Viewpoints on the Schiavo case

About the living will issue and due process.

Virtually every single day across this country decisions are made to discontinue extraordinary medical intervention and people are allowed to proceed with the process of dying. In some cases feeding tubes are removed. More often ventilators are turned off. In one case a person starves to death, in another they are suffocated. It happens every day … but you don’t hear politicians screaming about murder. And why? Because those cases don’t generate the media heat that this one has. [Neil Boortz. Shameless Grandstanding. 21mr05]

About the issue of federalism and rights

Surely, many of those who oppose what Congress did in the Schiavo case do generally approve of intruding on the state to impose a higher standard of individual rights – including the rights for the disabled. They would not normally stand back and allow the states to innovate and experiment with the narrowing of individual rights. Certain matters have traditionally belonged to the states, but there is a long modern trend of re-visualizing these matters in terms of the rights of the individual. Whether one agrees with the conception of rights reflected in Congress’s Schiavo law, one should not deny that Congress has an important, well-established role enforcing the rights of the individual and displacing choices made at the state level. And who does deny this role? The disagreement is about what rights are, not what federalism is. [Ann Althouse. Terri Schiavo and federalism. 21mr05]

and musing on implications

As Congress and the President rushed into their exploitation of Terri Schiavo, they set off a bomb that will have considerable fallout, I think: … This is not the result of deliberative government and the rule of law. This is the result of the fog of media and cynical politics. [Jeff Jarvis. Schiavo fallout Buzz Machine. 21mr05]

Jeff mentions the fear of lawsuits, the implications of costs, and the mess in the legal and judiciary systems. He also ponders the starve, choke, kill, and murder ideas in contrast to the Oregon assisted suicide law. What he misses is palliative care that is a normal part of the end of life in the ‘failure to thrive’ cause of death.

President Bush used the “fog of media” as a rationale to support the emergency act for federal judicial overview. Considering the rhetoric being bandied about, this may be a reasonable position to take. We need to make sure that the ‘due process’ did indeed properly consider the rights of the parties involved and, if it didn’t, to fix that due process.

Update: Jeff provides some good links to help understand the medical and ethical issues involved.

Matthew Yglesias sends us to a good post by Rivka on the medical claims in the case; see another on the ethical issues. And Rivka recommends a post by Hilzoy, which includes a picture of a scan of Terri Schiavo’s brain.

It makes the media fog appear to be even more obfuscating and the brouhaha even more poorly based.

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