Monday, February 28, 2005

Regarding Terri Schiavo:

No one will benefit in any way from Terri’s death. Take a stand! Bad laws are just that, they are bad laws, change them! Do the right thing. Allow Terri to continue to live.

Don’t we have laws that protect the handicapped? Isn’t Terri handicapped? Americans with cognitive disabilities like Ms. Schindler-Schiavo have rights. Congress decided that in 1990 when it passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Yet an “enlightened” few in society do not consider that Terri Schindler-Schiavo has any rights other than the “right” to die. We believe the ADA requires that she has a right to therapy and support. The government’s function is to protect its citizens. That protection extends to all, not just those considered hale and whole.

Terri was normal until her collapse. But what caused the collapse? Doctors who treated her at the Northside Humana ER theorized that it may have been caused by low blood potassium. When she was admitted, it was noted on her paperwork that she had a "rigid neck," which is sometimes indicative of strangulation. A recently released bone scan done in 1991, which details multiple traumas to her limbs, spine and torso including a broken femur and back. The radiologist who performed the scan noted, "This patient has a history of trauma." Why was an investigation not performed in light of the undisputable facts regarding her injuries?

Terri Schiavo is currently in the care of "The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast." All of Terri's medical care has been influenced by a Past Chairman of the Hospice's Board of Directors, George J. Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo, and self-described "right-to-die" advocate. Many of the Hospice nurses, volunteers, and doctors who are charged with the care, feeding, and unbiased medical evaluation of Terri Schiavo worked for George J. Felos.

As for Felos himself, instead of a lawyerly estate, his home looks like hippie villa USA, complete with crimson couch, bright green carpeting and a living room wall painted neon blue, according to the St. Petersburg Times. When he's not stirring up theta waves or practicing yoga, he invites friends over to chant "I am that I am … I am that I am …" while he bangs out a tune on his harmonium. Felos currently has ten “right to die” cases in his briefcase and just like Johnnie Cochran, Felos has a vested interest in the outcome, above and beyond a simple legal result and the half million he has already collected. He can elevate himself to national notoriety and be, like Jack Kovorkian, the one to see when you wish to eliminate an “undesirable.” Currently there is a petition online at: for documenting widespread support of a formal complaint to the Florida Bar Association against attorneys George Felos of Dunedin, Florida, and Deborah Bushnell of Dunedin, Florida, for numerous aggravated violations of Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, section 4, Rules of Professional Conduct.

Many of the profoundly retarded cannot feed themselves but does this mean their quality of life is below some arbitrarily determined standard and their feeding should be stopped? How can any person decide for someone else when their quality of life falls below a certain standard? What are the criteria? Are they physical or mental? If the brain functions, but the body is defective, does that warrant annihilation? In that case, obviously all quadriplegics should go, and that would have included Christopher Reeve. But what if the body is completely functional, but the brain is defective? Is that the answer? That would encompass all the severely retarded, in the process saving the taxpayers lots of money as we could just shut down all the centers for the handicapped! In addition, when a person gets too old to function properly (let’s set up some tasks for the elderly to test them) well, get rid of them too!

What about the soldiers that have lost limbs and can’t feed themselves either? No hands? Uh-oh! You’re next on the list. No arms? Too bad! You know, while we are fixing up these problems let’s take a look at the unborn. “Mam, our ultrasound indicates that your baby may be deformed or possibly mentally challenged. I suggest we terminate the pregnancy.” What a relief, one less drag on society!

Doctors are very often wrong. How many times has the medical profession written someone off only to have them completely recover? John Travolta, in the latest Readers Digest tells an anecdote about a little girl he visited who was dying of cancer. She met him ten years later fully recovered. We all can vouch for similar stories in our encounters with hospitals and the medical profession. As we have been repeatedly told, medicine is a science until the answer is unknown and then it becomes an art.

Brain function doesn’t necessarily depend on the amount of brain available. Some persons have basic functionality with only a brain stem. Some people have recovered from comas after many years. But Terri is not in a coma, she has PVS (in a permanent vegetative state).
The end stages of diseases like Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's sometimes leave patients in PVS. 10,000 to 25,000 adults and 4,000 to 10,000 children live in PVS in the United States.

The locked-in syndrome has some similarities to PVS since the person is almost completely paralyzed. However, locked-in patients can often move their eyes purposefully, showing they are conscious and aware of their environment. They can communicate with those around them. Tragically, they are otherwise unable to move. There is really no established consensus, even in the medical field, as to what should count as the criteria of consciousness. Even if a patient shows no evidence of consciousness, there may still be some form of consciousness present. Even if the cerebral cortex is destroyed, medical evidence shows that other areas of the brain are involved in cognition and awareness. Even if there is no consciousness present now, that does not imply there is no potential for consciousness.

As to comas and PVS, how long should persons be in a coma or PVS before society (represented by another activist judge) decides that they should be terminated: one month, six months, one year, ten years, more? Is the presence or absence of life sustaining machines the deciding factor? “Forced feeding” is not what Felos, the lawyer, has described in an attempt to misrepresent the issues, it really consists of a tube being placed down one’s throat and unwanted and unnecessary foods funneled down the tube. Nourishment necessary to sustain life is not “forced feeding.”

Is the expense of Terri’s nourishment an issue? It costs less than a few dollars a day to keep her alive! A feeding bag and pump set can be purchased for a few hundred dollars, ex: The cost of Nutrional supplements are not an issue.

There are the legal hoops though which we must jump and then there is common sense and humanity. Michael Schiavo doesn’t have the right to terminate a life. In truth, his wife is no longer his wife. He left her long ago. Bad laws, in effect, are not laws at all. If an injustice is being perpetrated, we don’t have to stand by and let it happen. Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.

Maybe God sent us all a message with the recovery of another comatose woman a few weeks ago. Situations like Terri’s are convincing evidence that forces of evil (call it whatever you wish: Satan or apathy) prowl the earth. We can stand for life or death. We already have a higher law than any judge can fabricate: “Thou shalt not kill.”


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