Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo has died

Terri Schiavo has died. Some will see that as a blessing, honoring her wishes and the wishes of her husband. Others will see this as a great tragedy. Her case will join a list of others -- Karen Quinlan, Nancy Cruzan, etc -- which have helped to shape the laws regarding how we die in America, and the choices we have at the end of life. Interestingly, the previous cases were about families united to stop the life support. These cases helped establish the principle that there is a difference between killing and allowing to die. The Schiavo case was about a divided family, and what to do then. This case has raised so many issues that will take years perhaps to sort out _ issues of federalism and separation of powers and frameworks to settle family disputes. One issue that I'm writing about now -- for tomorrow's paper or for Sunday -- is what impact her case will have on the use of feeding tubes in America. Another big question to ask now that she's dead is how in fact did she die? Did she suffer? Did she die peacefully? There have been many who have said her death will be brutal and painful and awful. Was it? This is a different question from whether you think the tube should have been removed? That is another huge question that raises the fundamental meaning of life. This is a question about whether removing a feeding tube is a painful way to die. Blog on, folks. And see my remarks below. There is lots to talk about.

5 Comments:

Blogger momof22 said...

Did she suffer? Did she die peacefully? There have been many who have said her death will be brutal and painful and awful. Was it?

I do not believe any of us, even the most brilliant medical minds - can truly know. I wrote quite abit about the use of feeding tubes in my first post on this blog last week so I won't repeat myself!

I fundamentally think that the use of feeding tubes is different than other medical interventions that are called life supports.

NO ONE eats without some kind of tools to help them eat.

Whereas most of us can breathe without intervention, we ALL need assistance with eating. First it is breast or bottle. Then it is being spoon fed by another person, then we use tools, implements, spoons, forks, knives, etc by ourselves, and sometimes at various times we have to go back to being fed by others, even temporarily if we have surgery or break both arms, for example.

So use of a tool that helps you eat is not the same as a medical intervention that keeps your breath coming in and out of your body, or keeps your heart beating.

IMHO

12:17 PM  
Blogger Johnny Squire said...

Terry died a long time ago. The feeding tube kept a body alive, not a person. (It's not true for all feeding tubes - as the pope and momof22 clearly demonstrate.) Why is everyone afraid to say it?

Is it because no one wants to admit that end-of-life issues require the same difficult discussions of the definition of "life" and the proper role of religion and government as the much less comfortable topic of abortion.

It's time to talk about core issues - enough of both camps' rhetoric and pretext.

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