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We've all seen the headlines, and I'm sure many of us watched the Congressional debates over the fate of the Florida woman who's survival depends on extraorduinary medical means.

First: the facts.

You're left with a woman who suffered a heart attack 15 years ago, who essentially died but was resuscitated, though not entirely. Her brain had suffered enormous damage from the heart attack. As time passed, her brain further deteriorated -- to the point where much if not most of her cerebral cortex (the portion of the brain that controls conscious thought, among other things) was literally gone, replaced by spinal fluid. Doctors hired by Terri's husband say the deterioration of Terri's brain left her without thoughts or feelings, that the damage is irreversible, and that Terri's life-like appearance is merely the result of brain stem activity -- basically involuntary reflexes we all have. An independent doctor hired by the court reached the same conclusions. Doctors hired by Terri's parents did not dispute the physical damage done to Terri, but they claim there are new therapies that could improve her condition. In two separate trials, the trial court found such claims of potential improvement to be without merit. Terri's body continues to function without her cerebral cortex. She is sustained by a feeding tube surgically inserted into her stomach. She cannot eat through her mouth without a strong likelihood of choking to death.

So the G.O.P, party of individual freedom and small government, has decided to swoop in and, essentially, declared past conclusions the Florida courts null and void.

Trial by legislation

QUESTION: So the years of state-court litigation would be wiped off the map, as if it never took place?

ANSWER: If Congress gets its way, yes. That's why the legislators in Washington put the words "de novo" into the legislation, so that the federal courts would not be bound by anything the state courts in Florida had done. Terri Schiavo's parents still would have to convince the federal judge that her rights are being violated, and they would have to have the medical evidence to back that up (which they did not have in the state case), but the state case would not act as a mandated precedent in federal court.

QUESTION: What does that concept do the regular give and take between the court systems, the idea of comity and cooperation between judges?

ANSWER: It destroys it. But that's the whole point of this Congressional action. Not liking a particular result in a case that has been litigated fully and completely by a court with competent jurisdiction, Congress now has said that the game must be re-done with new rules that heavily favor one side over the other. The implications of this move are astonishing. Just think about it. Anytime Congress doesn't like the result in a particular case, it could swoop in and call a "do-over," which is essentially what this legislation represents. And this from a Congress that has for a decade or so tried to keep all sorts of citizens-- including disabled employees-- out of federal court. If this law is declared valid, no decision in any state court in the country will be immune from Congressional second-guessing. It would throw out of whack the entire concept of separation of powers. The constitutional law expert Tribe calls it "trial by legislation" and he is right.

As far as I'm concerened, this is just political grandstanding by the Republicans, who are trying to appeal to their pro-life base.

Sure enough....

ABC News obtained talking points circulated among Senate Republicans explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them, that it is an important moral issue and the "pro-life base will be excited," and that it is a "great political issue -- this is a tough issue for Democrats."

A few other things to keep in mind:

George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week.

The Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

The tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

The Congressionally approved bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

"Culture of life" indeed... :angry:

The latest:

Bush Signs Bill That May Let Schiavo Live

President Bush signed the bill almost immediately after its passage early Monday, vowing in a statement to "stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities."

"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life," he said.

This is the same Bush who, as governor, put more people to death (including the mentally retarded) than any other elected official in America. Fu*king hypocrite.

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Great post.

I also understand that Bush, as Gov of Texas signed a law (Texas Futile Care Law ) that allows people to be removed from life support if their treatment is deemed non-beneficial by Doctor's at a hospital they are receiving treatment at. Bush decided that doctor's can make decisions based on science.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlaw...upport_sto.html

This, to be sure, is pure politiking, with no risk to the Republicans. They should be ashamed.

Sickening.

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Dear Black Dog,

I am going to leave Bush's evident hypocrisy out of the mix here, and ask you "Whom should have the final say'? My first response would be 'Me' (the individual), but in the absence of a 'living will', the field is wide open. Should it be the spouse or the family? The doctor (and the science community) or the state? Or, to go really right-wing, should it be the choice of the one who is paying the bill?

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I am going to leave Bush's evident hypocrisy out of the mix here, and ask you "Whom should have the final say'? My first response would be 'Me' (the individual), but in the absence of a 'living will', the field is wide open. Should it be the spouse or the family? The doctor (and the science community) or the state? Or, to go really right-wing, should it be the choice of the one who is paying the bill?

