Monday, March 21, 2005

The Other Side

Reader Marta sent me these stories relating to the Terri Schiavo case. They are thought provoking but in no way change my thoughts on this issue and I will explain why.

Two dark scenarios haunt Jay Wolfson even now,
One is that the severely brain-damaged woman is in a terrible lightless place, aware of nothing but a yawning, endless hopelessness.

The other is that even though he never elicited a response from her, despite all the pleading and cajoling he did at her bedside, that he might have missed some subtle, nearly invisible signs that she was somewhere in there, aware.

In the end, after long hours at Schiavo's bedside and after poring over 30,000 pages of legal documents, Wolfson concluded that Schiavo was indeed in a permanent vegetative state.

Assuming that the legal guardian was indeed looking out for Terri's best interests as opposed to Michael's or the courts, lets look at the what's really important here.

Terri Schiavo has never had legal representation. A legal guardian( Jay Wolfson) is not an attorney and in no way fights to protect a clients legal rights, it's not their job. Terri Schiavo is entitled to legal representation just as any person who's fate is to be determined by the courts. To deny this is to deny "Due Process". A review by the Federal Court with an attorney representing Terri would remedy this inequity. Secondly, a significant amount of testimony was excluded by Judge Greer, testimony that differed to a greater or lesser degree from the courts finding of facts. Again a Federal review with ALL testimony and additional medical testing including introduction of an MRI would only help to clarify a determination. Third, medical professionals disagree as to whether Terri in in a PVS. Bill Frist just today quoted a neurologist who examined Terri and said she is NOT in a PVS and is capable of improvement. At the very least the prognosis is unclear. Any of these facts alone would warrant judicial review, but together they make such an action imperative.

The other main variable here are the husband Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers. As saintly as these articles paint him, the facts don't neccessarily bear that out. A significant amount of the money earmarked for Terri's care have gone rather for the legal fees ($400,000) associated with putting her to death. It was approximately 5 years post Terri's CVA that any mention of Terri's wish to die was mentioned by Schiavo. Up untill then he maintained that any settlement would go toward Terri's care and rehabilitation. It wasn't untill just after the settlement was made that the first references to Terri's wishes were offered up. There of course is the persistent $300,000 life insurance policy that keeps rearing it's ugly head, cannot be definitively proven however. His motives may be altruistic and then again they may not be. His ethics are also in question being that he has sired a child with his common law wife while continuing to stay married to Terri. In a nutshell, it is unclear whether Michael Schiavo is operating in good faith and therefor is worthy of additional scrutiny. In contrast, the motivations of the Schindler family are crystal clear. They love Terri and want what they feel is best for her. They stand to gain nothing from her continued life other than years of hardship and potential heartache, all to keep her with them in this world. Does anyone believe that they would wish her continued existence if they believed her to be nothing more than inanimate object. They see in her a spark of life and consciousness, one they hope and pray can be rehabilitated. Who are we to say they are wrong.

I said it last week on this very blog but I'll give GW credit for it; When in doubt, error in favor of life. There is more than a reasonable amount of doubt in this case and a complete and thorough Federal review is at minimum required. Any less is to devalue life and diminish ourselves.

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