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Knitting for the Soul

Saturday, March 26, 2005

It's a Sad Day

My heart is breaking for Terri Schiavo and her family. I can't even begin to imagine the depth of their sorrow. I just can't understand how we've come to this point. I can't help but think about the ironies surrounding this case...

If Terri were a dog or a cat, PETA would be fighting for her.
If Terri were a murderer sentenced to the death penalty, the AFL-CIO would be fighting for her.
If Terri were a terrorist or an Iraqi prisoner at Abu Grab (sp?), the liberals of the world would be fighting for her.
If Terri were an accused child molester, many would be arguing that she deserves another chance.
If Terri were a white-collar criminal and a major campaign contibutor, she'd be pardoned.

But she's none of those things... She's just a woman. A helpless, defenseless woman. Someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend. And she's being killed, slowly but surely. Make no mistake about it. No sane person would find it acceptable to starve a pet. No murder case involving a potential death penalty would decide innocence or guilt based solely on hearsay. No loving spouse would refuse basic comforts to his or her disabled spouse.

Yet, we are supposed to believe that Terri is dying a graceful and peaceful death. According to Michael's attorney, she looks "beautiful and at peace". I for one would sleep a little better knowing that were true. So Michael, how about taking a picture or a video of Terri now? Prove to those of us who are agonizing over Terri's last days and hours how ill-informed and misguided we are.

And while you're at it, how about putting to rest any suspicions about what happened to Terri in the first place? Allow an autopsy to be performed on Terri. After all, what better way to prove that rumors that Terri was abused are unfounded?

But, I know we won't see pictures of Terri. I know there won't be an autopsy. I know that Terry may leave us soon, but her memory will live on. May she rest in peace.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Is it just me?

Thanks to a very painful case of tendinitis/carpel tunnel/fibromyalgia that's keeping me sidelined from knitting and just about everything else these days, I've been curled up on the sofa with my arm wrapped up in a heating pad for most of the weekend. While here, I've been glued to c-span watching the coverage of the Terri Schiavo case. It is so heart-wrenching to watch.

I'm really struggling with my position on this one. I know that I wouldn't want to live in the state that Teri's in. However, in the absence of irrefutable proof that Teri expressed a desire to end her life should she end up in this state, I wouldn't want to be the one to sign her death warrant. I am concerned that the "husband" who is making the decision to end her life is the same husband who may also have played a hand in the circumstances leading to her current condition. I am concerned that this is the same husband who has so clearly gone on with his life and has started another family. This is the same husband who has also supposedly refused any efforts at rehabilitation and has even denied Teri the chance to sit in the sun for the past several years.

There are so many aspects to this story that I just don't understand....

First, Michael Schiavo is certain that Teri would want to end her life. Never mind that it took him several years and a few million dollars to "remember" that. But if there's even a remote chance that Teri could speak with some rehabilitation, as some therapists are suggesting, why not give those therapists a few months to work with her. Best case, they'll be right, and Teri can tell Michael, her parents, and the entire world what she wants. Worst case, they'll be wrong, strengthening Michael's contention that she's in a persistent vegetative state.

People who support Michael's position keep talking about Teri's wishes. I wonder if Teri had a voice right now, if she'd still want him deciding whether she lives or dies given all of the other decisions that he's made on her behalf since she became incapable of deciding for herself.

Second, if there's any doubt at all about Teri's wishes in the absence of a Living Will, and there's obviously lot of confusion on this point, why would anyone choose to err on the side of death rather than on the side of life? I find it so interesting that so many people are fighting for Teri's "right to die". I wonder if these are many of the same people who argue for a woman's right to "choose". I wonder how these same people feel about the death penalty (more on that in a minute).

Third, there's this argument about "life support"... that artificial means should not be used to keep a person alive... let God's will be done. In my humble opinion, a respirator is life support... food and water is not. Even I would agree that there are circumstances in which it would be appropriate to discontinue life support if a person could not remain alive without it. But Teri is not hooked up to a respirator. She's breathing on her own and has been for years. The reality is that even the healthiest person alive will surely die if they are refused food and water for long enough. I don't think God's will applies in this context in the way it's being used.

Lastly, and this one is really driving me insane... If I'm not mistaken, it's illegal to starve a pet. I don't know many sane people who would find that acceptable under any circumstance. So even if you believe that Teri would want to die, and has a right to die, why in God's name would anyone agree to STARVING HER TO DEATH????? I've heard that the process of starving takes anywhere from 7 to 30 days. It is a slow, agonizing process. How on earth is this humane? Even convicted killers who are given the death penalty are executed quickly. Scott Peterson is eligible for death by lethal injection, but Teri Schiavo gets to starve to death? I don't get it. If you believe that Teri should be allowed to die, and that she can't take her own life, then have the guts to end her life in a decent and humane way. If Dr. Kevorkian were to help Teri in fulfilling her wishes, he'd be charged with murder for helping her to drift off quickly and painlessly. Yet we're supposed to somehow applaud the decision to starve her to death over an extended period? We call ourselves the most civilized society on the planet. I just don't get it.