In this particular case, Florida law calls for the trial court to determine what Terri would chose to do in this situation. The court determined the evidence was clear and convincing that Terri would chose not to continue living by the affirmative intervention of modern medicine. That seems like a reasonable method to me.

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It is tragic and very sad that this has gone on for so long. What I find saddest is the poor woman's family. "They've saved her life!" her sister said in one article I read. No, they didn't save her life. She's dead in every way that counts, and has been for years. Even if their quack doctors could somehow regrow her cerebral cortex (not that any medical research is even close to suggesting this is possible...) the person that she used to be has been long gone.

I would think that true Christians would want to let the poor woman go be with god.

And one would think that courts who have looked at this case over the span of 7 years would have a better understanding of this case than a bunch of politicians who are jumping on this to score some quick political points. Using a brain-dead woman and her family as a political football is saddening.

-kimmy

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President Bush signed the bill almost immediately after its passage early Monday, vowing in a statement to "stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities."

... and excluding american military personnel and innocents accused of capital crimes.

This is the same Bush who, as governor, put more people to death (including the mentally retarded) than any other elected official in America. Fu*king hypocrite.

Well said.

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Guest eureka

The only thing I can add is to address Fleabag's living will point.

Living Wills are not necessarily the answer as they can be challenged just like any other but with more chance of success.

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She really isn't being kept alive by extraordinary means; all she has is a feeding tube. True, the Bush intervantion is strictly politics. It is too bad that the husband and parents couldn't come to an agreement; I think it is now a fight of wills; Terri is just a point of contention. Just my opinion as neither side shows much real emotion.

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I hope in a few years we will see this case as the high water mark of fascist theocracy's attacks on civil western society.

This case has it all asfar as showing the religious right to be the depraved, unprincipled gang they truly are. What do we see here? Contempt for individual rights. Contempt for the constitution and the rule of law. The unauthorized appropriation of a human being's person and identity into the service of the religious causes of others. And to cap it all, crass political pandering, even more more eagerly sought than tendered for a change.

It's time for Americans to take a collective breath and halt their mad hurtling rush into a new Dark Age.

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Living Wills are not necessarily the answer as they can be challenged just like any other but with more chance of success.

But at least they are a clear indication of the individual's wishes.

In the current case, I believe the only people who claim to know Terri's wishes are her husband and members of his family.

This case has it all asfar as showing the religious right to be the depraved, unprincipled gang they truly are. What do we see here? Contempt for individual rights. Contempt for the constitution and the rule of law. The unauthorized appropriation of a human being's person and identity into the service of the religious causes of others. And to cap it all, crass political pandering, even more more eagerly sought than tendered for a change.

I thought that was well summed up Sweal.

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Judge rejects Schiavo Appeal

A federal judge early Tuesday morning refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's (search) feeding tube, which prompted lawyers for the severely brain-damaged woman's parents to file a notice of appeal to a higher court.

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore (search) said Bob and Mary Schindler (search) had not established a "substantial likelihood of success" at trial on the merits of their arguments.

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This entire case is just bewildering and it is hard to come to terms with what is going on.

The husband of the woman in question has moved on to another love. Since this is the case, I would tend to think that his rights in controlling the life of Terri should be revoked.

Now, onto the courts. I do not think that this is an area in which courts should be able to impose there own decisions. Just because Terri cannot state that she wants to live does not mean that she wants to die. It is basically a 50/50 chance which one she prefers.

What gives a panel of officials who have no connection with the human being in question the right to terminate her life? I do not think that there is anything.

The problem here, I fear, is that the courts and the people in support of pulling the plug believe in a higher power and that she will be better with her maker. Well, death may just be nothing at all.

If death is nothing at all, wouldn't it be better to let someone exist, no matter what the state, as long as they do not give signs as to the opposite.

Maybe Terri likes waking up to see her family. Possibly, to herself, she can tell who is who in her life but just cant express it outwardly. This is totally possible. Just because she cannot express herself does not mean she cannot think and is impartial to feelings.

Many people also argue that if they were in that situation that they would want to die. Well, unless we are in that position I do not think we can jump to that conclusion.

