Monday, March 28, 2005

Crossed the Line?

Perhaps readers can enlighten me on a topic that has been nagging at me concerning the Terri Schaivo case.

How can Judge Greers ruling that Terri recieve no food or hydration orally(by mouth) possibly be rationalized. I disagree completely, but can understand a feeding tube being legally construed as (extraordinary measures). Prohibiting food or water by mouth however, is a giant legal and ethical leap.

It is therefore Ordered and adjudged that the Respondents’ Emergency Expedited Motion for Permission to Provide Theresa Schiavo with Food and Water by Natural Means is DENIED.

This would be akin to removing someone from a respirator and then also removing all oxygen from the room should the person breath on their own. Could any thoughtful person honestly believe that if Terri would have been asked "If you were in a state where your relatives might have to aid in your feeding and drinking, would you prefer they did not and let you die" she would have wished the latter?

I believe this is where Judge"Dredd"Greer is most vulnerable. No rational person could possibly construe someone being helped to eat or drink by mouth as "extraordinary means". It is it's most fundamental sense a deprivation of the guaranteed constitutional right to life. The ruling has monumental ramifications ie, A patient could be provided food and water on a table across the room, but if they couldn't get up and retrieve it, they could be allowed to starve.

This decision in many ways slipped under the radar. I believe however, it will emerge as one that is both legally unjustafiable and ethically indefensible.

Legal scholars, have at it.

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