March 19, 2005

Terri Schiavo Thoughts

Supposedly Terri Schiavo's in a persistent vegetative state. View the videos and you'll see it's a crock. That's not just my opinion, but my wife's who is an MD and very much against torturing patients with medical treatment past the point where it does any good.

I really don't think that people have thought through what Terri Schiavo is going through right now. She is given nothing to drink, nothing to eat. That doesn't sound like much. It's an easy sentence to say or write. When was the last time you hungered, you thirsted? I don't mean a momentary twinge that you immediately satisfy but really not eating or drinking for an extended period of time past when it starts to bother you. Try it for a bit, just to see the kind of discomfort a profoundly brain-damaged woman is going through.

You can't really get the flavor of it because you're capable of feeding yourself and can end the experiment at any time. If you decide to do the experiment, at whatever point you end it, please think that the pain, the mental anguish, the desperate impulse to go get sustenance, all that lives deep in our primitive brains and Terri most likely is capable of feeling that drive for food, for water just as you are but is incapable of satisfying it for herself. If her husband has his way, Terri will feel what you felt and continue feeling it in growing urgency and distress until she dies of it.

If we were to prescribe this as an end for murderers, it would be judicially invalidated as cruel and unusual punishment. Why it's legal to do it when there is no crime being punished is beyond me.

As a personal note, when I played a couple of the videos that Terri's parents had filmed of Terri, I asked her whether this woman was in a persistent vegetative state. Her response was "no, she's not. But if I'm ever like that, don't you dare do that [keep her alive artificially]".

In her own perverse way, she's horribly irresponsible as she hasn't left a written record of her preference. This puts me in a spot because I have somewhat different ideas on end of life care. I'll respect her wishes but I won't euthanize and I won't starve her to death.

Posted by TMLutas at March 19, 2005 02:05 AM