Look at cancer patients for example. When diagnosed there is a tendency to go into a sort of depression with a negative outlook on life. But, after you become accustomed to the situation people persevere. They love life for the gift it is.

I am not saying that in a religious sense, I am just saying that overall. Being born is a miracle in itself. Just look at the odds against one sperm making it, ahead of all the others, to one egg...and that is just the beginning.

Life is too special to put its termination based on what we may perceive as a pain and agony filled existance.

Furthermore, what does keeping her alive hurt anyone? Her family has already stated that they will care for her and do not require the husband's presense in day to day life. Why not grant that wish and forget about the situation and let Terri's life run its course? I mean, if it wasn't the year 2005 with media covering ever inch of every event, most of us would have not even heard about Terri and her family would be taking care of her in peace.

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The husband of the woman in question has moved on to another love.  Since this is the case, I would tend to think that his rights in controlling the life of Terri should be revoked.

I would hope that if he knew, or even strongly believed, that Terri would rather be dead than catatonic, he would continue to fight for that wish, regardless of whether or not he had "moved on."

Now, onto the courts.  I do not think that this is an area in which courts should be able to impose there own decisions.

One side claims that it is in fact Terri's own decision. The courts need to evaluate that claim. They have. Dozens of times.

It is basically a 50/50 chance which one she prefers.

The courts have heard a lot of testimony and seen a lot of evidence. They disagree with your assessmentof the probabilities.

What gives a panel of officials who have no connection with the human being in question the right to terminate her life?  I do not think that there is anything.

Well, someone needs to decide which wish to follow if various family members disagree. Would it be preferable to just roll a die?

The problem here, I fear, is that the courts and the people in support of pulling the plug believe in a higher power and that she will be better with her maker.

Maybe, Then again, maybe not.

Well, death may just be nothing at all.

Which would make it exactly analogous to her current situation.

If death is nothing at all, wouldn't it be better to let someone exist, no matter what the state, as long as they do not give signs as to the opposite. 

Medical experts agree that Terri has not existed for quite some time. She is already gone. The body is basically a faulty machine at this point.

Maybe Terri likes waking up to see her family.  Possibly, to herself, she can tell who is who in her life but just cant express it outwardly.  This is totally possible.  Just because she cannot express herself does not mean she cannot think and is impartial to feelings.

Maybe. But again, medical experts agree that that possibility is so remote as to be irrelevant.

Many people also argue that if they were in that situation that they would want to die.  Well, unless we are in that position I do not think we can jump to that conclusion.

Its not that she is terminally ill. Its that she simply is not. She is dead.

Look at cancer patients for example.  When diagnosed there is a tendency to go into a sort of depression with a negative outlook on life.  But, after you become accustomed to the situation people persevere.  They love life for the gift it is.

Being brain dead and having cancer are so utterly different that they defy comparison. There is no life for her. There is no her.

I am not saying that in a religious sense, I am just saying that overall.  Being born is a miracle in itself.  Just look at the odds against one sperm making it, ahead of all the others, to one egg...and that is just the beginning.

Kind of like winning the lottery. Funny that the lottery doesn't invoke the same sense of awe in people. I suspect that is laregely because it is, in fact, a religious or spiritual sense for virtually everyone.

Furthermore, what does keeping her alive hurt anyone?

If you knew that a person wanted you to pull the plug on them if they were ever in this situation, wouldn't it hurt you if you were prevented from doing so? You speak about a respect for life... isn't that precisely what this is? A respect for the life they wanted?

I mean, if it wasn't the year 2005 with media covering ever inch of every event, most of us would have not even heard about Terri and her family would be taking care of her in peace.

I suspect that it has more to do with religious fundamentalists in government than it has to do with the media. For my part, I had never even heard of this case until the government started to consider becoming involved.

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The husband of the woman in question has moved on to another love. Since this is the case, I would tend to think that his rights in controlling the life of Terri should be revoked.

I don't know whether his 'legal interest' in the case come directly from the marriage, or whether he holds some kind of testamentary Executor-type capacity she may have signed before the accident. Whichever, it is clear the husband is acting out of a conscientious beleif about what Terri would have wanted. I think it's quite noble of him to ppursue this case out of conscienciousness when he could so easily have abandonned her.

