Friday, March 18, 2005

Congress Subpoenas Vegetative Woman

If it were not true, and so serious, it could by funny.

Imagine a scenario where the U.S. Congress, under the control of a religious right-wing majority, takes time from its busy schedule to interfere with what is rightfully a family matter by issuing a subpoena to a woman who has been little more than a vegetable for fifteen years.

Congressional subpoenas are ordinarily issued to those whom Congress needs to testify before them. I wonder if they will try to quiz the vegetative woman, Terri Schiavo. And since she’s in a vegetative state and, therefore, can’t respond, will they find her in contempt of Congress or guilty of trying to foster a cover-up of some kind?

Schiavo has been in a vegetative state and on life support since 1990 when she suffered massive brain damage due to heart failure. It’s worse than a coma.

On Friday, the tubes were finally removed - for a third time. The first two times, her family fought to have them put back in.

Her husband wanted her feeding tubes removed so she can die in peace. He says she told him she wanted it that way if she were ever in this situation. But her parents want her to continue to vegetate, hoping one day she might wake up.

Get real folks, she’s been dead from the start. If there is an afterlife, she has been there for 15 years.

It never ceases to amaze me the kinds of dead-end avenues of faulty logic we Americans often take. I understand the parents’ wishes to have their daughter back. I don’t understand their logic in holding out that she might actually come back. Even if she did finally wake up, she would still have serious brain damage. She wouldn’t be her old self again.

And why are the laws so muddy on this matter. It seems rather black-and-white to me. If a person is vegetative, then the first priority should be given to the written wishes of that person. Schiavo didn’t leave any.

The next priority should be the spouse’s wishes. And, lacking a spouse, the wishes of the next of kin should take priority.

So, in the case of Terri Schiavo, the husband’s wishes should be carried out without any possibility of legal interference from the parents. Period.

And interference from Congress should not ever be part of the equation. It’s none of Congress’ business. More importantly, in this situation, Congress seems to have used its power of subpoena to attempt to place a de facto injunction on a state court’s ruling. How’s that for entanglement of the separate powers of government?

I’ve never understood why there is such a controversy over the right to life. To me, it seems easy. Maybe I’m just too na├»ve to understand all the complexities, but I don’t think so. I think it’s the religious right butting their collective noses into everyone’s business again.

If a terminally ill patient wants to take medicine to end the suffering, their doctors should have the right to comply with their dying wishes. Oregon is the only state that allows that to happen, and its law is under attack by, you guessed it, the religious right.

Doctor Kavorkian was right. He should be labeled as a pioneer in human rights, not as a criminal who violated some archaic morality law.

Euthanasia should be an accepted option in situations where patients are terminally ill and suffering or in a vegetative state with little or no chance of returning to normal.

I used to consider myself to be a moderate republican. I still am loathe to call myself a democrat. I have historically been in agreement with the foreign policy of republicans, and even some of their economic policies. I especially like it that they have not been so willing to cave in to pressure from minority groups.

But then there have always been those nagging religious factions who insist on drawing moral lines for the masses. They are republicans, too. And therein lies the problem.

Since George W. Bush has been president, the religious faction has had a loud and clear voice. And as the voice of that faction grows stronger, the rights of the rest of us will continue to be trampled, even those of us who are in a vegetative state and need to be allowed to die.


Anonymous said...

In light of the ongoing Terri Schiavo melodrama, I’ve decided to be responsible and make out a “living will” in order to avoid any unpleasantness in the event that I may turn into a 165 lb. turnip. It is my desire that you, my readers, friends, acquaintances, and most especially, my enemies and rivals, should participate in bearing witness to my final wishes.

Please take a moment and go to "As I Please"

and sign in the comments section

"If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a cigarette, cup of coffee or a pint of Guinness (or, all three), it should reasonably be presumed that I am not going to get better."

Anonymous said...

Don't you bet on it Barney dear. I've heard that, 'Life is most precious when you are most in danger of losing it.' Also, we don't just live in our physical body, we live in the mind too. And even though my thoughts may not be visible, comprehensible or communicated to you, I might still be a lot of me in there, even though you might think I'm a vegetable my dear.

This issue of euthanasia is the most complicated thing I've come across in my whole entire life. Personally I think, the mysteries of the universe and life would be easier to resolve. Essentially what I was saying was, that even though you leave a "living will" but you could always later decide to change your mind. Should you not have that option simply because you left a "living will" stating something else? Or should we just follow your, "living will" even though you desire otherwise later on? You see, it's not so easy.

All said and done, I believe in re-birth, fate, God and the Devil, so, since there is always re-birth right away, I'd say, what's to fear my dear? Why is there so much stress over euthanasia and life I don't understand. I'd say to the caretakers, do what your heart says. If it is deliberately the wrong decision, you pay by way of fate, and if it is the right decision, everyone benefits.

Anonymous said...

Where some people believe that the determining factor for euthanasia should be the quality of life, I feel it should be the person's will to live. Why? Because we see such a variation in quality of life so where would one draw the line? And we don't just live by action but by thought too. So, if someone can communicate their wish, good, although granted, this will definately be affected by their environment, condition, etc. And if someone can't communicate their wish, then, the caretakers should just use their brains but follow their heart in making the decision for them. That's what I was trying to say. This way, the people who want out of their state/misery will get that and those that don't, won't. I just may be wrong about all this, I don't know.