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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Responding to the Response 

Apparantly, I cannot respond to comments on my own blog. Well, what do you want, it's free.

This is answering the comments in the previous entry.
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I will agree that perhaps the husband is getting a bad rap in the coverage, at least from the right-wing media (FoxNews, Radio, blogs, etc.) but I think thats because of the extraordinary levels he's going to to keep the rest of the family silent about the situation.

I do think there is an unfortunate trend in policy debates to try to gaze into someone's soul and figure out why he is doing something.

The husband isn't particularly a winner, because he didn't win anything. I think perhaps the best analysis might be that he wants to move on with his life, and probably needs Terri dead before he feels he can. That would explain why he turned down offers for millions of dollars to let her live, when letting her die would only garner him several thousand (much of which may be eaten by the death tax and funeral expenses).

This case was extra violent, in that it began deeply personal, and took on a political edge that merged with the angriness of the personal.

I will say that I believe that since I've had two old family members in the hospital system recently, that doctors are entirely too willing to encourage, and even try to force euthenasia.

And I sincerely believe if we are going to perform mercy killings, we should be merciful about it: make them comfortable, and end it painlessly. This woman, supposedly on the verge of death, has been starving and dehydrating for a week and a half now. A quick shot of morphine would have taken this poor woman out of her misery, taken this case off of the news, and prevented this morbid deathwatch.

I do think that the federal government has a right to get involved, but only if they are planning to really make some changes. As I tried to illustrate, I think the Republicans tried to appeal to the Pro-Life crowd without any intentions of fixing the core issue, and with full knowledge that the courts would back up the previous decision.

Many current laws have emerged from one single incident catching attention from the media. Megan Kanka's kidnapping resulted in Megan's Law, for example, and John Brady's bulletwound resulted in the Brady Bill. The fact that sketchy euthenasias occur so often is the one reason that I think that this whole debate wasn't a total waste.

Will it change anything? I doubt it. We, as a nation, are all too afraid that we may get stuck in a position between life and death that rather than err on the side of life, we'd rather someone just take away all uncertainty.

I think the best solution we currently have right now is to write a specific living will (as creepy as that is), and not to marry someone who may appeal to his/her own preferences over your own. If you think there is valid reason to believe your significant other's opinion would clash with your family over the decision, then thats all the more reason to do so.

Comments:
Heh, that's kind of annoying that you have to start a new post everytime you want to respond. I'm sure there's a way to fix that but I swore off programming three years ago and I'm sticking to it. I blame professor James Cohoon for my hatred of html and c++. Well, that's not completely fair, the program itself is dry and boring, but he's still a bad professor. Think Comic Book Guy.

Anyway, I wrote my response last night around 2am so it probably sounded more like an angry rant than I meant it too. I'm looking at this example from a purely scientific/medical point of view. There's nothing we can do about people dying but doctors still take a serious oath to do everything they can to preserve life. They allow people to die naturally but refuse to do anything to hasten death. They still refuse to partake in capital punishment so the lucky lowlifes get to be put to death by nurses who have little idea what they're doing. The idea of assisted death is really unethical and most doctors won't even talk about it.

The ability to keep people alive artificially has created a moral problem that we're still not really talking about as a society. 50, 60 years ago Mrs. Shiavo would have died within a week of her heart attack and nobody would have thought twice about it. I think the interesting controversy in this case comes from the loose definition of life that has been created since lifesupport machines have come about. I'm mostly talking out of my ass but how do we classify life from the point of view of people in comas or "vegetative" states. Is a person who has no memory, little or no interaction with the outside world and no hope of recovery still considered alive in the same since as you or me? Or for less extreme casses of people getting older, how long should we prolong thier lives if their condition is just going to deteriorate? Doctors who work in hospices unfortunately keep a very detatched relationship with their patients. It's probably frustrating knowing that there's nothing you can do to help people other than make them as comfortable as possible. I don't have a whole lot of experience with death so I can't really answer these questions, but if I'm lucky enough to live to the point where I'm dying of old age I certainly wouldn't want the option of leaving a hospital taken away. When we try to make laws regarding death it can only end up becoming intrusive and making the last years of our life humiliating. I think that forcing someone to stay alive when they don't want to is pretty selfish.

I haven't seen it since my 10th grade sociology class but a movie starring Richard Dreyfuss, Whose Life is it Anyway, goes into this issue a lot deeper than I can. I honestly can't remember if it was good or not but I tend to judge social commentary movies more for there content than their quality. Anyway, I'm not trying to hijack your blog so I'll try and keep my comments shorter from now on. Everyone's talking about this case though so I figured I should probably get my thoughts on it down somewhere and yours was the first venue that came to mind.
 
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