Silent Witness – Part Two

This is prompted by the comment by JT on my last review. He makes a compelling case for disassociating abortion and the murder of Terri Schaivo. (Go read his post before finishing this one – you might agree with him 🙂 ). If JT is correct and Terri Schiavo was truly braindead, then he would be right in saying that it was not murder. Truly, it would not have been a case for the news.

The real question is this: Was Terri Schaivo braindead? I do not have the medical background to evaluate this; I must rely on the sources that I read. Several things standout about this case. First, the fact that she did laugh and respond to family members does seem to imply a limited intelligence and I do believe that her mental capacities were limited. Secondly, a sufficient amount of people disagreed, to give credence to the challenge that Terri was not braindead. I realize that majority does not equal right, but something about the case seems “fishy.”

I know what the medical examiner wrote about the autopsy. But, there is also a trend among doctors to refuse any medical assistance if they deem the person incapable of recovering to a sufficient level of “quality of life.” World magazine recently wrote an article, which quoted different hospital officials. These officials openly admitted to having a policy which enabled doctors to choose to deny treatment. The criteria for the choice is not “can the patient recover,” but “will the patient have a decent quality of life.” I am not a conspiracy theorist, but those policies make me pause and take situations like Terri’s with a bit of healthy skepticism. Terri may have been braindead, but I suspect she wasn’t.

Further, Michael Schaivo has been exonerated. No one can prove his actions as wrong. Do I think that he is guilty of murder? Definitely! I don’t accuse him of harming his wife or failing to notify authorities in time. Rather, I condemn his refusal to accept a divorce and to allow Terri’s family custody of her. Since he was already having a family with another woman, he couldn’t object to divorce in principle. For some other reason, he insisted on her death. Why? That fact alone, makes me suspicious of everything he says. While I disapprove of divorce, I don’t think that anyone would really have been upset if he had accepted the divorce that her parents wanted. No one would have cared if her parents had taken her home and cared for her. Why demand her death?

Because of the strange nature of the situation and the reaction that Terri gave on tape and to others, I maintain that Terri was not a true vegetable. She was alive and was murdered by her husband and the courts. JT, thanks for the great comments. Definitely something to ponder some more.

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3 thoughts on “Silent Witness – Part Two

  1. Thank you for your response Matt. In the spirit of friendly debate, I’d like to provide an answer to the “Silent Witness – Part Two.” Matt & I are in agreement in that the key issue of the debate is whether or not Terri was truly brain dead.

    Like Matt, I am not a medical doctor. I do not have the required expertise to judge whether Terri was indeed in a persistent vegetative state. However, I argue that Terri was indeed brain dead. My proof consists of expert medical opinion. According to CNN, Michael Schiavo had at least 18 doctors examine his wife over the past 15 years. She even had a brain stimulator placed in her head but showed no progress. Though the laughing and responses witnessed on video are compelling, I believe that there are other credible explanations for her actions. According to Circuit Court Judge George Greer in Clearwater, Florida (the main Justice presiding over the presentation of evidence), “All of the credible medical evidence this court has received over the last five years is that this is not a cognitive response, but rather something akin to a person jerking his/her hand off a hot stove long before he/she has thought about it.” Greer further went on to write that Terri’s condition should be described as the “absence of cognitive brain function.” The autopsy report provides further proof that Terri was brain dead. Therefore, based on the numerous opinions given by those qualified to judge and the corroboration by numerous judges, I believe that my assertion that Terri was brain dead still stands.

    Matt also asserts that “there is also a trend among doctors to refuse any medical assistance if they deem the person incapable of recovering to a sufficient level of ‘quality of life.'” This is an interesting point. Nevertheless, the real question is whether the doctors used that kind of reasoning in Terri’s case. There is absolutely no credible evidence that Terri was diagnosed in this way or that the doctors testifying in the case were prejudiced. In fact, the opinion of an independent guardian, commissioned in 2003, confirm that such prejudices were absent.

    Matt goes on to conclude that Michael Schiavo, though not technically guilty of a crime, is morally guilty of murder. Once again, this premise only holds if she was not brain dead. I contend that she was and I believe that I have not yet been disproved. Mr. Schiavo’s motivation for not divorcing his wife was also questioned. His motivation was simple: he claimed that Terri asked to be taken off life-support if she was ever found in a persistent vegetative state. According to doctors and the court system, Terri was brain dead. Therefore, Mr. Schiavo felt compelled to abide by his wife’s wishes. Divorcing his wife would have given her over to her parents’ custody, who would have kept Terri on life-support indefinitely. Consequently, Mr. Schiavo declined to divorce his wife. Whatever our personal preferences, if Michael believed that Terri was brain dead, there is no moral problem with his wanting to carry out her wishes.

    Finally, I want to thank Matt for providing a forum for these issues. I have found Conservative Book Talk to be very enlightening and I look forward to frequenting the site in the future. I would also like to apologize for the length of this post and I promise that this is my last word on the subject. Thanks for everyone’s patience.

  2. Well it doesn’t have to be your last post on the subject…. Also, I wonder about all of the friends who deny Michael’s statements that his wife wanted to die. According to several conversations that Mark Fuhrman (author of Silent Witness) had with Terri’s family and friends, Michael originally denied having any idea about what she desired. It was several years later that he began saying that she wanted to be dead.

    Also, my comments on the “quality of life” do not “prove” anything, they just need to be considered with the evidence. Also, I don’t believe that we can know the true answer with certainty.

    By the way, you can find JT’s blog on the blogroll.

  3. Okay, so this is probably my last post on the matter. =) I certainly don’t know all of the details of the case and I agree that there are some inconsistencies out there. I also agree that we will probably not know everything for a certainty. It does provide for a fun debate though!

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