purple fish guts

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Some thoughts

This comment from Speakout at Fox News raises a couple of interesting points.

    “I am somewhat nervous about government intervention into this case; however, I am for life. I believe this woman has the right to live. Since nothing is in writing by Terri that says she would want to die, it was just casual talk between her and her husband and his family. I have made the same assertion about not wanting to stay alive if there was no hope for recovery. But when I finally made a Living Will, I found it very difficult to sign my name to the document. We all make rash statements that we would like to retract. I am for trying all avenues to recovery, whatever they may be.” — Jenny

First.... government intervention. Yeah. It makes me a little bit nervous too. I'd much rather stuff like this get resolved at the state level. But when a case comes along that smells pretty fishy... and it appears that the state judges are too busy smoking crack to think "Hey... someone's gonna die.... maybe we should take another look at that." then I think it's appropriate for the feds to step in and take another look.

For any of you who haven't noticed the fishy smell.... I'd suggest reading this post by Greg at What Attitude Problem. I'd also point you to Abstract Appeal. It has copies of a bunch of the court documents and some fairly unbiased analysis and explanation of the different rulings.

I'm certainly not a legal scholar and maybe it's just the way the laws are in Florida, but some of the rulings by Judge Greer just don't make sense to me. For example... if the issue is about the feeding tube... why would he deny the request to give her food and water by mouth? Some will say "But... she can't swallow." Well maybe... but he also denied the request to have new swallowing tests performed. I don't know... it just smells fishy.

Second.... casual talk. The judge decided that she would not want to live based on some casual comments she made about other people's situations. Her desires were not in writing. She was not in the process of writing a living will. She was not pondering the end of her life. She was making off-the-cuff remarks. In the 2000 court case, three people said she'd want to die... two people said she wouldn't. The judge recognized that the husband's views might be biased so he discounted it. Two to two. The judge believed the two-for-death more than the two-for-life.... so he ruled death.

So it makes me start to think. Have I ever made any off-hand remarks that I might later regret? I watched a movie the other day (Freeze Frame) about a guy who was so paranoid that he was going to be framed for murder that he videotaped himself constantly... just so he'd have an alibi. I'm not advocating recording yourself 24/7 or anything, but it does make sense to think about what you before you say it. I mean... some people have no sense of humor. What if you make a bad joke about death and some idiot doesn't realize it's a joke? That could be one guy saying you want to die.

And what about all the people who said something along the lines of "I'd rather die than have Bush as my president!"? Do we get to round them all up and starve them? I don't think so... but where do we draw the line?

Third.... talk is cheap and people change their mind. In the quote above, Jenny talks about how it was easy to talk about what to do.... but when it came time to sign.... it wasn't so easy. People make rash decisions and then change their minds all the time. That's why we try to stop suicide victims. They get caught up in the moment and try to off themselves. But when stopped, a vast majority do not later go on to kill themselves. It would seem that they change their mind about killing themselves.

I realize that Terri Schiavo is not particularly in a position to change her mind. And even if she did come out and say that she wants to live, I find it highly unlikely that the court would recognize/honor that decision. I think her fate is pretty much set in stone.

One thing to consider, though, as you make out a living will or express your wishes to others.... "Is there a way out?" I mean... what if you say you don't want to receive medical treatment in a certain circumstance.... and then when placed in that circumstance... you change your mind? Will they honor your request at the time or go with what you said at a previous time? I don't know... but it's something to think about.