Now, onto the courts.  I do not think that this is an area in which courts should be able to impose there own decisions.

You and other right-wingers (it would not be correct to call this attitude "conservative") say that sort of thing as if 'the courts' are some sort of independent interest group, rather than an irreplaceable democratic institution. What are you really calling for, though? Mob-rule , I guess.

Just because Terri cannot state that she wants to live does not mean that she wants to die.  It is basically a 50/50 chance which one she prefers.

Fifty-fifty if you ignore the fact findings of several courts regarding the evidence of her likely wishes.

What gives a panel of officials who have no connection with the human being in question the right to terminate her life?

When did you stop beating you wife?

If death is nothing at all, wouldn't it be better to let someone exist, no matter what the state, as long as they do not give signs as to the opposite. 

But it has been determined that her wishes would be to not continue. It seems to me that your position requires us to either disbelieve or disregard what (apparently) her choice would be.

Maybe Terri likes waking up to see her family.  Possibly, to herself, she can tell who is who in her life but just cant express it outwardly.  This is totally possible. 

Apparently, however, it is entirely improbable. The part of her brain capabe of these things is completely gone.

Furthermore, what does keeping her alive hurt anyone?

It hurts her. It ignores (what the courts found to be) her wishes. It sacrifices her individual dignity to satisfy emotioanlistic preoccupations of others.

Why not grant that wish and forget about the situation and let Terri's life run its course? 

If you put a dollop of babyfood in Terri's mouth, she won't even try to swallow it. How then, can tube-feeding be called 'life running it's course'?

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The husband of the woman in question has moved on to another love. Since this is the case, I would tend to think that his rights in controlling the life of Terri should be revoked.

What difference does that make? What really matters is that this man has given 15 years of his life, first in hpes of her recovery and later, when that hope wa slost, to carry out what he believed her wishes would be.

Now, onto the courts. I do not think that this is an area in which courts should be able to impose there own decisions. Just because Terri cannot state that she wants to live does not mean that she wants to die. It is basically a 50/50 chance which one she prefers.

But the courts have determined the evidence was clear and convincing that Terri would chose not to continue living by the affirmative intervention of modern medicine -- that she would chose to have her feeding tube disconnected. In a second trial, brought about by Terri's family's claims new therapies could restore her and that the existence of such a therapy would make her "change her mind," the trial court again heard evidence from all sides and determined that no new therapy presented any reasonable chance of restoring Terri's brain function. The propriety of these decisions -- from the sufficiency of the evidence to the appropriateness of the procedures used -- has been unanimously upheld on appeal many times.

What gives a panel of officials who have no connection with the human being in question the right to terminate her life? I do not think that there is anything.

Um...Florida law gives the courts the right to intercede.

How abou this angle: what gives her parents the right to decide that Terri should continue to languish in a state of brain death because they believe a miracle will occur?

The problem here, I fear, is that the courts and the people in support of pulling the plug believe in a higher power and that she will be better with her maker. Well, death may just be nothing at all.

I don't beleive in such a higher power, but believe death would be a mercy compared to rotting away slowly.

If death is nothing at all, wouldn't it be better to let someone exist, no matter what the state, as long as they do not give signs as to the opposite.

No. Having been in a situation where I had to watch a loved one slowly succumb to disease I can honsetly say that the end was a relief compared to the state they were in.

Maybe Terri likes waking up to see her family. Possibly, to herself, she can tell who is who in her life but just cant express it outwardly. This is totally possible. Just because she cannot express herself does not mean she cannot think and is impartial to feelings.

Terri can't recognize anything. Her cereberal cortext (the portion of the brain that controls conscious thought) is destroyed, replaced by spinal fluid. She can't think, can't feel.

Many people also argue that if they were in that situation that they would want to die. Well, unless we are in that position I do not think we can jump to that conclusion.

Look at cancer patients for example. When diagnosed there is a tendency to go into a sort of depression with a negative outlook on life. But, after you become accustomed to the situation people persevere. They love life for the gift it is.

Do you honestly think a life that is dependant on machines, that stands zero chance of ever improving, can be considered a gift?

I am not saying that in a religious sense, I am just saying that overall. Being born is a miracle in itself. Just look at the odds against one sperm making it, ahead of all the others, to one egg...and that is just the beginning.

