Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Nazi's too killed disabled people...

I have blogged about Terri Schiavo before, and it's really no secret how I feel about the situation. Her "husband" (read the man who abandoned her 12 years ago and is patiently waiting to officially marry his new wife with whom he has two children) seems determined to spur her death, and today it seems closer than ever.

Terri and her Mom  Posted by Hello

In 1990 Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage following a heart attack caused by an improperly diagnosed potassium deficiency. The incident left her disabled, and ever since she has recieved her nutrients and fluids through a feeding tube.

Terri is not brain dead. Actually, she is unlikely to die anytime soon. Her brain operates with low level brain functions that apparently make it possible for her to make eye contact, smile and respond to people around her - albeit in primitive ways (smiliar to other severly disabled people). Most importantly, she persists in life.

Currently, Terri lives in a hospice. After her heart attack and initial hospital stay she returned home where she lived for four years before going to a nursing home in 1994, and then transferred to the hospice in the year 2000.

Michael Schiavo, her husband, wants to remove her feeding tube and allow her to "die naturally".

For Terri, "dying naturally" in her present condition means to starve to death. Literally.

This is not the first time Terri has faced this threat. In April 2001 Michael was successful in having her feeding tube removed, it was restored by court order two days later. Again, in October 2003 her tube was disconnected but this time it is not restored for 6 full days, and not until the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities filed a federal court action claiming that removal of Terri's feeding tube constituted abuse and neglect.

Doctors can't seem to decide whether Terri's condition is truly a "persistent vegetative state" or not (defined as a permanent and irreversible condition of unconsciousness in which there is (a) The absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind. (b) An inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment."). It seems to me that a state of persistant unconciousness should not be hard to determine... Regardless, she is alive. She displays cognitive tendencies. She smiles, laughs and cries. If her husband, as her current guardian, refuses to protect her, then the court should appoint a new guardian.

The lessons we should take from all of this are simple: each of us should have a written document that legally expresses our desires should this type of situation befall us and appoints power of attorney to someone we truly trust. Oh yeah, and be careful who you marry.

1 comment:

hiro said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you! I have a find a lawyer site/blog. It pretty much covers find a lawyer related stuff.