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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Terri Schiavo & Stephen Hawking: Starve 'em Both?

Terri Schiavo & Stephen Hawking: Starve 'em Both?
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
 
So, I love Glenn Beck (radio talk show host emeritus) and he brought up such a great point today: If Stephen Hawking couldn't talk or communicate, the same people who think that Terri Schiavo should be starved to death would also want to starve Stephen Hawking to death.

I think he's probably right, unfortunately.

Check out Glenn's site. It's really great.

     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:33 AM
 
get a blog, seriously.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:36 AM
 
The issue here is simply hypothetical... Hawking can communicate... Schiavo cannot.

Considering he's in a position to dictate terms of a living will... I'd bet this issue has already come up and been dealt with.

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Mar 16, 2005, 10:37 AM
 
And stop comparing brain-dead individuals to conversant individuals suffering from a disease known to affect primarily muscular but not intellectual awareness.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:43 AM
 
Okay, here's one for you:

What if the Pope was in the same situation at Terri Schiavo? I mean, it's not too difficult to imagine considering that he has Parkinson's.

So, who would be spouting off about starving the Pope to death?

Answer: No one.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:47 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Okay, here's one for you:

What if the Pope was in the same situation at Terri Schiavo? I mean, it's not too difficult to imagine considering that he has Parkinson's.

So, who would be spouting off about starving the Pope to death?

Answer: No one.
The pope's not dead?
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:48 AM
 
Originally posted by DeathToWindows:
The issue here is simply hypothetical... Hawking can communicate... Schiavo cannot.
Because people took time to help him. If he didn't have his contraption, he'd be laying in a bed in much the same condition.
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:55 AM
 
Originally posted by MacNStein:
Because people took time to help him. If he didn't have his contraption, he'd be laying in a bed in much the same condition.
No. Independent medical examiners appointed by the court confirm that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. This is very, very different from progressive motor neuron degeneration.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:55 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Okay, here's one for you:

What if the Pope was in the same situation at Terri Schiavo? I mean, it's not too difficult to imagine considering that he has Parkinson's.

So, who would be spouting off about starving the Pope to death?

Answer: No one.
If he had told his healthcare power of attorney that he didn't want a feeding tube to prolong his life in an irreversible disease process, then no one would "spout off".

If he had wanted a feeding tube to prolong his life, and then the people in charge of his heath decided to pull the tube and not feed him, then I'd be one of the first to complain about the situation.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 10:59 AM
 
MacNStein
Because people took time to help him. If [Stephen Hawking] didn't have his contraption, he'd be laying in a bed in much the same condition.
Exactly.

And, because he had money to help himself. Terri Schiavo is out of money.

Christopher Reeve, Muhammed Ali, Richard Pryor, and others all have the ability to buy devices that allow them to modify their disabilities.

Hawking cannot breathe on his own nor speak without a computer but he had the money to be able to get physical therapy and purchase a set-up that allows him to communicate.

No one wants to let people REALLY try to rehabilitate Terri Schiavo. Her bigamist and adultering husband heard Terri mention once during a television show that focused on a disabled person, over 15 years ago, that she "wouldn't really want to live that way."

Based on that comment he has decided that her life has no worth.

He does not know. There was no serious discussion about her life and death wishes. She made a comment. Was she under the influence of alcohol? Making a joke? Was she taking a medication that would influence her thought of mind when she made that comment?

She deserves the benefit of the doubt. A real chance at rehabilitation. THAT is what all of us think who are opposed to starving a real live human being to death.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:06 AM
 
Originally posted by d4nth3m4n:
get a blog, seriously.
Man, only losers have blogs these days man.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:11 AM
 
Originally posted by Mithras:
No. Independent medical examiners appointed by the court confirm that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. This is very, very different from progressive motor neuron degeneration.
You missed my point. Here, I'll repeat it.

"Because people took time to help him. If he didn't have his contraption, he'd be laying in a bed in much the same condition."

No one wants to really work with Maria, even her husband wants her dead... most likely for the insurance $.
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:26 AM
 


If you stubbornly don't see the difference between Hawking (who has a brain) and Schiavo (who doesn't) then there's nothing anyone can do to help you. It's not a question of having money to rehabilitate, it's a question on whether you believe a brain can materialize out of nowhere.

Some people think having a relationship with another woman after his wife's been dead for 15 years makes Michael Schiavo a "bigamist and adultering husband." And some people think getting fruit for Valentine's day is not very husbandly. Clearly such talk is just subjective -- pure opinion.


