld many, many times in a court of law based on sworn testimony of her husband and other relatives that if she was in such a state that she DID want to die.

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It was objectively proven and upheld many, many times in a court of law based on sworn testimony of her husband and other relatives that if she was in such a state that she DID want to die.

No, the opinions of her husband and other relatives on her wishes were not objectively proven to be Terri's wishes. There were just as many relatives with the opposite opinion. Either side could have their own agenda, instead of trying to carry out Terri's wishes. From what I have seen in this case, both sides may be only considering what they feel to be their own best interest, rather than Terri's. The parents may just want her alive because letting her die is against their faith. The husband and his family may want her dead because they may be afraid there is a chance she could recover and reveal the "truth" of her wishes. Who knows? It's all hearsay now, anyway, because she is dead.

I have tried so hard to see this case objectively, because if it were me in Terri's position, I would not want to be kept alive. What kind of life would that be?

But how I feel does not in any way define what Terri would want.

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I have tried so hard to see this case objectively, because if it were me in Terri's position, I would not want to be kept alive. What kind of life would that be?

But how I feel does not in any way define what Terri would want.

Although I'm sure no one would ever want to be in a vegetative state, I'm also sure that there are those who would want to be kept alive for religious reasons. I dont know what religion Schiavo was nor the degree to which she practiced it, but I do know that Christianity rejects any form of suicide, both assisted and unassisted. Although I wholeheartedly disagree with Christian philosophy, I do know for a fact that people are told to live out their lives regardless of what happens and that any sort of injury or tragedy is simply a test from God (or something like that). Who knows? Maybe Schiavo would have wanted to be kept alive simply because "it was God's will." It's ridiculous, I know, but not unlikely.

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I wish I new a way too link too a TIAdaily essay that Tracinski wrote about this last week that explains why the court system worked in this case and why it DOES constitute objective proof of her wishes, but I can't think of how to do it because one must be a subscriber to the service to get it. Did anyone else see this and no how to link to it possibly?

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Robert Tracinski writes outstanding articles and I have yet to disagree with anything I hear him say.

The TIADaily is only $74 a year. Buy a damn subscription.

Furthermore, when you read an article on a subject and for some reason you feel the urge to write a short article losely along the lines of that same subject. Don't say anything unless it hasn't been said yet, and if it hasn't, then it should still be something that is actually worth talking about!

Should we be paying for her to be kept alive? HELL NO! Not like it matters though; the religious right saw to it that the doctor's insurance company coughed up $300,000 to pay for the 15 years that she's been dead.

First of all, learn the pertinent facts. Then, if you still do decide to write the article, write it in a logical fashion. Stop rambling around in the circles of your ill-contrived thought process.

And go buy that damn subscription!

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What! I think you misunderstand. I want to link to the article from TIA Daily because it explains the position I'm advocating, that the courts had proven that Schiavo had stated that she wanted to die if she was in that situation. I don't want to "write an article on it". The reason why I don't know if I can link to it is, because I don't think others that didn't have a subscription at the time it was posted, about a week ago, would be able to read it, although I suppose I could quote some of it. I think the person with "ill-contrived thought process" might be you.

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Here is the article you are referring to. It's from a couple days ago, I forgot that I saved it because it was such a good article. All due credit to Robert Tracinski and the TIA Daily.

TIA Daily Feature Article

9. Who Decides

Why the Law Worked in the Terri Schiavo Case

by Robert Tracinski

There is one last aspect of the Terri Schiavo case that I have not discussed in much detail, and about which I am still getting some interesting questions. That is the legal and philosophical question of who should have the right decide whether to remove hydration and nutrition in a case like that of Terri Schiavo.

If you have been listening to the conservative press on this issue, you have heard two blatantly wrong descriptions of who has made the decisions in this case. Some have said that it is the government that decided to "kill" Terri Schiavo. This is their way of trying to square their religious crusade with a belief in small government; they are allegedly standing up for Terri Schiavo's rights against an oppressive government. Others (and sometimes the same people) say that it is her husband who decided to "starve her to death"--and then go on to a general campaign of character assassination against Michael Schiavo.

Both of these claims are outright lies. I call them "lies" because the truth on this matter is easily available, in the basic documents of the case, as a matter of public record. No one who makes a living by reporting or commenting on political controversies can claim ignorance as an excuse.

