Let me weigh-in on the heated debate surrounding the fate of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who is the source of an amazing legal, ethical and political battle. If polls are to be believed, I share a minority opinion and a pretty darned small minority opinion at that. Having said that, I assume most readers will disagree with my thoughts on the matter. And I understand.
Let's attack this issue from the beginning. When Terri Schiavo lapsed into a coma following an eating disorder, it became the responsibility of the medical community to assess her condition. Through an elaborate system of medical diagnostic measures, a panel of physicians ruled she was and would remain in a persistent vegetative state. Now that term is being interpreted in countless ways in this current battle but the bottom line is this: "there isn't a reputable, credible neurologist in the world who won't find her in a vegetative state," according to the final report.
Her husband says his wife had clearly stated her position should she ever arrive at this point. Her wishes were not to remain alive by artificial means. I don't know how anyone could dispute those wishes.
But I am sorely disappointed at my conservative Republican leaders who hypocritically bemoan a large federal government, then turn around and use the full weight of the feds to try and impose their wills on Terri Schiavo. I cannot express my disappointment in those who claim to promote individual rights and at the same time, fight against those very rights.
The court system is being manipulated by the conservative Republicans and family members who consciously ignore the wishes of Terri Schiavo. Ruling after ruling, appeal after appeal, and the courts have ruled that the patient can indeed impose her wishes. The legal and political maneuvering has been nauseating.
"Death with dignity" is an interesting term in our society. Most American agree with the concept until it runs counter to their personal views on a specific case. And then we all become the ones who can define dignity. Well not in my book.
There are no winners in this tragedy. Terri Schiavo, in many ways, died years ago. I or anyone else cannot make an accurate judgment other than to accept the words of educated, trained professional medical experts. And they agree that her current condition will never change. She will remain without function for as long as medical science is able to keep her heart pumping. If that is your definition of life, then you will surely disagree with my assessment. And I have no problem accepting that position.
Perhaps we will always debate when life begins and when it ends. But those decisions, I believe, are left to a much higher source. For now, all we can rely on are the wishes of the individual who finds themselves in this tragic position. And to my satisfaction, we know those wishes. It seems to me we should honor those wishes and not impose our own.