Nevertheless, Mr. Schiavo's actions have nothing to do with the fact that his wife is no longer with us.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:28 AM
 
Originally posted by d4nth3m4n:
get a blog, seriously.
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:31 AM
 
Please show us a CT scan of Hawking's brain, will you?

Because I'm SURE that we would see huge "black spots" in his brain also.

Now, about the fruit on Valentine's Day, what does that have to do with anything? All it is is a jab at me, but backatcha.

     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:45 AM
 
armchair neurology anyone?
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:46 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Please show us a CT scan of Hawking's brain, will you?
Because I'm SURE that we would see huge "black spots" in his brain also.
Just to clarify, that CAT scan of Schiavo shows that she has almost no cortex left at all; it's all died, leaving space filled with corticospinal fluid.
I couldn't find a CAT scan of Hawking himself, but here's an MRI of a typical ALS patient. The abnormalities that sometimes appear in ALS are the small white spots pointed to by the arrows.

Anyway, does someone else want to talk about this? "Discussing" this with Cody is like discussing it with the radio.

     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:48 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Please show us a CT scan of Hawking's brain, will you?

Because I'm SURE that we would see huge "black spots" in his brain also.
Sorry, Cody, but apparently you don't seem to know much about ALS. Like many degenerative disorders, especially involving the nervous system, ALS is extremely hard to diagnose -- there is no "smoking gun." Like MS, it's only diagnosed after any other cause is ruled out.

Mr. Hawking's CT scan would NOT have those abscesses.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:50 AM
 
armchair neurology anyone?
That was amusing, actually.

Who here IS a licensed physician and/or practicing neurologist?

Raise your hand please.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:50 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Answer:
me.



anyway, why do they need to "starve her" to death? can't they just shoot her in the head or something?

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Mar 16, 2005, 11:50 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Please show us a CT scan of Hawking's brain, will you?

Because I'm SURE that we would see huge "black spots" in his brain also.

Now, about the fruit on Valentine's Day, what does that have to do with anything? All it is is a jab at me, but backatcha.

There is no physical degeneration of the brain with ALS such as is shown in Terri Schiavo's scans. It is a motor neuron breakdown, not the destruction of brain tissue, which is what happened to Terri when her heart was stopped for so long.

Further, Kurzweil GAVE the voice generator to Hawking. He developed it specifically as an exercise to see if it could be done, and GAVE it to the man. People without this sort of device (similar devices are now readily available for not too much money) make do with other means of communication-a word board, for example. Of course, most of the people with ALS don't do lectures as Steven Hawking does.

Professor Hawking is fairly well off, but not rich by any means. He is simply someone who has survived ALS much longer than anyone could have expected or hoped-all through the normal treatment regimens that apply to ALS.

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Mar 16, 2005, 11:51 AM
 
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:52 AM
 
Actually, the thing that's depressing to me is that the whole debate is about whether to let Mrs. Schiavo starve to death because it's somehow not okay to talk about just killing her.

I think there are plenty of cases where it's okay to stop spending money and effort to keep someone alive. But if that means you know they're going to die, then you may as well actively make their death quick and painless.

Certainly there may be situations where someone has some kind of mental life left but genuinely doesn't want to be kept alive. That person might actually suffer a prolonged and painful death with life support removed. Obviously, they'd prefer to be shot up with morphine sufficient to kill them.

Somebody should not just remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, but put her to death as well. I would say the same of the pope or Steve Jobs or whoever's in her position.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 11:56 AM
 
That is a good point.

Because starving a person to death and not giving them water must be a terrible way to die.

We won't even do that to the worst criminals in this country...yet it is apparently "okay" to do this to a helpless woman.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 12:15 PM
 
She's not a woman anymore She's brain dead. You're comparing a brain dead body with a person able to communicate, albeit differently from the norm. Nothing can help Terri communicate. Nothing. You're comparing apples with oranges and looking silly doing it.

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Mar 16, 2005, 12:18 PM
 
Well, yes it's "okay" to do it to her, because as was mentioned earlier, she's in PVS and will not only never ever live a "normal" life, but she'll never even have any conscious experience. The body that housed Mrs. Schiavo's personality is a machine that takes nutrients from a tube and turns them into poop that some overworked orderly or nurse has to take away. So yes, it's okay to stop that body's remaining functionality quickly and effectively.

