Friday, March 04, 2005

Some Thoughts On Some Complex Issues

The Terri Schiavo Case

Terri Schiavo is the woman who is being sustained by a feeding tube in a Florida nursing home.

The conflict is between the husband (who wants the tube removed because she allegedly told him she didn't want to live in a vegetative state) and the parents (who are still holding out hope for some form of recovery).

The parents claim the husband received over a million dollars for her care in some kind of settlement, which if she were dead, would go to him. He lives with another woman and has two children with her. He refuses to divorce Terri because he would not get the money, when she finally does die. Furthermore they allege that he has purposefully and willfully ordered treatments and therapies be withheld. These are such that could have helped Terri progress much further than she has.

The husband claims that the parents are clinging to what amounts to a fantasy. They are not being realistic and besides, Terri allegedly told him that she didn't want to kept alive by any artificial means, but there is no living will on file anywhere. Yet the courts that have heard this case so far, have favored him.

This is a tough one.

I understand the quality of life issue and firmly believe that a person should not be kept alive for the sake of the family. But I also see a husband that stands to gain somewhere around $1.4 million, if his wife dies. I see a husband that has established a new life for himself, which I cannot completely blame him for. But I also see a husband that may have not have Terri's best interests at heart, especially if he in fact did withold valuable therapy and treatment in order to speed the dying process, as her parents also claim.

I see those things and more. But the main thing I do not see is a written living will, signed by Terri Schiavo. What we have here is a legal system that is taking a husband's word for it. If I went to small claims court to recover some money, I had better have a written or printed receipt to prove that I really did purchase the product, where I said I did. Otherwise, my claim would be dismissed instantly.

How much more important is a document that determines whether a person lives or dies?

Forget the moral implications and the arguments, the fact remains there is no legal basis to allow the husband to have the tube removed. There is no living will and Terri is incapable of making that kind of decision. When something of this magnitude is considered, don't you think that the judges that we all depend on to interpret the law should err on the side of caution? Shouldn't they err on the side of life?

If the husband didn't care about the money, he would divorce her and I doubt anyone would think much of it. If he truly cared about her well being, he would let her parents care for her; he would let them use that money that was awarded to pay for her care, as it was intended. Unless there is another side I am not seeing, this guy seems like a major jerk.

The feeding tube should remain until we can be assured that this is not a diabolical plot by a greedy man, to eliminate his wife to gain fortune.

The Death Penalty

I am ambivalent on the death penalty.

On one hand I understand the need to punish and deter heinous crimes on the level of the Oklahoma City bombing. On the other hand I see that killing for revenge will not bring those people back.

Killing a murderer also lets him/her off the hook too easy. Would you rather be spend the rest of your life in prison, with no chance at parole, or would you rather be executed? But more than anything I have stated, I believe that the state should not have the decision to say who gets to live and who gets to die. That is best left to the Almighty.


I believe that abortion is wrong. In my opinion, it is comparable to murder. But there is one problem I have with making it illegal. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to make something illegal that was once legal.

Take Prohibition, for instance. They outlawed booze, which was once legal. But the black market took over distribution and people got it anyway. The demand never went away and people like Joe Kennedy made fortunes supplying it. As a result, the mob was allowed to grow because of Prohibition.

In the case of abortion, make it illegal and watch the back alley butchers reappear. Gone will be sterile technique and back will be the high numbers of infections and sepsis leading to death. I don't know about you, but I would rather have my daughter get one in a clean, sterile environment and deal with her conscience later, alive.

Want to stop abortion? Do it from the demand side, it's too late to do it from the supply side. The only outcome that will come from outlawing it is, you will drive the suppliers underground which in turn will impose far greater risks. Give women more options and stop making unwanted pregnancies in single women, the scourges of the earth. It may not be an optimal situation and no doubt better decisions could have been made, but there are far worse things that can happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well thought out and well written...that is what makes you so good at your profession.