TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A federal judge on Tuesday refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, denying an emergency request from the brain-damaged woman's parents.
After the so-called "conservatives" in Congress rushed to put through Legislation supposedly targetted at one person, there remains sanity in the judicial system. Numerous courts have repeatedly found that the woman, while leaving no formal (written) Advance Directive, would not have wanted to remain artificially kept alive when she has no hope of recover, as her husband, legally the person responsible for her medical decisions, has consistently maintained.
One comment on the specifics here -- what incentive, really, has Michael Schiavo had to continue this battle throughout the many (I think it's 15) years that this has taken? He has had the opportunity to divorce her and let her parents retain guardianship and keep her "alive." Really, the only reason that I can see for his actions are moral ones...he is honestly and truly carrying out the wishes of his wife regarding her medical care.
There's a Washington Post
editorial today about this issue. An excerpt, including finding from the state appeals court in 2001:The courts' findings were not ambiguous. Notwithstanding the blithe claims of politicians that they believe her to be conscious, a state appeals court in Florida wrote in 2001: "The evidence is overwhelming that Theresa is in a permanent or persistent vegetative state" and "at this point, much of her cerebral cortex is simply gone. . . ." In contrast to any number of ad hominem attacks on her husband, the court wrote that Michael Schiavo "has continued to care for her and to visit her all these years" and "has been a diligent watch guard of Theresa's care." And the appeals court agreed that the lower court had "clear and convincing evidence" supporting its determination that she would not have chosen to continue the life she now has.
This case highlights two issues, one of which has been getting covered in sidebars -- the need to document your own wishes through one or both of the two documents
available in most states -- a living will, which states what types of care you do or don't want in certain situations, and a medical power-of-attorney, which gives a designated individual the power to make decisions regarding your care in you are incapacitated, and allows for secondary persons to be designated if the primary person is unavailable. Get these documents drawn up, and put copies in the hands of your spouse/partner, your doctor(s), your lawyer, your parents, your adult children..whomever may have a stake. And make your wishes known verbally, especially to those who you have designated as having your medical power of attorney.
This second document is a key although poor substitute for the other issue raised by the attention given to Terri Schiavo that is given short shrift. For too many gay and lesbian couples it is the only legal way for them to have the legal power to make medical decisions for their partners, as far too many have found out over the years, even being excluded from visiting their hospitalized partners. This is just one of the many areas that show the need to end the discrimination in state sanctioned marriage. (Marriage as a religious institution is a seperate matter, and I don't know of anyone who says that the Catholic Church, for instance, should be required to perform them.)
That's my take for the day.