Friday, March 25, 2005

Two Questions

My last Terri Schiavo post, I promise... at least until Terri Schiavo actually dies. (Previous posts can be found here and here.)

I have two questions for those people out there opposing Michael Schiavo's attempts in this matter based upon religious beliefs. Even though I doubt that any of them actually read this blog, I figured I'd toss the questions out anyway.

First, if you believe that good Christians go to heaven upon death to join God and the angels, then why are you fighting Terri so hard against Terri's journey there? If it's such a great place, why are you fighting tooth and nail to keep Terri in her corporeal form down here on earth where she has slim to no chance of actually developing brain function? All I know is if there's a real choice between heaven and being imprisoned in an ethereal form over which one barely has control, I would choose heaven. And I would sure as heck resent anyone who grabbed my arm and held me back from running there as fast as I could.

Second, if you argue that keeping Terri alive is The Will of God, have you stopped to consider Who caused the heart attack that put Terri in this position to begin with? Perhaps God was trying to take her back into His fold, and now our mortal feeding tube is what's actually thwarting God's plan. Since none of can ever actually speak to God to determine His intentions, we're all just guessing here. So how can you be so freaking sure that you aren't the one thwarting God's intentions? Who's the one "playing God" now?


Jon said...

I hope the Bush's don't adopt her. How much would that suck?

allegri said...

I totally agree, why do people fight so hard to keep what is left of her alive? She has little to no chance of recovering from her current state, they are just putting her through more torment, by making her live in the prison of her own body by keeping her alive when she can not express anything that she "might" be feeling inside. I would not want to be kept alive under her conditions, especially since I know what awaits me after I leave this life.

Steve said...

Yo, Dennis! I don't know, I may have told you this before, but I live right where all of this is going on. I could drive to where she is in less than 15 minutes, and you pose two great questions for religious folk to ponder. I'm not sure which side I'm on anymore, because all of this just makes my head hurt now. One of the radio stations we run had two people camped out there (!). For some reason, I didn't think this would really have any effect on
me, but after seeing and hearing more of her plight yesterday, all I can say is, I just feel really, really sad right now.

Tazzy and Piggy said...

This whole situation is just so tragic...

We had a similar case over here in the UK a few years ago that went through all the same motions with the courts, families battling against each other, etc.

I begin to wonder sometimes what kind of God would allow this kind of situation to continue.

And at Eastertime too, eh? You know, that time when he supposedly allowed his own son to die. Isn't it time he allowed Terri to die too?

Although I fall down on the side of allowing her to die, I do have great reservations about the amount of time it will actually take - 2 weeks?? Oh my goodness. What torture, not only for Terri, but all those around her.

Surely there must be a quicker way?

Matthew said...

Great questions, Dennis, especially # 2.

I was watching CNN (or FOX News, or one of those friggin' stations) last night, and someone on there said that we should reinsert her feeding tube, and "let God decide" when she dies.

This is curious, as (you point out very aptly) this presumes that God approves of the feeding tube. Wow. I didn't think people were supposed to presume to know God's will.

As the feeding tube is an artificial, man-made creation, then how do we know if God approves of it, or not? Or are we presuming that He does, simply because He's 'allowed' it to exist?

If this is the criteria, then God must approve of every man-made device, whether it be a gun, a battleship, the atom bomb, nuclear weapons and (gasp!) the ability to clone.

What's that? I hear some dissention from that supposition?

Curious. One would almost think that this whole God thing is another man-made invention, and so it therefore contradicts itself at every turn, and we're constantly trying to adapt our made-up set of beliefs in order to quell our evolved ape brains.

Doh! I'm sorry!

dotbar said...

The thing I'd like to know is what does TERRI want? Oh sure, her husband says she said all that stuff but a)he could be lying because he gets life insurance money when she goes (he won't say if she's insured or not so we don't know)
b)maybe she can understand and changed her mind. I read(and who knows if this is true either?)that no one has ever done a comprehensive scan of some type that shows enough info to tell where her brain is at. The fact is that no one really knows. I don't think I'd want a husband who has a new mate and kids to be deciding my fate (especially if the money is a big question mark).
Anyway, this actually happens everyday and not just to severely disabled adults but kids as well. I'm just not sure this situation is ultimately a "euthenasia" question as much as it is a question of what she wants (if she even is aware) now and who should be deciding that. If they're not sure, they're mightly anxious to pull that tube out.

Dennis! said...

Thanks for your comments, folks. Most of you appear to agree with my post, so I don't want to add too much....

But, of course, dotbar, I should respond to your post. You're right that the ultimate question is Terri's actual desire, but the problem is that she left nothing explicit in writing expressing her intent. The point is that the question of Terri's intent -versus- who is entitled to decide for her are intimately and inextricably intertwined. The answer to the question "What would Terri want?" can only be answered by first answering "Who is in the best position to know what she would want?" (i.e., "Who decides?").

With respect to the "money as a question mark" issue, I think it's pretty clear that money has not been an issue for Michael Schiavo. He's turned down tons of offers for large sums of money to divorce her so the family can take over in caring for Terri. That's because he really feels like he's pursuing a course of action that Terri would have wanted, and that's more important to him than money. Check out this post at ArmchairGenius (with cites to news articles in USA Today and the NY Times) to see a flip side of the "Michael's a money-grubbing pig" argument.

In a previous post, (the second link in the body of this post), I've addressed why the fact that he has another woman in his life should mean absolutely nothing.

Supporters of Michael's position are "mighty anxious to pull the tube out" because they think that Terri would have wanted it out ages ago, and they have accepted that her quality of life is awful and unlikely to improve. They want to see her in a more peaceful place sooner rather than later. I can't say that's an illogical thought process.

Rocky Moore said...