As for your point about criminals, um, I don't know what decade you just woke up in, but lots of states in this country still have and use the death penalty. I'm personally on the fence about capital punishment in principle; but I'm against it in practice anyway until I'm convinced there's 0 (or maybe 1 in 10^10) probability of an innocent person being convicted of a capital crime. But that's a whole 'nother thread..
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 12:18 PM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
She's not a woman anymore She's brain dead.
oh, i never knew those concepts were mutually exclusive?!


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Mar 16, 2005, 12:30 PM
 
Who here would like to go sit with "the body known as Terry Schiavo" while she dies a very uncomfortable death?

Seriously, tell us who you are.

Enquiring minds want to know.

     
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Mar 16, 2005, 12:43 PM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Who here would like to go sit with "the body known as Terry Schiavo" while she dies a very uncomfortable death?
People die uncomfortable deaths (though I would think any kind of death is uncomfortable) every day all over the world. It's sad what happened but it's also a fact that she's not going to wake (using she rather than it) anytime soon. Or ever.

Would you like for your body to be sustained after your brain is dead? Not comatose, but brain dead.

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Mar 16, 2005, 12:50 PM
 
Originally posted by Mithras:
No. Independent medical examiners appointed by the court confirm that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. This is very, very different from progressive motor neuron degeneration.
It is, however, also very, very different from the legal definition of brain death. If it weren't, then the case would never have gotten as far as a court, because the laws are quite clear on that matter.

In any case, once again, there is no proof that this is what she wants. All we have is the word of one man who has a conflict of interest the size of a small planet. Should we be taking an irreversible action based on such flimsy evidence that this might be what she wants?
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Mar 16, 2005, 01:17 PM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Who here would like to go sit with "the body known as Terry Schiavo" while she dies a very uncomfortable death?

Seriously, tell us who you are.

Enquiring minds want to know.

I would sit with her body. And when no one is looking I would put my hands over her nose and mouth and hasten her death so it would be less of an uncomfortable death and more of just a minor annoyance.


Except, she is already BRAIN-DEAD. So, there is no higher level brain functioning to know, and to feel, that she is starving. I'm guessing the only things still firing in her brain is the brain stem which controls low-level, involuntary systems like breathing and the heart beating.
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Mar 16, 2005, 01:53 PM
 
How is it that being starved is such a horrible way to die, but being brain dead and being a vegetable isn't? If I were brain dead I would definitely want to be put out of my misery, assuming I could still feel any misery at all.
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:09 PM
 
BECAUSE SHE IS NOT DEAD.

If you put your hand over her mouth she turns her head away trying to breathe.

I know that because it was mentioned as one of her reactions when they tried to intubate her for a procedure. She turned her head away.

A "dead" person does not do that.
     
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Is Glen Beck that creepy guy who wears sunglasses in the daytime? Didn't he have his own TV show once, until he went off on some rant about how he hates gays? I get a lot of the right-wing talk show hosts confused, so correct me if I'm wrong.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:17 PM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
BECAUSE SHE IS NOT DEAD.

If you put your hand over her mouth she turns her head away trying to breathe.
That's a survival instinct controlled by the lower brain functions. She may not be physically dead but she is brain dead. She's alive, technically, but not living.

If a dog were anywhere near that condition, people wouldn't have the slightest qualm about putting it to sleep. Well, a dog, even a poodle, has more of a functioning brain than she has and more than she ever will have.

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Mar 16, 2005, 02:17 PM
 
No, that's not Glenn Beck. I sort of remember who you are talking about, though. He was/is a stand-up comic. Gosh, I can't remember his name.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:19 PM
 
Rush Limbaugh?
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:19 PM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
That was amusing, actually.

Who here IS a licensed physician and/or practicing neurologist?

Raise your hand please.
That would be me.

She's brain-dead.
She's been this way for 15 years, and she's not going to get better. You can keep brain dead people alive, but its not going to change the fact that she can no longer think, feel, see or hear. Her brain does not function. Her heart still beats and her limbs still spasm and twitch, but there is no purpose to these movements. This has been shown time and time again by medical experts in and out of court.
Doctors are not careless, soulless people intent on putting down a human being like an injured animal... but when there is nothing more to be done, the decisions about whether to maintain her in this state or not must fall to someone. Legally, this is her husband. Its not "the doctors" who want to kill her. She has apparently stated to her husband what her wishes were should something like this ever occur.