The law on this matter is unambiguous. The person who had the primary right to decide Terri Schiavo's case was Terri Schiavo. She was, of course, unable to speak for herself after suffering massive brain damage--but she was able to speak on this issue beforehand, and it was evidence about the wishes she expressed prior to her brain damage that was decisive in this case.

Note that Judge Greer did not rule on what *he* wanted to happen to Terri Schiavo. His ruling concerned the evidence about what Terri Schiavo wanted. This is not just a proper function of government; it is *the* proper function of government: it consists of enforcing the principle of individual rights by deciding whose rights were at stake in this case and what would constitute the exercise of those rights.

You may also have heard from conservative commentators that, in Ann Coulter's words, "Judge George Greer...determined that Terri would have wanted to be starved to death based on the testimony of her husband." You may have heard this so often, from so many people, that you assumed it must be true. But it is another lie.

Judge Greer explicitly concluded that he could not rule on Terri Schiavo's intentions based solely on her husband's testimony. He ruled, instead, that Michael Schiavo's testimony was corroborated by multiple other witnesses whose statements were consistent and reliable. The testimony related to statement made by Terri Schiavo to members of her family after the funeral of her husband's grandmother, who had been kept alive in her final days on artificial life support. According to several people who were present at the conversation, Terri said that she would not want to be kept alive on artificial life support. This evidence has been referred to derisively by conservative commentators as "hearsay," which is meant to make it seem unreliable and insubstantial.

Here a little legal background helps. According to the online legal dictionary at http://dictionary.law.com, "hearsay" is "second-hand evidence in which the witness is not telling what he/she knows personally, but what others have said to him/her." (http://tinyurl.com/6earu) The idea is that you are testifying, not to what you saw, but to what someone else said they saw. Direct testimony would be "I saw Smith shoot Jones"; hearsay testimony would be "I heard Davis say he saw Smith shoot Jones." This is unreliable, since Davis is not testifying directly, so there is no way to judge the credibility of his alleged statement.

But that doesn't quite apply to this case, because the Schiavo relatives who testified about Terri's statements *did* directly observe the facts to which they were testifying: they directly heard Terri state her intentions about what she wanted to happen if she became permanently incapacitated. In fact, these considerations are covered under the "hearsay rule." Hearsay testimony is normally inadmissible--except in a number of long-recognized exceptions, at least three of which seem to apply in this case: "a statement which explains a person's future intentions ('I plan to?.') if that person's state of mind is in question"; "a statement made about one's mental set, feeling, pain or health, if the person is not available--most often applied if the declarant is dead ('my back hurts horribly,' and then dies)"; and "a statement about one's own will when the person is not available." (http://tinyurl.com/3vnq4) Thus, this testimony is described in a 2003 report by her "guardian ad !

litem"--a legal guardian appointed to represent the legal interests of an incapacitated adult--as "admitted hearsay." The word "admitted" means that it is hearsay testimony that was ruled to be legally admissible in court.

There is one other important legal point here. A great deal of weight is also given, legally, to a spouse's decisions. The spouse is granted the right to make life-or-death decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person, even when there is no evidence about the person's stated intentions. And this is entirely proper. Some people have complained that Terri Schiavo's husband was allowed to make such decisions rather than her parents. But the reason for this is so simple and straightforward that it is expressed in a formula I have heard numerous places: you choose your spouse, but you don't choose your parents.

Because you choose your spouse, it is logical to assume that this person is the most likely to share your considered, adult values. Indeed, most of us disagree with our parents on some important issues--and we can still love our parents even if we disagree with them on important moral or religious issues. But we would probably not marry a person with whom we had the same disagreements.

(Much has been made of the fact that Michael Schiavo has since formed a relationship with and fathered children by another woman--ignoring the fact that he did so *after* concluding, in 1994, that Terri had no hope of recovering.)

The normally stated reason is good enough. But there is also another reason to give the power to a spouse in this case, rather than the parents. Your spouse came to know you and love you when you were a fully formed, functioning adult. Your parents, however, loved you when you were a helpless infant. Thus, parents are uniquely susceptible to the emotional pull of wanting to maintain your life when you are reduced back to such a helpless state--even if, as in this case, the "childlike" state is an illusion produced by reflexes rather than a childlike consciousness.

I don't think my parents would fight to keep me on artificial life support if I were in Terri Schiavo's condition. But I know that I would prefer that the decision be made by my wife, because she is not subject to the temptation of those parental emotions and could more clearly keep in mind my own intentions. (Future judges take note: my own choice would be to be allowed to die--and I believe that counts as an unambiguous "declaration of intent.")