I would have posted the full reply here, but not sure how big comments are allowed (yes, I ma long winded):

I will try to post the reply part here, but not sure if it will get chopped off..


I am a Christian and an American. This causes a dilemma for some issues such as the "right to die". As an American, I think it is horrible that anyone should have to suffer through all the pain and agony to die when they have been handed a sentence of a fatal disease. It is beyond brutal torture what some people have to endure to simply die and be removed from their pain and suffering. I mean, if it is a horse or the family dog, they are killed to put them out of their pain.

Now, as a Christian who believes God is not dead and neither is His ability to heal, it would be a horrible to kill someone that may receive a healing and be completely restored. This is a personal battle for me, and I would never like to be killed as long as a good portion of this body of mine can remain alive regardless if it is by machine or a feeding tube. I would not give up on the hope that I would be healed and walk out of that place.

Sounds good, but why are not people being healed, where is God?

There are many things no Christian actually knows. I personally believe that we are not seeing the healings as has happened as much as in the past, in today's world primarily due to the lack of sanctification of all of us who call ourselves Christians. Yeshua gave Christians power to heal in His name, but his requires us to have the faith and relationship to actually bring it to pass.

We all seem to be failing in this regard because we are too busy with the things of this world such as, money, computers, sports, TV, videos, Golf, food, etc.. Our lives are lived in a greedy, faithless manner and we do not spend the time with God that we should. The fault is all ours. A simple test is to figure out just how much time you spend with God (not church, but with God) and how much time you spend watching TV, playing around or just entertaining ourselves.

Did God cause her condition?

No, it is not God that makes people sick. Most of the time, it is simple choices our parents or we make or our environment and possibly genetics. God does not just sit around going, "I really miss Terri, so I will kill her today to bring her here". If God wants someone, He can take them, just like He has done in the past with Enoch and Elijah without them even seeing death.

Does God approve of feeding tubes?

That is the same as if God approves of us eating. It is a conveyance of food and water into a person who supposedly cannot swallow. What happens to a person that is paraplegic and cannot feed themselves, just because they cannot get up and get their food, they are to be killed as it is not God's will that they live? What about a person who requires medication to live, is it still not God's will that they live and we should destroy all medications?

If we believe we go to heaven after death, what is the problem?

Just because we believe in an after life, does not mean that we should all be killed to get there (although the end result may be better ;) ). Terri is alive until some people kill her through starvation and dehydration. If she should die tomorrow and she is right with God, she will never feel pain or sorrow again nor will she be aware of this great injustice that has happened to her.

Kines said...

This is a kinda (perhaps futile) attempt to rebutt against your words.

Because if anything, Michael Shiavo, in his "valiant" attempts to have Terri die, is doing so in the most cruel of manners.

I don't know what compels him to endure the suffering of his wife for nine days while she starves and thirsts (while his lawyer coldly encourages the family to get their act together and deal with "personal matters" because they wouldn't win any further legal action).

I don't know if what he claims his wife said is true or not, but at least he should have the decency to want to keep his wife in the most dignified position possible.

In the land where the husband exerts more influence than the family, aren't are prioritities severly misaligned?

I wouldn't argue that keeping Terri alive is the will of God. I would argue that leaving her to die in such a manner is tormentuous and wrong, even if claims that she does not feel pain are substantiated.

Besides, why support a man who denies his own wife her proper Last Rites?

Dennis! said...

Rocky and Kines: I sincerely appreciate your contributions to this discussion, because I do think an open and honest and respectful debate is good. I'd like to respond to the issues each of you raises.

Rocky: While I understand your position, I can't help thinking that the lines you draw strike me as, for lack of a better word, arbitrary. As elements of faith, each of us has the right to ascribe some things to "God's Will" and other things not. You appear to draw a line at God creates us, but other things make us sick. How did you reach that line? Can't others reasonably disagree, and ascribe illness, sickness, and death as a part of "God's Will" as well? Who's to say that one interpretation is more valid than the other? Isn't it a matter of personal faith? Is it "God's Will" that a tree grows in Central Park, or the tree the the result simply of a team of gardeners and landscape artists?

Kines: As I pointed out in one of my previous posts, I (personally; I can't speak for Michael Schiavo) would prefer it if, were I to find myself in a PVS like Terri, would have my death accelerated by some form of lethal drugs instead of letting time takes its toll while a feeding tube is withdrawn. However, it is Republicans and other "conversatives" who have fought this option in courts, making doctors skittish to carry out these actions. Jack Kervorkian has been put in jail for helping people accelerate the alleviation of their misery; John Ascroft has even legally challeged the will of the people in Oregon when they tried to legalize it. So conversatives can't be the ones now to claim that letting Terri starve is the cruel thing to do; they are the ones who won't allow acceleration of death as a viable option.

The fact is, in this country the spouse is always presumed to know more about the spouse's wishes than the family. If Terri disabled in any way other than PVS (like Alzheimer's or something), it's the husband who would decide what care she receives, not the family. If Michael had chosen to keep Terri on the feeding tube, I would have supported his right there too, no matter how much I disagree with it. In one of my comments above I link a blogger who talks about the efforts Michael made during the first few years of Terri's disability to bring her back from her PVS; I didn't see the Schindlers or anyone saying he didn't have the rights to do that back then. It's only when disagreed with what decisions he was making on her behalf that suddenly his right to make medical decisions on her behalf were challenged.

Diane said...

I think Dennis has done a wonderful job of facilitating the discussion taking place on his blog and don't really have anything to add. However, I am curious as to one thing. Florida law clearly states that the spouse has the right to make medical decisions in cases such a Terri Schiavo's. For those who disagree with the decision made by Michael Schiavo, if given the opportunity, how would you change the law?