© Kenneth Cauthen 2005
Now that the hysteria over the
Terri Schiavo case has subsided, some final reflections may be in
order. It is at heart a simple matter involving only three items.
1. The background is that law and practice for the last decade and more
have established the right of patients to control their own medical
treatment, to refuse it or to stop it at their will. When the
patient is unable to do so, properly instructed proxies may act in
their behalf. 2. Florida law provides that the spouses, not the parents
of patients, may speak for them when the patient is unable. 3.
Florida courts found factually that the husband Michael correct
represented his wife's wishes in this case. That is all there is to the
case, and the courts at every level, including the Supreme Court of the
United States, repeatedly reaffirmed this.
It is unfortunate and a tragedy that the family was divided and became
the source of the great uproar, generated largely by the need of cable
news stations to fill time 24.7. The drama was ready made for
exploitation on all hands, from the media to the fanatics. For TV it
was wonderful for ratings: visual, dramatic, emotional, involved
conflict, winners and losers, and plenty of people informed and
uninformed, wise and foolish, hysterical and rational, eager to
claim camera time.
Michael was tragically made the bad guy and had to endure all kinds of
lies and irrelevant and factually absurd charges, and the courts
sustained him every time. He was deeply in love in with his wife and
never ceased to be. He cared for her lovingly and tenderly until the
last hour, cradling her in his arms as she died. He sought the
companionship of another woman after medical experts had convinced him
that the Terri he loved so much was gone and would not come back ever.
He maintained that Terri would have approved what he did.
I have some experience here. I cared for my wife after we were divorced
and I was remarried until the day she died in a hospice. I sat and held
her hand every day during her last days, and we tenderly confessed our
love for each other. I was in her room along with our children the day
she died and went to the pharmacy to get a prescription the nurses
wanted to ease her pain. Eloise would have told you plainly that she
trusted me more than anyone on earth -- along with our children -- to
take care of her. I was close by and assumed responsibility down to the
last detail of planning her funeral, taking the dress she was buried in
to the cleaners, and putting a monument on her grave. Michael, I know
how you felt. I applaud Michael for having the courage in the face of
all the trashing and court suits he faced to insure that his wife's
wishes were carried out.
Terri's parents and relatives, on the other hand, were in a state of
deep denial for years. Had it not been for the fuss they raised, the
case would never come to public attention. Note, the only reason this
case claimed national attention was because of the family dispute over
her care. Ventilators and feeding tubes are removed from hopelessly ill
patients every day in this country by the will of patients or their
authorized proxies. They do so by law and standard medical practice and
in ways compatible with compassion and love. As a parent, I share the
agony of the parents and siblings. But Michael was on the right side of
this issue, and the courts rightly confirmed this over and over. The
Congress to its disgrace tried to interfere in areas where they have no
business. Most Republican were exploiting the issue politically,
and most of the Democrats were moral cowards hiding in caves. Both
parties were out of touch with large majorities of the American people
who had the good sense to see the issue in a humane way and wanted the
Congress to do something about Social Security, Medicare, and
health insurance for those without and stay out of the sick room.
I invite comments, criticisms, refutations, suggestions, and
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If you want to take a break for some fun before you get to the
serious stuff, the links below will take you to some short videos
humorous nature that I made. They poke good-natured fun
some funny aspects of religion, churches, theology, right-wing
Protestant religion, and the mixture of right-wing religion and
politics. They are designed purely for entertainment and laughter. I
hope you enjoy them. For a
list of my movies that play
on Windows Media Player, see: Essays
I am also into blogging, You will
find periodic essays on current events at http://johnwilfred.blogspot.com/
Presently, the following essays
on theological and ethical topics
Created Monday, April 19, 2005.
Having a Web site is becoming a family enterprise. First to have a Page
was my son.
The latest entry is that of my son-in-law and daughter.Ric Brown
These sites are very different, but both are creative,imaginative
productions. They would welcome a visit.
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