June 15, 2005

Schiavo autopsy: She was a vegetable then, she's an ex-vegetable now

I was on the outs with many of my conservative cohorts on the Schiavo mess, and I don't expect that to change now.

I felt that both the medical evidence, as well as case law, sided with her husband. She was a vegetable, and barely alive in any sense of the word. We, as a society, did not have the right, legally or morally, to preserve her "life" to assuage our collective sense of piety.

I got called all kinds of names, up to and including "Nazi" over my stance in this case, by all sorts of people, including some who I had the greatest bit of respect for. I felt the US Congress had no business getting involved, and after Terri Schiavo died, I insisted (as I do today) that no one "won" in this sad, sordid matter.

The autopsy results were released today, and they confirmed what I had been saying, and had believed then.

An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.
Unfortunately, this won't stop the conspiracy-driven among us from claiming that Terri Schiavo was murdered by her husband, and at the hands of a "complicit" Judge Greer and officials both in Florida and across the nation.

The case -- which was more about spousal rights than anything else, contrary to anything the screaming "Terri-bots" (to coin one phrase used for her supporters) will tell you in print, on the air or online.

The case is over, and Terri, thankfully, is no longer lingering, but the verbal attacks and abuse live on.

Posted by mhking at June 15, 2005 12:43 PM

Regardless of what state she was in, ending her life through starvation/dehydration was just wrong. Timothy McVeigh got a nice injection, Terri Schiavo had to die slowly, and if she had any sense of feeling at all, painfully.

Pulling her tube could be argued as maybe the right thing to do, but refusing her to drink water herself (or even the chance to try) is heinous.

Posted by: Echo Zoe at June 15, 2005 01:49 PM


Posted by: Steven J. Kelso Sr. at June 15, 2005 06:43 PM

NO, living blind and dumb for over 10 years is JUST WRONG. Helen Keller at least had a chance to learn. Terri, she was not brain dead (I don't want to get into the meaning of that) but from sitting in on many neurological "grand rounds" I am confident that thousands of neurologists didn't need the autopsy to sleep well tonight. It is so simple sometimes it is hard to accept. Michael King was thinking along the lines I was. Tough to make a decision, but in this case we were making a media mad house out of something very personal and intimate.

Posted by: Alois at June 16, 2005 01:17 AM

You were right, they were wrong. And there was little doubt of the outcome. This came as no surprise to folks who value science and reason. It will never be accepted by the converse whose initial premise is that facts don't count if it contradicts their ideology or political aspirations. Now you'll have a chance to see how your more extremist right wing cohorts behave in light of your vindication. Don't hold your breath and don't expect the smears against you or anyone else to stop.

Posted by: ~DS~ at June 16, 2005 01:24 AM

I write this a someone who stands somewhere in the middleground on this arguement.

The husband's argument is that Terri was essentially a potted plant laying in that bed. Everything that ever was Terri was long since gone. If this was the case, The person that told him to "pull the plug" was long since gone and not suffering in any way. He was a widower and it would have only been a formality to file divorce paperwork.

If the parents were willing to pick up the bills for Terri's care and it gave them some comfort (however much it was based on false hope), what harm would it have been to let them keep the potted plant alive?

Within Terri's family, the entire argument was based upon selfishness on both sides of the family. When the argument became political it too was based upon selfishness by people who wanted to advance their own agenda at the expense of a family's tragedy. Whether it was the "right to life" crowd or "we hate Bush, everthing he stands for and everone that sides with him" crowd.

Posted by: Odd Brian at June 16, 2005 12:56 PM

Those who worship value science and reason scare me. They sure value life very little. No, I reject that god.

Posted by: Steven J. Kelso Sr. at June 16, 2005 06:46 PM

Mr. Kelso: science and reason are not "gods," and no one is saying they are. They are tools that have proven useful for understanding the physical world around us, and each other. (They're also tools that helped us keep Terri Schiavo "alive" as long as we did.) Since you identified yourself elsewhere as a Navy doctor, I have to ask whether you reject science and reason in your diagnoses. If so, I sure don't envy your patients.

Posted by: Raging Bee at June 17, 2005 08:54 AM

read the transcript of the report and not the talking points from newspapers. it was stated that they could not give an accurate clinical diagnoses of PVS from a corpse. also she did not have bulima or a heart attack. so dont you want to know why her husband lied about what happened to her

Posted by: shari at June 17, 2005 04:28 PM

Corpsman, not doctor.

I stand by my published words--she was murdered.

Posted by: Steven J. Kelso Sr. at June 17, 2005 06:30 PM

There was no one left to murder: there was no brain activity, and the brain was half gone -- the human half. But I guess such empirical observation is part of that "science and reason" stuff you just rejected.

Posted by: Raging Bee at June 17, 2005 10:29 PM

Who rejected science and reason? I merely stated that I do not worship them--sorry to step on your god.

Posted by: Steven J. Kelso Sr. at June 20, 2005 06:36 PM

No one expects you to worship them; we expect you to make use of them to understand what you're talking about. If you can't distinguish listening to someone from worshipping him/her, then I pity you.

And no, you didn't "step on" my gods -- they're way beyond your reach.

Posted by: Raging Bee at June 21, 2005 12:33 AM

I have to agree that this was a very sad case. That being said, what would happen to you if you decided that your dog was sick and his quality of life was so deteriorated that you were going to allow him to die a 'peaceful death' by dehydration? You would be arrested for animal cruelty, you know it and I know it. Why is it ok to do this to a human being? Especially a human being where there were family members wanting and willing to take on the care of her. I just don't understand it... I know people say that Michael is her husband and should be able to make that decison....and I agree under 'most' circumstances. That being said, there were so MANY questionable things in this case that I truly 'still' believe that the courts should have allowed her parents to take care of her.

I never believed that Michael abused her or caused her injuries or illness - but I do believe that Michael's decision to have her die was influenced by the fact that he had moved in with and father a child by another woman. In this case, he 'effectively and emotionally stopped being Terri's husband' and should have given care over to her parents. He waited 8 years to remember that she wanted to be allowed to die in this instance... etc. This was not an open and shut case, there were lots of problems with this decision.

I just cannot imagine, as a parent, being forced to watch my child die of dehydration/starvation because the spouse has a new live in love and wants to go on with their life..... I'm sorry, I will always have a problem with that.

Posted by: debsay at July 6, 2005 04:39 PM
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