Have These People No Shame?

I miss my walking/hiking partner for several reasons, not least is that if I were walking with him three or four times a week I wouldn’t feel compelled to write about the tragic battle over prolonging Terri Schiavo’s life when I’d rather continue playing with Katrin Eismann’s Photoshop: Masking and Compositing. If we were still walking, I would have gotten this out of my system days ago.

Unfortunately, the attempts by conservative politicians to intervene in this case to gain political points by pushing their “culture of life” agenda infuriates me, leaving little choice but to drop my Wacom pen and speak out against such hypocrisy.

I find it odd that politicians trying to cut Medicaid funding choose to intervene in this case. Who has paid to maintain Terri on life support the last fifteen years? Judging from the costs of my recent five day stay in the hospital, I’d doubt that either Terri’s parents or her husband has been able to pay those costs. I doubt an insurance company would bear those costs. Even less expensive nursing homes are prohibitively expensive. That leaves me to suspect that it is Medicaid, as in so most prolonged cases, that has paid those enormous costs. Yet these same congressman who seem more than willing to see the elderly turned out of nursing homes into the streets because of high costs are eager to pay the cost of maintaining life support for a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state” for the past 15 years?

I can certainly sympathize with Terri’s parents desire to see their daughter kept alive no matter what the circumstances. That’s how parents are supposed to feel, isn’t it? On the other hand, when my mother who was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease broke her shoulder and contracted pneumonia, I was the one who said that we didn’t want any extraordinary steps taken to extend her life. Thankfully, my decision was made easier by the fact that my mother, whose grandmother had also had Alzheimer’s, had repeatedly stated she would not want to live under those conditions. And, it didn’t hurt that I strongly believe I would not want to be kept alive under such conditions either.

How can those very people who claim to want to see “God’s Will” done find it unacceptable to remove a feeding tube from someone who has been in a vegetative state for fifteen years. Keeping someone alive under such conditions seems to me like a denial of God’s supremacy, an unwillingness to accept God’s final call. If God intended for her to live, wouldn’t He keep her alive after doctors withdrew her feeding tube?

How will politicians decide how long to keep Terri Schiavo alive? Until her parents die? Until a cure is found? Until her natural life span would have run out? Are we willing to say that ALL such victims should be kept on life support equally long, no matter what the costs to society?

Do we really want politicians stepping in and making these kind of personal decisions for us? Shouldn’t those closest to the victims make such decisions? Are politicians ready to rewrite laws so that parents rather than husbands or wives decide how patients are treated?

It seems evident to me that doctors and those legally designated to make such decisions, “loved ones,” should be left to make them according to their own conscience unless there are obvious reasons the government must step in to protect innocent victims. However, Terri’s case has been through the courts so many times in the last 15 years that it seems unimaginable that any such conditions could exist.

Added: Here’s an updated perspective on this issue.

6 thoughts on “Have These People No Shame?”

  1. I agree. I think it’s congress who is brain-dead and who take this moralistic attitude about life and health when they won’t do anything about universal health care, not even for America’s children.

  2. I whole heartedly agree. This stopped being about Terri and her wishes years ago. People are using her to advance their own political agendas, which is more than just disheartening.

    It is ironic that the very party which decries big government and government intrusion into our lives believes it is acceptable to intrude on such a personal, private decision. What kind of precedent will this set?

  3. Further proof (as if we needed it)that the GOP and sadly ever increasingly the DEMs wil do anything to please the fundy Chritians so as to garner votes.

  4. A message to beautiful Terri Schiavo:

    Out beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.


  5. I have found this even too distressing to write about; I’m glad that others have taken it on.

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