Being born isn't that much of a miracle: we've got 13 billion miracles walking around today.

Furthermore, what does keeping her alive hurt anyone? Her family has already stated that they will care for her and do not require the husband's presense in day to day life. Why not grant that wish and forget about the situation and let Terri's life run its course? I mean, if it wasn't the year 2005 with media covering ever inch of every event, most of us would have not even heard about Terri and her family would be taking care of her in peace.

Because it's apparent that is not what she would have wanted.

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I think this whole thing has been blown up by the media. I think pulling the tube was probably the right decision. However, Black Dog lashing out at Bush, as usual, and the usual suspects gleefully jumping up and down in agreement it getting really annoying. I would like to ask the moderators how calling Bush a "Fu*king hypocrite" differs from calling Chretien "da little scumbag from Shawinigan".

Another question I have with respect to Terri is if she is indeed brain dead then she would not have the capacity to suffer and feel pain. Why not allow her to live to be safe? Additionally why does her husband decide to pull the plug 15 years later? Why not shortly after the heart attack?

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However, Black Dog lashing out at Bush, as usual, and the usual suspects gleefully jumping up and down in agreement it getting really annoying.

Well, do you think that the federal government should intervene in specific cases?

:blink:

Bush deserves to be lashed out at over this. He is clearly out of line.

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Additionally why does her husband decide to pull the plug 15 years later? Why not shortly after the heart attack?

Michael Shiavo has been trying to "pull the plug" for years after it became apparent that rehabilitation wouldn't work and after many experts deemed her brain dead. And he has been fought by Terri's parents every step of the way.

He stands to gain nothing by Terri's death. Why would he continue down this path if this wasn't Terri's wish? Why wouldn't he just throw his hands up, divorce her and get on with his own life? Michael Schiavo is going to be reviled for the rest of his life and the stigma will attach to his "other" family. You have to ask yourself, what possibly could motivate him to go through this if he didn't have the certainly of Terri's wishes behind him.

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I think this whole thing has been blown up by the media. I think pulling the tube was probably the right decision. However, Black Dog lashing out at Bush, as usual, and the usual suspects gleefully jumping up and down in agreement it getting really annoying. I would like to ask the moderators how calling Bush a "Fu*king hypocrite" differs from calling Chretien "da little scumbag from Shawinigan".

I think the fact that Bush passed a law as governor allowing hospitals and medical facilities to "pull the plug" on patients with no hope of recovery and who could no longer afford treatment is proof of his hypocrisy. Ditto brother Jeb, who signed the law in 1999 that added feeding tubes to the list of "extraordinary measures" that people could discontinue in such cases.

Of course little puppets like you don't see this hypocrisy for what it is becaus eyou're always willing to give your ideological kin the benefit of the doubt.

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The difference is that Chretien is not a "scumbag" unless you can find a definition for that term that I don't know of.

Bush is a hypocrite by any test of the meaning.

Here's your definition of Scumbag:A person regarded as despicable.

That's fitting for a leader who stole millions from his country.

Unfortunately I couldn't find one for "fu*king hypocrite".

We all understand the meaning of the classless insult though. I suppose we should call Chretien a "fu*king hypocrite" as well since he did things like promise to eliminate the GST... then didn't. That seems more "fu*king hypocritical" than anything Bush has done.

I think the fact that Bush passed a law as governor allowing hospitals and medical facilities to "pull the plug" on patients with no hope of recovery and who could no longer afford treatment is proof of his hypocrisy. Ditto brother Jeb, who signed the law in 1999 that added feeding tubes to the list of "extraordinary measures" that people could discontinue in such cases.

So would the Bush bros. be wrong in intervening in a case where a family wanted to remove the feeding tube from a quadriplegic like Christopher Reeve or someone like Stephen Hawking?

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Guest eureka

Chretien did not "steal millions from his country." What is despicable is the mentality that continues to make unfounded accusations.

Your charge is also a serious one that could land you in trouble if you say it in the wrong place.

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Your charge is also a serious one that could land you in trouble if you say it in the wrong place.

LOL. Really? kinda like calling someone a "Fu*king hypocrite" or accusing the President of master minding 9-11 or accusing him of rigging voting machines, being clinically insane etc. etc. etc. Are those the kind of charges that could land someone in trouble? :lol:

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