If you don't want this to happen to you - people fighting over what to do for 15 years, or if you don't trust your spouse to make decisions on your behalf - please see a lawyer and create a "living will" of advanced directives.

Stephen Hawking's situation is completely different. He is not brain dead. He has a motor pathway degenerative disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig's disease). He can still think, hear and see. Only his motor neuropathways are degenerating. Most people eventually succumb to this disease, often due to infection or respiratory failure. In his case, he seems to have stabilized (although has only very limited intact motor function). Oh, and as far as I know, he does not require a respirator. He breaths on his own (someone above suggested that he's on a ventilator).

Although you'd have to ask him yourself, Stephen Hawking may well have some advanced directive stating that should he slip into a coma from which recovery is not expected, that he not be kept alive via artificial means. But that is up to him... its his choice.

It has been shown by the courts that Terri Schiavo also made that choice.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:23 PM
 
Originally posted by goMac:
How is it that being starved is such a horrible way to die, but being brain dead and being a vegetable isn't? If I were brain dead I would definitely want to be put out of my misery, assuming I could still feel any misery at all.
Good for you. Unfortunately, you are not her, and your wishes likely have no bearing on her own, whatever they may be. Neither do her parent's wishes, my wishes, or her husband's wishes. In short, we have no way of knowing. About the only thing we have to fall back on is the human self-preservation instinct -which would point to wanting to live- but this is not exactly good evidence to be using in a court of law, so we'll disregard it for this argument. However, that leaves us with nothing at all.

Given that, we have two options: pull the plug or keep her alive. Either way, we risk going against her wishes, and in either case that would be a grave injustice. However, there is a difference should we somehow find proof of her wishes (perhaps an old letter or journal is unearthed). This is not just hypothetical: discussions such as the one Schiavo's husband claims passed between them are often documented one way or another. In any case, that would lead to four possible outcomes:
  • We kept her alive and guessed right: Good Thing.
  • We pulled the plug and guessed right: Good Thing.
  • We kept her alive and guessed wrong: Bad Thing, but reversible; the plug can be pulled immediately upon learning of the mistake.
  • We pulled the plug and guessed wrong: Bad Thing, irreversible.
Logically, it only makes sense to err on the side of reversibility. The risk of error is the same, but the consequences of error are less severe. The law should not be in the habit of gambling, and when it must it should take the safest road.
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:27 PM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
That's a survival instinct controlled by the lower brain functions. She may not be physically dead but she is brain dead. She's alive, technically, but not living.

If a dog were anywhere near that condition, people wouldn't have the slightest qualm about putting it to sleep. Well, a dog, even a poodle, has more of a functioning brain than she has and more than she ever will have.
OMG OMG YUR COMPARING PEOPLE TO DOGS??? HOW COULD YOU!

this thread is ****ing retarded.

she's a vegetable, it's costing a lot of time and money to maintain this shell of the person that no longer is. this case must be a landmark for some kind of legal precedent, otherwise this would be such a no brainer. (no pun intended) put her down. it's that simple.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:30 PM
 
Originally posted by Millennium:
Good for you. Unfortunately, you are not her, and your wishes likely have no bearing on her own, whatever they may be. Neither do her parent's wishes, my wishes, or her husband's wishes. In short, we have no way of knowing. About the only thing we have to fall back on is the human self-preservation instinct -which would point to wanting to live- but this is not exactly good evidence to be using in a court of law, so we'll disregard it for this argument. However, that leaves us with nothing at all.

Given that, we have two options: pull the plug or keep her alive. Either way, we risk going against her wishes, and in either case that would be a grave injustice. However, there is a difference should we somehow find proof of her wishes (perhaps an old letter or journal is unearthed). This is not just hypothetical: discussions such as the one Schiavo's husband claims passed between them are often documented one way or another. In any case, that would lead to four possible outcomes:
  • We kept her alive and guessed right: Good Thing.
  • We pulled the plug and guessed right: Good Thing.
  • We kept her alive and guessed wrong: Bad Thing, but reversible; the plug can be pulled immediately upon learning of the mistake.
  • We pulled the plug and guessed wrong: Bad Thing, irreversible.
Logically, it only makes sense to err on the side of reversibility. The risk of error is the same, but the consequences of error are less severe. The law should not be in the habit of gambling, and when it must it should take the safest road.
The problem is she quite literally is missing portions of her brain. She will never wake again. She will never have feeling again. Ever. Her as a person no longer exists. The only thing left for her is death. You might as well go through with it now and make it less painful for everyone involved. The person inside of her has already died. The only thing left is the body.
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:33 PM
 
If nothing else, I have to admire Cody's persistence. Show me a cat scan! *Cat scan shown, refutes her claims. Who here's a doctor? *Doctor posts, refutes her claims.