Even a loving parent, however, can eventually overcome any initial emotional reaction and restore the wider context. Parents may fondly remember caring for their child as a helpless infant--but the wider context is that the purpose of their child's life was not to *remain* a helpless infant. A parent's purpose in caring for a child is to help it grow to become, not merely conscious, but an independent, functioning adult--and they should regard it as an unacceptable tragedy for their child to be maintained in the irreversible state of a sub-infant, which is precisely what happened to Terri Schiavo.

And that speaks to the motives of Terri Schiavo's parents. Whatever their motives for keeping her alive, it cannot be out of any rational conviction that they are doing so for *her* benefit. They are doing it for their own distorted idea of what benefits *them*. I can't say for certain whether it is to prop up their own subjective religious fantasies about a miracle cure, or to show their own loyalty to Catholic religious dogmas--or, as I suspect, that they get some value out of playing the role of the long-suffering parents of a religious martyr. For a Catholic woman named "Mary," who is told from a young age that she should emulate the mother of Christ, such a role might well be irresistible.

Be that as it may, the legal issue here is that Terri Schiavo's parents do not get to decide whether she lives or dies. The loud conservative claims that they should have such a power is, in effect, a declaration that no child ever grows to adulthood and acquires the right to make adult choices--that such adult choices, including the choice of a spouse, do not override the parents' perpetual right to control the lives of their children.

All of this brings me to the reason I am so passionate about this case. This case is an example of how the American legal system still functions brilliantly, in many areas, to apply and enforce the principle of individual rights. The more I dig into the details, the more I discover that everything has been done properly in this case: the courts have differentiated clearly between the testimony of scientists and that of charlatans; they have correctly identified whose rights are involved and who has the proper power to make decisions; they have correctly applied the rules regarding evidence about Terri Schiavo' intentions.

And in reward for these virtues, the courts have been vilified from both the right and the left.

The courts have done one more thing that is not merely right, but heroic. They have stood their ground amid this a storm of threats and slander and defended the integrity of the judicial process. Here is a crucial passage from a recent news article, at http://tinyurl.com/6bsgq, about the court's final rejection of yet another irrational legal motion from Terri Schiavo's parents:

"The 11th Circuit court's decision, signed by Chief Judge J. L. Edmondson, was only a sentence long. But in a concurring opinion, Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr., appointed by the first President Bush in 1990, wrote that federal courts had no jurisdiction in the case and that the law enacted by Congress and President Bush allowing the Schindlers to seek a federal court review was unconstitutional.

" 'When the fervor of political passions moves the executive and legislative branches to act in ways inimical to basic constitutional principles, it is the duty of the judiciary to intervene,' wrote Judge Birch, who has a reputation as consistently conservative. 'If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow.'

"Judge Birch said he had not had time before now to consider the constitutionality of the law.... In particular, Judge Birch wrote, a provision of the new law requiring a fresh federal review of all the evidence presented in the case made it unconstitutional. Because that provision constitutes 'legislative dictation of how a federal court should exercise its judicial functions,' he wrote, it 'invades the province of the judiciary and violates the separation of powers principle.'

"David J. Garrow, a legal historian at Emory University who closely follows the 11th Circuit, said Judge Birch's opinion was striking because the judge was a conservative Republican, especially regarding social issues.... 'This is a Republican judge going out of his way to directly criticize the Congress and President Bush for what they've done,' Mr. Garrow said. Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at Duke University, said Judge Birch probably felt it important to address the constitutionality of the law because the opportunity might never arise again. 'When Terri Schiavo dies, this law expires because it was only about her,' Mr. Chemerinsky said. 'This raised an important constitutional issue that could come up again, and he's saying it's important that some judge be on the record about it.' "

It is very important indeed, and we may be thankful that we have judges willing to do so.

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Thank you, I just didn't want to paste the whole thing here because I didn't know if you could without permission.

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It was objectively proven and upheld many, many times in a court of law based on sworn testimony of her husband and other relatives that if she was in such a state that she DID want to die.

Objectively proven? Because her husband said so? That does not "prove" anything. Especially since he never came forward with those supposed statements until years after her condition began. Please be careful how you use the word "objectively"

Keith

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I am careful, and did you actually read the above article to understand why? It has nothing to do with "because her husband said so", but with proper objective court findings that were repeatedly upheld upon many, many appeals.

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