Like many cases that finally end up under the glare of the media spotlight, the issues surrounding the Terry Schiavo case are quite clear and the average layperson can sort through them without a terrible amount of difficulty.
What muddies the waters and makes the case the convoluted mess it’s become, is the media’s usual ignorance of the facts, and the need to turn this into an emotional case, fraught with drama and intrigue.
As many people are now realizing, it is a wise person who has taken the time to put their wishes down on paper in the form of a living will. Unfortunately, Ms. Schiavo and her husband, Michael, didn’t have this. As a result, despite better judgment and the opinions of trained medical personnel, the case has been turned into a circus.
It is my opinion that Ms. Schiavo’s condition no longer meets the criteria that one would qualify as a life of quality. To be kept alive by fluids and other nutrients pumped in through a hole in my stomach is not the way I’d want to live. Yet, her parents continue to insist that she’s communicative, even though she has no measurable brain function. My heart goes out to them, as I can only imagine how as a parent, it must feel to have a child in that state.
While I can empathize with the parents, I have little use for the members of Congress and other religious operatives who are seizing this opportunity, to further a right-wing agenda, couching it in the language of preservation of life. There are not many pleasant words I would entertain directing their way, so I’ll refrain.
Here is an excellent site that deals with many of the legal issues of the case. There are a number of good links on the site to articles in local papers, as well as other pertinent legal information regarding the case. For anyone interested in making preparations for a living will, this site offers simple instructions on how to do it.
My hope is that this case, if it does nothing more, will focus attention once again on the need to address end-of-life issues, particularly the issue of being able to die with some sense of dignity. The death-with-dignity movement has lost some momentum and the Schiavo case might give them an opportunity to refocus the debate and make others aware of these issues, before the emotions and complications that can occur when a loved one is terminally ill and legal issues come into play.