I'm curious to see what other requests we can provide for her. I'm a chemist - need any chemistry based nonsense to be refuted by me?
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 02:40 PM
 
Get a priest or rabbi. Convince her that it's better to meet one's reward in Heaven

[cody]No, its not. Prove to me Heaven is better than some stinkin' hospital [/cody]


Well, I've already informed the family long ago to do everything they can do to save me. But once the game is up, to let me go in peace and with some dignity.

But now. I'm thinking of asking for a two-week respite. Cody, will you come and watch over my lifeless form until the plug is pulled? Please?

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Mar 16, 2005, 02:53 PM
 
Originally posted by goMac:
The problem is she quite literally is missing portions of her brain. She will never wake again. She will never have feeling again. Ever.
You are probably correct. Nevertheless, the only people debating her medical state are her parents. Everyone else seems to pretty much agree on it.

The real question is what she wants, or would have wanted. There is no way to reliably determine this, as the only pieces of evidence we have are extremely flimsy and all contradict each other. Furthermore, I think most people would agree that were she to somehow express a wish to be kept on life support, that no one would have any right to contradict her. We risk contradicting her either way, but one of our options allows us to correct that error should it arise, and the other does not.
Her as a person no longer exists. The only thing left for her is death. You might as well go through with it now and make it less painful for everyone involved. The person inside of her has already died. The only thing left is the body.
That is for her, and no one else, to decide.
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Mar 16, 2005, 03:11 PM
 
Originally posted by Millennium:
That is for her, and no one else, to decide.
I'd submit that it's not for her to decide.

If medical science says she's no longer there, she can't possibly decide.

If she said sometime in the past that she did or didn't want to be kept alive, that's irrelevant now; she's not here anymore. Now it's someone elses decision.
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 03:28 PM
 
Originally posted by Eriamjh:
"Me lose brain?" - Homer
You've omitted all the humor from that part of So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show

<Homer is released and joins his family in the hospital lobby.>
"This calls for a celebration. We're all going to Hawaii! April Fool's!"

<The family tells him that it's mid-May; he was in a coma for seven weeks. After a pause, all burst out laughing.>

Marge: "You lost five percent of your brain!''

Homer: "Me lose brain? Uh-oh!''

<More laughter>

Homer: "Why I laugh?''

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Mar 16, 2005, 03:35 PM
 
What is the problem with moving Terri Schiavo to a facility that rehabilitates people and seeing IF she makes ANY progress? Seriously?

Why the refusal to explore that opportunity?

I'll tell you why: Michael Schiavo does not want her to wake up. Why? Because then his little "family" consisting of his common law marriage and his two children born out of wedlock would be compromised, invalidated, ILLEGAL.

It's not in Michael Schiavo's best interest to have Terri Schiavo get "better."

     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Nov 1999
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Mar 16, 2005, 03:37 PM
 
Originally posted by Bluesky:
I'd submit that it's not for her to decide.
That's directly incompatible with every widely-accepted definition of human rights out there.
If she said sometime in the past that she did or didn't want to be kept alive, that's irrelevant now; she's not here anymore.
That's a philosophical decision of the sort that the law cannot and must not go into.
You are in Soviet Russia. It is dark. Grue is likely to be eaten by YOU!
     
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Mar 16, 2005, 04:01 PM
 
I think that this matter has no business being discussed in public. It sounds as though Terri had expressed very clear thoughts on the end of life. This should be between the family and the doctor.

"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." Winston Churchill
     
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Nov 1999
Status: Offline
Mar 16, 2005, 04:05 PM
 
Originally posted by wdlove:
I think that this matter has no business being discussed in public.
I don't know about that. This is breaking some rather impressive legal ground. Should someone have the right to terminate another's life, based only on an unverifiable claim that this is that person's wish?
It sounds as though Terri had expressed very clear thoughts on the end of life.
Unfortunately, this cannot be verified beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, given the sole witness to the claimed expression, there is quite a lot of reasonable doubt involved. That's one of the reasons the case has gotten as far as it has.
You are in Soviet Russia. It is dark. Grue is likely to be eaten by YOU!
     
 
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